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Pepper Spray FAQ's

Pepper Spray
Frequently Asked Questions

These are some common questions that are often asked about pepper spray. The answers are based on my 24 years of law enforcement training, experience, and research. I have extensive experience in law enforcement and civilian training and use of pepper spray.

Does Pepper Spray really work?
Yes! In my experience, a quality pepper spray such as SABRE RED has proven to be extremely effective against very hostile subjects and highly aggressive physical assaults. I am a very staunch advocate for carrying pepper spray for personal defense and believe very strongly in the advantage that it gives you in keeping you and your family safe. I have carried and recommended pepper spray for many, many years.

I'm often asked... "but what if it doesn't completely work, or totally stop the person attacking you"?  In a worst case scenario of a highly motivated person fighting through the devastating effects of pepper spray and continuing to to attack you; there are two things to keep in mind. #1- While maybe the pepper spray hasn't totally overcome them, it still will generally have some effect on their vision and breathing. Can you imagine the handful that the same person would be if they were not somewhat impeded or slowed down by the pepper spray? If forced to defend myself, I'd much rather face a subject after they were sprayed with pepper spray opposed to them not having been sprayed at all. #2- If you legally carry a concealed weapon and you are forced to further defend yourself against a highly motivated and violent subject after having the opportunity to attempt to stop them with pepper spray, you have demonstrated that you attempted a lower level of force, before you were forced to escalate. Even if you are unable to deploy pepper spray prior to using a higher level of force, even deadly force, you have demonstrated that you have prepared for and/or considered alternative force options by the fact that you also carry pepper spray.

Why should I choose and carry Pepper Spray?
A quality pepper spray allows you to deal with and respond to aggression from a distance. Pepper spray, while usually instantaneous, may take a few seconds for the effects to overcome a person. That is why you have to "spray and move" after deploying pepper spray, and always be prepared to physically defend yourself. Think of it as "Bull Fighting" and simply side step if an attacker aggresses you after being sprayed.

I have advocated carrying pepper spray for personal defense for over 20 years, for both law enforcement and civilian personnel. No matter what level of self defense skill you posses, pepper spray has a place in your personal defense strategy. The biggest misconception, among men that is, is that pepper spray is mainly for women. Most women, on the other hand, easily recognize the value of pepper spray for personal defense. Sometimes our egos get in the way of common sense. But consider that some of the biggest, baddest, toughest, most highly trained, and smartest guys I know...carry pepper spray.

For civilians, along with personal self defense training, self-defense sprays are usually the only other non-lethal force option available. For this reason, it is absolutely imperative that civilians carry the most effective products possible. The ideal spray should completely incapacitate the attacker and allow the victim to escape and call the police. If you are able to contact local law enforcement immediately, there is a very good chance that officers will be able to apprehend the attacker. If not, a description and an ultraviolet dye will mark and associate the attacker to the scene of the crime. You should carry a defense spray which incapacitates the attacker for as long as possible to allow you to get away.

What are some misconceptions about pepper spray?
A common misconception is that pepper spray is mainly for women. Many men don't initially consider pepper spray for personal defense. However, after taking a moment to consider all of the advantages that pepper spray affords you, most men that I talk to quickly agree that pepper spray is a smart choice. I usually carry a firearm off duty, but I'm never without pepper spray. Another misconception is held by many people who legally carry a firearm for personal defense. Some think that since they have a gun, what more do they need? Those people fail to realize that they are many times more likely to be involved in a fistfight rather than a gunfight, and in those situations they have to protect themselves and their firearm!

What is Oleoresin Capsicum?
Oleoresin Capsicum is the oil taken from the placenta near the stem of a pepper. Oleoresin Capsicum is the active ingredient used in most self-defense sprays and is the spray of choice for police since 1977.

What are Capsaicin & Capsaicinoids?
Oleoresin Capsicum is comprised of several different Capsaicinoids. The Capsaicinoid is responsible for providing the pungency or hotness of a pepper and in turn "Pepper Spray" is called Capsaicin. The Major Capsaicinoids Content (MCC) represents the heat bearing and pain producing components of the defense spray. Therefore, it is the % of the total capsaicinoids and capsaicin, not the capsicum % that is important. Oleoresin Capsicum percentages (OC %) only measure the amount of red pepper contained in the defense spray, not the pungency or effectiveness of the product. For instance, although the Michigan version of Sabre Red produced for REASONABLE FORCE is only 2% OC (as required by Michigan Law), it is many times hotter than many of the other 5% &10% OC sprays carried by most police departments. See next section on SHU's.

