Pepper spray is becoming one of the most popular self-defense weapons available today.
But there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstandings around peppers spray, such as:
- Can pepper spray REALLY neutralize a dangerous threat?
- What’s the difference between pepper sprays and heat ratings?
- What factors matter MOST when choosing a pepper spray for self-defense?
That’s why today, I want to clear the air.
By the time you’re finished reading this article, you’ll know everything you need to know about pepper spray, specifically:
- Pepper Spray Vs Firearms
- Pros Of Using Pepper Spray For Self Defense
- Cons Of Using Pepper Spray For Self Defense
- Key Factors To Consider When Buying Pepper Spray
- 7 Best Pepper Sprays On The Market Today
- How To Properly Use Pepper Spray
- How To Make Your Own Pepper Spray
PEPPER SPRAY VS FIREARMS
No question about it, firearms are a more powerful form of self-defense than pepper spray if someone is properly trained.
But that’s the issue with firearms, many folks don’t want to take the time to properly train. And some people don’t believe in an armed society.
Plus, firearms are a lethal form of self-defense. This can also make someone hesitant to concealed carry a handgun – even if they own one.
The bottom line is this: firearms come with some extra baggage that doesn’t come with pepper spray.
No, we’re NOT saying YOU should carry pepper spray instead of a gun. You do you.
But there are plenty of people who are more comfortable carrying pepper spray.
Plus, there are situations where pepper spray is the most logical deterrent. Pulling a gun on an unarmed threat might unnecessarily aggravate or elevate the situation.
Many (including military and law enforcement) choose pepper spray as a first option. Then back that up by a more lethal defense (such as a firearm).
This prevents premature escalation in certain circumstances. For example: if the threat is unarmed and/or there are lots of innocent bystanders.
And for some people, carrying a firearm just isn’t an option for moral reasons. Making pepper spray the perfect addition to your nonlethal self-defense arsenal.
Watching the video below provides an excellent example of why EVERYONE can benefit from carrying a professional grade pepper spray:
PROS OF USING PEPPER SPRAY FOR SELF DEFENSE
Clearly, even the most expensive pepper sprays are far cheaper than a handgun.
If you want a cost-effective self-defense weapon it’s hard to beat pepper spray.
Yes, pepper spray does have some legal restrictions (based on strength and delivery). But still far fewer than most firearms.
Many locations prohibit firearms (college campuses, national parks, shopping centers, etc.). But these “safe zones” don’t have the same bans on pepper spray.
Plus, pepper spray is simpler to travel with across city or state boundaries.
Where firearm laws (and even knife laws) frequently change from locale to locale.
Pepper sprays are generally smaller and lighter than firearms. Even lighter than the smallest and lightest handguns (such as S&W Airweight and Kel-Tec).
Making them easier to carry while working out, running, or even walking the dog.
And some of the most compact pepper sprays are small enough to hang on a keychain.
Note: These mini pepper sprays tend to have very short spray durations…
A Non-Lethal Weapon
Pepper spray is extremely irritating and painful – but not fatal.
It also has a much lower chance of injuring a bystander, which makes it safer to use in a crowd.
CONS OF USING PEPPER SPRAY FOR SELF DEFENSE
A Non-Lethal Weapon
While “non-lethal” made the list of pros for pepper spray, it’s also one of the main “cons”.
In some situations, pepper spray may not be enough to stop the most vicious attacker. Especially if they are on drugs that numb their senses or are extremely intoxicated.
If a situation gets out of hand, a perpetrator with firepower is no match for someone with pepper spray.
Reloading (one time shot)
Unlike a handgun, reloading isn’t an option with pepper spray.
Most sprays have a short duration, which means knowing exactly when to use it!
While pepper spray is becoming more common, it’s still not as easy to find in every sporting good store.
Unlike common handguns and ammo rounds – like the 9mm – which can be found dang near anywhere.
Not all people will respond to pepper spray – nor will all animals.
With people, this can be due to mental illness, drug abuse, or training.
Plus, face shields, masks, and sunglasses can reduce direct contact with the eyes. Lowering its overall effectiveness ing stopping a threat.
KEY FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING PEPPER SPRAY
When choosing pepper spray, there are a few factors you’ll need to be sure to consider.
The first, and most important, factor in choosing a pepper spray is the formulation.
There are three major formulas on the market when it comes to self-defense sprays: CN, CS, and OC.
OC (Oleoresin Capsicum)
OC is one of the most common and popular forms of pepper spray. OC stands for Oleoresin Capsicum.
The active ingredient is capsaicin, the same chemical which gives peppers their heat.
Capsaicin acts as an inflammatory agent.
It not only causes pain but also causes instant inflammation of the mucous membranes. This makes it difficult and painful to breathe or even open your eyes.
