Tuesday, 24 Sep 2019

Best Pepper Spray for Self-Defense: Burn those Baddies’ Eyes!

Pepper Spray is commonly carried by college students.

Pepper spray is probably the most popular self-defense item available.

This makes sense.  

While guns are absolutely a more reliable form of self-defense…pepper spray does have its advantages.

Pepper Spray is commonly carried by college students.

Of course, I’m not telling you to carry pepper spray instead of a gun.  However, there are situations in which carrying a firearm just isn’t viable, and carrying pepper spray is better than nothing.

By the end you’ll know the pros/cons of pepper spray and the best one for you.

Table of Contents


Pros of Pepper Spray

For one, pepper spray is far more affordable than a firearm.  A gun can’t do anything to protect you if you can’t afford it in the first place.

It’s also less regulated than firearms are, making it an alternative for those who live in or are visiting places where they can’t have a gun.  Pepper spray is also often allowed in places where firearms may not be, like private campsites and college campuses.

Pepper spray is easier to carry while engaged in physical activities like running, especially if you prefer to carry concealed.

Running with Pepper Spray
Running with Pepper Spray

And finally, pepper spray is a non-lethal self-defense option with a lower chance of injuring a bystander.

What to Consider When Buying Pepper Spray

When choosing pepper spray, there are a few factors you’ll need to be sure to consider.


First, you’ll want to look at the formula.  

There are three different major formulas on the market when it comes to self-defense sprays, CN, CS, and OC.

CN and CS are military produced irritants which work by causing pain.  

OC, or pepper spray, is an inflammatory that not only causes pain but also causes inflammation of the mucous membranes around the face, making it difficult and painful to breathe or open the eyes.

Since your attacker may be under the influence or simply have a high pain tolerance, OC is best.

Spray Pattern and Range

Once you’ve made sure you’re looking at the right formula, you’ll want to check the spray pattern.

Some pepper sprays shoot streams, which provide a longer range and allow you to target your attacker.  However, streams aren’t generally inhaled, which takes away a large part of the spray’s defensive capabilities.

Stream Pepper Spray
Stream Pepper Spray

A spray or mist is more easily inhaled, but it has a shorter range than other patterns.  

It also doesn’t allow targeting, which means there is some risk of hitting people other than your attacker, including yourself and those coming to your aid.

Mist Pepper Spray
Mist Pepper Spray

The last spray pattern is foam.  Foam is the least likely to hit an unintended target, but it has a shorter range than streams and has the same issue in regards in inhalation.  It also is slow to take effect.

In general, the foam is the least recommended spray pattern.  For most people, the mist is the most practical, but those with respiratory issues may want to go with a spray to avoid the risk of inhalation.

Mace Foam Pepper Spray
Mace Foam Pepper Spray


No matter what pattern you choose, you’ll need enough pepper spray to get the job done.

The keychain pepper sprays commonly seen only hold about a half ounce of pepper spray.  This is only enough for a few seconds of spray, and they typically only have a range of a few feet..  

Sabre Red Keychain Pepper Spray

Sabre Red Keychain Pepper Spray

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Prices accurate at time of writing

One to two-ounce canisters is the most commonly recommended size.  They can spray for about 30 seconds and usually have a range of around 15 feet.

Anything larger is not practical for personal carry but could be a good option for defense in the home.

Pepper Spray for Home Defense
Sabre Red Pepper Spray for Home Defense, 13 fl oz

So, now that you know the features to pay attention to, let’s move on to the recommendations!

1. Sabre Red Pepper Gel

Sabre Red is one of the best-known manufacturers of pepper spray, and their Red Pepper Gel is one of their best products.

As a gel, it has a stream spray pattern with a range of about 18 feet.  The formula also contains UV dye which shows up under black light and makes it easier for law enforcement to identify your attacker.

The Effect of UV Dye in Pepper Spray
The Effect of UV Dye in Pepper Spray

Sabre Red Pepper Gel has a flip top safety and comes with a holster, and the four-year shelf life minimizes the need to repurchase pepper spray to stay safe, even if you haven’t had to use it.

Sabre Red Pepper Gel comes in a 1.8 oz personal size and a 13 oz home defense size.

Sabre Red Pepper Gel

Sabre Red Pepper Gel

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Prices accurate at time of writing

What do you think about Sabre Red?

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2. Fox Labs Mean Green

Fox Labs Mean Green has a dye like Sabre Red Pepper Gel, but it’s less subtle.  Instead of UV dye which just shows up under black light, Mean Green contains a highly concentrated green dye which colors the skin.

Mean Green is available in three sizes, 15g, 1.5 oz, and 3 oz.  The 15g size can only deliver a splatter of pepper and isn’t large enough to bother with.  The 1.5 oz and 3 oz are both available in both stream and spray patterns.

Fox Labs Mean Green
Depending on the size and formula, Mean Green has a range of 12 to 15 feet.

Both larger sizes have a flip top safety and a large nozzle that allows the expulsion of three grams per burst.

