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Old December 17, 2014, 02:25 PM   #1
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Pepper Spray--The Truth

I am a pepper and defense spray insider. I've been involved with the defense spray industry for the past 30 years. I have worked with pepper spray in every possible capacity. Training, R&D, production, product development, you name it, I've done it. I am not here to promote any one particular brand or manufacturer, nor am I currently employed, or affliated with any of the major producers of defense sprays. No question is off limits. I will answer each and every question to the best of my ability. I am here for one reason-- to dispense the truth about defense spray. I look forward to the conversation...
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Old December 17, 2014, 02:45 PM   #2
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OCT, welcome to the Highroad. My questions are several.

The first question I have; is there one major manufacturer/wholesaler who distributes then these products get relabeled? For example, "Big company X in China makes pepper spray" China company sells to Ruger, Mace, Sabre red, but all same stuff?

I am especially curious if this is the case, as the pepper spray pens all look the same or is one better than the next with respect to quality.

Could you comment on strength / efficacy etc.

Finally, if you were to rank these brands from most effective to least, what are your top five and why?

Thanks for your insight.
Dave
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Old December 17, 2014, 02:55 PM   #3
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Expiration Dates

I have had several cans of pepper spray reach their expiration date. I have tested them after their expiration date and found that they still spray and seem potent based on the slight blow back.

Is the expiration date related to a loss of potency in the chemical or does the propellant go bad after a certain amount of time?

Thanks
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Old December 17, 2014, 03:03 PM   #4
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@Sox

Thank you for the welcome and question!

1. No. With very rare exception, all pepper spray sold in the US, is made in the US. However, the canisters, actuators (triggers) etc. all are patented. That is why you see them commonly used across the board.
2. Strength is determined by HPLC testing. It is the gold standard of determining how "hot" a spray is. This measure is completely objective. Totally eliminating all the marketing hype.
3. There is no one size fits all list regarding brands. Each brand and spray pattern has its own unique pros and cons. Generally speaking, any spray from a major will do the job. I prefer to rank them according to spray pattern. After someone decides which spray pattern they prefer, then we can begin to narrow down a particular brand.

Please let me know if you need any further assistance. I'd be more than happy to expand on anything I've written if you need more info

Edit: There are a couple of brand that are in fact made by the same company. You'd recognize the names.

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Last edited by OC-Trainer; December 17, 2014 at 04:38 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old December 17, 2014, 03:08 PM   #5
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@Joeyp

The oleoresin capsicum (OC) never loses its potency. It is the propellant that is the problem. Although a can of OC may feel full and very well fire beyond the exp. date, it is highly recommend to follow manufacturers rec. as to when to replace. The typically shelf-life varies, usually between 3-5 years depending on brand.

Thank you for your question.
OCT

Last edited by OC-Trainer; December 17, 2014 at 03:24 PM.
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Old December 17, 2014, 03:28 PM   #6
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Is there any truth to the "civilian strength" or "cop strength" argument that I have heard ?
IE: The stuff sold to civilians is not as strong..?
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Old December 17, 2014, 03:36 PM   #7
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@Shanghai

Thank you for the welcome and questions!

No, there is no such thing as "police grade." It is all marketing hype. If fact, civilian spray is almost always stronger than what the police use. OC is most commonly tiered from Level I-Level III. Civilian spray is most commonly LIII. The reason has to do with decon. more than anything else. LE must deal with the decon, civilians do not. The L-I have a 15 minute or so decon, vs 45 minutes with a LIII.

OCT
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Old December 17, 2014, 04:27 PM   #8
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What do you recommend for decon? I got a snootful in 2008 courtesy of the military and I used whole milk, it seemed to help more than water. I know there are sprays and wipes out there, do they work?
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Old December 17, 2014, 04:34 PM   #9
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@Devonai

Thanks for the question.

I am not a big believer in the pre-made decon solutions on the market. Aside from time, soap and baby shampoo are usually recommend and those do help to remove the residual OC. You mentioned milk, and that is the best solution, particularly whole milk. The reason has to do with basic human anatomy. OC binds to certain receptors in the human body. Full fat milk contains a lot of casein. It's the casein in milk that helps "release" the OC's hold on our receptors. This allows for a much easy decon.