The remaining ingredients form an oily liquid to help with the delivery of the capsaicin.
The oily liquid means the solution is not soluble in water. So you can’t easily wash it off.
Victims are encouraged to blink excessively to produce tears to help to flush the eyes. They are also told not to touch any other body parts to avoid spreading the substance.
There are wipes available to help remove pepper spray. But your attacker is unlikely to have them on hand fast enough to be useful!
But not all peppers are the same…
Scoville Heat Rating
People who like spicy foods know there are regular peppers, HOT peppers, and INSANELY HOT peppers! And there’s a way to measure these differences, it’s called the Scoville Heat Scale.
You can see from the image below – a bell pepper is essentially harmless, while a Habanero Chili is a very HOT Pepper and a Dragon’s Breath is an INSANELY HOT.
Ever heard of the “Scoville Heat Challenge”? – Yeah, it’s as brutal as it sounds:
CS isn’t technically a “pepper spray”, but rather a military tear gas. It can be used alone or in combination with OC spray for added effectiveness.
CS is the most popular since it induces a range of nasty symptoms – from mild tearing to immediate vomiting.
It’s often used for riot control or to force people out of an area. CS can be found in aerosol canisters or can be deployed by grenades.
CN is an older form of tear gas, which has similar effects to CS gas and also includes temporary loss of balance.
The effects of CN tear gas last longer than that of CS. But it can also cause permanent skin and lung damage, so it’s much less common than it was in years past.
In some pepper sprays, the manufacturers add either a visible or UV dye.
This dye can serve as a marker for your attacker, making ID easier if they run.
This can be helpful for law enforcement, but the visible dyes can also help you avoid them if they try to come back.
Spray Pattern and Range
Another critical factor in choosing a pepper spray is to find the right spray pattern.
The most typical patterns used are spray or mist.
If you have respiratory issues, spray patterns help avoid the risk of accidental user inhalation.
For accuracy and longer range, some pepper sprays shoot streams of fluid.
This allows you to hit a single attacker without spraying bystanders.
Of course, stream pattern sprays require more training and practice. If you miss, you may have lost your only chance at self-defense.
A mist spray pattern produces a large cloud of gas which is more easily inhaled. But it comes at the price of a far shorter range.
Since they form a cloud, mist spray patterns do not allow you to target your attacker directly.
This means there is a risk of spraying people other than your attacker. Including yourself, if the mist cloud blows back on you.
The least common spray pattern is foam.
Foam sprays are difficult to aim and have a shorter range than stream pattern sprayers.
It’s also slower to take effect, so it’s not as useful in most situations. Avoid foam spray patterns unless they’re the only option.
Canister Size Options
Finally, you’ll want to consider the sheer volume of spray you might need.
Stopping a petty thief in the city may require far less spray than a charging grizzly bear in the backcountry.
Think about how you intend to use your spray and pick the right size for your needs.
Keychain pepper sprays are marketed to runners and college students. These small bottles contain less than a half-ounce of usable spray.
This only gives you a couple of seconds of spray at close range.
Better than nothing, but you can also run out before an attacker has been properly neutralized.
Larger sizes tend to come with belt holsters for easy retrieval. Most purses can fit a medium-sized 2oz canister.
These include many backcountry bear sprays and personal defense sprays.
Two ounces of fluid are good for up to 30 seconds of spray and many can achieve accurate patterns up to about 15 feet.
Sure, 15 feet doesn’t feel nearly far enough during an attack. But its good enough as a close-in self-defense weapon.
Remember, you’re aiming at a small target like the eyes and nose, so long-range shots are risky either way.
There are much larger sprays on the market, but they’re only good for home defense.
Anything larger than 2 ounces is generally too bulky for everyday carry.
Now that we’ve covered all the key features, let’s take a look at some of the best ones on the market today.
7 BEST PEPPER SPRAYS ON THE MARKET TODAY
First off, A lot of people don’t know where to buy peppers spray.
And in the past, this was a problem since many sporting good stores don’t carry it. But nowadays, it’s not difficult to find – you CAN buy it online.
That’s the easiest place to buy pepper spray. And the good news is some of The Very Best Pepper Sprays you can only find online.
For example, the first pepper spray on this list is the one we recommend and can only be purchased online.
1 – Devil Juice Pepper Spray
This pepper spray claims to be banned in 12 states. That’s why when it comes to nonlethal self-defense, nothing beats Devil Juice Pepper Spray!
Why? Due to it’s insanely powerful 3 million Scoville Heat Rating!
This is the highest legal pepper spray strength and packs a punch so hard your attacker will be begging you to leave them alone!
Note: Possession of this product is regulated or prohibited in some jurisdictions – click here to see if it’s legal where you live.
