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View Full Version : Educate me on pepper spray.


RipCurl
11-18-2005, 09:26 AM
I'm not educated in the least on this subject. I have found foams, sprays, and gels online. I'm looking for a small, discreet product that my girlfriend can have handy. These Mace batons (http://www.self-protected.com/macebatons.htm) seem like a good idea. A can in her purse might take a few precious seconds to retrieve, but if she has it on her keychain it will be in her hand already if anything were to ever occur.

I guess what I'm asking is this: what is the difference between pepper sprays, gels, and foams?

Thanks.

Scumpup
11-18-2005, 09:57 AM
Never heard of gels. Foams have a mechanical blinding action, i.e. they are opaque, in addition to the effects of the pepper itself. They are also a tiny bit less subject to the effects of wind. Different makers use different spray patterns. You'll find streams, foggers, and coarse droplet spray patterns. They all have advantages and disadvantages. Fox Labs (http://www.selfdefenseproducts.com/pepper.htm) is a very highly regarded brand and is in use by many LE organizations. Those little batons you mentioned are a joke. They are short range, even by pepper spray standards, and hold only a tiny amount of spray.

Ike Witt
11-18-2005, 10:01 AM
You don't need mace. You need a mace (http://home.att.net/~licata.knives/mace.jpg).

Joey P
11-18-2005, 10:04 AM
While it's seems like a good idea to have it on your keychain ready to use, you have to be careful, if someone grabs your keys, they no have your only defense as well.

I once saw a person (a female if it matters) with her wallet in her back pocket with a wallet chain that went to her pepper spray in her front pocket (frankly, I think it was more of a 'look how tough I am' think then anything else), the chain just hung by her leg, not even threaded through a belt loop. All someone had to do was pull on the chain. They now have her wallet and when she turns around to get it back, she's gonna have a faceful of pepper spray.

I would suggest either keeping it in her purse, or if it must be on her keychain, always be well aware of it and keep a tight grip on her keys.

Also, be careful with it on a keychain, from what I understand, if it's in your pocket and you let out a spray, it's supposed to sting quite a bit on your skin.

silenus
11-18-2005, 10:13 AM
Get a unit that holds at least 15 grams or so. The little ones are a joke. You want something that will zap the threat while they are still well out of lunge-range. The ones I give my TAs for Christmas presents are a mix of pepper spray and CS teargas, along with a tagging dye. We've test-sprayed them on a windy day, and gotten acceptable range and accuracy up to 8-9 feet away. Also look for a design that has a safety cover on the button, which helps guard against accidental discharge in the purse.

eviladam, part 2
11-18-2005, 10:28 AM
on that mace baton page you linked, the picture at the top shows a woman who's still going to get assaulted. if you spray someone, you have to get them from a distance, and then get the hell out of there immediately.

a sprayed attacker can still grab you and seriously hurt you if you don't get out of range quickly.

pkbites
11-18-2005, 10:58 AM
RipCurl, your profile says you're in North Dakota. Is your girl eligible to get a CCW permit? I'll take a pistol over a firearm for defense any day.

I'm a police officer & an assistant Defensive & Arrest Tactics instructor. If you go with the pepper spray I advise getting a model that has a "stream" spray, not "cone". Cone is more apt to blow back on you. I carry the ASP (http://www.copquest.com/21-1400.htm) version off duty (identical to the mace version I believe), but in a stream model, not the cone model shown. It slips nicely & unnoticable in a pants pocket. And it has a safety latch on it to avoid accidental discharges. You don't want to mace yourself while putting it in your pocket or her purse!:eek:
I don't care for the foams & gels. They're gimmicky & unneeded. The concentration in the Mace baton is powerful and quite suitible for defense.


Regardless of what you buy, the important thing is the Scoville Heat Units (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scoville_scale), not the percentage. So many people tell me they have pepper spray that is 20%. When asked "20% of what?" they don't know. The higher the SHU the better, regardless of percentages. Fox Labs 5 million SHU spray at 2% is more powerful than something that is 500k SHU at 10%. I believe the mace baton you picked out is 2 million @ 10% which is just fine. I've been sprayed several times in training with that formula, and it sucks! Burns like hell!

pkbites
11-18-2005, 11:06 AM
Regardless of what you buy, check to make sure you're withing the law.
Some states limit the concentration a civillian can posses. Here in Wussconsin its 10% @ 2 million SHU. (which actually is quite powerful. It's the concentration most police carry).

Also, some states restrict what size (ounces) the container can be, and what shape it is. Once again, here in Wimpsconsin you're not allowed to have spray that resembles something else, like a pen. (http://www.pepper-spray-store.com/products/fountain-pen.shtml)
I have no idea what the law is in ND.

RipCurl
11-18-2005, 12:14 PM
Thank you all for the insights. As far as a CW permit... I don't think a firearm would be the right choice for her. Think stereotypical college girl, only more clutzy. I can just see her putting a round through the floor, or worse, her foot. Besides, CW permits are not valid on our university's property.