What are Scoville Heat Units (SHU's)?
Scoville Heat Units are another method used to measure the pungency of defense sprays. The Habanero is the hottest chili pepper, measuring 325,000+ SHU's. Most SABRE & SABRE Red pepper sprays measure 2,000,000 SHU's which is over six times hotter than a habanero. The Michigan Formula of SABRE Red produced for REASONABLE FORCE measures 5,000,000 SHU's!

The most effective means of determining a defense sprays pungency is to consider each of the following:
Capsaicin Percentage
Percentage of Major Capsaicinoids (MCC)
Scoville Heat Units
Oleoresin Capsicum Percentage

What are the effects of a quality OC Pepper Spray?
The effects are essentially immediate!  When a person is sprayed with OC, two things happen. First, the person's eyes clamp shut - hard! Not only that, but if they do manage to force them open they still can't see very well because the OC dilates the capillaries and causes temporary blindness. Second, an immediate fit of uncontrollable coughing doubles the person over because the OC causes instant inflammation of the breathing tissues, restricting all but life support breathing. OC has the affect of putting up a brick wall between an assailant and the sprayer. While most effects are immediate, you should always be prepared to move away (side step) from the attacker and/or be prepared to physically defend yourself. I've personally sprayed and have witnessed hundreds of people get sprayed in training and in real-life encounters. I've seen some people go down like a ton of bricks while others had to "marinate" approximately 4-7 seconds before the effects overcame them.

Are Law Enforcement Defense Sprays significantly more potent than civilian products?
There are significant differences in potency from one defense spray to the next. However, civilians have access to defense sprays with the same potency as carried by agencies using the strongest available formulations. Please keep in mind that many agencies carry defense sprays for quick takedown and quick decontamination. Other departments opt for the strongest formulation possible. Either way, Michigan consumers are able to purchase products of the same strengths. Remember, don't be mislead by OC percentages. Just because a law enforcement agency may carry a 10% spray, or you see a 5%-15% spray advertised on the internet, it doesn't necessarily mean that it is hotter than a Sabre Red product at 2%.

Though many agencies carry either the SABRE or SABRE Red defense sprays, there is not an agency in the United States that is carrying another OC formulation which is consistently more effective than the SABRE Red produced for REASONABLE FORCE and is legal for sale in Michigan!

How long do most units fire?
On average, all SABRE Red units fire approximately 75% longer than the industry average. For example, the average ½ oz canister fires for approximately 5 seconds. All SABRE Red ½ oz units fire for at least 35 seconds!

How long will most products last?
All aerosol products will eventually lose pressure over time. Most defense sprays last for only two years from their manufacturing date. Because all SABRE RED products use only the best available components and formulation ingredients, all SABRE RED products are guaranteed for up to four years from date of manufacture!

How far do most products fire?
Depending upon the wind, most defense sprays using a stream spray fire ten to twelve feet. Defense sprays using a cone/mist spray fire from six to ten feet.

What are the different types of dispersion?
Ballistic Stream: Decreases wind blow-back. The ballistic stream (similar to the water guns sold today) will blast an attacker with a stream of super-hot pepper! If you miss, or the attacker was in a hard- to-reach area, you can "fan" this spray during discharge. Fanning is a technique for hitting your mark. You spray the stream then move your dispersions path from side to side until you hit the attacker in the face, eyes, nose and mouth.

Foam: This type is excellent for blow-back protection and immediate saturation. EXAMPLE: If it is windy, you can spray this with minimum to no pepper blowback contaminating you. Also, it is ideal for hitting attackers in tight areas, e.g., through your partially opened car window, and helps with aim. Through a partially opened car window you have no misting action that can contaminate the interior of the vehicle. Great for home/office use or any other inside area (hospitals, businesses, courtrooms, etc.) without cross-contaminating the rest of the indoor area. Ideal for individuals who themselves are sensitive to pepper spray, since there is little or no blow-back and no cross-contamination when used indoors. A common misconception is that the attacker, once sprayed with the foam can just wiped it away and continue to attack. Our Pepper Foam is like thick, splattery saving cream but with one addition; it also contains 5 million Scoville Heat Units of hot pepper. The attacker will try to wipe it off but it will be to late. The pepper works instantly, causing the eyes to seal with tears, nose to run, excessive coughing, shortness of breath, and an ever-increasing panic as their face is consumed by the foam.