2 – Sabre 3-in-1 Pepper Spray
Just about any list of preferred pepper sprays is going to contain something from Sabre.
They’re a well-known manufacturer trusted by police departments and other law enforcement agencies nationwide.
The 3-in-1 Pepper Spray is one of their most popular offerings, with OC pepper spray, CS tear gas, and a UV dye.
They have a tight stream spray pattern. And they offer an inert practice spray canister so you can train without the risk.
This practice can ensure that in the heat of the moment you don’t fumble with the twist-lock safety or accidentally spray backward!
The included training documents have links to instructional videos and other training tips. These can help you get the most out of your new pepper spray.
The Sabre 3-in-1 also has a good shelf life (4 years) and a low price, so it’s easy to outfit your entire family.
3 – Sabre Frontiersman
Sabre is also in the bear spray market.
These sprays are generally larger canisters, have longer ranges, and include higher concentrations.
The Frontiersman delivers on all those fronts.
The 9.2oz canister is huge and hard to conceal. But the 35ft range is amazing compared to the 10-15ft max ranges of most personal pepper sprays.
If you’re in the backcountry a lot or want a good option for home or vehicle defense, this is your best bet!
4 – Fox Labs Mean Green
Fox Labs Mean Green trades the UV dye for a highly concentrated, bright green dye.
This immediately colors the skin and clothing of your attacker.
The 3 oz size is available in both stream and spray patterns. Depending on the spray pattern, you can expect a range of 12 to 15 feet.
The Mean Green has metered half-second burst sprays. This provides you with over thirty “shots” without the risk of holding down the trigger until you run out.
5 – POM Pepper Spray
This one is for those looking for something a bit more discrete and pocket-friendly.
This POM Pepper Spray is compact and designed to look a little less intimidating.
This makes it a good option for those looking to carry without making it obvious.
It’s a small canister and a closer range than other sprays. But that’s a decent trade-off for being able to carry it in more situations.
6 – Wrist Saver Pepper Spray
This pepper spray is made for athletes.
The Wrist Saver is a convenient padded wrist band that contains:
- a small pepper spray in a holster
- a built-in LED flashlight
- some space for ID and other information (or cash)
Of course, it’s a small canister made to fit in a wrist holster. But it’s still capable and worth checking out if you need a portable option for your runs.
7 – 3 Pack POLICE MAGNUM OC Pepper Spray Keychain
This 3 Pack Police Magnum Pepper Spray is a great bundle offer for those who want to protect multi-family members.
This is a pepper spray keychain – which is an ideal size for pockets and purses.
But don’t let the small size fool you, it can deliver over 10ft range in a powerful stream.
It also has added UV Perpetrator marking dye to identify a suspect.
This professional-grade Prepper Spray Keychain Spray is HPLC lab tested before being used in production and sales.
HOW TO PROPERLY USE PEPPER SPRAY
No matter how “non-lethal” pepper spray may be, it’s still a dangerous weapon. It can cause serious injury if not handled or stored correctly.
Each model comes with instructions for safe use and handling. Take the time to read through it before heading out into a situation where you may need to use your pepper spray.
One of the first things to learn is how to draw, aim, and release the safety mechanism on your spray canister.
If your model offers a practice canister, this is the best way to learn.
Practice with the inert spray until you can:
- Smoothly pull the pepper spray out of your holster or bag
- Turn off the safety without fumbling
Proper body position is key to aiming any weapon.
For pepper spray, you’ll want a solid defensive posture. That means your knees are slightly bent and the pepper spray held out in front of your face. This helps with your line of sight during aiming.
This balanced, athletic posture will help your accuracy.
When you press the trigger, resist the urge to close your eyes. This only serves to interrupt your aim at the worst possible time.
Spray in a slight “back and forth” pattern, as if spray painting a surface.
This helps ensure that you don’t miss smaller targets like the eyes and nose.
Always remember, pepper spray isn’t an absolute.
Be sure to keep your eyes on your target. But be ready to elevate the fight or flee if your attacker doesn’t back down.
Finally, here’s a good video on the DO’s and DON’Ts of pepper spray:
HOW TO MAKE PEPPER SPRAY
Yes, you CAN make your own pepper spray. But it’s highly unlikely you’ll make it as powerful or as good at delivery as commercial brands.
But if you still want to pursue making your own – read our step by step article.
Pepper spray might not have the reputation that other self-defense weapons enjoy. But they should!
The best ones have powerful high concentration formulas. And ease of use makes them an attractive option for anyone.
From backcountry defense against bears to people intent on doing you harm. There are plenty of options on size and range to suit any situation.
It’s a smart move to add pepper spray to your EDC bag, get home bag, bug out bag, your vehicle’s glove box, and even your home.