How to Find the Best Pepper Spray for You

It’s a scary world out there. Thugs and brutes mug innocent people in broad daylight. Criminals, like any other predators, choose their victims carefully. They target the weak and defenseless, the elderly and young. It’s of utmost importance that we provide protection to our loved ones.

There are many less-than-lethal weapon options, from tasers to batons, but pepper spray is by far the best option. It’s commonly used by police officers to make arrests or control riots.

The best pepper spray can effectively stun a hostile target from a safe distance, usually around 10 feet (3 m). In order to incapacitate a target using a taser, for example, you’d need to be much closer than that.  

The person on the receiving end is rendered unable to see or stand up, let alone attack anyone, for an average of 20 to 90 minutes, depending on the strength of the agent. Effects include temporary blindness, a severe burning irritation on the skin, involuntary upper body spasms, a runny nose, respiration problems, and heavy coughing.

Which begs the question: What is pepper spray? Why is it so painful to be on the receiving end of a stream of mace?

The ingredient that causes irritation is the same that makes the hot sauce you put on your buffalo wings so spicy: capsaicin. On the standard scale of spiciness, tabasco sauce scores around 8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The hotness of pepper spray is measured in millions of SHU.

Chemically derived from plants of the Capsicum genus, the final product that ends up in pepper spray is called oleoresin capsicum (OC). Its concentration determines how strong each spray is. Consumer-grade sprays usually contain 0.18% to 3% OC. However, not all Capsicum derivatives are the same strength. That means the product with the highest OC contents does is not necessarily the most effective pepper spray.

Take a few minutes to browse the list of pepper spray and mace products we’ve compiled. These stand out from the competition as the best-quality products for the safety of you and your loved ones.

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Pepper Spray Reviews

Fox Labs Five Point Three Pepper Spray

Fox Labs Five Point Three Pepper Spray - best pepper spray
PROS
  • Incredibly strong formula

  • Accident-proof flip top

  • Shoots agent in a stream, foam, or fog

CONS
  • Can be considered expensive

Fox Labs advertises its products as the most intense pepper spray in the world. With a rating of 5.3 million SHU, the aptly named Five Point Three pepper spray sure does pack a punch. Not only is it the strongest pepper spray available to civilians, it also acts incredibly quickly and is close to 100% reliable.

The formula is 2% oleoresin capsicum, while the Serious Business version of the spray has a devastating OC content of 5%.

A 3 oz. canister stores around 25 half-second bursts that spray the potent agent in a conical pattern to a distance of up to 10 feet (3 m). The product also comes in 1.5, 1.7 and two oz. canisters and canisters that shoot a stream, which has greater range but requires precision. You can also buy the product in a foam, which is an in-between option in terms of both range and precision. 

The spring-loaded cap makes sure that accidental discharges are extremely unlikely – almost impossible, in fact. The date of production is printed on each canister, and the manufacturer recommends changing units after two years.

The price tag is a little steeper compared to the competition, but that’s a small price to pay for the best pepper spray on the market. You will have to part with $17.99 for the 1.5 oz. canister and $23.99 for the 3 oz. variety.

Sabre Red Pepper Gel with Adjustable Hand Strap

Sabre Red Pepper Gel with Adjustable Hand Strap - best pepper spray
PROS
  • Compact size

  • Perfect mace for runners

  • Extremely well-rated among users

CONS
  • May not contain as many bursts as advertised

Sabre is one of the prominent companies in the self-defense industry and is the best rated pepper spray according to user reviews. Used by the police departments of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, among many others, this brand of pepper spray is the most sought-after on the market.

Muggers regularly prey on runners and joggers, as they are often distracted enough to not notice them and too exhausted to properly fight back. With its adjustable hand strap, Sabre’s red pepper gel is the perfect solution for fending off attackers while exercising.

The strap fits the four-inch tall canister snuggly into the palm of your hand. The top of the canister is secured with a twist lock to prevent accidental discharge. Thanks to the product’s intelligent design, the canister is always oriented in such a way that one fluid motion will disengage the lock and send a quick burst of pepper gel into your attacker’s face from up to 12 feet (3.7 m) away. 

The canister is loaded with 35 bursts of pepper spray gel and the agent contains UV dye that marks the perpetrator. With pepper gel, the amount of solution that can be blown back towards you by wind is greatly reduced. Even though Sabre says its product has a four-year shelf life, the company advises customers to replace the canister once it has been used.

