When I told our kids, all nine of them, what a TigerLight was and what they do, I tried to help them understand what it would be like if they messed with them and sprayed themselves.
They had all had a taste of tabasco sauce so I started there. Most had also eaten a Jalapeño pepper as well or at least taken a little bite. So I asked them to imagine what it would be like if they took just the juice from a Jalapeño pepper and put it into their eyes and all over their face. I said, “That would be terrible, right? That would just ‘kill’ right?”
Then I said, “Well, that Jalapeño pepper is somewhere between 5,000 and 15,000 Scoville Heat Units, which shows how hot it is. Guess how many Scoville Heat Units this pepper spray is?” They would start guessing a little more, “20,000? 30,000? 50,000?”
“No….more” I’d say. Now their eyes are getting wider and they are looking at each other. Then someone says, “100,000!?”
“No, you are not even close!” I’d say. “It’s two million (great emphasis) Scoville Heat Units! (Pause) Two Miiiiillion! It feels like your skin is melting off your face! You have never felt pain like this in your life and it doesn’t go away for at least 30 - 40 minutes! It’s made to stop big, really bad guys who really want to hurt you!” That pretty much did the trick.
We’ve had TigerLights around the house for many years and never had a problem with the kids playing with them. Now Dad, on the other hand, should have listened to his own presentation a little better, but that brings up another very important point. Just like all peppers are not the same and some get up around a million SHUs, all pepper spray is not the same, inspite of what they say on the label.
The University of Utah tested a long list of commercial pepper sprays, all of which claimed to be between 500,000 - 2,000,000 SHU and between 0.20 and 1.33 percent major capsaicinoid, which is a much better indication of heat than SHUs. However, only two of the brands were anywhere close to what they claimed on their labels, some even 1/100th their claimed potency. Many were 1/10th or worse. They were also very inconsistent batch to batch.
The other thing is particle size and delivery method. The delivery method makes a huge difference. When we watch people take a hit on YouTube, especially with a stream spray, and they are standing there with their eyes closed, holding their breath, I would say that the difference in physical and psychological effect between this and being sprayed by an accelerated cone spray, like that in TigerLights, when you are not prepared and your eyes and mouth are open and you are breathing, is like the difference between being hit by your little sister and being hit by Mike Tyson, then immediately being choked out by Royce Gracie, while Mike is still hitting you!
Now, one might think that was a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe the little sister part was. However, I’ll illustrate with a true story. I once received a call from a large law enforcement department’s head of OC training who was absolutely convinced we were putting something other than pepper spray in the TigerLights. Why did he think this? Because their department-issued spray, the best they could find, had a documented “stop rate” below 50%. Pepper spray is usually between 50% - 70%. They attributed the lower results to the high use of the drug PCP by criminals in the area. The PCP pretty much turns off their pain receptors and they simply are not stopped by what would otherwise be extreme pain and discomfort. However, many of their deputies had been using TigerLights for more than a year and a half without a single failure to stop, after many uses. So, why was Joe calling me now, after all this time? What was he worried about?
The night before he had witnessed the “stop” of a guy on PCP who had beaten another guy nearly to death in a fist fight. When they went to arrest him he jumped up on top of one of the patrol cars and said, “Come and get me mother f————-!”
Joe watched a deputy, about half this steroid-enhanced guy’s size, calmly walk up to the subject who was towering above him and with TigerLight in hand said, “Sir, get off the vehicle. You are under arrest. “F— U” was the response.
“Sir, if you don’t get down off that vehicle I’m going to have to hurt you, real bad.”
Joe explained that the scene was almost comical, sort of a David and Goliath type scenario. When they guy leaned forward with intense aggression and began to repeat his mantra, there was a SWOOSH sound and the guys feet flew out from under him, landing him on his back on the edge of the car and to the ground, gasping for air. Once he was suitable for transportation they put him in Joe’s car and all the way to jail he kept yelling, “What was that? That wasn’t pepper spray!” He repeated this over and over. Joe got concerned that if it wasn’t pepper spray that was approved for use by the department, they could get into serious legal trouble and he would be the one they came to for an explanation.
So, he checked the history and found that there had not been a single failure, making TigerLights over two times more effective. He thought, “ How could that even be possible? They must be adding something.” So, he called up.
I pointed out that he had the MSDS from the manufacturer of the spray and the reason it was so much more effective was because those guys on PCP did not see it coming like they did with a can of spray, so they did not have time to close their eyes and hold their breath and were being “choked out” rather than “punched out.” Although he had been the head OC instructor for over 17 years, he had not considered this because he had never experienced it, which is why people have a hard time believing that having a TigerLight is not the same thing as having a can of pepper spray.
I have had it both ways and I can tell you there is absolutely no comparison. Both the physiological and psychological effects are dramatically more intense, resulting in FAR greater effectiveness and a much more miserable experience for the person being sprayed. If you can’t breath, you can’t fight. That’s why guys can pound each other in the face for five rounds, but a few seconds in a choke hold and it’s over.