Pepper spray is probably the most effective personal protection device you can have. Not only can it put down both an angry dog or an intruder who’s broken into your house, it will do so without inflicting serious physical injury. Pepper spray has been known to stop bear attacks. The best pepper spray will be an invaluable asset in an unpredictable and dangerous world.
Pepper spray, also called mace, is a chemical that, if shot at the eyes, creates pain, tears and temporary blindness. But one does have to take care when deploying mace. A series of deaths have been attributed to its use and, while no one would ever fault you for defending yourself, we’re sure no one wants to be involved in fatalities or permanent injury.
We hope our pepper spray reviews will be helpful in this regard. From learning about the different types to safety and decontamination, we’ve got everything you need to buy and responsibly use pepper spray.
- What Is a Pepper Spray?
- Different Types of Pepper Spray
- Types of Peppers Chart
- How to Measure the Strength of Pepper Spray
- Safety and Decontamination
- Best Pepper Spray Reviews
- SABRE 3-in-1 Pepper Spray
- SABRE Police Strength Red Pepper Spray
- SABRE Police Strength Red Pepper Gel
- Police Magnum OC Pepper Spray with UV Dye and Twist Top
- Fox Labs 2 Ounce 2% OC 5.3-mm Flip Top Stream Pepper Spray
- Tornado Ruger Pepper Spray – Pro Extreme
- SABRE Red Lipstick Pepper Spray
- Defense Technologies First Defense OC Stream MK-4 1.3% Solution Red Band Pepper Spray
- SABRE Red Pepper Gel – Police Strength
- Defense Technology 5099 First Defense MK-9 Stream
- What to Look for When Buying a Pepper Spray
- Pepper Spray FAQ
- Where Do I Buy the Best Pepper Spray?
What Is a Pepper Spray?
Pepper spray is a lachrymatory agent. This is a form of tear gas – a chemical weapon – utilized to defuse a potentially volatile matter. The best mace spray can cause temporary respiratory problems, blindness, and severe eye and skin irritation. Depending on the components and application, pepper spray has also resulted in vomiting. It is commonly used in many professions, especially law enforcement. In some states, it is legal to use pepper spray as a personal device for self defense.
One of the active agents in pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsaicin, a compound in spicy chili peppers. Trust that when this compound hits the eyes, it will reverse the situation, turning predator into victim. The effect can last a long time – sometimes up to a half hour – and solutions like washing out the eyes won’t necessarily reverse the impact.
Self defense pepper spray is considered a non-lethal deterrent to physical harm. If you do choose to use pepper spray for personal defense, buy a product that has a range of at least 10 feet. The last thing you want is a solution that requires the threat be up close and personal before you can defend yourself.
Different Types of Pepper Spray
Pepper spray has varying patterns and materials. If you do choose to use one, it is critical you understand the differences between the types of pepper spray. Here’s a look at sprays, as well as a quick choosing types of peppers chart.
A pepper spray with a cone delivery system projects with force and at a great distance. It is similar to an aerosol spray, where the spray will expand as it moves forward. The cone releases an army of fine microscopic droplets. Typically, that spray can expand up to two feet in width and reach a distance of eight feet. It doesn’t require the accurate aim of, say, a stream spray. With its wall of mist, the cone pepper spray has a greater chance of hitting a moving target and giving you a chance to escape.
- The material quickly penetrates eyes and lungs.
- With its pattern spray, it will more likely reach a target without needing an accurate aim.
- The mist remains in the air for a significant period of time.
- Weather can affect the spray. Wind can blow it around, even back at you. If you have a poorly produced product, rain can wash it away before it really does its job. (In this case, you would have to let assailants get close to ensure the cone spray hits the face.)
- As its stream widens, anyone in the area can be affected.
The stream pattern sprays like a water or squirt gun in a focused pattern. The application must be accurate, hitting a predator’s nostrils or eyes. The stream has good distance, typically up to 10 feet, the range recommended by defense experts.
