Sebastian has a post up that actually has the video of the shooting of Officer Bruce McKay, an incident which I have blogged about previously. Sebastian is addressing the issue of pepper/OC spray and its relative effectiveness. As you can see from the video, the murderous asshole takes a facefull of OC in a very confined space, and yet still comes out with the wherewithal to shoot the officer four times and run him over twice.
I agree that I wouldn’t rely on pepper spray to overcome an assailant determined to do you grievous bodily harm or lethal force. Part of that is because I’ve seen determined, angry chaps take a face full of OC and keep on keepin’ on. Additionally, as part of my Coast Guard/LE training, I’ve been pepper-sprayed and then had to fight off a simulated attacker trying to grab my sidearm. It sucked, but it was doable. That training was excellent in that it taught me both proper uses and limitations of pepper/OC sprays.
In defensive use, if a person is unwilling to carry a firearm, I generally recommend OC spray. It’s not an substitute for a firearm, it’s merely another tool. The most effective civilian use of OC I’ve ever witnessed is when it’s used as a distraction, i.e. give your attacker a face full and then run like hell while they’re distracted.