Is OC Spray effective? Most of the time it proves an adequate deterrent. Its effectiveness is essentially determined by how motivated and aggressive the attacker is. Most defensive shootings end within only several shots fired, if shots are needed at all. Why? Because criminals don’t like being shot so they decide to make like a tree and leave when the gun comes out. Similarly, OC Spray is incredibly painful for most people and most assholes don’t like getting sprayed in the face with it. After taking a dose most break off aggressions and go find a sink in which to wash their eyes out. However, what about that more rare specimen?
The bottom line is simply this: if an attacker is determined the spray will not stop him. It may give you at least more opportunity to get out of dodge as it might force his eyes closed to some extent, but it will not stop a serious threat. Some won’t even be phased. Pain compliance cannot be counted on to neutralize. A kick in the nuts won’t neutralize everyone, neither will OC spray. Pepper spray is only a chemical irritant that causes pain; pain which some are completely immune to.
Nevertheless, I am an absolute advocate for carrying OC Spray and I advise doing so entirely because it is indeed a “deterrent” rather than a true weapon. I think spay should be carried as a less-lethal option while you carry your lethal option, not as a “weapon” instead of a real weapon. The deterrent factor of spray can be enormously useful for some situations. The reason I like carrying it is for exactly this deterrent factor. What spray can sometimes do is de-escalate what can become a knock-down drag-out fight. In those, bad things can happen to good people.
If an asshole who wants to get physical because you accidentally bumped into him can be turned away by spray so be it. Without the option you are going to hands. If you go to hands you risk injury and if you are the kind of guy who reads this stuff to begin with then the other guy might REALLY risk injury. Better for him to have burning eyes for half an hour than to have a broken jaw and nose. And it is better for you that the guy has burning eyes for half an hour than you go to hands and lock up with him and he feels your holstered gun.
If the spray works everyone is better off. If it fails, be ready to escalate to whatever force needed. This is again why I like the ASP Key Defender. Larger OC units in more traditional dispensers give significantly more range and volume of spray than the Key Defender, but if the spray does not gain compliance I am holding a kubaton for my next form of negotiation since there may still be significant territory before arriving at a blade or gun solution.