Pepper spray is an essential item to carry, especially if you carry a firearm.
The reasoning is that as a firearm carrier, you should be sensitive to the 'force continuum'. Don't hit someone if you can stop them by yelling at them, don't shoot if you can stop with a punch (or pepper spray).
Pepper spray can be very useful for ending confrontations before they escalate to the point that you are faced with the decision of how to deal with someone who is trying to fight with you. Do you really want to be rolling around in a fistfight with someone trying to hurt you? :shattered: I don't.
Pepper spray is especially effective against panhandlers and bums who aren't easily convinced that you actually do want them to leave you alone. One quick 1 second burst to the face and mr. 'yo-can-I-get-a-dolla' will immediately forget what he was doing and go away.
I got my wife some Street Wise 17% O.C. Spray. From my understanding, OC at that concentration will burn the poor unfortunate soul's eyeballs right out of their sockets ( not really :lol: but that is what the sensation, I am told, is like)
I have been sprayed with pepper spray, and I have sprayed many people with it. It is not that bad. It is not pleasant, but I would not bet my life on it. I once hosed a guy down until the stuff dripped off his nose - and he made some comment like "That's hot!" and made sounds like he was tasting it.
It is not guaranteed to work. Most of the time it does, but I think part of the effect is psychological. If you want to keep doing whatever you are doing once you get sprayed, you can. Your eyes will really want to close (and keep seeming to do it on their own), and snot will pour uncontrollably, but you can function.