When I was a 21-year old Studentessa in Rome, living away from home I bought myself some OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray because I thought it would be an effective incapacitant and would cause instant temporary blindness and involuntary coughing and sneezing, and put down any potential rapist or mugger. But the reality is very different. Soldiers and police are trained to overcome the effects of OC spray through sheer willpower. Here is a video of a female USMC recruit doing just that.
So as an incapacitant OC spray usually isn’t very effective, and it is also going to be very difficult to use in an attack. I can draw and shoot a firearm far more quickly and accurately than I can an OC cannister, which is too small and tricky to operate. And if that wasn’t bade enough I’ve got to get a direct hit in the face without catching any myself. So you might expect me to say that OC spray is a poor choice for personal defence but actually I think it’s a very good choice for a girl, as long as she understands it and has the right product.
I sometimes carry Fox Lab MEAN GREEN, which is legal in Italy because it’s under 10% OC, and is probably the best OC spray on the market. It has a 6% concentration of 3 million SHU pepper resin. As Fox Lab point out a higher percentage of resin can delay reaction time, making the spray less effective. What makes an OC spray effective is the Scoville Heat Units (SHU), because this causes intense burning pain. OC isn’t going to involuntarily shutdown an attacker, it’s the burning that will stop him. So the hotter the better.
But what makes Mean Green the best product on the market for me as a girl is that it’s also a green dye that will cover his face.
If someone tries to rape, mug, carjack or attack you, the pain will deter them but the green dye will identify them if you go to the police. Also if they were able to resist the spray, the fact that they were green and easily identifiable would also be a deterrent. A man has got no chance of claiming consensual sex if he’s been sprayed with OC and painted green by the girl.
Obviously, if a girl carries OC there is a risk that she might get sprayed herself, if she tries to use it to close to her attacker. So be sensible use it as soon as you feel threatened. I also carry Fox Labs Sudecon wipes in my purse, just in case I have a blonde moment and accidental spray myself. They’re designed to remove the spray and decrease decontamination time but they won’t stop you looking like Shrek.
I don’t think OC spray is an alternative to a firearm and knife but its an effective non-lethal addition, and if you can’t carry a gun or knife, then it’s a must.