Pepper Spray--The Truth

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Ron, if you are a civilian looking to obtain any kind of "credentials" in OC spray instruction, then Sabre's course is pretty much the only choice. Let's start with the good:

The first half of the class is informative and it is information that you must know. Things like how the spray works on us (physiology) and spray pattern selection is important stuff. You'll have training from what is now considered the most recognizable brand in the industry (even though there isn't really an accrediting body for this type of training) along with some swag that is supposed to help you get started.

Now the bad; The part of the course that really matter-the hands on deployment and tactics portion of the course- is not good, in my opinion. It has major flaws for real world applications. Also, with the exception of one civilian sector, there is virtually zero interest for a course of this nature, in my experience. You maybe able to fill a class a few times a year, but it will be very difficult to make an OC spray training class a regular offering. I do not believe that this type of class has caught on the way Sabre (or the industry) would have liked, frankly. And unless you are willing to travel or have a bunch of folks looking to become instructors in your area, it may be hard to even get the training from Sabre for yourself to become an instructor.

Please know that I'm not trying to dissuade you from taking their course. I think that it is great that you want to do it, as I think that this sort of training for the civilian market is long over due, but I also want to be honest with you regarding the challenges that you most assuredly will face (been there).

Good luck and please let me know if I can be of any assistance in the future.

Thank you for the information.
What civilian sector do you think would be interested in the training?
You're welcome, Ron. Always happy to help.

Colleges. Particularly working with sororities. Today, for better or for worse, people want things instantly. Gone are the days of weekly/monthly/yearly SD training, in my experience. A one hour class on selection, instruction, and tactics with pepper spray works well with the young of today. Is one hour enough to encompass everything in the world of SD or even pepper spray for that matter? Absolutely not. But it is about all most folks are wiling to commit to today, unfortunately.

Best of luck and please let me know if you need anything else.


Edit: Be sure to get the inert trainers. Those are invaluable in learning how to deploy the spray. They are identical in every way, sans the pepper. Most people are surprised at how hard you have to press on the actuator to deploy the spray. These are also great for learning how to account for wind, a moving target etc. Sabre is your best bet for those.
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Excellent point.

On a side note (but still tying in this current topic), I just now realized you are in Maryland. There was a video filmed during the Baltimore Freddy Gray incident that shows just how devastating conical OC spray can be. Not sure if you or our fellow members have seen this video, so I linked below.
Interesting outcome in the case of the (now infamous) OC spray video out of Baltimore.
I strongly belive in inert trainers however my problem is I can not refill them and I find they are too expensive for me to get much quality training under my belt since even the larger carry trainers are limited in how much you can spray them.

It would be great if they can make these things refillable with water or something and pressurized with somthing like a bicycle pump, but I can't find anything like that.

I hear you and I can assure you that the type of inert trainer you described has definitely been considered before. I remember having an old refillable fire extinguisher as a kid. It would be great if something similar would have worked with defense aerosols.

Setting aside the product liability issues for a moment (that is the main reason this type of trainer never went to market for the streams), the biggest hurdle is that the inerts still use propellant (mostly 134a). The streams theoretically could be filled with air and still simulate the 'live' pattern, but it would be impossible for the inert cones/fogs/foam pattern trainers to aerosolize properly without propellant.

So, why aren't the stream style inerts available? The concerns were that folks would over pressurize the canisters. In addition to explosion concerns with the canisters themselves, the PSI is very important when it comes to defense sprays. Generally speaking, most defense spray designed for use against another human being are around 70 PSI. This varies slightly with formulations, canister sizes, manufacturers etc...If the PSI is too high, you run the risk of permanently damaging the eye...especially with streams.

Hope this sheds some light on the subject...

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Appreciate that, thanks.

I'm working on some new posts that will be quite in-depth, but I just wanted to do a quick post on a couple of things from FOX Labs.

Fox recently released the 5.3 keychain in a flip-top (this was long overdue). This is definitely an improvement, as anyone who's every had the 5.3 in the 1/2oz prior knows. They still will be offering the old "twisty" actuators, for now anyway.

