Best Pepper Sprays: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

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The best pepper spray can quickly subdue a subject, regardless of whether you are defensive or offensive.

However, as most law enforcement officers know, not every pepper spray batch is made the same.

If you’re looking to upgrade your existing gear, let’s delve into some of the best options for self-defense.

Comparison Chart

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SABRE RED Tactical Pepper Gel with Belt Holster
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Mace Brand Triple Action Police Strength Pepper Spray
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This Chick Is Packin’ Maximum Strength Pepper Spray
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Mace Store Police Strength Pepper Spray with UV Dye
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SABRE RED Compact Pepper Spray with Clip

Best Pepper Spray Reviews

1. SABRE RED Tactical Pepper Gel

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With the SABRE RED Tactical Pepper Gel, you will have maximum-strength red pepper spray and a spray holster.

It is one of the most preferred brands by law enforcement because it’s often regarded as the most reliable formula.

It has up to four years’ worth of shelf life, which is longer than the industry standard.

Product Highlights

Did you know that it’s up to 30% likely for other brands of pepper spray to fail?

Sabre’s primary objective is to provide law enforcement with a red pepper spray that is sure to subdue any subject.

The SABRE RED formula is the hottest formulation the company has to offer with 1.33% capsaicinoids.

To develop the formula, it has undergone extensive HPLC lab testing to ensure you can stop suspects in their tracks.

One of my favorite features of this spray is that it makes a seamless transition from aerosol to gel.

A gel is a far better alternative to prevent blowback, and it can also be used outdoors.

The SABRE RED Tactical Pepper Gel flies at least 20% farther than competing brands.

Another fantastic feature is the belt holster I received with my order, which helped me affix the formula to my belt.

It’s an easy-access component that takes just a second to work with, allowing me to defend myself against multiple threats.

In a single canister of spray, there are 18 bursts for you to use, as well as a flip-top safety to prevent accidents.

Another significant advantage is that the spray includes UV marking dye for suspects who escape.

I have had instances where officers have called subjects in for questioning, only to find they had been recently sprayed.

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What to Like About It

Upon arrival, this pepper gel spray is ready to fire with its straightforward trigger mechanism.

The safety is handy, especially if you intend on carrying it on your person.

Compared to traditional spray, this helps to minimize the likelihood of blowback ten-fold.

What Not to Like About It

I found that I could only get a few sprays out of the can, which was much less than I had expected.

The holster, as convenient as it is, falls apart quickly, especially if worn every day.

Pros:

  • Accessible trigger mechanism
  • Useful safety feature
  • Arrives ready to fire
  • Prevents wind blowback

Cons:

  • Less spray than expected
  • Low-quality holster

2. Mace Brand Self-Defense Pepper Spray

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The Mace Brand Self-Defense Pepper Spray is an excellent option for officers who need a powerful punch.

It has a three-in-one formula, which sets it apart from the competition and protects you from threats.

This product is easily one of my favorite long-range defenses while on- and off-duty.

Product Highlights

The three-in-one formula is the stand-out feature of this pepper spray.

It also contains teargas and UV dye, which should stop a threat immediately upon being sprayed.

The tear gas is exceptionally notable, as it can cause shortness of breath and profuse tearing in dangerous situations.

It can always be beneficial for law enforcement officers to have UV dye in pepper spray for identification purposes.

Although this formula is hazardous, it is housed in a convenient and safe casing.

The police-strength case is designed to last several years and has an added belt clip and keychain for convenience.

What’s great about this is that it is 100% TSA/FAA compliant, as long as it’s checked in your baggage.

One of the features that give me peace of mind is the flip-top safety cap to prevent inadvertent firing.

I also like the design of the casing, which is ergonomic and fits comfortably within my fingers.

A single spray can travel up to 12 feet away, which is more than sufficient.

It has both OC pepper and teargas used in the ingredients to incapacitate subjects.

On average, the effects should last up to 45 minutes, giving you more than enough time for an arrest.

