Best Pepper Sprays: Maximize Your Personal Safety
Get yourself out of harm's way with these top pepper sprays
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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED 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.
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- 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.