pepper spray

Best Pepper Spray

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Did you know that an American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds? Every 9 minutes, the victim is a child. Did you also know that one out of every six women and one in every 33 men have experienced attempted rape in their lifetime? Although the numbers are decreasing each day, it seems very scary. But the scariest statistic is that only 25 out of every 1,000 perpetrators end up in prison.

Equipping yourself with the right self-defense tools and strategies in case of a sudden attack is the correct move, right? Even though handguns or rifles may work as a self-defense tool to take out a target, they need significant training to operate and practice. They are also expensive and have numerous legalities surrounding them. After reading this article, hopefully, you’ll find the best pepper spray best suited for you.

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Unlike firearms, pepper spray is lightweight, inexpensive, concealable, safe, and completely legal in all 50 states. Although there are regulations around selling to minors and convicted felons. So, they are my favorite medium of nonlethal defensive tools. My entire family has been carrying Saber, Fox Labs, Mace, and several other brands’ pepper spray for the last 35-plus years. Here, from my experience, I am reviewing the four best pepper sprays in the market. These are the must-haves in your self-defense toolkit.

Four of the Best Options Available

If you are looking to buy the best pepper sprays for personal protection, you have come to the right place. The reviewed pepper sprays are:

  • Sabre Red Pepper Spray: This model is ideal for joggers, runners, athletes, or anyone with a busy lifestyle. It is concealable, which means that it’s small yet powerful. It covers a distance of up to 12 feet.
  • POM Pepper Spray Flip Top Pocket Clip: With a slick and modern design, the POM Pepper spray is lightweight and attaches easily to any accessory. It covers 10 feet of distance quickly.
  • Fox Labs Mean Green Pepper Spray: This pepper spray built for both everyday carry and home defense. It will provide you with protection at your fingertip. Moreover, it has got the state of art Greenultraviolet (UV) technology. This makes the attackers identifiable easily even if they want to wipe it off all day long.
  • Sabre Crossfire Pepper Gel With Belt Clip: One of the best-selling and popular Sabre products, the police used for many decades. Capable of fending off multiple moving threats simultaneously with its 360-degree deployment capacity. It is one of my personal favorites.

Here’s the quick comparison of the reviewed pepper sprays:

ProductSabre Red Pepper GelPOM Pepper Spray Flip Top Pocket ClipFox Labs Mean Green Pepper Spray

Sabre Crossfire Pepper Gel With Belt Clip
Carry MethodAdjustable hand carry methodAmbidextrous clip, traditional key ring, or snap hookHand, belt, or holsterClip
Scoville Heat Unit (SHU)27,2922 million3 million2 million
Bursts & Range35 bursts at up 12 feet of coverage 25 bursts at up 10 feet of coverage34 to 36 1/2--second bursts at up 12 feet of coverage18 bursts at up to 18 feet of coverage
DyeYesYesYes (visible green)Yes (visible green)
Safety FeaturesYesYesYes - spring-loaded flip topYes - flip top
Size.75 oz. (37mL).5 oz. (14mL).53 oz. (20mL)3.04 oz. (90mL)
Shelf LifeFour yearsDependsThree yearsFour years
Colors AvailableBlack and pinkBlack and aquaBlackBlack
Spray PatternGelStreamSplatter stream, heavy stream, and cone fogSpray

How to Use Pepper Spray

It is always good to go through training and threat detection before using one, even if it seems straightforward to you. Basic training will decrease your response time to the situation. This will ensure you won’t be the one shedding tears for three hours and running your nose all day long.