Their next, soon to be released offering called "White Lighting" should be hitting the shelves soon. (For the record, this isn't the one I've been working on;) It is basically the opposite of Mean Green. White Lighting is a virtually clear pepper spray that is supposed to satisfy the needs of those looking for an option that doesn't have the trademark orange-reddish color oleoresin capsaicin is known for. I love the strength of the formula, but really can't get on board with the concept. Police academies have been using very weak, clear OC sprays for years, (more on that in a future post). Although it technically will be aimed at LE for "special environments," this is not something that a civilian would want to carry .There is a major flaw with White Lighting even for use in the LE sector, I'm actually surprised this escaped them. Clear OC spray (in a stream, no less) is about the worst thing I could think of for a civilian spray, but I digress. Anyway, If you are a fan of FOX Labs, stick with the their tried and true formulas (5.3 & Mean Green). My guess this spray (in the US) will go the way of Zima and Clear Pepsi (although I hear they're bringing it back :what:)

Product Update:

A while back I mentioned that Fox Labs had a product in the pipeline called 'White Lightning.' My previous comments are quoted above from July 2015.
Well, it looks like the product went to market and will be available to the public. I still do not understand the point of this product. They claim it is because it will be easier to clean up after use because they've eliminated the reddish-orange color that OC spray is known for (actually they are just using a clear OC base that has been available for some time now). Utter nonsense... How on earth will you be able to find where you sprayed if it is 'invisible' and now dried? To be clear (no pun intended), OC really lingers. The effects of OC keep giving long after it is initially discharged so removing the residue is essential. Good luck removing this product without a black light.

More importantly though, this product isn't good from a tactical standpoint, in my opinion, and that is something that is paramount when evaluating any self-defense product/option. Its biggest knock is the fact that it would be a terrible product to use in the dark or any low light situation. Imagine this- you are accosted in a dark parking lot, make the split second decision to deploy your OC spray (in this case White Lighting), and now you can even tell if you've hit your mark. This is much less of an issue with regular OC spray because of the natural reddish-orange color. Additionally, you can not rely solely on the perps reaction (after spraying) because you may have missed and they could very well be faking a reaction (it has happened).

Here is the product in action...

Lots of new products will be surfacing soon with the new year and I will have updates along the way.

It seems to me if you had to use OC, clean up would be at the bottom of the priority list. Sure it's gotta get done, and done very well if indoors, but I think that would be the least of you concern at that point.

I can see staying away from dark colors because you couldn't see it at night, and I could see staying away from white and clear to, how exactly did "they" settle on the orange color anyway. I'm gonna guess that's it natural color.

Clean up is also something I've never thought of, how exactly do you clean up OC if discharged heavily inside your home?
The color would make it easier to spot for sure, but what if gets in furniture or carpet?
I can see where it could become really.........troublesome.
You're right, DeepSouth. Their own premise behind the product doesn't even make sense. Realistically, the clean up is only an issue when used in a public setting. A small, 2 oz conical OC spray can easily cause an entire supermarket to be evacuated. Even then the amount that would need to be cleaned (dish soap and warm water is usually all you need) would be minimal. That is what I don't understand about this product. It originally was supposed to be geared toward LE, but is now available to everyone, apparently.Not sure what niche they are trying to fill.

A much bigger issue in my mind is the fact that it is invisible, making it very difficult to see where you've hit. I don't think that this can be overstated. The biggest hurdle when training folks with OC is the inserts themselves. By design, they only shoot distilled water. It is very, very difficult in broad daylight to see where the inerts patterns hit because of this fact. Couldn't imagine trying to see it at night. Making a 'live' spray clear is a real head scratcher for me.

Clean up on upholstery is a little tricker. You need dish soap, water, and maybe a shop vac. Launder if possible.

Regarding the color: it is natural pigment, and the raw OC used in pepper spray looks exactly like hot sauce.
Thank you, rice. I really appreciate the kind words, and I'm happy to help!

