Brillianter has been talking about pepper spray for a few days now, and has made a good case for why he thinks people should carry an OC/pepper spray. Looking at the title of this post, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m going to go ahead and go in the opposite direction of those posts. I actually had a really long and drawn post written for this, but then I realized that it could be pretty easily summarized in a few points.
- I’ve been pepper sprayed. It’s unpleasant, but it didn’t take me out of the fight, and I’m not a hardened street criminal.
- 99% of the situations in which I would want or need pepper spray can be avoided by being situationally aware. Keep your head up in the garage and you’ll see the guy behind the car.
- It’s awkward. The pocket or belt space taken up by pepper spray would be better utilized by carrying a proper tactical flashlight with a strike cap (more on that later).
- If I’m in a fight that could not be avoided by being smart and aware, my day has taken a rather statistical unlikely turn, and there is a better than fair probability I’m fighting for my life. If I’m fighting for my life, I don’t want to give someone a skin rash.
Back to the flashlight for a second – I’d recommend a flashlight as a defensive tool before pepper spray. A good tactical flashlight can give you stand off capability by temporarily blinding and disorienting your attacker, allowing you to get away. If you fight closes to to close range, the flashlight with a proper strike cap provides you with a better close-in weapon than your fist. A very simple “swim motion” strike technique can be taught to most people in 10 minutes, allowing them to deliver effective blows with the light. The final reason I’d rather have a flashlight than a can of pepper spray is because if I spray someone and the fight closes to hand to hand, I am now in danger of my own spray getting on me and imparing my ability to fight.
Brillianter makes some good points, but ultimately I disagree about the effectiveness of pepper spray. You’re better served by a good flashlight, situational awareness, and carrying a spare magazine for your heater than you are with pepper spray.