View Full Version : For When A Gun Won't Do

March 24, 2006, 01:56 AM
Well, I finished a refresher training in O.C. spray today, which if you've never been hit with some 10% O.C. it serves as a valuable reminder of your humanity, it's like a can of @$$ whoopin' that'll bring down the toughest tough guys.

So it got me to thinking, you know, once the snot stopped and I could see again 20 or so minutes later....I remember thinking that O.C. would be good for any type of self defense situation where you simply cannot carry a firearm or a firearm will not do. I know some people don't think that O.C. is very reliable, but baby, I'm sitting here telling you that if it doesn't work it's likely little else would either, I'd trust it. A little can of pepper foam can be real handy and out of 76 people, a lot of them real tough guys, guess how many were immune to the effects? If you guessed 0, you'd be right. The quickest recovery I saw was about 10 minutes....which is long enough to get as far away as you need to from your attacker, and the best part is, nobody, not even the attacker will have any lasting damage....sometimes I think we focus on the gun to much when other alternatives can be so much more appropriate.

March 24, 2006, 06:49 AM
I've never had a failure with OC. I have seen a couple of delayed reactions, one in training and one in the field on an arrestee. Both of the delayed reactions were outside in temps below 0 F, but they eventually took effect.

The delay on the suspect took place with a slight wind, he was also wearing glasses. However, he also kept backing up as we advanced on him. When it took affect everything stopped.

The training delay took place on an equally cold day. The trainee had about a 5 second delay. Once he blinked it was over.

March 24, 2006, 06:50 AM
Alduro, If a handgun armed attacker confronts you and you nail him with oc pepper can he still fire? Could you see anything between blinks? I agree that pepper can be a great compliment to my pistol but I wouldn't feel as safe carrying it solo.

Here's a great story and the reason I started to carry pepper at work. A customer walks into the pawnshop and asks if I could give him an estimate on how much I could loan him on some rifles. I quoted him a reasonable figure based on the poor condition of the rifles and the fact that they included an sks, British enfield, and old tired Mauser, heck he was lucky to get an offer. He leaves for several minutes then returns demanding an apology for my insulting him with such a pathetic offer. After some back and fourth with him calling me every name in the book, I finally told him that I would amputate my left man-egg before apologizing to him for that pile of junk (I was now angry). I asked him to leave or the police would be called. He continued his barrage of insults to my mother and threats of the butt whipping he was going to give me even while I was on the phone with the police. The 911 operator asked if "that was him" to which I said yes. The operator told me that police had been dispatched and I told the irate customer that the cops are on the way. He said he didn't care. I told him how stupid he was for staying to get arrested and the word stupid seemed to hit him like a brick. He literally shook visible when I said it. I thought to myself (remember I'm mad and being completely stupid for egging him on) stupid got under his skin hummmmmmmmm. Now armed with a verbal sword I swung it and swung it. You dumb piece of dung, you retard, ect.ect.ect. Well that wasn't very bright of me to say the least. He ran to the counter and began to lift the gate that separates us from customers. This guy was big, strong, and pissed and while I can fight, against a man that size loosing is very possible. Given the fact that I am armed and several loaded guns lay through out the shop, a loss could mean death by my own gun. I remember as he lifted the counters top (gate) thinking holly crap I'm gonna have to kill this UNARMED MAN. I didn't have the pepper option available then. I could have sprayed and retreated to avoid shooting him. Anyway putting my hand on my gun and telling him that if he took one step behind this counter he would die today was enough to stop him. He did throw a jolly rancher at me, hit me in the shoulder too (good throw LOL). Finally he left, yes before the cops got there. I did find out that he went to a neighboring pawnshop and after they refused the crappy guns he tried to sell them to a couple of street thugs. They beat him unconscious and stole his rifles. Justice served and lesson learned. Never instigate and have that pepper option available.

March 24, 2006, 10:15 AM
OC spray is a good to have, but it shouldn't be your only option.

When I was sprayed in training, I remember watching the liquid run down my glasses. I took my glasses off and asked to be sprayed again (then it worked painfully well).

I've also heard that guys with baseball caps or jackets can cover their face well enough to avoid most of the effects.