Fox Labs Mean Green

Fox Labs Mean Green

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Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Kimber Pepper Blaster II

I know what you’re thinking and yes, this is the same Kimber that makes firearms.

The Kimber Pepper Blaster II is my pepper spray of choice.  This is the one I carry when I’m not able to carry a firearm.

Instead of working like traditional sprays, the Pepper Blaster II shoots a capsule of fluid, ensuring that more fluid hits your target. 

The Pepper Blaster II has impressive speed and range, able to spray 13 feet in just 1/10 of a second.  The gun shape of the sprayer makes it easier to aim, and the trigger safety prevents accidental discharges.

The formula has a five-year shelf life and, because it’s not aerosolized, there is no risk of losing pressure over time.

The primary disadvantage of the Pepper Blaster II is that you can only fire two capsules with no way of reloading.  

However, Kimber advertises that the formula should incapacitate an attacker for about 45 minutes, so it is unlikely you’ll need to make a follow-up shot.

The Pepper Blaster II doesn’t come with a holster, but Kimber makes a pouch style holster, and plenty of other manufacturers make holsters and clips for the Pepper Blaster II.

Kimber Pepper Blaster II

Kimber Pepper Blaster II

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Prices accurate at time of writing

4. The Wrist Saver

The Wrist Saver was designed to give runners and bikers a convenient, accessible method of self-defense that they wouldn’t have to hold in their hand while hitting the pavement or trail.

The spray fits in a bracelet style holster that also has space for your ID and has a built-in LED light to illuminate your way and make you more visible to motorists when you’re doing your workout after dark.

Unfortunately, the Wrist Saver is low capacity, only a half ounce, in order to make it more convenient to carry.

Despite this, it has a strong 10-foot range and can fire 10 to 20 blasts before emptying, so you should still be able to subdue your attacker and make an escape.

Wrist Saver Pepper Spray

Wrist Saver Pepper Spray

See It

Prices accurate at time of writing

How to Use Pepper Spray

Now for one last thing before I wrap up.

That's going to hurt in the morning...
That’s going to hurt in the morning…

Your pepper spray is useless or even dangerous if you don’t know how to use it, so let’s go over the basics.

Obviously, the first things you’ll need to do are draw the pepper spray and disarm the safety mechanism.

In movies you often see someone use pepper spray by sticking their arm out, turning their head away, and spraying, but this is just about the worst possible posture.  Instead, you’ll want to use a defensive posture.

She may look cool, but this is not the posture that will keep you safe.
She may look cool, but this is not the posture that will keep you safe.

Take a step back to increase the distance between you and the attacker and to narrow your profile.  Bend your knees to lower your center of gravity and make it harder to fall or be knocked to the ground.  

Keep both hands up to protect your face and body, and keep your elbows at least slightly bent.

With one hand, aim the pepper spray towards your attacker’s face.  As you continue to spray, fan the spray back and forth in case you missed initially due to wind, movement, or aim.

You’ll want to keep your arms positioned more like this.
You’ll want to keep your arms positioned more like this.

Resist the temptation to close your eyes.  It won’t protect you from any blowback, and will only prevent you from seeing your attacker.  Pepper spray can sometimes take a moment to take effect, even when properly used, so you’ll want to be alert in case you need to fight.

Finally, make lots of noise during the encounter and as you make your escape.  Yell anything that will get people’s attention, whether that’s “fire!” or your most creative combination of swear words.  Getting people’s attention will deter your attacker and ensure more witnesses for law enforcement to rely on.

Most companies make practice versions of their pepper sprays that are completely inert.  Use these to practice so that the first time you use your spray isn’t in an emergency.

Final Thoughts

Even for gun owners, a pepper spray is a valuable tool for self-defense, something I know from personal experience.  

I used to live in the somewhat secluded back end of an apartment complex and therefore liked to carry something to defend myself when taking my dog, Ginger, out.  One night she had to go out, so rather than changing out of the athletic shorts I was wearing and into something sturdy enough to support a holstered handgun, I just clipped my Kimber Pepper Blaster II to my waistband.

It was fortunate that I did, rather than skipping the defense altogether, because within a few moments of exiting the back of the building we were charged by an angry, off-leash dog belonging to a neighbor.

Thankfully I was able to spray the attacking dog, distracting it from the attack and protecting myself and Ginger.

Ginger safe and sound and able to explore in the snow last winter thanks to my Kimber Pepper Blaster II.
Ginger safe and sound and able to explore in the snow last winter thanks to my Kimber Pepper Blaster II.

While the Kimber Pepper Blaster II had my back that night, any of these sprays are strong defensive options.  

However, pepper sprays are not allowed in all places, so check your local laws before attempting to purchase one.

Now let’s hear from you!  Do you carry a pepper spray?  If so, which one and have you ever had to use it?  Let us know in the comments!  If you want to go with real steal…check out our Concealed Carry Guide.

The post Best Pepper Spray for Self-Defense: Burn those Baddies’ Eyes! appeared first on Pew Pew Tactical.

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