I'm right there with you on the "solutions that need a problem" type of products that seem to be churned out these days...ASP defenders are flawed. While they did get the spray pattern right and 360 capability, in my opinion (almost every civilian would be better served with a conical spray pattern), it fails on one of the most important fronts...It requires fine motor skills to deploy...more so than virtually every other type of design. Good luck deploying that unit if you don't see the threat coming and/or aren't holding the unit just so, with the safety already switched over. Give me gross motor skills in that situation-every single time.

In fact, we took a hard look at the anatomy of civilian attacks. Things that we felt needed to be addressed. Can the "device" handle ambush attacks or close quarters combat (CQC) which is, far and away the most common scenario and will almost assuredly be the type of situation one would be in when using OC spray. We all would be better served to completely ignore the "shoots 8-10 feet" nonsense these companies spew. Outside of LE and Corrections, pepper spray is simple not used at those distances. OC spray is not perfect, but we did try to address what we feel are its biggest shortcomings.

Regarding Sabre 1.33% MC vs DT- If you are just looking at the formulation, then they are exactly the same for all intents and purposes. That said, form factor would be the deciding factor for me. This goes back to gross motor skills/ease of use under duress and spray pattern. For civilian use- I'm always going cone over all other patterns. Only caveat is if the user has severe asthma, COPD, etc. If going with a stream, I want an aerosol that has the ability to spray from any angle. Those two factors narrow the catalogs for each company down to only 1 or 2 products. (In fact, Fox Labs, for example, doesn't even have anything to fill that category. Get with it Fox!) For Sabre, that leaves Spitfire (cone) or Crossfire (stream). DT, you are looking at First Defense "red label" 360. Stream only on that one.

Shelf life will be a minimum of 3 years (depending on brand), and that's only if it is stored properly. Don't leave in a hot car or store anywhere with high heat (120 F) and keep from freezing. Outside of that, the type of propellant used determines how long the shelf life will be for the most part. Sorry to pick on Fox, but they use the cheapest propellant. That decreases the useful life cycle to about 3 years. Of course, they spin it on their website :rolleyes: Sabre, DT, Inferno, basically any brand that uses 134a is using the best propellant currently for defense sprays, hence a longer shelf life; around 4-5 years. Some other things factor in too, valves, gaskets, formulation, but that is it in a nutshell. I will say this though, when in doubt replace in sooner than later. Especially if you've used it in a self-defense situation. Better to have a fresh can.

Thanks for your post... and Merry Christmas to you and yours, rice!

So basically it's a crapshoot between Sabre Crossfire and DT 360, both of which are available to me. And you're right, at $12-15 a can, it's a cheap investment for some decent peace of mind and a level of defense that beats going hands on if it's not needed.

Your level of knowledge astounds me. So I guess I should wish you Happy "Holliday" as well.
So, Santa, what OC products should all the good little boys and girls be asking for? ;)

Spitfire (cone) or Crossfire (stream) and First Defense "red label" 360 (stream)? :evil:
:) Those on the "nice" list will be well served by any of those you mentioned.

Those on the "naughty" list will receive the garbage below- in lieu of coal. ;)

The 'socialite' even has the coveted Cosmo endorsement.:uhoh:


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I don't think I've every addressed this next product here. I was holding off because I never really thought that it would go to market (still appears it won't). One of the things that drives my crazy is when companies over complicate something that doesn't need to be. This next device is the perfect example.

What a joke...As always, I appreciate the time, energy, and intent that was put into it, but some things just shouldn't be "teched-out". It is as if this company didn't even consult anyone with a lick of knowledge of what really happens on the street. Here's what I mean:

Let's forget for a minute that there is almost no mention of the formulation, other than saying- "Highest concentration of pepper spray available." Uh, ok...Direct quote from their website, and it is absolutely meaningless. What exactly are they basing that on? To date, technically only bear spray has concentration limits. Other than that, zero info on what is actually being sprayed.

Secondly, the cost. $179 bucks minimum! What they failed (or don't care) to realize, is that there is a very good likelihood that the unit will be damaged/destroyed or lost during an altercation. One of the great things about pepper spray is that it is very inexpensive, and easily afforded by virtually everyone. What happens when the unit gets swatted and knocked to the concrete? It looks about as durable as a 92 year old running back.