So, here’s a video clip on how to use pepper spray:

Factors to Consider Before Choosing the Best Pepper Spray

What makes the best pepper spray for you? If you’ve never thought of this question, here’s the answer. You have to consider formula, delivery pattern, ingredients, carrier, and size. Take note of these before you choose the best pepper spray for yourself. Here is a look at each of these factors in detail:

  • Formula: Not all pepper sprays come with the same chemical ingredients. There are three significant formulas currently available in the market: CN, CS, and OC. OC, or pepper spray, causes pain and inflammation in the mucous membranes and around the face, making it very difficult to breathe and open the eyes. The effect of OC sprays starts immediately within seconds. So, this is the most effective ingredient of pepper spray.
  • Delivery pattern: Each pepper spray has a unique delivery pattern. For example, the stream pepper spray is best for long-distance outdoor self-protection. While the foam and gel pepper sprays are best for indoor short-distance self-defense.
  • Active ingredient: There’s a percentage value of pepper that ranges between 5% to 20%. What that refers to is the active ingredient in the carrier. So, 5% value means there are 5% active pepper in the spray. But, what’s more important is the SHU value. The SHU indicates how hot or intense the pepper spray is.
  • Carrier: Two types of ingredients are found in a carrier: Oil-based solutions and water-based solutions. An oil-based carrier is better as it will be much more difficult for assailants to wipe it off the face than a water-based one.
  • Size: There are different sizes of pepper spray in the market. So, when considering pepper spray, think about its use. While the smaller ones are easy to carry in everyday situations, larger ones are better for home defense.

Types of Pepper Sprays Patterns


Not every canister of pepper spray has the same delivery system. Here’s a look at the four different types that are available, which is also covered in this YouTube video:

  • Stream: This type of pepper spray is very effective from a distance of 15 to 20 feet, depending on the size of the canister and the amount of solution. In addition, it’s very effective in windy situations. It sprays with a higher force and is less likely to blow back at you. It is best for outdoor use only.
  • Fogger (cone): This fogger sprays fine droplets from a distance of 4 to 8 feet. This one provides a greater coverage area and creates a wall between you and the attacker. However, they are not very effective in windy conditions as they may miss the target and cross-contaminate you. Also, don’t use it indoors as it moves through the air faster.
  • Gel: This pepper spray is thicker than liquid sprays and isn’t susceptible to wind or blowbacks. Thus, it is safe as it cannot cross-contaminate you. It can travel a distance of up to 25 feet which is 20% further than regular spray. This one is a good choice for self-defense in both close quarters and outside spaces.
  • Foam: Foam-based pepper sprays are similar to gel-based ones. When sprayed, they coat the attacker with thick foam that causes inflammation and irritation. You can achieve protection from 6 to 8 feet away. It is also less vulnerable to wind and blowback.

Different Types of Pepper Sprays Available

  • Self-defense pepper spray: These are small in size and come in individual containers. Additionally, these are inexpensive, easy to carry, and highly effective. You can carry it concealed in your pocket or purse, or on a keychain. The pepper spray reviewed here are all self-defense pepper sprays.
  • Aerosolized pepper spray: Another common form of pepper spray is the aerosolized variety. It comes with compressed chemical irritant air. Operating these pepper sprays requires very little skill.
  • Pepper ball launchers: These sprays throw irritant pepper powder projectiles that break on impact. They are deployable up to 150 feet. In addition, small handheld launchers release high pepper doses around the target. This makes them very effective at long distances.
  • Wildlife deterrent pepper sprays: Many animals, such as bears or mountain lions, are big, fast, and unrelenting pursuers. Although firearms have been a self-defense metric in the wilderness, you can stop them more effectively using pepper spray than most firearms at close range. So, no matter how great a shooter you are and cannot aim at your target close up, use skunk’s strategy to scare them off.

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States with Pepper Spray Restrictions

Pepper spray is one of the affordable, straightforward, and nonlethal forms of self-defense for people. However, some state–related restrictions are in place regarding pepper spray. So, before buying some for yourself or your loved ones, you must understand the laws surrounding its possession in your state.

Best Pepper Spray
Photo sourced from Prevention

It is legal to carry pepper spray for self-defense purposes in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Some states. However, have age and other restrictions in place, based on current laws as of June 2021. Please check with your state or local jurisdiction before purchasing pepper spray (there are no restrictions on possessing pepper spray or mace in Washington, D.C.)