The pepper gel that comes with an adjustable strap will set you back $12.99. Sabre also offers other models – from straightforward canisters with flip tops to a lipstick or key chain pepper spray.

Vexor MK4 Flip-Top Foam Pepper Spray

Vexor MK4 Flip-Top Foam Pepper Spray - best pepper spray
PROS
  • Easy aiming and large hit radius

  • 10-foot range

  • Training cans available

CONS
  • Recommended for indoor use

  • Slower activating time than pepper gel

The easier your self defense pepper spray is to aim, the better. Foam pepper spray helps significantly on this front; you can see the projectile and adjust your aim accordingly, as it has a much wider hit radius than pepper gel does. 

The foam completely covers your attacker’s face, causing immediate skin irritation, respiratory problems, and temporary blindness. Their first instinct will be to try to wipe the foam away, which will only worsen their condition when they rub it into their skin.

The Vexor MK4 Flip-Top is the best pepper spray foam on the market. It comes in various strengths, from 0.18% major capsaicinoid contents to 1.45%. The agent dissipates immediately upon contact, which greatly reduces the chances of your target throwing some back at you. 

The foam is recommended for indoor use, as there’s a chance the foam could blow back towards you in the wind. You can also purchase a training canister loaded with liquid that behaves exactly like the real thing, but has no active ingredients. We recommend you purchase one and see how the product behaves before opting for the real thing.

The flip-top locking system is in place to make sure you don’t accidentally set the canister off. You can also purchase a case with a belt loop for added convenience and security. 

The price of the Vexor MK4 Flip-top varies relative to the strength of the formula, from $15.75 for the 0.18% MC version to $16.75 for the strongest 1.45% version.

Mace Bear Spray

Mace Bear Spray - best pepper spray
PROS
  • EPA-certified as a humane way to deter animal attacks

  • Incredibly strong formula

  • 35-foot range

CONS
  • Large canister

  • No foam or gel form available

Imagine you take your family out for a camping trip in the great outdoors. While it may be all fun and games for the kids, you know there’s a lot that can go wrong and it’s your responsibility to protect your family. One of the biggest dangers are the wild animals that roam free in the wilderness. When we stay in nature, we are trespassing upon their domain. 

Packing a canister of bear pepper spray is a safety precaution you should take every time you venture far from civilization.

Approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a humane way of incapacitating a bear, it will stop a 600-pound giant right in its tracks. The formula has an extremely potent 10% OC content. 

The ‘magnum fogger’ canister sprays a fog of bear repellent across 35 feet and empties in six seconds. The attacking animal experiences major discomfort upon contact, its eyes watering and respiratory organs halting.

Once you pull the orange safety wedge, you are instantly ready to shoot, and the finger loop handle will help you hit your mark. Consider also buying a holster for your bear mace canister for ease of access. This Mace brand bear repellent costs $49.99, which is a small price to pay for peace of mind when you’re hiking or camping.

The canister should be stored in temperatures between 32°F and 120°F and has a three-year shelf life.

Mace Pepper Gel Magnum 9

Mace Pepper Gel Magnum 9 - best pepper spray
PROS
  • Strong formula with 10% OC content

  • UV dye marks your attacker

  • 25-foot range

CONS
  • Contains a single shot that empties after six seconds; the canister must be replaced after use

Both sides of the pepper spray vs pepper gel debate have their valid points. Pepper gel has a greater range and delivers a concentrated attack. Because of the increased force with which the agent is sprayed and the consistency of the gel, wind and other environmental factors are much less likely to affect the accuracy of the spray. With mist or fog canisters, you’re still likely to hit the mark, even if you “spray and pray.”

If you do decide to opt for the gel option, you shouldn’t settle for anything but the bestMace Pepper Gel Magnum 9 delivers a devastating blow to attackers in the form of a thick, sticky substance that will instantly stop them in their tracks. They will experience an intense burning sensation, temporary blindness, and respiratory contractions that will leave them unable to stand up, let alone do any harm. The effects start to wear off after 45 minutes, more than ample time to run away and contact the authorities.

