LAST UPDATED: November 14, 2019
Best Pepper Sprays: Maximize Your Personal Safety
Get yourself out of harm's way with these top pepper sprays
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PUBLISHED ON November 14, 2019
Self-defense tactics coupled with a few self-defense tools can be useful in a sudden attack. But before you invest in self-defense classes, think about purchasing a bottle of pepper spray. It’s a quick and easy way to stay safe when you are walking or running alone on a lonely road. It can also come in handy if someone tries to attack you in your car. Here are some of the best pepper sprays to up your safety game.
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Benefits of Pepper Sprays
- Affordability. Pepper spray is an affordable way to protect yourself. This makes it more likely that you’ll be able to protect yourself since other personal protection options can be cost-prohibitive.
- Protection. The small size of a pepper spray means you can bring it with you during all of your activities. This gives you increased protection no matter what you’re doing, from working out to grocery shopping.
- Identification. It can be tough to definitively pinpoint your attacker post-attack. Some pepper sprays have UV dye to make this process easy. This takes the guesswork out of identifying who your attacker is.
Types of Pepper Sprays
You can achieve a spray range of 15-20 feet with a spray. How far yours will go will depend on the size of the canister and the amount of propellant. Because of this extra force, it’s less susceptible to wind and blowback. If you use it in an enclosed area, you risk inhaling the liquid spray or getting splashed.
A fogger will have a spray range of 4-8 feet. While they are effective for spraying at a distance, they aren’t effective in windy conditions. The fog is a collection of fine droplets, so you risk blowback or the wind taking the mist away completely. Be sure you’re standing upwind if you choose to use a fogger.
If you want to protect yourself while indoors or in an enclosed space, then gel is the way to go. You can achieve a spray range of up to 25 feet. The gel isn’t susceptible to wind or blowback because of its thicker consistency. It also is more effective because it sticks to your attacker once it makes contact.
The foam pepper spray is similar to the gel, which makes it perfect for use in tight quarters or inside. When you spray the foam, it will coat the attacker to create full coverage. You can achieve this protection from 6 to 8 feet away. It also is less vulnerable to wind and blowback.
Founded in 1975, Sabre’s headquarters is located in Fenton, Mississippi. The company is well-known for its reliable products. The company produces a range of personal protection products, including stun guns, sprays, and gels. Consider carrying the Sabre Red Pepper Gel Spray.
Founded in 1992, Fox Labs supplies both individuals and law enforcement agencies. The company claims to produce the most intense pepper spray on earth. You can have your own intense spray with the Fox Labs -11G 2% OC-UV Key Chain.
The Mace Brand began experimenting with the ideal formulation of pepper spray in1965. The company has a long history of innovation as they have developed their products and sprays over the years. It’s the original and most authentic spray on the market. Try it for yourself with the Mace Brand Self Defense Magnum Collection.
Pepper Spray Pricing
- Under $25: These are discreet pepper spray canisters that you can easily hide on a keychain or in your purse. They have flip tops and typically have a keychain attached.
- $25 to $55: These are larger canisters that can be around 13 ounces and have a range of up to 25 feet. The pepper spray in this category is used by police and looked at more as a home defense device.
- $55 to $100: The pepper spray in this price range may not have more volume per canister, but it’ll shoot further and have more features. You’ll find several pepper spray guns, safety pins, and hand straps.
The size of the can you buy will determine how long you can dispense the spray. Bigger isn’t always better. You need to think about the convenience of carrying the can. There are also maximum limits in some states. Smaller units are meant for carrying on a key ring, while medium cans are good for on a belt holster or in a purse. Most people buy a 4 ounce can for personal protection.
You need to buy the right pepper spray for your intended purpose. If you’re looking for self-defense, then you need to buy a spray that’s meant for humans. There is also pepper spray that’s meant to protect you from dogs or bears. Buy the spray that matches the animal you want to protect yourself from.
Range and Pattern
Look at how the pepper spray will leave the canister. Some will shoot a stream. This type will have a longer range and allow you to target your attacker better. A stream is harder to get inhaled, though. A mist is more easily inhaled but has a shorter effective range. The third spray pattern is foam. It stays contained better, so you don’t hit an unintended target. Unfortunately, it has a shorter range, won’t be inhaled, and is slow to take effect.
- Legality. You need to know the laws in your state for non-lethal self-defense tools. Some states have strict laws pertaining to size and shipment. Some states define their laws based on intended uses. For example, New York only lets its residents buy human defense pepper spray from licensed dealers, but animal sprays can be bought from online sellers. Then other states limit the amount you’re allowed to carry.
