7 Best Pepper Sprays for Self Defense

Safety is the top priority for minorities. Unfortunately, the world can be dangerous sometimes, and you never know when you might need to protect yourself. That’s why you need to keep the pepper spray handy.

The active ingredient of pepper spray is capsicum oleoresin. As a non-lethal weapon, pepper spray can be an excellent addition to anyone’s arsenal helping to defend attackers and win yourself time to escape whether carried with or instead of a firearm.

But with so many pepper sprays on the market, how do you know which one is best for you? Here, we will take you through the best pepper sprays for self defense and give you some advice on how to choose the right pepper sprays based on your needs.

What to Consider when Buying Pepper Sprays?

There are several factors you need to consider when selecting pepper sprays.


Three different formulas are on the market for self defense pepper sprays, including CN, CS, and OC.

The military-produced CN and CS cause pain when works, while OC is an inflammatory that causes pain and inflammation of the mucous membranes around the face, making it hard to breathe and painful the open the eyes.

Given that the attacker may have high pain tolerance, OC is the best formula to choose.

Spray Pattern and Range

Some pepper sprays shoot streams to offer a longer range and target the attacker at a distance. But streams are usually not inhaled, which weakens most of the spray’s defensive capabilities.

Stream Pepper Spray

Mist pepper sprays are easier to inhale, but have shorter ranges than other spray patterns nor allow you to target. That means it’s impossible to hit people other than the attacker, including yourself or those coming to your aid.

Mist Pepper Spray

Some mist pepper sprays have a certain size that doesn’t allow you to carry them in your purse or pocket. In that case, a pepper spray holder is needed if you want to carry it outdoors.

Made from durable polymer material, Cytac Pepper Spray Holder (Item No.: CY-PS01) fits various pepper spray bottle of 1.5” in diameters and is widely used in policing, riot control, crowd control, and self defense. Once the pepper spray in put into the holder, the buckles on sides of the holster are automatically fastened to fit for the spray and the anti-drop strap provides an extra protection to hold it tight. While it is lightweight, the holder shows good impact resistance to the spray.

In addition, it offers three colors – black, FDE, and OD green for you to choose from and multiple carrying platforms with tooth gear connection are available: Paddle, MOLLE, low ride belt loop, drop leg platform, shoulder harness, MagicPlate, etc.

To know whether it is suitable for your favorite pepper sprays, please feel free to contact our sales team.

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Foam pepper sprays are unlikely to hit an unexpected target. They have shorter ranges than stream pepper sprays and have the same issue with inhalation. Also, it works slowly to take effect.

Generally, foam pepper spray is the least recommended spray pattern. Instead, mist spray pattern is the most practical for most people, but those with respiratory issues may want stream to avoid the risk of inhalation.

Foam Pepper Spray


An easy to carry pepper spray needs to be compact and fits in your pocket. Keychain pepper sprays only hold about a half ounce of pepper spray, making it effective only for a few seconds and cover a range of a few feet. The most recommended size is one- to-two ounce canisters, which spray for about 30 seconds and have a range of about 15 feet.


Capsicum oleoresin (OC) is the active ingredient in pepper spray that causes burning sensation in eyes and nose. The higher the concentration of OC, the better the spray effect. However, keep in mind that stronger sprays can also have a bigger impact on you if the spray contacts your skin or eyes.


You may hope to avoid accidentally triggering your pepper spray from your pocket, handbag, or while holding. Most pepper sprays will be equipped with some sort of safety measures to prevent accidental shots, either a slide mechanism or a flip mechanism, and both work well. Just ensure you know how they work before using it in any real life scenarios.

Brand Reputation

Consider purchasing pepper spray from a reputable brand that have been tested and approved by law enforcement agencies and with lots of recommendations from respected trainers. If the brand has a good reputation in the LE market, it is prone to be good.

FAQs about Pepper Sprays

Q1. Is Pepper Spray Legal to Carry?

Pepper spray is legal to carry in most states in the US and in many other countries. However, some states have restricts on the types, strength, and size of sprays. It’s important to contact your local police department and check your local laws to make sure it’s legality in your area.

Q2. Can Pepper Spray Be Harmful to Me?

While pepper spray is generally safe, it may cause pain or discomfort if it contacts your skin or eyes. Thus, it’s significant to follow instructions carefully and avoid accidental spraying it on yourself or innocent people around you. If you are unfortunately exposed to sprays, the following steps may help you.

  • Get outside to fresh air as soon as possible and wait at least 15 minutes before going back indoors. Then, open windows for ventilation for an hour.
  • Blink rapidly to flush the irritants out of your eyes with water for up to 15 minutes.
  • Wash your skin with soap and water if it touches your skin only and don’t touch your eyes after contacting the pepper spray.

Q3. How to Use Pepper Spray?

The first thing is to draw the pepper spray and disarm the safety mechanism. You may often see someone stick their arm out and turn their head away and spray when using pepper spray. However, this is the worst possible posture.

The worst posture won’t keep you safe.

The defensive posture should be like this. Take a step back to increase the distance between you and the attacker, narrow your profile, and bend your knees to lower your center of gravity. It’s hard for you to fall down or be knocked down to the ground.