The formula contains a formidable 10% OC content, a concentration most often reserved for an animal repellent. It comes in a convenient, ergonomic canister with a pistol grip, which means it’s only a matter of seconds before you can douse an assailant when the need arises. The formula also contains a UV dye that will mark your target for 48 hours without them knowing. A can of Mace Pepper Gel Magnum 9 costs $49.99.

Sabre Red Keychain Pepper Spray

Sabre Red Keychain Pepper Spray - best pepper spray
PROS
  • Compact and hidden

  • Maximum-strength formula

  • Locking system that prevents accidental discharge

CONS
  • Cannot be shipped to the following states: AK, DC, HI, MA & NY

Some people carry around such a mess of keys and gadgets on their keychains that they can barely fit them into a pair of tight jeans. Instead of a bunch of useless trinkets, why not bolster your self-defense by investing a measly 10 bucks ($11.99 in this case, to be precise) in a pepper spray keychain?

The Sabre Red keychain pepper spray comes with a quick-release mechanism. Imagine you get attacked while entering your home and your keys are in the door? Or while driving, with the keys in the ignition. With the quick press of a button located on a plastic plate connecting the canister with the keys, the pepper spray will be disengaged from the key ring and ready for use. That’s what makes this product the best pepper spray for drivers.

If this seems too complicated, don’t fret – the company provides its customers with a training video for their self defense mace, as well as general safety tips on the website. In either case, the locked top prevents accidental discharge and the finely contoured shapes ensure that the spray fits snuggly into the palm of your hand.

The Sabre Red shoots an irritating agent up to 10 feet in a strong stream form, which is guaranteed to reduce the effect of the elements on your accuracy. It is loaded with the same famous maximum-strength formula Sabre has become known for. 

Eliminator Hot Lips Fake Lipstick Pepper Spray

Eliminator Hot Lips Fake Lipstick Pepper Spray - best pepper spray
PROS
  • The best pepper spray for self defense made for women

  • Strong irritating agent with a rating of 2 million SHU

  • Inexpensive and available in many colours

CONS
  • Poorly designed cap may cause accidental backfires

Creepers and stalkers are all too abundant in the digital age. Some of them take the extra step by harassing people in real life.

Martial arts self-defense training will only get you so far. If an assailant is twice your size, there’s not much you can do without a weapon. That’s why the Eliminator Hot Lips is the best pepper spray for women on the market. Discreetly disguised as a lipstick, it shoots a formidable concoction of pain-inducing agents that will effectively paralyze an attacker in a matter of seconds. 

Say a mugger confronts you in an alley, demanding you hand over the contents of your bag. While you “look for your wallet” you pull out an innocent looking cylinder. Within half a second, you open the cap and unload a world of hurt into their face. Eliminator’s formula is extremely potent, with a rating of 2 million SHU and a 15% OC content. 

The container is loaded with 20 half-second bursts that are near impossible to miss and have a 15-foot range. Available in blue, silver, red, pink, and black, and costing a meager $9.99, the Eliminator Hot Lips is the perfect concealed pepper spray for ladies.

S1 Pepper Spray Gun

S1 Pepper Spray Gun - best pepper spray
PROS
  • Extended range compared to pepper spray in canisters

  • The impact of the pellet does damage by itself

  • Seven rounds per magazine

CONS
  • Much more expensive than canister pepper spray

  • Requires accuracy to be effective

The psychological effect that the shape of a gun has on an attacker shouldn’t be underestimated. When you pull out a gun, the perpetrator will most likely stop in their tracks even before you open fire.

Using compressed air, the S1 Pepper Spray Gun shoots pellets that break on impact and create a five-foot cloud of pepper spray and tear gas. The contents of the pellet incapacitate an attacker for up to 45 minutes, making it one of the best pepper spray formulas on the market. He or she will be blinded, their breathing will be impaired, and they will suffer impact trauma from the hit. The pellet, which travels at 320 feet per second, delivers quite a punch.

A fully loaded loaded S1 Pepper Spray Gun holds seven rounds that have a 150-foot range. Compared to the average 10-foot range of aerosol can pepper sprays, the gun certainly has an advantage. However, the fact that it fires targeted rounds instead of a foam or mist means that a certain level of marksmanship is required for this non-lethal weapon to be effective.

A bright yellow gun costs $299.99, while a black one, which looks much more like a real gun, costs $50 more. 

