Protective Devices

Less-Lethal weaponry
 Information on Personal Protection Devices

A Spray?

Self protection is a habit of mind and nothing will protect you if you are not alert and aware of your surroundings. Protective devices or less lethal weapons come in many forms and I will only mention a few here. I say "less lethal" weapons because you could drop marshmellos by parachute on people and somebody would look up and choke on it -- anything can be harmful. There is a great deal of misinformation on this topic -- particularly from people trying to sell products.


Sprays come in three general types of ACTIVE ingredients: CN, CS and OC.

CN is alphachloroacetophenone or Tear Gas as many would call it. It's used in California a lot but many police departments don't use it anymore for a variety of reasons. It is fairly effective if sprayed in a normal person's throat, ear or directly in eyes. Toxicity can be a problem.
CN gets a * one rating out of FIVE *****

CS is orthochlorobenzylidene malononitrile; a strong micropulverized irritant. It is called CS after the names of the two British chemists who invented it in the late 1920's. It irritates the mucous linings of the nose, throat and eyes (and skin in high concentrations). Most sprays use a 1% concentration -- get as strong a percentage as you can. .
CS gets a ** two rating out of FIVE *****

OC is oleoresin capsicum or resin of red pepper. It is measured by percentage but that means nothing in and of itself. Some peppers are hotter than others as we have all noted at restaurants. Scovel Heat Units is an old measure of "how Hot." The Scovel taste scale runs from about 500,000 to a couple of million. Anyway-- 1 million or better is good stuff. Then get a percentage of 6% minimum - 10 % would be better.
OC - 10% - 1.5 Million Scovel Heat Unit OC gets a *** rating out of FIVE *****.

Remember this about Sprays

They are not instantly effective (Takes a few seconds to work).

They don't always work (Does not work on all people or people who are insane, extremely mad -- seeing "RED", or drugged).

Sprays work best to keep several (non-gun wielding) attackers away.

Sprays work best on people who are surprised by it.

Sprays work on the sprayer too (watch backsplash/wind).

Sprays only can help if readily (I mean READILY available...not in a pocket or purse).

Chemical combinations of above are slightly better.

Ultraviolet dyes serve no use -- hype stuff. Not many officers carry ultraviolet lights to detect it.


DON'T EVEN CONSIDER AN ELECTRICAL SHOCKING DEVICE FOR PERSONAL DEFENSE EXCEPT the AirTaser (trade name). It is okay. It shoots darts that may stick in the clothing or body of an assailant with wires attached. Capacitative shock delivered through wires. Older Tasers were about 30% effective in use in Nashville (1976-1980) with the darts fired explosively. Flailing arms often pull the darts out. Decent for police departments and new pulsed versions are MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE. It is definitely NOT a viable alternative for citizens -- thinking of protecting yourself with one of these devices is a waste of time.
Stun guns are minimally useful for police departments but NOT for citizens. You don't ever want to get that close or have to hold something up against somebody (an attacker) for several seconds to be minimally effective. Might be helpful for low level control of resistive subjects for police.
Air Taser(trade name) a **** rating out of FIVE*****For POLICE
Electric Shockers a * rating out of FIVE***** For police departments. Takes too long while you are too close.
Electric Shockers a 0 rating out of FIVE***** For citizens and people with no training. Takes too long while you are too close. Works as well as a rabbit's foot.

Hand Held Alarms

Rarely useful and easy to silence. A whistle is better, cheaper and never needs batteries. Get a Fox Police Whistle on a thin string around neck, wrist, or pocket. Most often these handheld alarms are thrown down on the concrete and stomped. If they are high decibel (120Db) -- At what distance are they 120Db? 5 inches? 5 feet? 10 feet? How often do police get car and building alarms that are much louder?...Often. People do not come running. The main advantage is that this thing makes noise even after it is tossed on top of the building next helps police/citizens locate the area of the least, within an arm's throw of the attack site.
Hand held alarms (not counting whistle) a * rating out of FIVE*****

Odor Repellent

Here is a cute little olfactory number. Clip this vial to your collar and smash it when attacked. Contains butyric acid or similar and smells horrible. Supposed to ward off attackers. Never seen it used myself. It makes the victim? retch while trying to rip
off their own clothes... dubious. The victim would BE affected until the chemical is neutralized with bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite solution).
Odorous, noisome personal devices - * out of FIVE*****

Remember that Self Protection is a habit of mind and you can reduce your risks; not eliminate them. You can be a victim but you can make choices and do things that can save your life. You are valuable to us because no one is truly free when any of us live in fear-- feel free to e-mail questions. Suggestions are welcome.

Copyright 1995 Ken R. Pence