- Pepper sprays that stream are driven forward like a hose, minimizing the risk of accidentally getting any of the spray on yourself or others outside of the predator.
- The stream is visible, giving the user a substantial means for controlling the shot.
- The stream requires accurate aim.
- If there are multiple attackers, you will only be able to hit one at a time.
- You have to think quickly when using a stream of pepper spray. Under the wrong conditions, such as a heavy wind, the spray can be turned back on the user.
Of the types of OC pepper spray, foam is the most sufficient for indoor and small area use. If you are being assaulted in a car or elevator, foam will not result in blow back. It has minimized cross contamination and is easy to clean up. It operates like a shaving cream. It’s a good solution if a predator is wearing glasses. When the foam blocks vision, they will instinctively remove them, giving you the chance to launch a second assault.
- This pepper spray was created for prison use, allowing correction officers to apply the solution in small and crowded spaces without necessarily causing friendly fire.
- One of the reasons many prisons have stopped using foam is because inmates learned to quickly wipe it off.
- The savvy predator can wipe the foam off and throw it back at the user.
Gel pepper spray requires a deft hand if not deployed with precision. This is because it has a greater distance – up to 15 feet and beyond. But it does reduce the possibility of hitting a pedestrian and cross contamination. The gel sticks to the face and there is little risk of blow back.
- Like foam, gel is the choice for indoor use as long as its deployed safely and with precision.
- Not recommended for individuals who have not had training or experience with pepper spray.
Foggers are solid options for house defense. It is the spray used to stop bear attacks. It can fire as far away as 25 feet and will expand rapidly like tear gas. This puts accuracy on the back burner and makes it excellent for multiple attackers. The biggest disadvantage to using a fog pepper spray is the user can easily become trapped in the release.
- In the home, you could deploy the fog and leave the room.
- If there’s no room for escape, you are as likely to become a victim of the pepper spray as your predator.
Types of Peppers Chart
Here are a few quick notes for choosing a pepper spray.
- Manufacturer of product
- Find an image of how the product sprays
- Distance of the spray in footage
- Number of one second bursts that the device sprays
- Spray pattern
How to Measure the Strength of Pepper Spray
The easiest way to gauge the strength of the best pepper spray or mace is to use the Scoville measurement for hot peppers. The system is used to measure the pungency of chili peppers and other spicy foods based on heat units. It has long been utilized to test the effectiveness of pepper sprays.
The reason we use this method for measuring pepper sprays is because sprays are primarily compounded from elements in peppers. These properties, called Capsaicins, can vary from spray to spray, resulting in a reaction that can be wimpy or mild to painful and debilitating. It’s the difference between eating a pepper that makes you reach for a soothing glass of water and the pepper that turns your face red and makes you sweat a river.
The Scoville measurement starts with sweet bell peppers and works up to blazing habaneros. Look at pepper sprays the same way. When choosing one, you want to consider the exposure to the level of Capsaicins. Of course, there are other potentially risky elements in play. Brands can contain alcohol, nitrogen, halogenated hydrocarbons or carbon dioxide, but the pepper-based Capsaicins trigger heat sensing neurons and membranes of pain.
Pepper sprays damage the cornea’s outer layers of cells. The body can repair the damage, but it can take between 20 and 30 minutes. Pepper spray can also inflame airways, resulting in restriction and swelling. When choosing one, look at the Scoville chart and consider strength. Think about how badly you want to hurt an assailant, as well as what would happen if you accidentally sprayed yourself or an innocent bystander. See if there are local laws that restrict use. In California, the application of pepper spray is considered cruel and dangerous under certain circumstances.
In general, go with a heat rating of no less than one or two million units. On the chart, this is in the Bhut Jokolia-U.S. Grade Pepper spray range. This may seem like a high number but anything below that may be too benign for any real impact. On the other hand, anything above that number has the potential to create significant damage, especially to yourself.