A single CO2 cartridge will fire three full magazines with seven pellets each. A box of pellets costs $49.99 and an empty magazine costs $24.99. If you plan on carrying the gun with you at all times, we recommend you buy the specialized holster available on the S1 online store.

Police Magnum OC-17 Pen Design Pepper Spray

Police Magnum OC-17 Pen Design Pepper Spray - best pepper spray
PROS
  • High pepper spray Scoville content

  • Concealed and inconspicuous

CONS
  • Design makes it difficult to aim properly

The element of surprise can be the difference between a successful defense and an even angrier and more aggressive attacker. This inconspicuous item will help you get the upper hand on a mugger or stalker – it really looks like nothing more than a black pen. 

One of the best-respected brands in the self defense spray industry, Police Magnum guarantees that each pen will hold five 10-second bursts of debilitating liquid rated at 2 million SHU. Don’t try to carry it into an airplane or courthouse, however; the liquid inside will be detected and you will surely be stopped and asked to empty out your bag.

Even though this is the best pepper spray pen on the market, it shoots OC spray in a mist pattern, which is notorious for backfiring in windy conditions. The design of the spray cap also makes it difficult to determine the direction of the nozzle. The liquid is infused with a UV dye that will mark your target for the next 48 hours. 

Police Magnum’s OC-17 pen design pepper spray costs around $9.97.

Mace Muzzle Dog Repellent Pepper Spray

Mace Muzzle Dog Repellent Pepper Spray - best pepper spray
PROS
  • Humane towards animals

  • High-strength formula

  • Hand-shaped contour for maximum grip

CONS
  • At $16.99, expensive for the amount of agent it holds

We’ve all experienced an unpleasant situation when a dog becomes aggressive or territorial. This can happen anytime, anywhere – while jogging, strolling through a park, or taking your own dog out for a walk. While it’s no fault of their own, abandoned and neglected animals can inflict some serious damage on you or your pet.

Mace Muzzle is the perfect dog Mace. The company kept the wellbeing of the animals in mind when designing this product; it’s a non-lethal way to deal with aggressive dogs.

The Mace brand has become almost synonymous with pepper spray, the way Xerox has become synonymous with copy machines. This product is as effective and well-designed as you’d expect from this household name.

Mace Muzzle shoots a stream of high-OC irritating agent that will discourage even the most aggressive animals from attacking at a 10-foot range. One canister holds around 20 bursts and should be replaced after each use.

It’s attached to a hand strap for ease of access and it can be attached to your set of keys with a simple chain. The flip-top secure lock on the top can be disengaged with a simple flick of the thumb. You will be able to activate the spray in one fluid motion in under one second.

The dog repellent is certified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be a safe and humane way to deter an attacking animal. It can, of course be used on humans or other animals to a similar effect. The Mace Muzzle costs $16.99.

FAQ

What is the best non lethal self defense weapons?

Most non-lethal weapons require you to be in direct proximity to your attacker. Tasers, bats, and batons are all meant for hand-to-hand combat. For this reason alone, pepper spray is the most effective less-than-lethal weapon you can acquire for self defense. The average range of a pepper spray is 10 feet. It doesn’t take much accuracy to incapacitate your target, and when your shot lands, you will have ample time to escape and call the police.

What is the strongest mace?

The strongest pepper spray available on the market is the Five Point Three made by Fox Labs. It owes its name to the Scoville content of its agent - a staggering 5.3 million SHU. The Oleoresin Capsaicin (OC) content in its formula is 2%, with 35% major capsaicinoid content in the base resin making it the hottest pepper spray available to civilians.

Is pepper spray illegal in any states?

No, pepper spray is legal in all states. However, some restrictions do apply. While it is legal to carry pepper spray in all states, it must be used in self defense. Other, state-specific restrictions include limitations on the amount of OC in the irritating agent, minimum age requirements for holding the spray, and limitation of container size.

Can pepper spray kill you?

Even though it is widely marketed as a less-than-lethal weapon, there are documented cases where pepper spray has been found to be the cause of death. Complications occur when the victim suffers from respiratory diseases such as asthma. The National Institute of Justice examined 63 cases of arrestees dying in incarceration after being subjected to pepper spray. According to the report, two of those deaths were attributed directly to the use of pepper spray. In both cases, the victims had asthma. Other deaths were attributed to drug use, positional asphyxiation, and a range of other causes.