StateMust be 18 Years OldNotes
AlabamaNoCannot carry in a school
AlaskaYesState laws prohibit carrying pepper spray in a school without proper authorization
ArizonaNoNot for use during verbal provocations

Container cannot exceed 150 cubic centimeters (5 ounces)
ArkansasNoProhibited for anyone addicted to any narcotic drug

Container cannot exceed 150 cubic centimeters (5 ounces)
CaliforniaYesProhibited for anyone addicted to any narcotic drug

Container cannot exceed 2.5 ounces
ColoradoNoNot applicable
ConnecticutNoNot applicable
DelawareYesConvicted felons cannot possess

Container cannot exceed 2 ounces
FloridaNoConvicted felons cannot possess

Container cannot exceed 2 ounces
GeorgiaNo.5 ounce if mailed
HawaiiYes.5 ounce if mailed
IdahoNoNot applicable
IllinoisYesCan’t use pepper spray in an enclosed room with more than 20 people
IndianaNoNot applicable
IowaNoNot applicable
KansasNoNot applicable
KentuckyNoNot applicable
LouisianaNoCriminal use of pepper spray is illegal
MaineNoMinors prohibited from using pepper spray between one hour before sunset and one hour before sunrise
MarylandYesMinors prohibited from using pepper spray between one hour before sunset and one hour before sunrise
MassachusettsNoIllegal to ship human formula pepper spray; individuals prohibited from possessing a pistol cannot have pepper spray

A convicted felon (due to imprisonment, violent crime, mental illness) punishable by two years cannot buy or possess pepper spray

A firearms identification card is necessary for purchasers 15 to 18 years old
MichiganYesCannot contain more than 35 grams of any combination of orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile and inert ingredients

Cannot have more than 18% oleoresin capsicum

Cannot contain a UV dye and no more than 18% oleoresin capsicum
MinnesotaNoIndividuals must be at least 16 years old to possess pepper spray


Any individuals prohibited from possessing a pistol cannot possess pepper spray
MississippiNoNot applicable
MissouriNoNot applicable
MontanaNoNot applicable
NebraskaNoContainers must be 2 ounces or less
NevadaYesContainers must be 2 ounces or less
New HampshireNoFelons prohibited from possessing pepper spray

Containers must be pocket-sized and cannot release more than .75-ounce of pepper spray
New JerseyYesContainers cannot exceed .75 ounce
New MexicoNoNot applicable
New YorkYesContainers cannot exceed 5 ounces

The paper spray container must be pocket-sized

Individuals can purchase a maximum of 2 pepper sprays in a single transaction

Individuals convicted of a felony or assault cannot possess pepper spray

It is illegal to ship human formula pepper spray
North CarolinaNoContainers cannot exceed 5 ounces
North DakotaNoNot applicable
OhioNoNot applicable
OklahomaNoNot applicable
OregonNoNot applicable
PennsylvaniaNoNot applicable
Rhode IslandYesNot applicable
South CarolinaNoNot applicable
South DakotaNoNot applicable
TennesseeNoNot applicable
TexasNoMust be a "small chemical dispenser"
UtahNoNot applicable
VermontNoNot applicable
VirginiaNoNot applicable
WashingtonYesMust be 18 or at least 14 with parental permission

West VirginiaNoNot applicable
WisconsinYesPepper spray containers must be less than 2 ounces

Pepper sprays must contain less than 10% of oleoresin capsicum

Pepper spray cannot be disguised or camouflaged

Individuals must be at least 18 years old to buy or possess pepper spray or a minor with parental permission
WyomingNoNot applicable

Reviews of the Best Pepper Sprays

Sabre Red Pepper Gel

The Sabre Red Pepper Gel (Runner Edition) was designed explicitly for joggers, runners, athletes, and anyone with a busy lifestyle. This pepper gel has an SHU of 27,292 and can quickly reach a distance of 12 feet quickly. As it is gel-based, external weather conditions, such as wind, don’t affect its performance.


This pepper spray is an excellent option for your everyday carry because you can strap it to your palm. In addition, it is quick to deploy and can hit the target from a significant distance. So, it provides you with police-level protection at your fingertips. I have a particular preference for this pepper gel as it is small, very effective, deploys easily, and doesn’t need any training.