The hottest pepper spray will be a potent weapon for house defense and personal protection. But you have to familiarize yourself with knowing types, how to use them responsibly and the best reviewed products to ensure they serve their purpose.
Safety and Decontamination
Cross contamination is when harmful bacteria gets transferred from one object or substance to another. When it comes to mace, this means using a device and the spray landing on other persons, surfaces or the person defending themselves.
The strongest pepper spray aggravates nerves, creating irritation in the eyes, to the skin and inducing temporary blindness. When pepper spray lands on surfaces, we can touch them and transfer the residue to our skin, eyes and mouth.
If you use pepper spray indoors or get any on yourself, it’s imperative you manage the situation. Surfaces should be cleaned thoroughly. There are sprays you can buy from the store where you purchased the spray. We’d advise you get one with your spray. For home remedies, try milk. Use a spray bottle to apply it or splash it on the area. Take a towel saturated in milk to wipe it up. The job may require more than one wash.
Other experts swear by a combination of milk, mild detergent, honey and baking soda. The mix has also been recommended as a salve for affected areas on the body (not the eyes). It’s said to minimize burning. Water may soothe affected areas. You will have to wash nonstop for a half hour or longer. You can immerse infected areas in water with a mild detergent for 10 to 15 minutes at a time to break pepper spray oils.
It’s important to note that when you are sprayed in the face, touching and rubbing in order to combat the attack only inflames the reaction. A fan or other cooling breeze is a better idea, comforting while the effects dissipate.
For the eyes, flush repeatedly with saline or eye wash. Remove contacts immediately.
Best Pepper Spray Reviews
SABRE 3-in-1 Pepper Spray
“Making grown men cry since 1975!”
You gotta love that motto. And the number one manufacturer of mace in the world has consistently stood behind those words with some of the best pepper spray brands on the market. The SABRE 3-in-1 promises maximum stopping power. It contains CS tear gas to enhance burning and a UV marking dye for identifying predators later. The product comes with a link to online training videos and a blog that provides safety tips and responsibility for everyone planning to use SABRE pepper spray.
|Product Dimensions||5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches|
|Weight / Shipping weight||0.2 / 3.2 ounces|
SABRE Police Strength Red Pepper Spray
The SABRE Police Strength Red Pepper Spray belongs among any pepper spray reviews. It comes with a sturdy key case, a quick release pepper spray key chain and a finger grip. It has a burst of 25, five times more than comparable devices, as well as the recommended 10 foot range. Its stream is capable of protecting at a safe distance, even managing multiple attackers!
Compact and easy to use, this SABRE red pepper spray’s quick release key allows immediate access through the separation of the device from keys, increasing safety whether you’re walking down a street or unlocking doors. Ideal for moms, students and bodyguards, the product has a four year shelf life.
SABRE Police Strength Red Pepper Gel
Unlike a traditional liquid pepper spray, a gel is a substance that sticks to the skin and clothes, creating the same debilitating reaction. This self defense spray is actually a safer alternative to a liquid spray. As a gel will not atomize like a regular spray, there is pretty much no blow back, it has a greater range, reaching almost 20 feet, and it only affects what it directly comes in contact with.
|Product dimensions||4.4 x 1.4 x 1.4 inches|
|Weight / Shipping weight||1.8 / 1.8 ounces|
Police Magnum OC Pepper Spray with UV Dye and Twist Top
The Police Magnum OC Pepper Spray is a four pack of key ring pepper sprays. They utilize an Oleoresin Capsicum-17 police strength formulation. The law enforcement pepper spray has a twist safety top that reduces accidental discharge and an ultraviolet identifying dye. This is an excellent pepper spray for runners and bikers who are constantly menaced by dogs or for pedestrians who work late and walk in dark, isolated areas.