Then, put your hands up to protect your face and body, with your elbows slightly bent. Aim the pepper spray at the attacker’s face with one hand and fan the spray back and forth. Well, avoid closing your eyes since it helps nothing to protect yourself but prevents you from seeing the attacker. Even if you use the pepper spray correctly, it sometimes takes time to make effect, so you should keep alert in case a fight is needed.

At last, make much noise and shout anything to arouse others’ attention, like “Fire!” This deters attackers and provides more witnesses to law enforcement when necessary.

Fox Labs 5.3 Keychain Pepper Spray

Quick stats:

  • 5.3 Million SHU (Scoville Heat Units) – Police strength and the hottest available
  • Hard case and quick release key ring
  • 11-gram capacity for 10 half-second bursts
  • UV dye
  • 3-year shelf life
  • $19.95

The UV Dye effects in pepper spray make it easier to identify suspects after an incident.

The stream is strong and aims at target exactly from 10 feet from the target where I stood. The capacity is the same as on the package and I had two long bursts of pepper spray over 5 seconds. Even if there is no wind, I felt it in my mouth and face after the test. Its case protects anything in your pocket or purse from accidentally pushing against it. In addition, as its name shows, you can attach it onto your keys for easy carrying and access.

Since the Amazon listing batches products together and is hard to ensure authentication, I would recommend you purchase it from the Home Security Superstore. It’s now on sale for $16.

Fox Labs 5.3 Fog Grenade

It is more likely a bug bomb to spray in a small room for zone blockade.

Quick stats:

  • 5.3 Million SHU
  • 18 half-second bursts
  • Fog cone for up to 18 feet
  • 3-year shelf life
  • $29.99

You can use it in burst mode by pressing it down softly. Or, you can press it down hard to enter the grenade mode and it lands on its side.

I don’t think it works very well if you ask me. So, unless you have some weird purposes, I don’t recommend you try the fog bomb.

Sabre 3-in-1 Pepper Spray

Sabre 3-in-1 pepper spray is one of the best products of the well-known pepper spray manufacturer Sabre Red trusted by millions of police departments like NYPD and Chicago PD and U.S. Marshals.

Quick stats:

  • Mix of pepper spray, UV dye, and CS gas
  • 18-gram capacity for 35 short bursts
  • 10-foot range
  • No hotness spec provided, but only lists “2X Stronger”
  • 4-year shelf life
  • $9.99

Its easy-to-disengage twist lock is convenient, but I found it too easy to get pushed in the purse or pocket that I strap it somewhere safe.

The stream and capacity makes it a great runner-up pepper spray since it hits at 10 feet. However, smaller as it is than Fox Labs 5.3 Keychain, it loses the top protection and keychain attachment, that’s why I much prefer the latter. If you don’t mind spending a few dollars more, I strongly recommend the bundle Practice Spray with Twist Lock where you need to press down to get it sprayed.

Sabre Dog Pepper Spray

Want to avoid being bitten by dogs and walk confidently? Sabre Dog Pepper Spray is made for dog so that you can deter dog attacks on the street and the special formula won’t cause permanent damage to aggressive dogs. I don’t recommend it against human bodies for it stings eyes and arms. But if that’s what you need, go for it.

Quick stats:

  • 1% Major Capsaicin and Capsaicinoids
  • Safety lock and belt clip top
  • Spray up to 15 feet
  • Net content: 1.8 Ozs
  • $15.99

Mace Police Pepper Spray

Bigger than others while packing 18 grams of the content, this 3-in-1 police pepper spray features a nice finger-grooved case and very secure flip-top, making it the largest capacity pepper spray among all small containers to put down attackers in seconds.

Quick stats:

  • Mix of OC red pepper, UV dye, and tear gas
  • Spray up to 12 feet
  • Net content: 18 grams
  • 3- to 4-year shelf life
  • $33.98

If you want a spray with the most effective safety mechanism and don’t care increasing the size, I will recommend this for you.

Mace Pepper Gun 2.0

Mace Pepper Gun 2.0 is a more gun-like pepper spray that has the size of a compact handgun. The appearance and the ergonomics makes it feel like a real gun.

Quick stats:

  • 2 Million SHU
  • Built-in LED strobe light
  • Come with training cartridge
  • UV dye
  • 4-year shelf life
  • $59.99

Well, the LED strobe light is very weak, you cannot blind or disorient someone. However, the blast is powerful and foamy and the super heavy trigger may not be user-friendly for green hands.

Carrying something looks like a firearm may cause you trouble. So, I don’t love it personally. But if that’s cool to you or you want to target easily, give it a try.

Police Force 23 Pepper Foam

While the marketers claim that the foam is less affected by wind, it seems to become more of a cloud when targeting, even if there is no wind. Unless you have to use foam pepper spray indoors or in very close range with an attacker, I don’t think it good for self defense.

Quick stats:

  • 230,000 certified SHU
  • UV dye included
  • 15 – 18 one-second bursts at 10 – 12 feet
  • 5-year shelf life
  • $16.99

The Bottom Line

Pepper spray is a valuable non-lethal self defense tool even for gun owners. For the majority of people, I recommend the Fox Labs 5.3 Keychain Pepper Spray, because it ensures accuracy when targeting while keeping you at a distance. Plus, the security top ensures it won’t be pushed in your pocket or purse.

Anyway, pepper sprays are not allowed in all countries. It’s better to check your local regulations and rules before purchasing one.