March 24, 2006, 10:19 AM
Boy i'm glad we only have to do it one time (NCDOC) one time is bad enough. The guy that did my training told us it is a 1 in 10,000 chase that a person will not be effected by OC. He told me after the class that in 29 yrs. of training he only had 1 person not effected by it. It closes the eyes you cannot open time unless you do it with your fingers. MAN CAN'T SEE CAN'T FIGHT! :mad:

March 24, 2006, 11:04 AM
alduro ~

When I took an OC class, one of the people in the class was pretty well immune to the stuff. It wasn't one of the big tough guys though; it was a woman friend of mine, a thin and willowy redhead.

When it was her turn to get sprayed, the instructor spritzed her in the face with a two-second burst. She blinked, shook her head to one side, looked at him quizzically, and said, "That's it?"

The instructor said, "I thought I got you pretty good. Want to try it again?"
She said, "Sure."

He sprayed her again, a slightly longer burst this time. She blinked and pulled her face back. No other reaction.

Eventually a fresh can of the good stuff was brought out, and she got sprayed yet again. Still no reaction.

Probably ten minutes later, I saw her walk over to the basins, splash a little water on her face, and dry off. No red eyes, no inflamed skin. She later said she hadn't felt anything much, and only washed her face because her husband was worried about hugging her later.


Also in the same class, the instructor encouraged the students to see what they were still able to do after being sprayed. Every student who tried it was able to draw a dummy gun, pry an eyelid open, and simulate shooting the OC person. One guy simulated drawing a knife and rushing the OC sprayer. All agreed that it was mostly a matter of determination; the stuff didn't shut them down so hard that they couldn't fight through it. It was just a matter of how badly they wanted to keep going.

If you carry this stuff for defense, remember to have a backup plan in case you get attacked by a determined person, or by the rare individual who simply doesn't react to the stuff.


March 24, 2006, 11:47 AM
I've actually been considering this option recently and I think this thread may have convinced me. I can envision a number of scenarios in which I wouldn't be comfortable shooting someone, but would be perfectly comfortable spraying them. It would escpecially be nice in a bar where I can't carry just in case things get out of hand...which in a bar that's not exactly a longshot.

March 24, 2006, 12:18 PM
OC is definitely not fun to be hit with, especially in the sterile, non-adrenalyzed training environment, where the effects are, in my opinion, artificially exagerrated. Every time I've been OC'd in training (four times now - I must be making somebody mad! :p ), I've been able to draw my pistol and engage the "hostile" role player after being sprayed. Last go round, we did it with Simunitions, and I was able to draw and get six good, solid, COM hits on the role player who was rushing me with a training knife. I guess what I'm saying is that the ability to FIGHT THROUGH OC is all about mindset and determination.

I personally witnessed a young man in Haiti trying to steal some water out of our HMMWV, being sprayed simultaneously by three guys - to the point where he was actually foamy with OC. No effect. He wanted that water, badly. After a couple of seconds, we all just let him take off with it - wasn't worth shooting him or laying hands on him (especially since he was literally dripping with OC). All four of us in the HMMWV were stinging and snotty from overspray, but that little guy was DETERMINED - and he got what he wanted.

Back to the point of the thread - OC is definitely better than nothing, and it's always nice to have options in the force continuum that keep you from having to engage in hand-to-hand or shooting someone. I'd grab up some Fox Labs OC (remember, the percentage of OC isn't the important number, it's the Scovill Heat Units - SHUs, and Fox is the "hottest" stuff I've ever seen) and find a way to carry it. I'd recommend getting at least two of whatever size unit you choose, so you can "test fire" and train with one unit to see what the spray pattern is really like - some of the small units put out a VERY fine/short range cone, and you need to know when you can hit and when you can't...



March 24, 2006, 12:35 PM
The main benefits of pepper spray is there are no long term effects. The same cannot be said for bullets. If someone is acting in a threatening manner and you spray them, usually no charges will be pressed, especially since most people won't stick around.

I have had several incidents where people approached me in an agressive manner but did not display a weapon. While I went through a few years of martial arts training, I do not want to go hand to hand with an unknown opponent. Pulling a weapon may be brandishing and shooting would most likely be questionable. Pulling my pepper spray and spraying the assailant if he continued to approach is much less likely to land me in jail.

