Pepper spray is a means of ensuring your safety. It is one of the most effective self-defense tools that you can have. Pepper sprays come in many sizes and shapes, and their level of potency can also vary greatly. Finding the solution that’s right for you isn’t always a cut and dry process.
For this reason, we’ve put together our list of the 9 Best Pepper Sprays. Also, we’ve added a Buyer’s Guide that you can use to determine the criteria you should prioritize when selecting a new pepper spray. Lastly, our Frequently Asked Questions section will answer any remaining questions you might have. So let’s get started!
1. SABRE 3-in-1 Police Strength
This is the #1 pepper spray brand trusted by both police and consumers. It is widely used by police departments in Chicago and New York, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the U.S. Marshals. It is made for longevity with a 4-year shelf life from the manufacture date.
The Sabre Police Strength pepper spray offers a 10-foot range and can deliver up to 35 bursts in a powerful stream that reduces wind blowback. Sabre’s maximum strength formula has eliminated the 30% failure rate noted in many other brands, and this pepper spray easily clips on your belt, in your pocket, or inside a backpack or purse.
2. Mace Brand Triple Action Self Defense
This triple action pepper spray has a formula that contains OC pepper, tear gas, and UV dye. It’s a great self-defense solution for anyone that wants a spray that easily attaches to their keychain but still packs a punch when needed.
The Mace Brand Triple Action Self Defense pepper spray has a stream pattern with a range of up to 10 feet. It can provide up to 15 bursts that last 2-3 seconds each and offers a finger grip for secure handling. It also features a flip-top safety cap to prevent accident spraying and weighs a total of just 11 grams.
3. Fox Labs Mean Green
This pepper spray from Fox Labs is perfect for self-defense, but it’s also the best solution for anyone who wants to make sure law enforcement can track down an attacker after the fact. It comes with a green marker dye that will help identify assailants but doesn’t compromise on the stopping power that Fox Labs is known for.
The Fox Labs Mean Green pepper spray provides a heavy stream spray pattern that’s capable of reaching ranges between 12 to 15 feet. It contains 16 to 18 bursts of spray that each last a half-second and the resin used in this spray has been rated at 3,000,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) (1).
4. Sabre RED Pepper Gel
Uniquely different than many pepper sprays, Sabre’s RED Pepper Gel doesn’t atomize like many traditional pepper sprays. That means it virtually eliminates wind blowback and only affects what it directly contacts. It also means that it offers 20 percent greater range to provide protection at a safer distance.
Because it also contains UV marking dye to aid in suspect identification, this pepper gel is another great solution for law enforcement professionals. It offers a total range of 18 feet and contains 18 total bursts. It also comes with a belt holster for easy access and a flip-top safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge.
5. Little Viper Pepper Spray Bracelet
This innovative pepper spray solution eliminates fumbling in your purse, pocket, or backpack to find the canister in case of an emergency. Your spray is attached to your wrist in bracelet form so that you can easily defend yourself at a moment’s notice.
The Little Viper Pepper Spray Bracelet is ideal for joggers, students, dog walkers, or anyone else searching for a hands-free self-defense solution. It offers a 10% oleoresin capsicum (2) formula and can deliver a stream of spray up to 3 feet away. Perhaps best of all, the adjustable silicone wristband and concealed canister mean that nobody will know you’re wearing it.
6. UDAP 3P Jogger Fogger
This pepper spray is designed to provide protection against attacks on dark streets, in parking lots, or in other dangerous urban environments. It uses the most potent EPA-approved formula on the market, which consists of 1.34 percent Capsaicin (3) and other related Capsaicinoids that are responsible for giving all hot peppers their fire.
The UDAP 3P Jogger Fogger emits 8, one-second blasts and has a maximum range of 10 feet. It sprays in a powerful shotgun blast pattern to provide a greater likelihood of hitting your target. It’s a non-flammable solution and can be worn easily on a belt or even be strapped to the back of your hand.
7. The Wrist Saver
The Wrist Saver Pepper Spray is great for runners, joggers, walkers, and hikers. It is a lightweight wristband made from quality neoprene with an LED light and a highly reflective edging for nighttime safety. It also holds the 0.5-ounce pepper spray bottle secure and ready for use.
This pepper spray solution shoots up to 10 feet and comes with a safety twist lock top to prevent accidental discharge. It also features a built-in space for an emergency identification card, cash, and other essential cards you might bring along every day.
8. Fox Labs Flip Top Stream
For those looking for some extreme heat, look no further than the Fox Labs Five Point Three Flip Top Pepper Spray. This solution measures 5,300,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) and is used by the U.S. Military, as well as all types of municipal, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies around the world.
This pepper spray has a stream spray pattern that’s capable of reaching ranges of 15 to 18 feet. It can discharge up to 10 bursts that each last a half second and the spray’s spring-loaded flip top works to prevent accidental discharge. It also contains an invisible UV dye that aids in suspect identification when placed under a black light.
