For those who choose not to carry a firearm (or work/visit places that prohibit it), pepper spray is a self defense tool that should be strongly considered.
The active ingredient in pepper spray is called “oleoresin capsicum”, usually abbreviated as “OC”. Hot peppers (like chilis) are ground down into a powder, and the OC is extracted into a water or paste that severely irritates the eyes, skin, and throat.
Direct contact with the eyes usually results in temporary blindness that can last up to 45 minutes as the eyes seal shut and try to flush out the OC.
Defense In Depth General Manager and Director of Training, Nick DeMedici, allowed us to video him being pepper sprayed in the face by our gunsmith, Malcolm, to demonstrate how effective it can be.
Defense In Depth sells a number of pepper spray and stun gun options, and offers a training class focused on non-lethal self-defense methods such as pepper spray, stun-guns and kubotans. You can sign up for this class here.
Here are some things to remember if you choose pepper spray as a self defense option:
ACCESSIBILITY: Do not leave your pepper spray buried in the bottom of a purse or other bag. In the event of an emergency, you will almost certainly not be able to find and retrieve it in time. If you can’t remember to carry in your pocket daily, come pick up a key ring spray that you are likely to have accessible.
PRACTICE: Without actually practicing with your spray, accidentally aiming in the wrong direction (or having some OC splash back) is possible, which could leave you in a worse position than you began in. Practice is also the only way to visually learn how (and how far) your spray fires from its canister.
REPLACEMENT: Yes, pepper spray expires. The chemical itself takes a very long time to “go bad”, but the canisters that contain it gradually lose pressure over time, which means a weak (or dead) spray nozzle that will not perform as intended. Check the expiration date on your canister, and come see us if you’re overdue for a new one.