Choosing OC/Pepper spray


Matt Wallis
May 14, 2003, 08:10 AM
Hey everybody,

I want to get the wife some type of pepper spray. And since I know next to nothing about it, I wondered if y'all could help me out with what the different types are and which is best.


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May 14, 2003, 09:41 AM
Streams shoot farther but require aiming.
Foams are good close up.
Combo stream/spray best general usage.

Higher the percentage of OC the stronger it is. Carry the strongest legal in your state.

Buy several. Take one or two home and try them to see how they work, how far they shoot, what to expect.

Its just like shooting a gun, you need to practice with it before you actually need it.

May 14, 2003, 09:55 AM
Fox Labs sprays seem to be at the top of the list. I bought the keychain sprays for several people at christmas.

May 14, 2003, 12:32 PM
Fox Labs is hands down the best OC on the market, get some and don't look back.

Joe Talmadge
May 14, 2003, 05:14 PM
Higher the percentage of OC the stronger it is.

The above isn't correct, it's probably the biggest misconception and most likely to lead you into making a mistake.

Higher percentage of OC pretty much tells you nothing about how hot the OC is. That's because all OC is not created equal -- OC created from higher-quality peppers and processes will be much hotter than OC created from lower-quality product.

The only way to know how hot the pepper spray is, is by looking at the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) rating. Fox, at 5.3 million SHU, is by far the hottest, even though it's only 2.something % OC. Most other sprays are only 2 million SHU, even though they are 10% OC. Fox is by far the hottest despite having a low OC percentage.

The only thing a higher OC percentage gives you is a formula that takes effect faster, and longer to wear off.

I buy the highest SHU that's legal in my state, which means Fox.


May 14, 2003, 07:49 PM
What Joe said. (I think it's what Smoke meant to say.)


Jim March
May 15, 2003, 06:20 AM
Joe's telling it like it is.

The other things you should thing about is can size and spray type.

Nozzles are either "fine stream" or "foggers". Small foggers (keychain size, 2 ounces or so) are worse than useless. All they'll do is produce a cloud of "pepper fart" about 2ft wide by 2ft deep as measured from the front of the nozzle!!! The mist will be very light, no significant range, and will dissipate in God only knows what direction.

Big-can foggers (8 ounce or bigger) cans have their role as "street sweepers" :D. The better ones will blast out to 10ft or so, with a 3ft wide "pattern". If the threat is a street gang on a city street, big foggers rule :cool:. Downside: don't use 'em indoors unless you can get out muy pronto and there's nobody in there you'd care to gas! When you hear reports of a whole department store being evacuated, some Beavis'n'Butthead clone set off a big fogger.

Streamers are at least minimally effective in small "keychain" can sizes, although 4oz "belt mount" class is better. With a 2oz or smaller can, expect 5ft range on a streamer if you're lucky; a good 4oz can bumps that out to 8 - 10ft with no wind. Effects are much more "contained" on a particular assailant's face - bystanders will get a bit of a whiff but not be incapacitated. And esp. with a good 4oz class streamer, you can actually flatten somebody faster at 6ft to 8ft than you could with a big 8oz fogger. (The big fogger will nail the target faster though, and be faster in a multiple-assailant problem.)

If you find a big 8oz+ streamer and you think you can pack it, cool, they ROCK :).

Matt Wallis
May 15, 2003, 08:14 AM
Thanks guys. Does anyone know how CCW laws affect carrying pepper spray in FL? Can you carry it without ccw? Is there a law affecting what size or type?


Joe Talmadge
May 15, 2003, 11:50 AM

One question about stream versus fog. Some companies have something in between both extremes, they call a cone (or in fox's case, medium fog). I've actually been favoring that for the moderate-sized (2-4 oz) canisters. I think the advantage of a fog or cone over a stream is that they're easier to aim, plus the fog/cone is better atomized and much more spray gets inhaled (versus the stream where it effects any tissue it lands on, but not nearly as much will get inhaled).

So, the cone-style spray should give you better range than a fog, and easier aiming and stronger effects than the stream. I currently carry the 2oz. Fox with medium fog, which I picked over the stream. Fox's medium fog seems much tighter than the classic wide-disperse fog that you're talking about.


May 15, 2003, 04:10 PM
2 million scoville heat units is the minimum to be effective.

I'd avoid products that contain more than 2% pepper, UV dye, foam, and other stuff because they take up space that would be better suited for more propellant.

Also, don't get one with a gas propellant. Get liquid propellant because you can shake the can and if it "sloshes" then you know it's still got it's charge and hasn't leaked out.

Gordy Wesen
May 16, 2003, 12:48 AM
Based on dozens of incidents I pack OC-10 in the 3oz can. Never failed me yet.

May 16, 2003, 10:57 AM
I've used and carried several brands since LE in AK started issuing pepper defense sprays. OC-10 is the current stuff, but I've used Body Guard, Zarc's CapStun, and Punch. The best thing is to remember that like anything else, pepper sprays have limitations. The most effective are shotgun or spray patterns, but they are sensitive to wind conditions. Stream patterns have range and less sensitive to wind, but have a delayed effect. Then of course cold will greatly delay the effects due to closed pores of exposed skin. Try and find a product that combines a shotgun pattern with a wide stream and has the highest Scoville Heat Units you can find. Train with it and add it to your SD toolbox.

Gordy Wesen
May 16, 2003, 09:48 PM
Well said.
Let 'em get close and trust your equipment.