9. Defense Technology First Defense
Defense Technology’s First Defense pepper spray was already widely used amongst correctional officials, but it just got an overhaul. Its previous 5.5 percent Pepper Mace formulation has been replaced by a 1.3 percent Major Capsaicinoid formula that represents a non-flammable, EDW-safe iteration with significantly more intensity than previous formulas.
This pepper spray uses nitrogen as its primary propellant to achieve ranges from 10 to 12 feet. It can provide 12 to 14 short bursts in a stream pattern and offers a minimal formulation weight of just 0.68 ounces.
The reality is that law enforcement professionals are most likely looking at different criteria than civilians when selecting pepper spray. But there is a solution out there for everyone, so to help you find yours, this Buyer’s Guide will focus on four major characteristics of pepper sprays: types, strength, safety features, and legality.
There are three major types of pepper sprays: stream, cone, and foam. Each offers its own unique pros and cons. Let’s take a brief look at each:
Pepper sprays that offer a ‘stream pattern’ spray their solution much like a water gun. These sprays are often capable of achieving a greater distance, which allows you to stay further away from an attacker. They’re also liquid-based, which reduces the change of wind pushing some of the pepper spray back to hit you. The downsides of stream spray are that it can be difficult to accurately hit an assailant in the eyes and that it often proves ineffective against multiple attackers.
Sprays with a ‘cone pattern’ produce in a “shotgun” style that’s similar to that hairspray bottle, but with much more force and distance. These sprays cover a wider area and don’t require exceptional aim. They also remain in the air after you spray, which can result in the attacker running into it. However, this means that sprays with a cone dispersion are more likely to come back to hit you if sprayed into the wind. Also, they offer a shorter range than most stream sprays.
The last spray type is foam. Foam pepper sprays like shaving cream, but also with more force and greater distance. These sprays are better for indoor use because they are easier to clean up. They also cover the attacker’s face well and are particular effective against attackers with glasses because the foam is often sticky and opaque. The downside of foam-based pepper spray is that they tend to cover the shortest distance of the three types.
Most pepper sprays come with an ‘MC rating’. ‘MC’ stands for Major Capsaicinoids and the rating is often displayed as a percentage. In general, a higher percentage means the pepper spray is going to be “hotter” and, as such, more effective. For perspective, the highest rating you can get is between 2 and 3 percent.
Safety features are a key consideration, regardless of whether you’re a law enforcement professional or a late-night dog walker. Looking for a flip-top or twist top safety switch can greatly reduce the likelihood of the spray accidentally going off and injuring you or someone close to you that didn’t deserve a pepper spray encounter that day. This can come in handy especially if you have kids that enjoy toying with things that they shouldn’t.
Most of the common pepper sprays available on the market today come with some form of a safety switch, but those that don’t should only be purchased and used by experienced handlers. Also, be sure to evaluate the number of shots that a prospective spray is capable of providing. In some cases, and for inexperienced users, having multiple attempts to repel an assailant is critical.
All 50 states have legalized pepper spray. However, some have tighter regulations than other when it comes to the types and strengths that are legal for personal use. Knowing what’s legal in your state (before purchase) is critical.
New York residents, for example, may only purchase pepper spray from licensed firearms dealers or pharmacists. In Massachusetts, residents can only purchase defense pepper sprays from licensed firearms dealers within the state.
Some states also have restrictions on the solutions that a pepper spray can contain or stipulate that your pepper spray must have certain safety features. So, as you can see, understanding state laws regarding pepper spray (4) is essential before you wind up buying one that turns out to be illegal in your state.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pepper spray is widely used for self-defense and for many law enforcement purposes, but it is a dangerous substance that should be carefully handled. These Frequently Asked Questions will help you learn more about pepper spray so that you can employ and store it safely.
How long does it take for pepper spray to wear off?
This can vary greatly depending on the potency of the unique solution that has been used. Typically, however, the effects will last from 30 to 45 minutes and can result in temporary blindness.
How often do you need to replace pepper spray?
Even when properly stored, it’s recommended to replace pepper spray canisters every 1 to 2 years, and certainly before the canister expiration date.
Can you test pepper spray?
Yes! And it’s important to test your pepper spray periodically. Many experts suggest testing every 90 to 180 days. To test effectively, head outside, ideally on a day without any wind. Check to see if there is any breeze and, if so, stand upwind. Press the spray button for a half-second. Repeat every three to six months to ensure your spray is in good working condition.
What is the proper way to store pepper spray?
Ideally, your spray should be stored in a cool, dry area away from heat, flame, or strong light. Avoid storing it where temperatures may exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). This can result in over-pressurization that leads to the canister leaking and will compromise its ability to function properly. Also, do not store in cold environments with temperatures under 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). This will cause depressurization and, subsequently, the loss of effective range.
The benefit of pepper spray for self-defense in urban environments has been proven time and time again. Law enforcement officials also find it useful in crowd control and as a non-lethal means of subduing combative suspects. We hope that you’ve found this article useful and we wish you good luck selecting the pepper spray that’s right for you.