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What to Like About It

The high-quality design of the casing is impressive, especially with the straightforward trigger.

I also appreciate the belt clip, which eliminates the need for a separate holster.

Men and women alike will find this tool to be comfortable and easy to hold in emergencies.

What Not to Like About It

The effectiveness of this spray is called into question, as it appears to be ineffective against animals.

There is no expiration date on the casing, too, which could mean some orders receive inert ingredients.

Also, keep in mind that the device lacks shooting power if the nozzle isn’t cleaned adequately.

Pros:

  • High-quality casing
  • Convenient belt clip
  • Fits comfortably in the hand
  • Easy-to-use trigger mechanism

Cons:

  • Lacks shooting power
  • Ineffective against animals

3. Maximum Police Strength Pepper Spray

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The Maximum Police Strength Pepper Spray is developed by This Chick Is Packin’, a self-defense company.

It’s more compact than some of the other types of pepper spray, making it convenient for carrying.

If you need a straightforward formula that is designed for immediate use, this is a good choice.

Product Highlights

The Maximum Police Strength Pepper Spray might not look like standard police-issue spray, but it can be useful.

It contains red pepper, which is the primary ingredient of some of the highest-quality sprays on the market.

Similar to many other standard formulas, this product contains OC pepper, which is known to be highly effective.

There’s 18% of oleoresin capsicum in the ingredients list, the maximum for any high-strength pepper spray.

One of the features I enjoyed was the relatively easy safety, which features a twist-top.

I was able to engage the spray quickly with a single hand.

If you need a pepper spray designed to shoot a reasonable distance, this is a good option.

On average, the spray should allow you to get up to 12 feet of distance per burst.

The packaging is also designed to prevent potential leaks and offer efficiency in emergencies.

On the bottom, you will find a keychain that allows you to carry the pepper spray effortlessly.

It is an excellent pick for self-defense while off-duty, especially if you want a non-descript self-defense weapon.

However, its compact size means it doesn’t have as much product; the total amount is only half an ounce.

What to Like About It

As a lightweight self-defense option, the Maximum Police Strength Pepper Spray is useful.

It allows you to spray up to 12 feet and features anti-leak packaging, so you can even carry it in your pocket.

Its most notable feature is the convenient keychain on the bottom for attaching it to your keys.

What Not to Like About It

My most considerable concern with this product is its twist-top safety, which can be a bit challenging to access for beginners.

Also, there is a minimal amount of product, useful only for two to three uses at most.

Pros:

  • Small and lightweight
  • Convenient keychain
  • Up to 12 feet of distance
  • Anti-leak packaging

Cons:

  • Twist-top safety
  • Limited product

4. Mace Brand PepperGuard Self Defense Spray

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Although they may look similar, this Mace Brand PepperGuard Self Defense Spray is different than the other.

It also features a police-grade spray but doesn’t contain teargas like the other option.

With that said, its usability is far more impressive.

Product Highlights

The Mace Brand PepperGuard Self Defense Spray is a reliable option for officers who need long-distance spray.

You should be able to achieve up to 12 feet worth of protection with the steady spray pattern.

I prefer this formula over the other, as it appears to be more effective in most situations.

You will find OC pepper as the primary ingredient, similar to most other sprays.

OC pepper is remarkable for causing impaired vision, respiratory distress, coughing, and intense burning.

As an added benefit, there is UV dye in the formula, which is useful for investigatory purposes.

The police-strength case is precisely what I was looking for, especially as it has a belt clip for easy access.

I also enjoy using the keychain, which allows me to attach it to my keys for immediate use.

The flip-top safety cap is one of my favorites, as it can easily be accessed, even in stressful situations.

It helps keep the user safe when the spray is carried, primarily if they have never used pepper spray before.

Another notable aspect of the casing is the unique finger grip, which allows the spray to self-align in your hand.

Thanks to this, you will find that aiming the spray is much simpler than with other brands.