Greater force should be available in case the assailant pulls out a weapon, but until that point, escalating to a firearm is often excessive.

March 24, 2006, 01:20 PM
You guys are right. O.C. will not take the place of solid defensive tactics like situational awareness and the ability to move. However, even though someone can force their eyelid open to shoot the O.C. guy, if he/she simply walks up and lays a solid palm heel strike or just runs away, the person with O.C. in the face will be mostly useless to do anything about it. Sometimes people aren't affected by O.C., I've never seen it myself, but then sometimes people aren't affected by bullets, again, never seen it myself.

I tried to force my eye open to follow the sprayer with a red gun and couldn't. Fight through it or not, when I finally pryed my eye open there were so many tears and more foam, all I could faintly see was a blury foot for a split second.

It should be worth noting we used the foam, which is horrid when compared to the mist. The mist is bad enough but the foam just keeps coming and the more you touch it the worse it gets. It sucked and though it won't replace a gun.....I can pretty much bet that 99% of the time, a little grandma with a can of O.C. (foam) will whip the crap out of a 7 foot 300 lb. biker.:D

March 24, 2006, 01:35 PM
alduro ~

Prison-guard friend of mine says that her department isn't using the foam anymore. Reason is that the attacking prisoners would swipe it off and throw it back at the sprayer. That tended to even the fight back up again. (Of course, in that situation, the sprayer had to stick around rather than bogeying away, and we're talking enclosed quarters. But it's still something to remember about the foam.)

As for how rare it is for folks to be non-reactive to the stuff: non-reactivity is more common in darker-skinned folks than in fair-skinned folks (blondes and redheads usually have the worst time dealing with it). It's more common in men than women (women generally have more sensitive skin and mucus membranes). And while no one builds up a tolerance for it -- you either react or you don't -- hardcore criminals have often been exposed to the stuff multiple times, and know exactly how they will react when it is used.

I'm not saying don't use the stuff. I'm only saying it's not universally effective and that it is dangerous to carry it thinking that every attacker would respond to it the way you did yourself.


March 24, 2006, 02:28 PM
pax you're right about it not affecting everyone as bad as myself....it doesn't. I watched one guy, white, dirty blond hair, recover in about 5 minutes. I watched a dark skinned black guy take 20 minutes with 3 foot snot strings hanging out. I'm not sure that skin color or tone has as much to do with is as your bodies histamine (spelling) reaction. As for throwing the foam, I could see that, especially if you hose them down. A quick burst is plenty.

Like I said, pepper foam doesn't negate training. Spray and scoot is the best thing to do. Some people know what to expect from it and may fight their way through it. I work with people who worked in corrections for years and even though they can "fight through it" they were still put at a large disadvantage when sprayed.

The only thing I am saying is that pepper foam could come in real handy for when you cannot carry a gun (a bar for example) or when a gun would be inappropriate (an unarmed attacker).

Lastly, foam doesn't have nearly the legal or civil liability that a gun has. We spend a lot of time talking about the final course of action (deadly force) I just thought I'd even out the field a bit and remind everyone that not every fight is a gun fight.

March 24, 2006, 02:59 PM
When I was in college, 10 years ago, I worked part time at a store called Computer City. We use to get people with forged checks all the time and got pretty good at spotting them. Well one time a guy comes in, loads a cart with roughly 4 grand worth of stuff and tries to buy. The clerk spots the bad check and stalls while he gets the manager and calls the state police. We stalled the guy until an officer shows up who promptly tries to escort him out.

Now for those of you who haven't worked in retail when the automatic doors are turned off they can be a pain in th @$$ to open. To make it hard for him to run we had turned the doors off. Well as the officer is escorting the guy out he tries to make a break for it. The officer catches him at the door and tells him to stop or he will mace him. Well the guy doesn't listen and puts up a fight. Out comes the mace and the officer ends up getting both the crook and himself in the face in the small entry area.