OCT
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Old December 17, 2014, 05:07 PM   #10
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OC-Trainer,

Thank you for providing this information.
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Old December 17, 2014, 06:08 PM   #11
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@hso

Thank you. The pleasure is all mine. There is a lot of misinformation floating around on-line. I'm happy help on this excellent forum!

OCT
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Old December 17, 2014, 08:54 PM   #12
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Do you know how bear spray compares to the human defense sprays? I've seen several YouTube videos of store clerks using bear spray on bad guys and was wondering what the difference is other than volume.
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Old December 17, 2014, 09:41 PM   #13
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Sales, available types.....

Why does Sabre Red not market & sell the new Sabre Green formula to individual customers?
The Sabre Green Crossfire blend looks great. I'm a licensed security officer & would carry the brand in a mark IV size on duty.
Right now I use Fox Labs Mean Green & the Zarc Industries Vexor.
I like the micro-spin Vexor brand but the yellow safety type can is poorly designed IMO. It slows the deployment & it's hard to use one-handed.

Rusty
PS; if you are a industry insider, are there any new R&D plans for a OC spray based on the Reaper pepper? As of 2014, it's now the hottest pepper grown in the world. The SHUs are hotter than any other pepper.
That would be a great OC formula.
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Old December 17, 2014, 10:29 PM   #14
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Welcome to the forum trainer. Comment first then question.

I have a ton of friends in law enforcement. Their carry pepper spray is usually Freeze +p. Since I can usually find it on Amazon, I figured the whole "most powerful pepper spray allowed to civilians zomg" was a market ploy.

You mentioned the three levels of strength which I have not seen on packaging, unless it is on the back somewhere. They are usually shown strength by percent of whatever the choice chemical is. What levels correspond to what percent strength of spray?
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Old December 17, 2014, 11:17 PM   #15
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@nmlongbow

Thank you for the question

Bear spray is the same exact thing a human pepper spray with a couple subtle differences. The first is that in the eyes of the law, it is considered a pesticide. Weird right? That is because it has to be registered with the EPA. The other difference has to do with the strength of the spray. By law, it must contain at least 1% major capsaicinoids (MCs). MCs are the only true measure of how hot, pungent, or strong a spray is. In theory, it is against federal law to use pepper spray on a human being, even though it is essentially the same thing as human spray. Although, I am unaware of anyone every being prosecuted for using against any person, not even it the video you are referring to. That is probably the most highly publicized case.

OCT
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Old December 17, 2014, 11:27 PM   #16
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@RustyShackleford

Honestly Rusty, there really is nothing special about that product. It's biggest selling point, and most likely the reason it is only geared toward LE has to do with the decon times. That really is the only difference. Mean Green is a nice product, as is the Vexor. I hear you on the microspin, not a fan either.

If it is shorter decon times you are after the only other choice is to step down to a lower OC% and/or MC%. Both of those choices make me a little uneasy thought TBH. I always like to carry the hottest spray possible.

Regarding the Reaper pepper: From a purely scientific stand point, the type of pepper used in pepper spray products doesn't really have any outcome on how strong the spray will be. Put another way, whether the OC comes from Ghost peppers, Reapers, or jalapeño all that matters in the end is the MC content. I agree though. I spent a some time working on getting a Ghost spray going. Just for the name alone. Thanks for the questions!
OCT

Last edited by OC-Trainer; December 18, 2014 at 07:11 AM.
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Old December 17, 2014, 11:29 PM   #17
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No disrespect intended... but the OP says "Pepper Spray, the Truth" but you don't offer any facts, statistics, measurements, etc that let us know you have more information than the average Joe with a Google search button.

Why not share some "expert" pepper spray information or dismiss some common "myths" as a way of establishing your knowledge base, before soliciting questions?
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Old December 17, 2014, 11:34 PM   #18
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@herrwalther

I hear you! Every brand claims to be the hottest.

The tier level I-III is commonly used for LE. Here is how to decipher those numbers on regular retail packaging. Level I = roughly .2-.4% MC, Level II=.6-.7% MC, Level III 1% and up. If you see pepper spray in a store for example, it will almost alway be L-II or L-III.

Thank you for the welcome and questions!

OCT
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Old December 17, 2014, 11:35 PM   #19
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Great questions guys! Please keep them coming, I'm glad to help!

OCT
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Old December 18, 2014, 02:30 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerjames View Post
No disrespect intended... but the OP says "Pepper Spray, the Truth" but you don't offer any facts, statistics, measurements, etc that let us know you have more information than the average Joe with a Google search button.