Fox Labs 2 Ounce 2% OC 5.3-mm Flip Top Stream Pepper Spray
The Fox Labs 2 Ounce 2% OC 5.3-mm Flip Top Stream Pepper Spray offers a pure 5.3 million SHU stream, ensuring maximum stoppage whether your predator is human or animal. It has a safety flip that requires only a finger or thumb. You spring the small pepper spray device open and depress a button for quick application. Expect a powerful spray that can incapacitate an assailant for no less than 30 minutes. In fact, tests have resulted in effects that have lasted up to two hours.
|Product dimensions||4 x 1 3/8 inches|
|Weight / Shipping weight||2.4 / 2.4 ounces|
Tornado Ruger Pepper Spray – Pro Extreme
This Ruger pepper spray provides a powerful spray. Expect the Tornado Pepper Spray – Pro Extreme to deliver two million Scoville heat units. That’s comparable to the type of stopping power strength utilized by law enforcement. Simply enable the pepper spray with a quick flip of the device’s trigger guard and release a spray that can reach up to 15 feet. With a design also used by law enforcement, the Ruger provides exceptional fit, form and function. With a broad range of possibilities, this most effective pepper spray will be perfect for home defense and personal protection.
|Product dimensions||4.2 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches|
|Weight / Shipping weight||5.6 / 5.6 ounces|
SABRE Red Lipstick Pepper Spray
Set in a simple and unsuspecting design, the SABRE Red Lipstick Pepper Spray has law enforcement quality stopping power and is a perfect pepper spray for women. Like all SABRE products, it has a formula backed by the manufacturer’s in-house laboratory to ensure its high performance liquid chromatography. The formulation also includes an ultra-violet marking dye that can be used for later suspect identification.
SABRE is the number one pepper spray brand used worldwide. All their sprays have a four year shelf life based on the manufacture date and are ISO 9001:2008 certified.
|Product dimensions||3.9 x 1 x 0.8 inches|
|Weight / Shipping weight||0.3 / 0.3 ounces|
Defense Technologies First Defense OC Stream MK-4 1.3% Solution Red Band Pepper Spray
The Defense Technologies First Defense OC Stream MK-4 1.3% Solution Red Band Pepper Spray is three ounces of pure stopping power. It fires off short bursts of 20 to 25 with an impressive range of 10 to 12 feet. The 1.3% formulation is an upgrade from the former 5.5% pepper mace compound. The new formula is a major Capsaicinoid and a non-flammable EDW that’s both safe and significantly more powerful. The manufacturer utilizes an independent lab for testing to ensure a consistent level of quality for all their products.
|Weight / Shipping weight||5.6 / 5.6 ounces|
SABRE Red Pepper Gel – Police Strength
If you want the best pepper spray for self defense that’s both powerful and practical, put the SABRE Red Pepper Gel in your security arsenal. It offers exceptional business, family, home and property protection. This product promises police quality spraying and results at a safe distance between 25 to 30 feet. The gel is released in strong bursts of 32 shots and is ideal for outdoor and indoor application. Its powerful release prevents blow back and the gel is easily cleaned up. It has no airborne particles and will have an affect only on what it directly makes contact with.
This MK9 pepper spray comes with a wall mount.
|Product dimensions||10.6 x 7.5 x 2.5 inches|
|Weight / Shipping weight||13 ounces / 1.4 pounds|
Defense Technology 5099 First Defense MK-9 Stream
One of the world’s most widely used pepper spray manufacturers, Defense Technology’s 5099 First Defense MK-9 Stream is a product designed specifically for law enforcement but is practical for house defense. The stream delivers a strong, concentrated and target specific release for a more effective standoff. The MK9 pepper spray has a simplified trigger handle and is an excellent tool when there are multiple predators. Fully tested, this formulation has pepper spray ingredients that are non-flammable and EDW safe.
What to Look for When Buying a Pepper Spray
The purchase of a pepper spray product is a big step toward protection. It’s also opening the door to a range of mishaps if you don’t choose carefully. Having an idea of what is pepper spray made of and what to look for would be beneficial. Here are some things to consider before you buy.
