I know there are some people who prefer less than lethal force, or are not able to conceal and carry. I believe pepper spray is something that everyone (especially women) who is legally permitted should carry, especially if you conceal and carry.
Before I get in to the why, let me briefly explain what pepper spray is and why it is effective. There are three different types of chemical components used in pepper spray:
OC (Oleoresin Capsicum).
CS and CN are considered irritants and will cause stinging and tearing. They can take from five to thirty seconds to be effective and may have little to no effect on someone who is chemically altered or in a psychotic state.
OC on the other hand is an inflammatory agent. When sprayed with it, your eyes immediately slam shut. People most often become temporarily blind due to the capillaries in the eyes dilating. From breathing in the agent, there is also coughing and possibly some choking.
Pepper spray is considered less than lethal but there have been cases where people with breathing issues, such as asthma, have died.
Blowback is when some of the pepper spray blows back at you. It is more of a danger outdoors and of course is more likely to happen if you spray it into the wind.
Types of Sprayers
There are four types of sprayers. They are:
Think water gun. This gets a lot of spray on the target quickly and as a result empties faster. There is a mild risk of blowback. That risk increases proportional to the range it is sprayed.
The spray pattern is circular and sprays a fine mist of droplets. There is a larger risk of blowback than with stream or foam.
A fogger sprays a wider pattern and finer mist than the forced cone. Foggers are the most effective to use against a crowd, as they put out a large amount of spray. Aim is also less critical. A fogger could be used nicely to defend a home as well. The risk of blowback is higher than with spray or foam.
Foam shoots out like silly string and accumulates on the target. Attempts to wipe it off often just rub it in, making it more effective. Foam is the least subject to blowback.
Why Carry Pepper Spray?
I have a permit to carry, and often do. I am also trained in Haganah, an Israeli-based martial art. Why do I carry pepper spray? Because there are some situations where I believe it is the best choice. If the only tool you have in your toolbox is a hammer, you treat everything like it’s a nail.
One such scenario could be that there are two unarmed men walking toward you, making threats. If I’m armed I could draw. They may or may not back down. If they do, problem solved. If they don’t, I’ve put myself in the position to have to shoot. If I choose to go hand-to-hand, I might be able to take them both using what I have learned in Haganah. Then again, I have no idea of their skill level and could be entirely out-matched. With pepper spray, since it is most often non-lethal, I can draw it earlier than my gun. If they don’t back down I can also use it earlier than I would my gun. I’ll discuss the people that are unaffected by pepper spray next. For now, I’ll just say that if they are unaffected, I can still draw my gun, or go hand-to-hand.
What About Those Unaffected?
I heard a story once about a Navy Seal who sprayed pepper spray on his sandwich and ate it. I’ve also heard a story about a guy that used pepper spray like breath spray and just swallowed it. There are many more stories like this. Whether or not they are true, I have no idea. If they are, my guess is that they used CS or CN and not OS. I have read reports that claim a tolerance can be built up to CS and CN but not to OS.
I heard once that 30% of people sprayed with pepper spray will be unaffected. I believe this was related to CS and CN types. People use this as a reason not to carry pepper spray. They are focusing on the wrong number. So what? 30% are unaffected. There are 70% that ARE affected. If there was a 70% chance that you would win the lottery, reservations about gambling aside, the vast majority of us would buy a ticket. That 30% who are unaffected, aren’t completely un-phased. They are just not completely shut down like the rest. They will still have some tearing, blurred vision and other difficulties.
Because I believe in having many tools in my self-defense toolbox, if I were to spray someone and they were unaffected I would still have options. I could either make a tactical retreat, giving me a chance to escape or giving me time to go to a more lethal form of self-defense or I could go right to them. I wouldn’t want to go hand-to-hand, as I’m not one of the unaffected.
That brings up another good point. Your job is not to subdue the attacker like a policeman. Your job is to survive the attack and make it back to your family. Whether that means spraying with pepper spray and making an escape or using your firearm as a last result, so be it.
What I Carry
I personally carry Cold Steel Inferno .38 oz. Keyring Hardcase Unit Pepper Spray,as does my wife. I even bought a can for my son’s ex-girlfriend when they were together. If I had a daughter, she would carry a can with her.
Inferno is an OC agent and comes out in foam. They have small pen type units, the keychain model I carry and they also have a 10.5 oz.can, perfect for home defense..
Bee and Wasp Spray
There are people who say they’ll use bee or wasp spray for self-defense. It is a crime to use it in a means that it was not intended for. If you used it because it was close when you were attacked, I can understand. But setting it aside for the intended use of self-defense, I don’t understand. There are products better suited for the job that are legal in most states to use. While the big can of Inferno might be more expensive than a can of wasp spray, it’s not cheaper than a lawsuit or a fine. Since you have time now to purchase it, I can’t see why wasp spray would be an option.
How to Carry Pepper Spray
It’s not effective if you can’t get to it quickly, I have my can on my key chain and I carry my keys in my hand or in my jacket pocket with my hand on it. If you need in an emergency, you will not have time to fish it out of your pocket or purse and put it to use.