I just talked to our local PD and they told me neither the state, city, nor university have statutes relating to pepper spray, so I'm in the clear there. Apparently the university used to prohibit it, but we had a well publicized incident here two years ago and those regulations have been taken off the books.

The only thing I have left to decide is whether to get a small (.5 oz) keychain version or a larger (2 oz) can that she can carry in her purse. Seems to me like the keychain version would be more effective because it would be in her hand already, but I can also see how somebody could easily run out of chemical before they wanted to. Either way, Fox's product is 5.3M SHUs (but only 2% concentration). I'll look for the spray rather than the mist, and I plan on either getting her an inert trainer like Fox offers or a few extra canisters of the real thing so she can learn how to use it (carefully). Thanks again for the help.

Paul in Qatar
11-18-2005, 12:44 PM
The thing that has always put me off pepper spray is the fear the thing would burst if left in a hot car by mistake. I carry a baseball bat instead.

pravnik
11-18-2005, 12:58 PM
Also, some states restrict what size (ounces) the container can be, and what shape it is. Once again, here in Wimpsconsin you're not allowed to have spray that resembles something else, like a pen. (http://www.pepper-spray-store.com/products/fountain-pen.shtml)
I have no idea what the law is in ND."Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen."

- Woody Guthrie :D

Scumpup
11-18-2005, 01:04 PM
The thing that has always put me off pepper spray is the fear the thing would burst if left in a hot car by mistake. I carry a baseball bat instead.

Bursting isn't much of a risk. What does happen pretty frequently due to improper storage is that the propellant gas leaks out. The cannister still feels "full" when you shake it, but nothing happens when you push the button.

Clothahump
11-18-2005, 01:17 PM
Frankly, she'd be better off enrolling in a good self-defense program, such as SHARP. She'd be even better off enrolling in full-blown martial arts training.

Pepper sprays then become just another option, rather than the entire defense.

RipCurl
11-18-2005, 02:37 PM
Frankly, she'd be better off enrolling in a good self-defense program, such as SHARP.

She just did. Our university offers a 20hr (4hr/day for a week) women's defense course and she signed up today.

The whole reason she is suddenly concerned is that I am moving away and she is scared of living by herself. I think it's great, and I'm trying to learn as much as I can to help her before I leave.

RipCurl
11-18-2005, 02:42 PM
I don't think it's great that she's scared, I think it's great that she is taking an active role in trying to avoid becoming a victim.

Scruloose
11-18-2005, 04:22 PM
Also, be aware that pepper spray affects different people in different ways. As I have fair skin and blue eyes, getting a face full of pepper spray makes me want to curl up in a ball and die. Others, not so much. In fact, some people are hardly affected at all and can continue to function somewhat normally after getting sprayed. As stated above, it's best to have other options, such as SD training because the pepper spray may not do jack to an attacker. It's a damn fine tool to have, though. Take pkbites' advice and get the straight stream type.

Now a good solid kick to the nuts - that works on everyone.

pkbites
11-18-2005, 07:33 PM
As stated above, it's best to have other options, such as SD training because the pepper spray may not do jack to an attacker.

Now a good solid kick to the nuts - that works on everyone.


Not on a girl!:D

I agree on the self defense course, though. But let me tell you something, in 10 years of being an assistant instructor we have never taught any cop to strike in the groin. Men natrually defend that area, and it's a little awkward for some people to do. Instead we train knee strikes into the stomach/rib area, or foot strikes to the shin. Nothing fancy but it's effective. The entire defensive tactics course for civillians is 40 hours done in 4 hour blocks. Teaches straight defense moves- no kung fu philosophies or anything like that. The moves are done repetitively until it becomes ingrained (what one does in training, they'll do in real life). The only difference between the civillian course & the law enforcement course is the police course also concentrates on taking the subject into custody (complience holds, escort holds, and handcuffing) and the police course is longer because of that.

antechinus
11-18-2005, 07:43 PM
I know what CS is. And I know what capsaicin is. But I thought mace was the outside covering of nutmeg.

Why do they call the product mace? Anything to do with nutmeg? Or is the name derived from the spikey weapon?

You guys in the states get to play with lots of fun stuff. This one is a hoot: " Hot Walkers are 1 pound walking weights with Pepper Spray inside. These were designed to give extra protection to walkers and joggers who often carry small weights to burn extra calories as well as strengthen their arms while walking." For the paranoid powerwalker.

Mr. Slant
11-18-2005, 11:41 PM
SNIP
Also, be careful with it on a keychain, from what I understand, if it's in your pocket and you let out a spray, it's supposed to sting quite a bit on your skin.

Happened to me once.
I had a pepper spray container in my right trouser pocket.
I sat down in a chair skinnier than my hips.
It snapped the top cap of the pepper spray canister off from the bottom half.
Instant decompression.
Cleared out the dorm room I was in.
Made my thigh a little bit hot, but not too bad.
I proceeded to the shower and gave the affected area a 2 minute cold hosedown.
I was perfectly fine after that. Mild stinging sensation, but it was not honestly any more painful than having an athletic trainer apply some Bengay-style [1] anti-cramp agent to you.
My question on this topic... what kind of idiot gets pepper sprayed?
If I needed to do someone harm, restrain them, subdue them or whatever else, job 1 would be to avoid the appearance of being a threat.
Smile, wave, walk up, walk past, then act once in range for a quick bum rush or strike. Right?
I just don't understand how anyone could ever effectively use pepper spray against a sane assailant. I understand law enforcement applications where you have time to realize that the situation is going sour or use it as part of an escalation of non-lethal force against someone who is not in fact fighting with you [yet], but I don't see the use of pepper spray.

