We spent 50 hours researching and testing over 12 different types of pepper spray and found that ease of use, size, and OC pepper strength were the most important factors for consumer who were shopping for pepper spray. Sabre Red Key Case Pepper Spray scored high marks in all categories and is our overall top pick. This maximum strength formula is just what you need to protect yourself when out in less than safe situations or when you are alone. You have a 10 foot range with 25 bursts of pepper spray which is as much as 5 times more than you get with other brands. The powerful delivery of the stream reduces the blowback from the wind.
Pepper Spray Comparison
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Pepper Spray Buying Guide
What is Pepper Spray?
Another name for pepper spray is OC spray. This name comes from the ingredient that it contains called Oleoresin Capsicum which is oil that comes from hot peppers. This non-lethal weapon inflames the passages of the nose, inflame the eyes, and affect the respiratory tract so the attacker is incapacitated enough for you to get away. The pepper spray will cause the following reactions in most people:
- Burning pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive tearing of the eyes
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Temporary blindness
Since the purpose of pepper spray is to powerful affect the respiratory system and the eyes the size of the attacker is not relevant; it’s going to hurt. The most important factor is that you know how to use your pepper spray effectively and correctly. If you’re new to pepper spray and have not used it before, consider purchasing an inert canister that some companies offer that will work just like the filled canisters but do not contain any dangerous chemicals. They are strictly sold for practice. Don’t forget to watch instructional videos or written instructions that the company offers as well so you know exactly how to use your spray. This knowledge will give you the confidence you need to use it if necessary.
Important Things to Consider Before Purchasing
There are several things you will want to consider before you purchase pepper spray. We have listed five of the most important considerations that you should be aware of below.
- What are your state’s laws regarding pepper spray? – Even though pepper spray is legal in all 50 states, some of the states have laws that are stricter than other states. Make sure you do your research and find out what the laws are in your state before you purchase pepper spray. Some states like New York for example, state that residents of the state can only get pepper spray from licensed pharmacists or firearms dealers. Other states have other regulations. Making sure that you know what laws you have to abide by BEFORE you purchase your pepper spray so you don’t get in trouble.
- What is the best size? – Once you know what your state’s laws are regarding pepper spray it’s time to think about the size pepper spray you will need. Pepper spray comes in a variety of sizes that you can choose from. The size of the canister will determine how much product there is to dispense and how many bursts you will have available. Small, keychain style products are great for joggers who want something they can hold in their hand while they are jogging. They are compact and fit easily in your palm so no one even knows you have them. The medium-sized canisters that are roughly 2 ounces, work well for someone who wants to keep the pepper spray in their purses or clipped to a belt. There are also 4 ounce canisters that are meant for special holsters. They are usually too large to be carried in your pocket or purse unless your purse is much larger.
- What do you want protection from? – There are many different kinds of pepper spray on the market. What determines which kind is best for you is what you want to protect yourself from. If you want protection from human assailants you want to get pepper spray designed to stop humans. If you want protection from animals, look for pepper spray that is designed for animals. There are different sprays for different purposes so keep your purpose in mind when you are looking and make sure that the pepper spray works for your needs.
- How do you want to carry your pepper spray? – There are many different styles of pepper spray available to choose from. How you carry your pepper spray is an important thing to think about. If you like carrying it on your keychain, you will want to purchase one of the many keychain styles available. If you like purse or pack sized pepper spray look for cans that will fit well in your purse, fanny pack, or backpack. There are also holsters that you can purchase separately that work well for the 4 ounce pepper spray size and up.
- Do you know how to use it? – Before you purchase your pepper spray you will need to know how to use it. There are many resources online that you can utilize that will teach you how to properly and safely use pepper spray. Many of the products offered on the market, including the three top-rated selections we have featured offer links to instructional videos on how to use that specific product. Once you understand how to use pepper spray you will be able to choose the right type of pepper spray for your needs. Don’t forget to replace your units once a year or every 18 months. You should also test your pepper spray unit every 3 or 4 months to make sure it’s working properly. You don’t want need it and then find out it is not working correctly.
How to Select the Right Spray for YOU
- Do you feel confident about your reaction time and skills? – If you are confident about being able to have quick reaction time if necessary, choose a best-selling product that is used by professionals.
- Do you keep forgetting to bring it with you? – If you find that you often forget to pack your pepper spray with you when you go, a keychain style will be a good choice for you. Keys are not usually forgotten when you leave home since you need them for driving. Choosing a keychain pepper spray model will ensure you always have it with you without having to remember to grab it.
- Are you scared of being in an elevator alone with strangers? – Look for a pepper gel that works well for enclosed indoor spaces in the event you need to use it.
- Are you elderly or frail and don’t want to be obvious about carrying pepper spray? – There are pepper spray products that resemble lipstick containers that fit in the palm of your hand easily without alerting everyone that you are carrying pepper spray. These are a great choice for someone who wants to conceal the fact that they have it.