What to Like About It

The Mace Brand PepperGuard Self Defense Spray is an excellent option for an easy-to-conceal self-defense weapon.

After testing, I found that it shoots at least 10 feet when aimed.

I like that the ergonomic casing is comfortable to hold, too.

Lastly, it is one of the most easily accessible sprays, as well, which is all thanks to its multiple carrying options.

What Not to Like About It

Unfortunately, there is a likelihood that the spray can leak with improper storage and care.

This is a significant hazard that must not be taken lightly.

I also found that the spray is relatively narrow, which means you will need an accurate aim to make a difference.

Pros:

  • Easy to conceal
  • Shoots at least 10 feet
  • Ergonomic casing
  • Easily accessible

Cons:

  • Could leak
  • Narrow spray

5. SABRE RED Compact Pepper Spray

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If you are a fan of the SABRE RED Pepper Spray formula but find the packaging too large, this is a great alternative.

With the same police-favorite formula in a smaller package, this is one of my go-to options.

In fact, I considered purchasing an extra one for my bug-out bag for emergencies.

Product Highlights

By far, the most notable benefit of this spray is its formula, which is said to be one of the most effective.

The amount of strenuous testing the formula goes through is more than enough proof that it is highly effective.

It is often used by federal and local law enforcement agencies in active situations and for training.

The primary ingredient is OC red pepper, the hottest ingredient out of all SABRE pepper sprays.

You can guarantee it will disable an attacker within seconds while also marking the area with UV dye.

If you need further investigation, the dye is an essential component for making positive identifications.

One of the best features for users is the reinforced trigger twist.

With this, there is a slim chance that you will accidentally discharge the pepper spray.

It should also shoot up to 10 feet away and offer up to 3/4 ounces of product for multiple uses.

If used in moderation, officers will have up to 35 bursts, although this amount could be contested.

The powerful stream is ideal for reducing wind blowback, but be sure not to use it indoors.

I particularly like the belt clip, which allows me to either carry the compact spray in my holster or alone on my belt.

What to Like About It

There is positive action with this pepper spray, which makes it easy to fire when needed.

It also holds pressure over time, even close to its date of expiry.

If you need something to give you confidence, this is one of the most efficient sprays to consider having on your person at all times.

What Not to Like About It

When pulling the device out of your pocket, it can be challenging to orientate to find the correct shooting position.

I would also caution that this product is not childproof, even with its useful safety function.

Pros:

  • Reliable positive action
  • Holds pressure long-term
  • Provides optimal confidence
  • Works efficiently

Cons:

  • Hard to orientate
  • Not childproof
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Buyer’s Guide

Pepper spray is often regarded as the perfect median between your hands and gun.

With that said, you need to make sure you have the perfect formula and packaging for any situation.

As a law enforcement officer, I highly recommend considering these features when shopping for pepper spray.

1. What is Pepper Spray Made of – Active Ingredients

The active ingredients in your pepper spray are essential to keep in mind, especially since each formula is different.

The majority of manufacturers use OC pepper in their pepper spray, which is known to hinder most subjects.

OC pepper is an active ingredient in chili peppers and cayenne peppers and is known to cause significant pain.

With that said, there can also be other ingredients in pepper spray, such as teargas.

Although oleoresin capsicum does a fine job on its own, teargas can further hinder an attacker’s motives.

Exposure to this substance often leads to profuse tearing, difficulty breathing, and the inability to open one’s eyes for long periods.

In the past, the government used CN tear gas but has since transitioned to CS tear gas.

CS tear gas is known to be more potent with less toxicity and takes effect much faster.

Even in its lowest concentrations, it is a highly effective by-product that can be added to pepper spray.

2. Trigger Mechanism

When you need to use your pepper spray in self-defense, you will require a trigger that’s easy and comfortable to pull.

Anyone from seniors to young adults will need to access the spray if their life is in danger without hindrance.

As a law enforcement officer, I know how dangerous it can be to manage challenging packaging emergencies.

I highly recommend you take the time to learn the ins and outs of your new pepper spray, mainly its use, before bringing it along.