The guys takes off running into the parking lot while the officer is incompacitated. Myself and another young guy take off after him. I catch him about 30 yards away, push him into the car and put him into a head lock with half a chicken wing on one arm. The guy is still fighting when my co-worker grabs the other arm which is stuck under him. It now occurs to me how stupid I was because the crook could have had a gun and shot me any time up to this point. I decide that if I'm going to get shot he is going with me and proceed to smack his head into the truck of the car I have him pinned against. The offer shows up with his gun drawn, hands my bud the cuffs and says, "Break his friggin arm if you have to!" We get the cuffs on him and wait while the officer washes the OC out his eyes with water.

It wasn't until 20 minutes later that he could effectively see again. I could only imagine what pain he went through since the officer didn't even offer to give him water.

Denny Hansen
March 24, 2006, 06:16 PM
OC is a very good tool in the use of force continuum, but it is no magic wand. Additionally the mental state of who is taking a “hit” cannot be underestimated. Here’s two examples:

When OC first started becoming popular I took the mandatory class. We were told we would not be able to see and not be able to breath. No one in the class was “combat effective” after taking a hit of the stuff. I thought that it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Fast forward twenty years:
My son goes through the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Academy in Phoenix and one of the blocks is on less lethal devices (EMDs, Tasers and OC). Before being sprayed the class was told that they could work through the pain and respiratory problems, continue in the fight and prevail. All of them did.

Lesson learned? A lot of how we react is based on how we think we’re supposed to react. Has OC formulas changed that much? No. The class that is now grey haired was told they could not fight back and they didn’t, while the current crop was told they could and they did. Steinbeck had it right.


March 24, 2006, 08:04 PM
It's not the magic tool but it gives you the thing every one need TIME!!!!!!!! I don't mind running away our it gives me time to get to my gun.

March 30, 2006, 02:32 AM
In our agency we use TASER's in category-NON LETHAL WEAPONS.And i can say thath every time we use them,they work great:)

March 30, 2006, 03:28 PM
Two OC observations

I witnessed a road rage incident between two young men that ended up with both stopping on the side of the road to duke it out. Both ran at each other with OC hidden behind them smiling thinking each had the upper hand. Both drew at the same time and those smiles changed to fright real quick. The next two minutes were HILARIOUS! These mental giants proceeded to enter into a very serious squirt gun fight. Each was trying to spray the other while simultaneously dodging the incoming stream. Finally both cans ran empty and were thrown at each other. Neither tough guy got sprayed. Neither got closer than 20 feet. They cursed, gave the other the finger, and walked back to their cars. I wish I had my video camera, that was an easy $10,000 on Funniest Home Videos.

I was at the grocery store with my wife and noticed several bagboys sitting on a man behind the service counter. Apparently a wacko lost it in the store and was being subdued by the bagboys. Always in the mood for a good show I went to check it out. Three deputies arrived and took the guy into custody. As the deputies took statements the wacko started kicking the squad car windows and spitting. The officer warned him to stop or he would get sprayed. He continued his behavior so the deputy opened up the back door and hosed the guy. The OC had no effect at all, not only that but the nut started to growl at the officers al lick the OC off of the interior of the car windows. The officers were not as entertained as I and pulled him from the car. One officer pulled back on the wacko's hair while the other proceeded to open each eye and administer OC, he ran dry and was offered another can from his buddy. The deputy then sprayed huge doses up each nostril and when he tried to breath from the mouth fired in there also. Finally the nut calmed down but was still by no means incapacitated.

Lessons learned:
-OC is great as long as your attacker doesn't have it also.
-Sometimes OC does not work.
-Wear a helmet cam.

March 30, 2006, 04:06 PM
I wouldn't good as far as saying a person who can't see can't fight. As long as whatever is in my eyes doesn't sting or burn I'm not disabled. My senses are alot better than most. I might not be able to see but that doesn't mean I can't hear you move and feel your presence. Shooting me in an less-lethal spot doesn't work. Using a taser or stungun doesn't work either. Mace, pepper spray or whatever you want to call it works extremely well against me.

March 30, 2006, 07:10 PM
EDPs, druggies, drunks, do not seem to be impressed with OC.

I do carry Fox as an option, but as a former OC Instructor (not current) I do understand the limitations.

Anyone who is going to carry the stuff, should have some training, just so they do understand the limitations of the product.:eek: :D