You always want a defense spray that has a range of no less than 10 feet. The further the better as you want to stop a predator before they get too close. Also, range can impact blow back. If a predator’s too close, you risk getting the spray on yourself or increase the possibility of inhaling it.
The strength of your pepper spray will be crucial. You want a device that both incapacitates and gives you time to escape.
It’s important to know how many shots, or bursts, as that will impact the performance of any device. Typically, you can expect an average 10 to 20 shots from any single device. Some devices offer up to 35. Either way, it’s a good idea to have some extra sprays and to monitor their uses. The last thing you want is to try to use one that’s empty.
You want a device that won’t go off accidentally, whether in your bag, pocket or hand. These features are required by law. Most products come with some type of safety cap or lock. If you’re buying a product for house defense, mount it out of reach of children.
These best self defense pepper sprays come in various sizes, as well as types and spray patterns. Familiarize yourself with them so you can determine what’s best for you. A stream, fog or cone pattern will be excellent for outdoor use. Gels and highly focused sprays are better for indoors.
If you really want to know what is the best pepper spray, find out if your product of choice is a quality police magnum pepper spray. That’s a clear indicator of its effectiveness and reliability.
Pepper Spray FAQ
How does pepper spray work?
Whether you’re using a pepper spray keychain or best bear spray, pepper spray is an inflammatory agent and, upon contact with the eye, nose, throat and – through inhalation – lung mucous membranes, it creates a rapid, painful and debilitating reaction. There can be temporary blindness, excessive coughing and vomiting, difficulty breathing and an intense burning sensation. Oleoresin capsicum (OC) is an active ingredient in pepper spray, a compound extracted from the world’s hottest peppers.
How would I use pepper spray?
Technically, you would only point, press a button and release the pepper spray. You want to hit the eyes and face with a one or two second burst. It’s imperative that after use you get out of the way. While the goal should be to escape, you also want to move away from the spray before it affects you.
Take care because almost anything can go wrong. Get some training before using a device.
Are there areas where pepper spray is forbidden or illegal?
There are states where pepper spray is considered a weapon and its use can get you arrested for assault.
If you try to order pepper spray online from a reputable retailer, the site will inform you that the product cannot be shipped to you. If you know it’s illegal and find a site that will send it to you anyway, you are as likely to get an unsafe product as anything.
There are places where you cannot use these products under any circumstances. If you try to bring pepper spray onto an airplane, you will be detained and fined anywhere up to $25,000. Check with the airline and see if you can leave pepper spray in your checked baggage. Almost any place with a security checkpoint – state and federal buildings for example – may not let you in if you’re carrying.
Where Do I Buy the Best Pepper Spray?
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to knowing where to purchase pepper spray. You can know types, how much does pepper spray cost and safety measures and all the other vital info, but go to the wrong retailer and you still end up with a horrible return.
While states like New York and New Jersey will let you carry pepper spray, it is against the law to have them shipped through the mail. These individuals are confined to what’s available in local sporting goods stores, pawn or gun shops, and the Army Navy Surplus. You can also find pepper spray in Walgreen’s or Walmart.
Many parts of the country can – and should – take advantage of products available through the Internet. Even if you get a cheap pepper spray, you will still have a greater range of options when you buy pepper spray online instead of being relegated to what’s available locally. If you really want a solid product at a good price, look at Amazon pepper sprays. They have a library of selections from the world’s top manufacturers. Before that, review the criteria for buying a pepper spray.
But as any law enforcement or emergency room professional will attest, the most powerful pepper spray can be as dangerous to users and innocent bystanders as any assailant. You need to know how to use them. You also have to know how to go about finding mace. These products are popular and getting your hands on a lousy one is going to be pretty easy. That’s why we believe our advice and reviews will come in handy.
Take a look at the pros and cons of even the top pepper sprays, as well as the details for selecting a product and where to find them. It’s a smorgasbord of data that’s going to put a safe, affordable and durable pepper spray in your hands.