- Formula. Under the category of pepper spray meant for humans, you’ll find three main types of formulas: CN, CS, and OC spray. CN and CS are military or police strength sprays that cause pain. OC will cause pain and cause inflammation. This can make it difficult and painful to open your eyes and even breathe.
- UV Dye. Some pepper sprays that are meant for self-protection come with an additional UV dye. This can help law enforcement identify your attacker by shining a UV light on the accused. You and the attacker won’t be able to see the dye in normal light, but it will glow under UV lights.
Best Pepper Sprays Reviews & Recommendations 2020
When it comes to non-lethal self-defense, nothing works as well as pepper spray. It is legal in all American states as a self-defense weapon. It is also easier to carry when you're engaged in physical activities like running. If you're looking for pepper spray to buy, here's one that works. It emits a powerful spray that causes disorientation, shortness of breath, and profuse tearing.
The Mace pepper spray combines the power of teargas and Oleoresin Capsicum (OC). OC is a derivative of cayenne pepper that can cause temporary blindness and a burning sensation in the eyes and mouth. It incapacitates an attacker, allowing you to get away safely. The canister only weighs 11 grams and contains 15 bursts of powerful spray.
This pepper spray features a finger-grip design to maximize your grasp and targeting accuracy. Its flip-top safety cap helps prevent misfires and accidents.
However, this pepper spray doesn't spray as far as expected and may trickle out at times. The canister is also tiny and you may easily lose it.
This Sabre 3-in-1 pepper spray is an affordable method of self-protection. It has a reinforced trigger to prevent you from accidentally spraying it.
You can achieve a 10-foot spray range and up to 35 spray bursts. It also contains a UV marking dye for attacker identification later. Each formulation goes through lab testing for user safety and optimum performance.
You’ll need to routinely replace your pepper spray if you don’t use it. This spray has a four-year shelf life. The spray nozzle can fail or leak, which puts you at risk of getting the contents on your hands. This can cause a burning sensation.
This wristband style pepper spray is lightweight and perfect for personal protection while doing outdoor activities. You can carry it while running, jogging, walking the dog, or bicycling. The spray has a 12-foot spray range.
This pepper spray canister is easily accessible and can fit comfortably on your wrist. It also comes with a built-in money holder and an ID card. It gives you more visibility with reflective trim and an LED light.
If you’re doing intense physical activity, then you risk the spray or LED light falling off mid-activity. Also, the wristband material isn’t the most comfortable and may irritate your skin.
Protect yourself with this 1.5-ounce can of 2 percent OC spray. You’ll be able to fire 18 bursts that are a half-second in duration. The stream will extend 17 to 20 feet. The can is only four inches tall and 1.25 inches in diameter. This unit is made in the USA. The lid on the canister is a flip-top design for safety and to prevent accidental discharge.
This pepper spray stands out because this small canister can deliver some serious protection in strength and spraying distance. It also has a long shelf life of three years, so you won’t have to replace it often. The spray contained inside also has a UV dye to further identify your attacker.
The downside of this canister is that it doesn’t come with a carrying loop or handle. This can make it hard to locate and use if it isn’t readily available and within reach. You may also find that the spray doesn’t reach as far as the manufacturer claims.
This stylish pepper spray canister is perfect for women. This model comes in a blinged-out rose gold, but you can also choose from black, grey, millennial pink, pack pink, and silver. Each canister holds .5 ounces of 1.4 percent MC spray. You can get 12 to 15 bursts of spray that shoot 12 feet. The lid of the spray features a safety lock to prevent accidental discharge.
You’ll like how nice this pepper spray keychain looks. The lightweight feel and sturdy clip will make it a breeze to have attached to your keychain. This makes it easily and readily within reach when you need it the most. The spray also contains a UV dye that will stain the attacker.
Unfortunately, the safety cap tends to pop off or break. This can make it dangerous to carry or not dependable for use when you need it most. The rose gold finish can scrape or chip off.
Choose from black, pink, or red when purchasing this discreet pepper spray. It comes with a 10 percent OC pepper spray that is capable of spraying up to 10 feet. There’s enough spray to deploy up to 10 bursts of two to three seconds each. The trigger comes with a flip-top safety cap to prevent accidental sprays.
You’ll like that you have options when it comes to carrying this canister. You can attach it to your keyring or use the included belt clip. You’ll be able to carry this canister for three to four years before you’ll need to replace it. The spray inside also comes with a UV dye to make identifying your attacker easier.
Unfortunately, you’ll want to confirm you get the right product as not all canisters come with the belt clip. The loop that holds the keyring to the canister isn’t very durable and can break. The canister can also be defective, which will make it useless in an emergency situation.
This slim and compact pepper spray pen is discreet and convenient. It comes with two keyrings at one end for attaching it to your keys. It comes in seven colors, including black, blue, pink, textured black, red, gold, and silver. Each canister comes with a 10 percent OC spray. It has the capacity to hold .14 ounces, which is enough to spray six half-second bursts.