Lastly, and what they are really banking on, is the monitoring service. Well, there are already option out there for that and at a much cheaper price.

When it comes to OC spray (or any SD tool, really) the simpler, the better. Gross-motor skill (and ease of use) is king.
Thought I'd post something as a fun history lesson, because it made me immediately think of this thread.

I got a book for Christmas about weapons of the Samurai in there law enforcement capacity. Did you know that Samurai cops used OC to subdue criminals during arrest? The general term is metsubushi which is a catch-all for eye-closing irritants thrown in an assailant's face. Mostly these days we see this word associated with ninjas, especially when hand-thrown or via an egg-shell "bomb," but the samurai had a more useful delivery mechanism, a device called a sokutoku. It's a small lacquered box with a mouthpiece sort of like an albuterol inhaler, and was worn around the neck like a pendant. When attacked or taking a suspect into custody, you hold it between your teeth, pull the plug out and exhale into it, which shoots a cloud of fine dust boiled in red pepper oils into the assailant's face.
Thought I'd post something as a fun history lesson, because it made me immediately think of this thread.

I got a book for Christmas about weapons of the Samurai in there law enforcement capacity. Did you know that Samurai cops used OC to subdue criminals during arrest? The general term is metsubushi which is a catch-all for eye-closing irritants thrown in an assailant's face. Mostly these days we see this word associated with ninjas, especially when hand-thrown or via an egg-shell "bomb," but the samurai had a more useful delivery mechanism, a device called a sokutoku. It's a small lacquered box with a mouthpiece sort of like an albuterol inhaler, and was worn around the neck like a pendant. When attacked or taking a suspect into custody, you hold it between your teeth, pull the plug out and exhale into it, which shoots a cloud of fine dust boiled in red pepper oils into the assailant's face.

Love it. I mentioned metsubushi a few times in this thread (vinegar, salt & pepper), cool that you came across it. In fact, what you described was the forerunner to modern day pepper spray. Here's a couple of pics of these types of devices:



True story: I got into this business because of childhood experiences. Back in the day I used to have to walk to and from school. In those days there was a lot of after school "extracurricular" activities. The usual bullying and "meet me at the playground at 3 o'clock" type of street fights. As someone always looking for an edge in that situation, I came across metsubushi in my martial arts studies. Knowing nothing about pepper spray at the time, I devised my own with an empty Tic Tac container and some salt & black pepper. All it took was one incident with one of the "big kids" for me to understand how beneficial metsubushi can be.

This actually ties in nicely to the topics at hand. Capsaicin has been used for thousands of years in battle. The Mayans used to burn large vats of pepper resins and then make use the wind to affect their enemies. Seeing all of these absurdly complicated device to deliver pepper spray is maddening to me. Also, earlier I alluded to going back to the stone age (so to speak) in the development of our new device.
Ancient metsubushi techniques were a huge inspiration for this. We basically took a very, very old concept and brought it into the 21st century. The KISS principle is best for self-defense.

Thanks for sharing that, glistam.

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Ok, so here we are after 16 pages, closing in on 400 posts, and I sincerely hope I was able to shed some light on the industry as a whole, as well as offer a useful nugget or two on defense sprays.

I thought I would bottom line some products for those who are new to this thread. Right around this time of year, with SHOT Show looming, there will be a slew of new OC products hitting the market. Most of them will be garbage, in my opinion (the reasons why are addressed throughout the thread), like most of the stuff already on the market, but every once in a while a new product will break through and add something of value to the personal safety/self-defense world. Unfortunately, it's been many years since a product was able to make a difference. More specifically, I'm talking form factor over formulations. The product I am referring to is 'Spitfire'

Spitfire, in my professional opinion, is the best aerosol civilian pepper spray design ever created. Now, I have my issues with Sabre - I think that they could be doing much more in the way of innovation for defense sprays, instead of wasting time, energy and money on stun guns and window alarms, but I digress. Truth be told, Sabre did not invent the Spitfire concept, they acquired the patents to Spitfire from a small company in Texas. They were doing the filling for them (more on the aerosol industry and pepper spray in a future post), and ultimately acquired them. Best move they could have made. When they originally obtained the patents, they lowered the SHU of the product in order to be able comply with the varying formulations laws nationally. About a year ago, they upped the strength of the formulation from a level II (around .67% major capsaicinoids), to a level III (1.33% MC). That move right there solidified that product as 'top dog' for the civilian market, in my mind. Excellent functionality - meets excellent formula.

