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Firearms

Pepper Spray: The Great Debate

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about defensive sprays. It seems like people fall on one of two sides of the argument: one that thinks pepper spray is a great less-than-lethal defensive tool, and one that thinks it’s useless and only something coeds carry because they don’t know better. So, what’s the truth? Is pepper spray a good tool? What about gel or foam? We’re going to explain the ins and outs of these products so you can figure out what’s best for you as well as some you’ll want to avoid.

Do you need a self-defense weapon that isn’t your gun?

Before we jump into the different pepper-themed options, let’s consider the issue of guns as the only tool. It’s completely understandable to get into the mindset that if you have a handgun you carry daily, you don’t need anything else. What trumps gun? Nothing, right? Well, that’s not exactly true.

When all you have is a handgun, it becomes your only solution. It’s a little like the “if all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail” saying. The reality is that not all situations require your handgun. If it’s all you have, it’s your only option. However, if you have a tool that’s a step down from the lethal force of a handgun, you can choose to deploy that if the situation calls for it. And there are scenarios where pepper spray can be an ideal solution. It might be an impending potential assault from a homeless person or a charging, angry dog, but these things do happen, and it can be quite helpful to have more than one force option.

A chart provided by Sabre Red regarding their sprays. [Photo: Sabre Red]

Do you need training for pepper spray?

When I was a teenager, my uncle gave me my first bottle of pepper spray (which was quickly followed by a stun gun, but that’s a whole other story). He was in law enforcement, and to him, that was the best possible option for a girl about to be out on her own and too young to carry a firearm. I was handed that little canister with literally no information. The only instruction was “Point and spray.” Today, that makes me cringe.

Yes, getting proper training for pepper spray is a good idea. Like any other weapon, it has correct and incorrect applications as well as some downsides that are good to be aware of. Refusing to get training for pepper spray is a little like saying shotguns are the ideal defensive weapon because you don’t need to know what you’re doing or bother to aim. You might find a grain of truth in there, but that’s also incorrect. Does that mean you absolutely must have training? No. Everyone can’t afford the time and money that training requires. When talking about something like pepper spray, it isn’t surprising that most people don’t want to invest anything beyond the initial purchase.

Bottom line? It’s a good idea to take a pepper spray class if possible, but if you can’t, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy that canister.

What is pepper spray made from?

Pepper spray is usually made using Oleoresin capsicum, but not all brands are made the same. It’s important to understand that the actual pungency/effectiveness of the OC in the spray can’t generally be judged by the percentage of OC. One good way to determine its effectiveness is to check out the total Capsaicinoids in a product instead of just OC.

chili peppers
Oleoresin capsicum from chili peppers is used to make pepper spray, gel, and foam. [Photo: Nutra Supplier]

Is pepper spray better than pepper gel or pepper foam?

The biggest downsides to all sprays are their limited range and the fact they’re heavily affected by the wind. It’s also possible to get the spray on yourself during use, which can happen with any defensive spray/gel/foam.

Some issues with defensive sprays that aren’t regularly mentioned include:

  • Pepper spray does not have the same effect on all people. Some don’t experience any effects.
  • Pepper spray can take time to work; it isn’t always instantaneous.
  • It is entirely possible to continue an assault after being sprayed.

Some pitfalls to defensive sprays are specific to gel and foam. For example:

  • Pepper gel and foam take longer to work than pepper spray.
  • Pepper gel and foam can be wiped off the assailant’s skin and flung onto you.
  • Pepper gel and foam are more likely to transfer to you from contact with the assailant.

Which form of defensive spray is best?

Due to the way it deploys, makes contact, and takes effect with reasonable speed, the spray variety is the ideal form of pepper spray. Gels and foams certainly have their benefits, but they aren’t as ideal as spray.

In the same manner you would check the functionality of a firearm with snap caps, it is a good idea to test your pepper spray. Periodically give it a test fire (in a safe direction, outdoors) to make sure there is adequate pressure.

Before carrying your spray, check your local laws and regulations. Different areas have varying restrictions regarding who can use pepper spray for self-defense, and claiming ignorance is never considered a viable legal defense.

Should you get pepper spray for your kids?

The first thing to consider when it comes to your kids is their age and how that translates to the laws in your area. If your child is legally allowed to carry and use pepper spray, stop and consider whether they’re responsible enough. Just because they’re a certain age doesn’t mean they’re responsible or capable.

If you feel your legally allowed child is responsible enough for pepper spray, take the time to teach them how to use it, whether that means finding a good class or doing it yourself. Take measures to ensure they can use it safely and with confidence. This includes transporting and storage methods. Many companies sell inert training canisters you can use to show your kids how to use the product without causing any harm.

Pepper spray is an excellent secondary defensive tool and a good weapon to have as a less-than-lethal option. It’s always smart to have more protection options besides your firearm.

The post Pepper Spray: The Great Debate appeared first on The Mag Life.

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