What’s really nice about this pepper spray is that it doesn’t look anything like a typical canister. This makes it easily hidden in plain sight. It also doesn’t have a trigger that could easily engage and spray when you least want it to.
The downside of this canister is that it is quite small compared to other options on this list. It doesn’t hold nearly as much pepper spray and doesn’t shoot as far. The hole for the sprayer is also directly on the end of the pen-like canister, which can make it awkward to point and use.
This pepper spray canister comes with a nylon holster to make carrying it easier. The canister holds four ounces of 17 percent OC police-grade pepper spray. It also has UV dye to mark your attacker and make identification easier. The canister comes with a flip-top for safety.
The flip-top is easy to operate and fast to deploy the spray. The nylon holster means you can have it easily within reach when you need it most. When you do use the spray, you’re using some very powerful spray that will effectively protect you from a dangerous situation.
The downside of this pepper spray is that it is larger and obvious pepper spray. This makes it challenging to discreetly carry it. The nylon holster also feels a bit flimsy as the material might begin to fray. The belt loop part can also fall off completely, which will result in your pepper spray canister falling off and potentially getting lost.
This small canister of pepper spray is designed to attach to your keychain. It comes in a pack of two, three, four, or five. Each pack will have different colors for each canister. The colors are black, pink, mint, light grey, and dusk purple. Each canister can achieve a 10-foot spray and deliver up to 25 bursts.
The shelf life for these canisters is four years, which makes it longer than many of the other canisters on the market. It also has a significantly higher burst rate than comparable products. The keyring attachment is a quick-release design for easier deployment. The trigger also has a safety lock that’s a reinforced lock to make it secure.
Having to order multiple canisters may be more than what you need and result in unused products. The plastic parts for the keyring quick release can break. The safety lock isn’t very secure, and can easily slide into the unlock position, which creates a risk of accidental deployment.
Choose from blue, pink, or red for your pepper spray canister. Then choose between a two- or four-pack of canisters. Each one comes with a keychain ring for easy carrying. You’ll be able to deploy up to ten short bursts of up to 10 feet each. There are 11 grams of pepper spray in each canister. The pepper spray is a 10 percent OC formula.
What’s nice about this pepper spray is that it also has a UV dye to mark your attacker for easier identification later on. It’s also quite small yet powerful enough to shoot a decent distance. The standout feature of this canister is the warranty. If you submit a police report showing you used their product in an emergency, the manufacturer will give you a free replacement.
The downside of this product is that the trigger lock is weak and can come unintentionally unlocked. The trigger also requires a strong press before it will deploy.
- Enroll in a self-defense class if you are not confident about your skills and reactions when you are in the face of danger. They will help you build your strength, and you will learn new skills to combat attackers.
- Always carry your pepper spray whenever you go out. It should be a permanent part of your daily luggage, and consider hiding one in your vehicle’s glove box.
- When in an elevator or any enclosed space, liquid pepper spray may splash all around, and you may end up getting burned. Consider using a gel spray that typically shoots out in one direction.
- Never relax after spraying the attacker. The spray takes a few seconds to start working. You should run or start defending yourself immediately after you spray it.
- If you don’t want to attract attention to your pepper spray, consider buying one that’s shaped like lipstick or an attractive keychain, which is harder to suspect.
Q: Can pepper spray blind a perpetrator?
A: Most pepper sprays aren’t designed to cause permanent retinal damage. It only works to disorient the attacker and give you enough time to escape to a secure place. It can, however, cause temporary blurry vision, which can be cleared off with cold running water.
Q: How long does the pepper spray effect last?
A: Depending on the concentration of the irritant, the effects can last for about 45 minutes after 10 seconds of contact. The redness and eye irritation can last for an hour, and if the spray has a UV-marking dye, it can last for 24 hours.
Q: What’s the impact of pepper spray on a perpetrator?
A: Pepper spray typically causes a strong burning and itching sensation upon contact no matter if the perp's eyes are open or closed. If it gets into the eyes, it can cause them to tear up and lead to temporary vision loss. If inhaled, it can burn the mucous membrane and cause severe coughing and shortness of breath.
Q: How do I protect myself from the effects of the pepper spray?
A: Keep your distance, and spray with your arm stretched out. Maintain a minimal shooting range of about five feet if you can. You should also note that if there are strong winds blowing, some of the fluid may splash on your face.
Our top pick is the Mace Pepper Spray with Tear Gas for its combination of ingredients that will defend you against attackers.
A more affordable pepper spray is the SABRE Advanced Compact Pepper Spray. Its compact design can fit in a purse or in your pocket.