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Does pepper spray come in different strengths? The strongest concentrations are 15% active ingredients and rated at 2 million scoville heat units. The high scoville heat rating is more important than the percentage of pepper spray ingredients.
First of all, there are stronger OC formulas than 15% and 2,000,000 shu's. The Streetwise brand which I sell on my website is a 17% concentration of OC rated at 2,000,000 shu's. This gives an "out of the nozzle" heat rating of 340,000 shu. 17% X 2,ooo,ooo shu= 340,000 shu. A 15% formula of 2,000,000 shu would yield 300,000 shu, still a very hot formula.
There is also a competitor spray by Fox Labs that boasts a 5.2 million shu formula. However it is only a 2% concetration giving it a OTN rating of a little over 100,000 shu, which is less than 15%, 17%, or even 10% at 2,000,000 shu.
Now as far as CN and CS tear gas, CN actually worked quickly compared to CS. CN takes effect in 2-5 seconds even without a direct hit in the eyes.
CS takes upto 24 seconds to take effect and needs to be in the eyes to really be effective. CS is the nastier and lasts longer when it does take effect however. Besides information from law enforcement sources when these were used by them, I have tried CN, CS, and OC sprays on myself as well as on the street, and therefore have a frame of reference on the subject. Law enforcement rarely used CS spray formulations, instead using CN because of it's quicker effects.
The reason law enforcement switched to OC is the fact that tear gas works on pain, where as OC, while very painful, works whether the target feels pain or not. Since law enforcement often deal with people under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or deranged suspects that feel no pain.
For civilian use CN was fairly effective since most criminals attack when they needing drugs not on them. Even crooks usually go to work sober.
I have been selling defense sprays since the late 70's and was selling CN to civilians when most everyone else sold CS, except to law officers. I even sold an OC spray in the mid 70's called Protect U Spray. It had a great cone spray and was pretty effective, at only .35% strength! Postmen carry Halt a stream spray at the same potency. Pepper spray strength has come a long way!