Cone: Covers wide area and is the best in most situations. It is a fine mist that comes out in a forceful spray pattern usually at distances from 8 to 12 feet. In the latest generation of dispensing actuators, the mist is made up of super-fine droplets of pepper solution. These droplets help to minimize blow-back of pepper formula on you while the mist (looks like a concentrated fog) penetrates the attacker's skin pores and mucous membranes for an experience they will not soon forget! This pattern actually spreads out to a width of approximately 2 feet at its maximum distance. This pattern covers the whole face and is absorbed into the mucus membrane with hot pepper causing the eyes to seal with tears, nose to run, excessive coughing, shortness of breath, extreme panic, etc.

Will this work on individuals under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs?
Oleoresin Capsicum will temporarily blind an attacker and restrict normal breathing. Therefore, even if the attacker is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, defense sprays using OC are capable of causing incapacitation.

How do I use my pepper spray? & How long should I fire the can at the attacker?
Attempt to keep distance between you and the attacker. Aim the spray at the eyes and facial region of the threat and then release a 1 to 2 second spray. After you have done this MOVE out of the way, but keep your eyes on the threat. It is recommended that the canister be fired (repeated 1 to 2 second bursts) until the attacker is incapacitated. "Spray and Move" until the threat is eliminated. Once the attacker is stopped, escape immediately and call the police.

Will defense sprays work on dogs?
Oleoresin Capsicum will incapacitate animals. In fact, SABRE manufacturers the Frontiersman Bear Attack Deterrent to protect outdoorsmen from Bear Attacks. The OC used in both SABRE & SABRE Red can incapacitate dogs. In most cases, the act of spraying the animal and the forcefulness of the spray pattern will be enough to cause most animals to turn and run.

Why Choose Sabre Red?
All SABRE & SABRE RED Units Feature:
A four-year shelf life.
Independent laboratory testing.
An ultraviolet dye for suspect identification.
A superior, non-flammable and non-ozone depleting formulation.
A soluble formulation which does not require shaking before use. Approximately 75% more content per canister than the competition. Safety locking tops with easy operation to prevent accidental discharge. Special canisters to prevent leakage and chemical reactions from occurring.
A state of the art propellant allowing the last shot to shoot as far and as forceful as the first.

What sort of testing has been done on your products?
Each of our SABRE defense spray products have been tested by independent laboratories for the following:

Dermal Irritation
Eye Irritation
OC pungency

In addition, numerous other tests are performed on every SABRE defense spray canister that is produced. For example, a crimp, weight, pressure, and temperature test is performed on every SABRE canister. Sabre employs the highest quality control and production standards in the industry.

Why are defense sprays different prices? Aren’t they all the same?
There are many differences from one defense spray to the next. SABRE Red Pepper Sprays are very affordable and allow you to protect yourself for pennies a day. Here are the four most important features to consider when purchasing a defense spray:

I. Active Ingredient
We recommend that consumers carry our SABRE Red Michigan Formulation because it uses a very high concentration of Red Pepper & contains a UV Dye. SABRE Red takes effect quicker, produces a more intense effect, and outlast the effects of all other defense sprays.

II. Canister Content
The canister you carry should contain as much product as possible to allow you to test fire your unit, and stop multiple attackers if necessary. SABRE Red’s smallest canisters, the pen and ½ oz key-ring units, fire for 17 and 35 seconds, respectively. Our competitors’ products do not come close.

III. Shelf-Life
The longer the product is effective, the more value it has for you the consumer. SABRE Red is guaranteed to be effective for up to four years!

IV. Safety Mechanism
An easy to use safety is a must to prevent an unintentional discharge from occurring. SABRE Red units contain a safety which can be unlocked and fired with one hand, in one fluid motion.

For more information about the Michigan Formula of Sabre Red produced for REASONABLE FORCE, click here.

Are there any restrictions governing the use and sale of personal defense sprays?
There are certain restrictions in some areas of the country. The following states each have varying restrictions: HI, MA, MI, NY & WI. Reasonable Force Training suggests that individuals also familiarize themselves with their local laws and ordinances.

See Michigan Law.

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