What's the best pepper spray to buy?

The strongest product on the market is Fox Labs pepper spray, rated at 5.3 million SHU. If you’re looking for a foolproof way to knock your opponent down, you should go look no further. On the other hand, Sabre pepper spray packs enough of a punch for most scenarios and is unsurpassed in build quality and reliability. We highly recommend you browse through the company’s vast catalog of different strength formulas, delivery methods, and canister shapes to find what best suits your needs.

Does bear spray really work?

Yes. Some studies show that it is even more effective than a gun. It takes up to four direct gunshots on a brown bear to take it down, each one making him angrier than the last. Bear mace, however, frightens the animal to its bones, forcing it to cower or run away. This circumvents ugly incidents where at least one living being is likely to die a painful death. An encounter with a bear in the wilderness is something that should be avoided at all costs. There are plenty of resources about how to behave while in the wilderness, most notably on how to store food and make enough noise to warn animals of your presence. Preparation is the best strategy, so educate yourself and pack a can of bear pepper spray before you go fishing or hiking.

What types of pepper spray are there?

Pepper sprays vary in strength - which is mostly determined by the OC concentration in the active agent - and in their delivery method. Pepper spray can come in the form of fog, stream, gel, or foam. Different delivery methods vary in range, accuracy required to land a hit, and speed of activation. Another big difference is the way it interacts with the wind - the finer the particles being launched, the higher the chances of environmental conditions affecting your success.Fogger - Fogger pepper sprays launch a mist of liquid in a range of 4-8 feet (1.2-2.4 m). The main advantage the fogger model has is that it does not require much accuracy, thanks to its a wide area of effect. This can be very helpful in stressful situations. The flipside is that in outdoor situations, especially windy conditions, it may not be as effective. What’s worse, you could accidentally spray yourself in the process.Stream - This type of canister launches a stream of pepper spray liquid up to 15-20 feet (4.6-6.1) m. It is much more direct than the fogger, which launches droplets that can be blown back to you by the wind. You will need to be more accurate, however, and a little practice may be necessary. Gel - Gel is just about the best pepper spray self-defense option for indoor use and has a range of up to 25 feet (7.6 m). It sticks to your target and doesn’t splatter. Foam - Foam will coat your attacker’s face, rendering them unable to move for at least 20 minutes. They will not recover completely for another 40 minutes, meaning you’ll have a whole hour to escape. It has a range of 8-10 feet (2.4-3.3 m).Gun - Pepper spray guns launch pellets at your attacker. They’re designed to like a normal gun, trigger and all. The intimidation effect of the gun is greater than that of canister pepper sprays, but you will need decent marksmanship to incapacitate your target.

How far can pepper spray shoot?

The average range of a pepper spray is around 10 feet (3 m). However, the range depends on the method of delivery. Pepper gel has the longest reach, an average of 18 feet (5.5 m), and can be effective up from up to 25 feet (7.6 m) away. Pepper foam around travels around 10 feet (3 m), while foggers that sprays a wide area with irritant have a reach of 4-8 feet (1.2-2.4 m).

Where can I buy pepper spray?

Self defense spray is legal in all states. You should be able to find it in any retail store like Walmart or Target. Online delivery is also an option in most cases, except in AK, DC, HI, MA, and NY where state laws prohibit it.

How do you neutralize pepper spray?

Dishwashing liquid and milk help relieve the pain. Accidents happen. You may unwillfully spray yourself while trying to neutralize an attacker. Or you may find yourself in a protest situation and be maced by law enforcement. There is no magic formula that will take the pain away instantaneously. There are many pepper spray ingredients, but the active ingredient is an oil-based chilli pepper derivative called oleoresin capsaicin. That’s why dishwashing liquid is recommended to break down the oil. Submerge your face into a bowl of three parts cold water mixed with one part dishwashing liquid. If you have contact lenses, take them out and throw them away. Blink repeatedly. Another thing that can soothe the irritation is milk in a spray bottle. This does not work in all conditions, but some reports show that milk interacts favorably with the capsaicin in the pepper spray. Whatever you do, try to keep calm and avoid panicking. The spray affects the respiratory system, and panic-induced hyperventilation can only worsen the issue. The only real cure is to wait it out. The inflammation period varies from brand to brand, with the best pepper spray lasting up to 90 minutes.

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