May 19, 2003, 09:20 PM
practice! stream works better in wind,fox is good but doesn't stay on skin long enough,I understand LEO's prefer it so they can transport perps without gagging.
I get my spray from
for bigger problems like the three big drunks who pissed on my motorcycle I use bear spray,the big can is very intimidating,you may not even have to use it.
keep it away from kids!

Jim March
May 21, 2003, 12:06 AM
Joe: I haven't played with the "cone spray" but I admit, it sounds pretty cool.

KY Moose
May 21, 2003, 03:14 AM
fox is good but doesn't stay on skin long enough,I understand LEO's prefer it so they can transport perps without gagging.

I would have to beg to differ with you here. IMHO, Fox seems to stay on the skin long enough. At least that's from my experience with the stuff.

Here is a good article on defense sprays by James Yeager from Options for Personal Security. This is a no nonsense article that covers a lot of misconceptions about defense sprays.

By: Chief Instructor James Yeager

People use the word "mace" as a generic term for any type or brand of aerosol chemical weapon. They use it much in the same way as saying Kleenex for any facial tissue. Shop wisely because not all personal defense sprays are created equally. Some people choose them because OC can be carried in some places that guns are not allowed. Others just want more options.

The single biggest misconception about aerosol chemical weapons is the "percentage" of O.C. (Oleoresin Capsicum) like 5% or 10%. A person might be led to believe the 10% formula is better than a lower one like 5%. The higher percentages make it last LONGER because there is more pepper in that formula. They do not make it HOTTER and heat is what makes it effective.

Let’s say brand “A” uses a very low grade of pepper and makes the formula 10%. Brand “F” uses the highest quality peppers available and makes the formula 2%. The only way to determine how good either of them might be is to check the label for Scoville Heat Units. Heat is what makes O.C. effective. Heat of O.C. is measured by S.H.U.s (Scoville Heat Units). In my opinion, you should consider nothing less than 1 million S.H.U.s, for self-protection or Law Enforcement work. Fox Labs International has a 2% formulation, which increases recovery time, but it is 5.3 million S.H.U.s, which makes it the hottest spray on the market.

Another misconception is that the O.C. spray will affect people of different ethnic backgrounds less because they eat so many peppers as part of their staple diet. This is absolutely not true.

The three physical effects that you want your formula to cause are a burning sensation of the contaminated skin, respiratory distress, and an involuntary eye closure. The burning sensation is the least important tactically. The desired respiratory effect is to decrease the ability for the badguy breath enough to keep attacking you. The involuntary eye closure is the most important tactically. The O.C. dries the fluids in the eye on contact and forces the person to shut their eyes. If the potential felon can’t see you it will be more difficult to catch or kill you.

Most Personal Defense Sprays are available in Fog, Cone (sometimes called Mist), Stream and Foam. Each of these spray patterns has its strong points. Fog is the most effective delivery system because it is the most readily inhaled. It causes the most cross contamination onto unintended areas and is the easiest to blow back into your own face. Cone has a “shotgun” type pattern and is my personal favorite for general use. It has a more wind resistant delivery but still atomizes the OC well for inhalation. Steam is not inhaled as readily but has the greatest distance and even less likelihood of blowback. Foam has an almost shaving cream type consistency. It is highly unlikely it will be blown back by wind and is the best choice for indoor use as it causes the least cross contamination. Foam however is the least effective because it is rarely inhaled.

Some manufacturers would have you believe their product is superior to any other defensive option. Nothing works 100% of the time. NOTHING. Not your shotgun, not your baton, not your brain. Do not fall into the trap of thinking your O.C. will handle anything that comes along. It will not. Beware of any company who says their spray is the greatest thing ever invented. I have seen demonstrations of people sprayed with pepper sprays and still attack. Goal oriented people. They are dangerous and you must remain vigilant.

You must also have a back-up plan. Just like going to your back-up gun if your primary becomes damaged or taken. If your OC doesn’t work you need to be prepared to go to a higher level of force or be ready to run away. Always keep in mind your self defense tools are likely to give lackluster performance when it comes down to it.

If you carry OC as a defensive option put some thought into it. Just like with your gun-holster-ammo combination. Police officers use the OC on their belt far more often than the gun beside it. Consider which spray pattern and formulation will best suit your needs. Also consider placing several cans in strategic locations like in the car, at the office, by the front door and in your vest pocket.

Using OC isn’t as complicated as shooting but you do need to practice with it. Many companies sell inert training units that will work for practice but I suggest just using a live can. Practice like you would use it and think ahead and know which way the wind is blowing. If it blows back into your face have you really made yourself safer?

While on the topic of accidentally (or otherwise) being sprayed there are some simple guidelines you can follow to speed recovery along. Water and lots of it will help immensely. If you have non-oil based soap available (like Dawn or J&J baby shampoo) you should use it to wash the excess spray out of your hair and off your face. Make sure to get it all so you don’t get recontaminated later when you shower. Never use salves or creams to ease the burning sensation. It will only trap the OC under the skin and cause blistering. Never remove another persons contact lenses, always let a medical professional take them out.
If you ever are forced to spray someone you should move afterward. Two or three one half second bursts will do it. If the face is covered it will make it no hotter to spray more and it could actually wash some off. It should produce a reaction within three seconds of contact. If you do not get the desired effect go to your “plan B”.

Chemical Weapons can be a good choice for people who choose not to have a gun. They can also help us bridge the gap between no force and lethal force. If chosen and used correctly they can be a great asset to anyone who is worried about their personal safety.

If you enjoyed reading about "Choosing OC/Pepper spray" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!