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Considerations in Choosing Pepper Spray

Sep 8, 2008
Pepper spray is an excellent, non-lethal self defense weapon. It is easy to carry and easy to learn to use. You will find it packaged in four types of sprayers, named for the spray pattern each uses to disperse its contents. The four types are, broken stream, forced cone, fogger, and foam. Each has its advantages and disadvantages for different situations.

The broken stream sprayer is probably the best choice against attempted carjacking, against multiple attackers, and at greater distances. This type of sprayer delivers a stream of pepper spray similar to that of a water gun, heavier droplets, but fewer of them than in other types of sprayers. Chances of a hit on multiple targets is better. You can change direction of the spray quickly and still not lose much range. By fanning the stream across an arc at eye level you can cover a wide area with sufficient spray to deter an attack. The main disadvantage is that the spray is dispersed heavily and you will run out faster. At the same time, however, targets that are hit are hit with plenty of pepper. You can expect maximum range and effect from this type of sprayer.

The forced cone sprayer is the most popular. It may be the best option for general use. The spray is a finer mist than the broken stream but is delivered in a forceful stream never the less. The spray pattern is circular and covers approximately the size of a human head at a range of about 4 to 6 feet. Total range may be a bit less than with a broken stream sprayer, but you can still expect good effect at distances under 12 feet. The fineness of the droplets allows them to penetrate the skin and mucous membranes almost instantly. The eyes will shut tight and fast, if the slightest amount of spray is inhaled, it will cause instant choking and uncontrollable coughing.

A fogger type spray has finer droplets still than the forced cone and disperses wider. It is most effective in covering a larger area with pepper spray quickly. Aim is less critical. Consider it for dealing with multiple attackers, crowd control, bears, or to defend the home. A pepper spray fogger can make a hallway uninhabitable in short order. The disadvantage of this type of sprayer is that it is the most vulnerable to wind dispersion and blow back.

Blow back is most likely outdoors, but even then, the force with which the spray is dispersed is considerable. The attacker will always receive the majority of the spray even in windy conditions. Spray from a fogger style sprayer is the fastest acting of your choices.

The fourth type of sprayer is actually describes the type of spray. It is the foam sprayer. Rather than dispersing pepper in a fine mist or heavy stream this product uses a thick, heavy foam to carry the effective ingredients. For those concerned about pepper spray being blown off target or back at them, the foam sprayer may be the best choice. The wind has the least effect on this type of spray. Foam pepper spray piles up on the target as well. It accumulates, rather than running off and is practically impossible to wipe off without assistance. The effects are instantaneously debilitating and get worse as the target tries rubs the foam into his skin trying to remove it.

No matter which type of spray you choose be sure to know how it works and how to use it. And most importantly PRACTICE with it. Pepper spray is not expensive. Buy a few extras and practice spraying your shrubbery or fence to familiarize yourself with your sprayer. Knowing how to use your pepper sprayer will greatly increase your chances of escaping any situation where you may have to use it.
About the Author
Xavier Tico is a retired security consultant. He writes about self defense and personal and home security. You can find more self defense information at his self defense products web site: Self Defense Outlet
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