[1] http://www.drugs.com/PDR/BenGay_External_Analgesic_Products.html

pkbites
11-19-2005, 12:09 AM
Getting a pocket full of OC soray is tad different than getting a full spray in the eyes. It burns like hell for about 40 minutes, then when you try to shower it off your face and out of your hair it reactivates.

Your comment about "who get's sprayed" is valid. Very easy for a mugger to quickly assualt you before you can spray, which is why knowing some empty hand self defense is a good idea.

kanicbird
11-19-2005, 06:30 AM
. Others, not so much. In fact, some people are hardly affected at all and can continue to function somewhat normally after getting sprayed. As stated above, it's best to have other options, such as SD training because the pepper spray may not do jack to an attacker.

Perhaps the pain might not stop some people, my understanding that if you get it in your eyes the capilaries swell and temp. blind the person, which makes it hard to keep the attack up, also restricting airways.

In general how effective is bear deterrent pepper spray compaired to the human stuff?

Cheesesteak
11-19-2005, 06:44 AM
I just don't understand how anyone could ever effectively use pepper spray against a sane assailant.You are assuming that assailants are sane, instead of drugged up, drunk, or plain old stupid.

I'm sure some muggers are going to have a crisp plan of action, but there are a more than a fair share of just general malcontents who are too stupid or jacked up on something to have a plan at all. Remember, if they were clever, they'd probably not be mugging people in the first place.

Scruloose
11-19-2005, 09:35 AM
I know what CS is. And I know what capsaicin is. But I thought mace was the outside covering of nutmeg.

Why do they call the product mace? Anything to do with nutmeg? Or is the name derived from the spikey weapon?
Mace is the name of the company that produced the self-defense product.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mace_(spray)

As to why it's called mace? I'll relay the story told to me when I underwent OC pepper spray training for the first time. The instructor said something to effect that when you look at the product on a microscopic level, the chemical looks like little spikey balls. Like a mace. That was a long time ago, and I make no claim that that's accurate, so take that FWIW.

Perhaps the pain might not stop some people, my understanding that if you get it in your eyes the capilaries swell and temp. blind the person, which makes it hard to keep the attack up, also restricting airways.
Again, it depends on the person. It really just doesn't affect some people as much as others, even when getting it in the eyes. I used to give pepper spray training at one of my former units and have sprayed a few dozen people in the face and eyes as part of that training. I've also been witness to the same training for quite a few more people, and with some folks, they just aren't that affected. They can continue to see and function with little difficulty, compared to most others.

In my initial training, we were told that OC may be less effective on people with darker skin. This coincides with my observations in training. In fact, the one guy I sprayed who was the least affected was black. He was barely affected and had no trouble seeing during the exposure.

As with anything, YMMV.

Mr. Slant
11-19-2005, 09:42 AM
Getting a pocket full of OC soray is tad different than getting a full spray in the eyes. It burns like hell for about 40 minutes, then when you try to shower it off your face and out of your hair it reactivates.

Your comment about "who get's sprayed" is valid. Very easy for a mugger to quickly assualt you before you can spray, which is why knowing some empty hand self defense is a good idea.

Oh, sure, I wasn't trying to downplay that it actually works... I know it does.
I got hit with it one time during my juvenile delinquent phase by on of four arresting officers who were apparently mad that I refused to comply with their verbal orders to climb out of a window so that they could arrest me. The OC worked, but not until after I was already cuffed and in the back of a police cruiser.
In retrospect, yes, I suppose I was the kind of idiot who gets hit with OC. Then again, a group of officers spraying a non-compliant juvenile in the process of performing an arrest has little to do with a college coed considering the use of OC in self-defense.
My anecdote on what it does when it has accidental discharges was just me offering an anecdote in response to Joey P's speculation on what it might feel like if it detonated in your pocket.

crowmanyclouds
11-19-2005, 10:00 AM
I had one go off in my pocket!
All I felt was a moderately painful burning sensation. When I got the chance to look at it (a couple of hours later) my skin was a livid red, it took a couple of months before the scaring faded.

pkbites
11-21-2005, 12:53 AM
If she can legally do it in ND she may want to also carry a small expandable baton (http://www.selfdefenseproducts.com/Keychains/autolock.php). I carry one of these off duty. Smaller than a regular expandable it slips nicely in a pants pocket. Both the ASP (or Mace) pepper sprays & the baton are about the size of a cigar and slip nicely next to each other in a pocket. It's small but effective for strikes to the knee, elbow, or ribs. But she should really get training from a qualified instructor before carrying it.