Spray is a Defensive Weapon???

Posted: June 16, 2013 in Self Defense


In the past, when I thought of pepper spray, I relegated it to a second or third class position as a defensive weapon. I always considered it as a back-up to a back-up or a bare minimum defense when a firearm is prohibited. However, I recently did some research into pepper spray, technically named OC Spray, and discovered it’s actually a highly effective defensive weapon. In fact, many security firms, such as Personal Protection Consulting and the Professional Bodyguard Association, recommend  OC spray over firearms. Turns out, there are a lot of advantages to OC spray.

  1. It is non-lethal
  2. It can be carried places that firearms are not allowed
  3. The results are immediate without long-lasting permanent affects
  4. There are immediate results with low doses
  5. With proper use, it is effective on drunks, people under the influence of drugs, emotionally disturbed, highly irritated or violent persons and most animals.
What is OC Spray?

OC or Oleoresin Capsicum is a mixture of resin and an essential oil occurring in the pepper family (Cayenne, Chili, etc…). Capsaicin, which is the stuff that makes peppers HOT, is extracted from capsicum plants. While one would think manufacturers would use the hottest peppers known to man to create the OC spray, such as the Ghost Pepper or other insanely hot peppers, the active ingredient in OC is actually derived from Cayenne peppers. CN and CS are man-made products and have different effects than OC spray.

How Does It Work?

If you have ever eaten spicy ethnic food you are probably already familiar with the effects of Capsaicin. Capsaicin is what produces that burning sensation in your mouth, causes your eyes to water, nose to run and depending on the heat level it may even produce perspiration. When used in a spray and applied to the face it will cause a great deal of pain to the eyes (it has been described as “being hit in the eyes with hundreds of needles”) and will likely cause a fair-skinned face to turn red. If it is inhaled, the respiratory tract will become inflamed and will produce coughing, gagging and gasping for breath, and a burning sensation of the of the throat and lungs may persist. These reactions indirectly address two of man’s most basic fears: blindness and suffocation.

How Effective Is It?

The heat of the spray is part of what determines how effective a particular brand of OC spray is. Heat of Capsaicin is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU’s). The range for SHU’s is 0 to 15 million, but most of the sprays on the market today range from .5 to 2 million SHU’s. However, heat is only one aspect used to determine how effective a spray will be.

The concentration level of Capsaicin is also highly important. Most OC aerosols range from 5 to 10%. The concentration level does not change how quickly a person is affected by the spray but does change how quickly a person recovers from being sprayed. At a low level of concentration, if a person splashes themselves off with cool water, they may recover in as little as ten minutes. However, with higher levels of concentration recovery may take as long as two hours. Many instructors recommend people carry at units that have at least 10% concentration and 2 million SHU’s.

The delivery method and type of spray also affect the outcome. For distance and accuracy, stream sprays are best. The most recommended delivery method is to aim directly at the face and use short bursts of spray.

All that said, the largest factor of effectiveness is the individual sensitivity of the person sprayed. Approximately, 3% of the US population is not affected.

How Do You Use It?

Remember the Four S’s:

SHAKE: shake the aerosol can periodically and before use to ensure it is functioning correctly and contains OC.

SHOUT: Loud verbal commands, such as “STOP”, “NO”, or “DOWN” act as a diversion to the mind and may cause the individual to hesitate, be confused or disorientated.

SHORT BURSTS: OC should always be sprayed directly at the face of your assailant. Use short bursts at close distances and in still air. Use slightly longer bursts in moving air, at greater distances or when spraying multiple subjects. Maximum desired effect occurs when the OC atomizes into a cloud of fine OC droplets and thus enters the nose, eyes and mouth more easily. To give the propellent/carrier time to dissipate, it is very important you use short bursts of spray. Continuous spraying delays or negates the effects of OC. Improper spraying of the subject is the main reason for failure of an OC product to work on a subject.

SHUFFLE: After spraying, immediately shuffle step aside. The attacker may continue toward you with their eyes closed. It is important you not be there when they get there. Do not SPRAY AND STAY!!

How Do You Get It Off Of You?

So you are practicing with your spray and you accidentally get it on you. Or you are one of those that feel they should be personally experienced with the items they carry (the logic of which I’ve never understood because they don’t shoot themselves before they carry a gun. Why do they spray themselves or taser themselves before they carry spray or a taser?) In any case, if you get OC spray on you the best thing you should do is wash in cold water. Do not rub. I repeat, do NOT rub. Splash with lots of cold water.

Where Do You Get It?

Autrey’s carries several great brands including: Sabre Red, and Kimber Pepper Blaster.

You may also order online:



and countless other online stores. Make sure to get at least 10% with 2 million SHU’s.

Other sources:






  1. […] an easier slide. If they are still incapable of operating the firearm, I typically suggest they get OC Spray instead of a […]

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