- Is there no room in your purse for a pepper spray can? – There are plenty of stylish, compact pepper spray products on the market. Some of these more fashionable pepper sprays only have 6 bursts but you can fit them into even the smallest purse easily. Just remember to keep up with usage so you are not caught with an empty canister.
- How powerful do you want your pepper spray to be? – If you want to know that you have protection even if the assailant is a few feet away, look for products that have a good range. You can find products that offer a range as much as 20 feet if you want that much power.
Features to Look for in a Pepper Spray
Not all pepper spray products are equal. You need to look for certain features that will ensure you have a quality product and are not wasting your money. We have listed these important features and qualities below. Keep these in mind when you start browsing through the different pepper spray selections.
- Range – Range is very important when it comes to a good pepper spray product. A spray that has a long range will protect you more effectively than one that requires the attacker be in close range. A longer spray range can mean that it offers fewer bursts so keep this in mind.
- Number of bursts – A can of pepper spray that offers more shots will allow you to ward off multiple attackers or use the spray more than once on a persistent attacker. It will also offer you the ability to fire a test shot once a year without using up the majority of your product. A shot of pepper spray is calculated at half a second so when a canister states it has 25 shots you will only have about 10 seconds of product to work with.
- Spray Type – There are many different spray types that pepper spray comes in. Each type has its own benefits which we have shared with you below.
- Stream – Pepper spray with a stream pattern features a liquid base and sprays a lot like a water gun. It is the most popular of all the different types. The best advantage of a stream pattern is the range which is usually about 10 feet or so. This is best to use outdoors and will be less affected by wind or rain so it doesn’t blow back and hit you or anyone you’re with by accident. The disadvantage of the stream pattern is that it typically requires more accuracy to be truly effective.
- Fog – Fog pattern pepper spray covers more area than a stream pattern spray. You do not have to have as accurate an aim and is a good choice for protecting yourself from multiple attackers. The range is usually 25 feet or so and is often found in bear pepper spray. The disadvantage to fog pattern pepper sprays is the chance that you and others with you can be affected. The longer range also translates to fewer bursts per can.
- Foam – Foam is a good choice for indoor use. It sprays a lot like shaving cream and is stickier and thicker than other pepper spray types. This reduces the chances of you accidentally shooting the wrong person. You need to have good aim and the range is much shorter than some of the other types; only 4-6 feet.
- Gel – Gel is similar to foam but the advantage is that it has a longer range than foam does; 10-15 feet. It is good for indoor use and is very sticky which reduces the chances of it getting onto other people. There is also little chance of the gel affecting the person spraying. Good aim is required to use this type of spray effectively.
- Safety features – No one wants to be carrying pepper spray and have it accidentally sprayed in your pocket or purse or accidentally deployed from your keychain. A good feature to look for in a pepper spray is a sliding mechanism or flip top. The flip top is more popular due to its reliability but both types will ensure the extra bit of safety.
- Size – Size will depend on where you have decided to carry the pepper spray. If you are looking for a spray that fits comfortably in your purse or pocket or even your hand, look for the small, compact designs that attach to your keys or that can be attached to your wrist with a band. If you are looking for spray that will work well in your home or at work, look for a larger canister.
- Ingredients – Depending on the brand of pepper spray you get, it may just contain OC or it may contain OC with other ingredients added including UV dye or tear gas. The dye is effective at helping identify attackers and a lot of pepper spray products choose to include it. Tear gas adds to the effect as well. Look for pepper sprays with a good OC strength rather than relying on the extra ingredients.
- Legal in your state – When browsing the different pepper spray choices, make sure that there are no state restrictions for that type in your state. Many product descriptions will have this information so pay attention when you are reading them to see if you can carry that type and strength of pepper spray legally.
Pepper spray is a very easy to get, easy to use, and effective means of self-defense that doesn’t cost a lot. There are many different types and styles to choose from which gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to finding one that will be perfect for your lifestyle, preferences, and abilities.
It is better to stick with recognized brands of pepper spray with good reputations. No-name brands are not a good idea to purchase because there is not enough information available to know if the brands are any good. You do not know if you have a quality product that will actually protect you in the event it is necessary.
Most people that purchase pepper spray buy several cans so they can have them at home, in the car, and on their person in some way whether it is their pocket, belt clipped on, or in their purse. It is a good idea to carry a backup weapon as well.
Pepper sprays are good but if someone grabs you unexpectedly and they are at close range, it may be better to have additional means or protection such as a personal alarm.
The three top-rated pepper spray products featured above are great examples of the kind of quality sprays you want to choose. All three are from reputable companies that are trusted by professionals including police departments all over the country. Any one of these top-rated products will be a great choice for your self-defense needs.