I would not hesitate to carry any of those listed below.*

For those who want the strongest/hottest:
UDAP 'World's Hottest' Cone foggers

For those who prefer a visible marking dye (vs an ultra-violet):
Mean Green by Fox Labs

Edit: avoid the keychain sizes from Fox

For those who want the most intuitive/best overall:
Spitfire by Security Equipment Corporation

Spitfire is one of only two civilian units that can fire from any angle (ASP Defender series being the other). Unlike the Defender series, the Spitfire is more intuitive to use, and can be fired over the shoulder (if grabbed from behind, for example), and allows for many more deployment options than the Defender. It would be difficult (read: virtually impossible) for most to use the ASP D in that fashion, due to the ergonomics of the design. I'll follow up with a more in-depth post about pepper spray and the myth of range and distance, too.

*For the civilian market

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Hopefully there will be something good to report after SHOT show in this category, as I hate to be such a killjoy for some of the products...but I really think this campaign is wrong on so many levels. I was aware of this for awhile, but the website was down after receiving tons of backlash. I was hoping they'd disappear. No such luck.

Setting aside that I completely disagree with the way they are marketing this thing, how are they permitted to claim they invented anything? This technology has been on the market for years. It is a rebranded product. I'm also so sick of the pandering and virtual 'panhandling,' too. All the cookie cutter videos with the dramatic music in the background...give me a break! Sure crowdsourcing can be a wonderful thing, but there is a reason their campaign was pulled Because they didn't invent anything! There is nothing new under the sun.

Looking over the FAQ:

"Among the active ingredients is oleoresin capsicum, naturally derived from ghost peppers."

- The claims of 'ghost pepper' in the powder mean nothing, it adds nothing (other the marketing BS). All that matters is the major capsaicinoids content (which I didn't see listed), regardless of what the pepper source is.

-Regarding the state legalities: I can think of a least three more where this product would be prohibited.

Direct quotes:

Q: "Will the active ingredients in SALT harm me or my family if it is accidentally used?"

..."So while these symptoms are temporarily crippling, no one in your family, including your children, is in danger from oleoresin capsicum or other ingredients used in the SALT system."

Ever hear of asthma? Emphysema? Or how about a shot a close range to the eye? So irresponsible of them.

Sorry for the rant. This one really burns me up (no pun intended). I don't like when people try to dupe the public with these types of devices. I feel like I'm living in a bizarro world sometimes.
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Nothing of note to really report in the defense spray category from SHOT. Maybe that will change in the coming weeks, not sure. I did get a rather interesting question in the past week, though.

Q: "Why no love for Mace brand?"

A: I only recommend reputable products, from reputable companies.
It is common to see marketing material for OC spray use phrases like "Police grade' or 'Law enforcement formula.' More often than not this is marketing propaganda. The truth of the matter is this; civilian OC spray is almost always as strong as or stronger than what most police departments carry. This article helps shed some light on the subject -

Virtually every reputable 'civilian' spray is going to be at least .7% major capsaicinoids (the true heat bearing component of pepper spray), and a good majority of them are greater than 1% mc. That is almost double the strength of what the police department featured in the above article was moving to. Put another way, that department just started carrying a spray that is half the strength of what civilians have been carrying for years.

Maybe in the future 'civilian strength' will replace the 'police grade' label in the marketing of these product.

That NY Daily News article is so chock full of crap ... And .67? Good grief, I'll feel safer the next time I visit NYC. I had no idea the NY cops were so handicapped (well, yeah, I did, Glocks with the NY Trigger) ...

We use a 1.3 and it works very, very well (to the point where if there's a brawl and we have to go hands-on, it's not too pleasant for us, either).
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