Why not share some "expert" pepper spray information or dismiss some common "myths" as a way of establishing your knowledge base, before soliciting questions?
And yet people are still asking questions and he is answering them even though those same people have access to Google.
Have you seen anything that has been presented as fact be incorrect? The OP has a few opinions that I don't necessarily agree with, but at least he's stated what is common accepted industry fact and what is his own personal preference.

He has been very helpful to those who have asked questions.
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Old December 18, 2014, 03:15 AM   #21
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Thanks, UV dyes....

Thanks for the quick response, .
I'm curious to know what you think is the best OC/chemical agent format for a private citizen or casual user: fog, cone, direct line(stream)? I prefer the cone style but I could see the benefit of fog versions for groups or multiple subjects.

Also, UV marking dyes & colors seem to be popular, do these chemicals or formulas really help ID attackers? How long does the UV dye last on a person? 2 hours? 24 hours? 3 days?

Finally: how does weather affect OC sprays or containers? MK III, MK IV sizes? Will they freeze or not be as potent in cold weather or low temps? 40/30 degrees or lower? What about hot or summer climates? Can extreme temps make OCs burst?

Rusty S
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Old December 18, 2014, 06:49 AM   #22
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@rogerjames

Sorry, I completed overlooked this statement/question last night. I just now noticed it. This is a Q&A. What would be the point of me starting an opening post with three pages of facts and stats, only to have me then answer the questions. I said nothing was off limits. I'm only answering the questions that were asked of me. What is your specific question? Be specific. Name the myth you want cleared up and I'll address it. It is impossible for me to clear them all up in one post.

OTC

Last edited by OC-Trainer; December 18, 2014 at 07:16 AM.
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Old December 18, 2014, 06:51 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Field Tester View Post
And yet people are still asking questions and he is answering them even though those same people have access to Google.
Have you seen anything that has been presented as fact be incorrect? The OP has a few opinions that I don't necessarily agree with, but at least he's stated what is common accepted industry fact and what is his own personal preference.

He has been very helpful to those who have asked questions.
@Field Tester

I appreciate what you said. Thank you for that

OTC

Last edited by OC-Trainer; December 18, 2014 at 07:05 AM.
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Old December 18, 2014, 07:04 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RustyShackelford View Post
Thanks for the quick response, .
I'm curious to know what you think is the best OC/chemical agent format for a private citizen or casual user: fog, cone, direct line(stream)? I prefer the cone style but I could see the benefit of fog versions for groups or multiple subjects.

Also, UV marking dyes & colors seem to be popular, do these chemicals or formulas really help ID attackers? How long does the UV dye last on a person? 2 hours? 24 hours? 3 days?

Finally: how does weather affect OC sprays or containers? MK III, MK IV sizes? Will they freeze or not be as potent in cold weather or low temps? 40/30 degrees or lower? What about hot or summer climates? Can extreme temps make OCs burst?

Rusty S
My pleasure, Rusty. Great questions.

Speaking strictly for the civilian market, the best spray pattern is probably the cone. There are a few reasons for this. 1. Most everyone who buys OC isn't going to train or practice with it. 2. While under duress, it is very difficult to hit a small area (the eyes) while someone is rushing you and you've lost all your fine motor skills. It is almost impossible to miss with a cone. Most assault occur at pretty close range too. The cone eliminates the need for pin point accuracy. Additionally, cones give you the added advantage of affecting ones breathing, now doubling your chances to stop and attack. These pros also have cons however. Conical spray patterns are a little more affected by wind. The common misconception is that stream do not mist, and won't have blow back. They do but, just not as much as the cone.

I think U.V. dyes are garbage. I've never seen LE carrying around a black light. That said, they do "stain" the skin for a considerable amount of time. I prefer visible dyes to the UV type.

Thank you for pointing this out. Never keep OC or any aerosol in a hot car. Anything above 120 F creates a situation for the unit to explode. Cold is a different story. Freezing is more likely with stream since they water-based (cones are oil-based) However, the 134a that is used as a propellant also acts as anit-freeze for this very reason


OCT

Last edited by OC-Trainer; December 18, 2014 at 07:15 AM.
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Old December 18, 2014, 07:38 AM   #25
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Is the Kimber unit more effective than the sprays?
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