Always ensure that you test it in a well-ventilated area so that you can know what to expect if you ever need to use it.

Most often, pepper sprays have a lightweight trigger mechanism that needs to be gently depressed to spray.

3. Safety

It is just as essential to have high-quality safety as it is to have an easy-to-use trigger on your pepper spray.

Make sure that regardless of how you carry your self-defense weapon, it won’t accidentally discharge.

Women should be able to carry it comfortably and safely in their purses and men in their pockets.

I prefer to wear my pepper spray on my belt, which means I am protected against accidental firing.

My favorite type of safety is a flip-top, as it takes a second to engage so that I can access the trigger.

Otherwise, I spend too much time orientating the pepper spray while focusing on a subject.

UV Marking

The importance of UV marking in pepper spray cannot be understated, especially when investigating.

Once sprayed, combatants will be marked with a clear ingredient that can be seen in UV light.

Hence, in the chance that they happen to get away, they can be positively identified in the future.

Although it is not an active ingredient that aids in taking a subject down, it does allow you to identify them.

Pepper Spray FAQs

1. Which is more effective Mace or pepper spray?

Technically, Mace is a brand name rather than a type of self-defense weapon.

Historically, there have been differences, but today, they are essentially one and the same.

The initial development of Mace was exceptionally toxic and contained CN tear gas.

Unfortunately, experience found that CN tear gas has limited effectiveness against those using drugs or alcohol.

This issue led to pepper spray development, which contains the active ingredient oleoresin capsicum (OC pepper).

Its primary purpose is to be an inflammatory agent that causes significant discomfort in the eyes and respiratory tract.

Pepper spray is less toxic than traditional mace versions and is more likely to work against those under the influence.

2. Is police pepper spray stronger?

Police and civilians have access to the same pepper spray ranges, as it’s useful across the board.

I have found that police pepper sprays range from 0.18% to 1.33% major capsaicinoids, similar to civilian brands.

The difference lies in the other active ingredients, as law enforcement has access to CS military tear gas.

3. What brand of pepper spray do police use?

SABRE is the most notable brand that comes to mind when looking into police-issued pepper spray.

Their products are known to be popular throughout federal and local law enforcement agencies.

4. Is pepper gel better than spray?

When entering a tactical situation, I find that gel pepper spray is ideal, especially for untrained users.

Compared to aerosols, the heavy liquid will travel faster and more direct, reducing the likelihood of accidents.

If you have ever accidentally sprayed yourself with pepper spray, this is a far better alternative.

Pepper gel is a relatively new self-defense item and can be ideal in many instances.

A gel is known to travel farther than a spray, as it’s not an aerosol that travels through the air.

Each gel burst can go up to 20% farther than its spray counterpart and is more likely to stick to the skin.

By sticking, the formula seeps into the skin and orifices, making it far more effective and challenging to wipe away.

Pepper gel can also be preferred indoors, as it won’t travel through HVAC systems and cause significant blowback.

5. How painful is pepper spray?

You can guarantee that being sprayed with pepper spray is one of the most painful feelings to experience.

The ingredients are potent enough to bring the strongest person to their knees, which is why it is a popular non-lethal agent.

It also creates lasting effects that subjects will find challenging to eliminate without adequate washing and rinsing.

Imagine how painful it would be to rub your open eyes with cayenne peppers, where OC pepper is derived.

A study of voluntary participants showed that eye discomfort ranged from 9.6 to 9.7 out of 10 on the pain scale.

Within 10 minutes, the pain dropped to 7.2 to 8.7, with pain and irritation lasting longer than 15 minutes.

My Final Recommendation

The best pepper spray of 2020 is undoubtedly SABRE RED Tactical Pepper Gel, as it covers all the bases.

You’ll have a highly potent gel spray that will stick to your attacker and imprint UV markings on their skin and clothing.

If you want a more compact product, consider the SABRE RED Compact Pepper Spray as an alternative.

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