It also has a UV dye in it. So, police can identify the suspect quickly even if the person tries to clean it.

Carry MethodAdjustable hand strap carry method
SHU27, 292
Bursts & Range35 bursts at up to 25 feet coverage
DyeYes
Safety FeaturesYes
Size0.75 ounces (37 mL)
Shelf LifeFour years
Colors AvailableBlack and pink
Spray PatternGel
Pros
  • Affordable and palm strap to carry
  • No cross-contamination possibility
  • Highly accurate for hitting the target
  • 12 feet coverage
Cons
  • May drip if put in a bag or pocket if put without extra care

POM Pepper Spray Flip Top Pocket Clip 

This pepper spray, small in size, has an impressive SHU of 2 million while covering 10 feet of distance. So, if you are looking for an everyday carry pepper spray that is extraordinarily strong, easy to carry, and effective, then this POM Pepper Spray unit is for you. 

This POM unit has a stream spray pattern, making it very powerful and accurate for hitting its target. Moreover, this spray’s sleek and modern design is very appealing. If you care about looks, then this is for you.

Its flip-top safety pin prevents any accidental dripping and makes everyday carrying very safe. You can also customize your model with three different options: snap hook, key chain, or clip, which make it easily attachable to any pocket, running accessory, or handbag.

Carry MethodAmbidextrous clip, traditional key ring, or snap hook
SHU2 million
Bursts & Range25 bursts at up to 10 feet coverage
DyeYes
Safety FeaturesYes
Size0.5 ounces (14 mL)
Shelf LifeDepends
Colors AvailableBlack and aqua
Spray PatternStream
Pros
  • Strongest flip-top safety
  • Highly accurate for hitting a target
  • No cross-contamination possibility
  • Long-distance coverage of 12 feet
  • Attaches easily to any pocket, running accessory, or handbag
Cons
  • Fewer bursts available compared to other pepper sprays
  • Not suitable for home defense

Fox Labs Mean Green Pepper Spray

The Fox Lab is suitable for both everyday carry and home defense. It comes with an impressive 3 million SHU that has a range of 10 feet. The 34 to 36 1/2-second bursts make it very easy to fend yourself off against multiple attackers. 

Unlike other UV dyes that identify the attacker, the Fox Lab Green Mean has a green coloring UV dye that doesn’t require a blacklight to show. Also, it is incredibly challenging to wash off the green UV dye thoroughly. So, the perpetrator isn’t far from hearing a police siren. The Green Dye is from a vegetable base, making it very safe for human use.

Carry MethodHand, belt, or holster
SHU3 million
Bursts & Range34 to 36 1/2-second bursts at up 12 feet of coverage
DyeYes - visible green
Safety FeaturesYes - spring-loaded flip top
Size0.53 ounces (20 mL)
Shelf LifeThree years
Colors AvailableBlack
Spray PatternSplatter stream (0.53 oz.), heavy stream, and cone fog
Pros
  • An excellent option for both home defense and everyday carry
  • Long-range coverage up to 15 feet
  • Bright green dye to mark the attacker easily
Cons
  • Doesn’t come with the pocket clip
  • May need to buy a holster to carry it

Sabre Crossfire Pepper Gel With Belt Clip

The Sabre Crossfire Pepper Gel uses the latest crossfire technology that makes it more accurate to use from any angle. Due to its 360-degree deployment capacity and impressive 18 feet range, police officers in this country have long been using this pepper gel. 

Its crossfire technology also allows engaging many moving threats simultaneously. You can spray it from any angle ― even upside down.

I have three of these at my home that I usually keep for self-defense. This specific version has been my long favorite because it is exceptionally effective in all situations, from everyday use or camping. It has got a long shelf-life of four years and has 2 million SHU. So, buy at least one for your family.

Carry MethodClip
SHU2 million
Bursts & Range18 bursts at up to 18 feet of coverage
DyeYes - visible green
Safety FeaturesYes - flip top
Size3.04 oz (90 mL)
Shelf LifeFour years
Colors AvailableBlack
Spray PatternSpray
Pros
  • Most extended range of 18 feet
  • Has crossfire technology, making it more accurate from any angle
  • Safe and easy to carry due to flip top and pocket clip
  • Maximize target acquisition and protection against multiple threat
Cons
  • None

Conclusion

Currently, the pepper sprays reviewed here are the most popular nonlethal tools in the market. Although there are many options out there, I would say that these four will cover all your needs with no questions asked.

However, if you ask me which two of these I must have, I would recommend Sabre Red Pepper Spray for everyday carry because it is easy to carry, small, and powerful. I would also suggest getting Sabre Crossfire Pepper Gel for home defense because its crossfire technology will make you safe and engage many moving targets. The latter one can also be for everyday carry. 

Below, I’ve covered some essential frequently asked questions (FAQs) you may have regarding pepper spray. It is a good idea to read them to get a comprehensive idea of the topic.

Now if you are interested in self-defense training take a look at any of the concealed carry organizations that offer self-defense courses as part of their memberships.

FAQS

How long does pepper spray last?

Answer: For the majority of people, the irritating effect lasts for 30 to 50 minutes. However, previous health complications may increase irritation effects. Here are the effects of pepper spray:

  • A runny nose
  • Chest pain
  • Throat burning
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Panic
  • Rashes, blisters, or burns on contact with the skin.

Can you go to jail for pepper-spraying someone?

Answer: It depends. One important thing to note is you need to use pepper spray in self-defense, and use it when it is necessary and proportionate. For example, if someone pulls a gun or knife, you can use it as self-defense. However, you can’t use it if someone threatens you from a distance.

To summarize, if you don’t want an appointment at the court and spend a few thousand dollars, then use it purely for self-defense, such as when someone tries to harm you or put your life or a loved one’s life in danger.

What neutralizes pepper spray?

Answer: It is good to know the antidote to pepper spray if you accidentally spray it on someone or yourself. You need to apply cold water for an extended period, usually for 30 minutes. 

You can also apply milk to the affected area using a spray bottle and saturate the area using a clean towel. Don’t rub or touch the affected area with your hand as it may cause more irritation. Instead, move into an area with fresh air as soon as possible. 

One common belief is that the mixture of water and baking soda stops the burning sensation. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Can you die from pepper spray?

Answer: It is pretty unlikely that the temporary irritation caused by pepper spray will kill someone. But deaths have occurred where the individual has pre-existing asthma, severe disease, or drug use history. 

Does expired pepper spray work?

Answer: It may work but won’t be effective. Most pepper spray has a validity of three years. So, after expiration, the pepper mixture begins to break down, making it lose its potency and effectiveness. 

Can pepper spray kill your dog?

Answer: No, it won’t kill your dog. If you spray the dog with pepper spray, it will experience significant discomfort. Pepper spray will cause temporary burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and mucous membranes but won’t cause any permanent damage.

Can you bring pepper spray on an airplane?

Answer: No. You can not carry pepper spray on any commercial airline. It poses a significant threat to fellow passengers and crew members. If you carry one, it will be a felony. The fine could be as much as $25,000. 

Moreover, you cannot carry pepper spray on government buildings and state establishments. This rule applies to all 50 states and Washington, D.C.  

Who cannot carry pepper spray?

Answer: Children who aren’t age 18 and older and persons convicted of a felony or an assault of any kind are not allowed to carry pepper spray. It is the same for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

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  1. I utilize OC as part of my profession regularly. My dept. has extensive experience with sabre and fox labs products and I can attest that there is no comparison…fox labs outperforms sabre in every way every day…it’s not even close. We’ve used sabre for years and after failure after failure to produce meaningful effect on the subject, transitioned to fox and it’s been night and day difference. Fox labs standard fox 5.3 is very effective nearly every time. There will always be cases of individuals who are just not affected by OC, but it’s not the usual. I recommend fox labs products to anyone who’s interested in using OC as part of their defense arsenal.

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Hi! I'm Mike, one of the oldest writer of Sniper Country! If you have any feedback or question about my articles, please submit it here, it's always appreciated!

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