Pepper Spray vs Taser: What’s the Difference?

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When it comes to choosing self-defense apparatus, you would usually make a choice between pepper spray vs taser.

We at law enforcement also have the choice of batons in addition to tasers and pepper sprays.

Knives also have a large cut in the self-defense equipment market, but tasers and pepper sprays are the more popular choices.

There are several considerations when choosing between taser vs pepper spray.

Before you can finally choose which one is the best for you, let me tell you about the pros and cons of each.

Pepper Spray

Pepper sprays are public self-defense or law enforcement equipment that contain oleoresin capsicum (OC), 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS), or a combination of both.

You can control these devices like any other spray by pressing a dispense button or lever.

OC and CS chemical compounds can disable any assailant with temporary blindness, skin irritation, and shortness of breath.

Is Pepper Spray Good for Self-Defense?

Pepper spray is an excellent non-lethal device for self-defense, law enforcement, and public control.

Civilians can use it to disable an attacker, try to escape, and find a way to inform authorities.

If a civilian has had the opportunity to spray onto the attacker, ultraviolet dyes can be coupled with eyewitness information that can lead to the criminal’s apprehension.

Can You Go to Jail for Using Pepper Spray on Someone?

Pepper sprays can be harmful up to some degree. There are regulations regarding the proper purchase, use, and transport of pepper sprays.

Using pepper spray to harm another person deliberately is a crime punishable by law.

Additionally, inappropriate uses other than to subdue an attacker or a criminal can be the subject of criminal or civil liability.

Is It Illegal to Own Pepper Spray?

Generally speaking, it is not illegal to own pepper spray.

Pepper spray has been in circulation since its invention in the 1960s.

Although most US states allow legal ownership of pepper sprays, some states have restrictions that regulate the amount and age of a person who can carry pepper spray.

Some states also require that a person has never committed any felonies or assault crimes, such as in New York.

Can You Buy Police-Grade Pepper Spray?

Commercially available pepper spray variants can have the same quality and potency as products accredited and deployed for law enforcement personnel.

Local laws and guidelines dictate which products can be owned and used by civilians.

Check the laws in your vicinity to avoid products that violate these laws.

In What States Are Pepper Sprays Illegal?

Since pepper sprays are considered weapons for personal defense, it is legal to purchase and carry them around in the 50 US states.

Some states have restrictions regarding shipping from outside their borders and sale to minors.

Check with your local police force about which rules you should follow when trying to own a pepper spray.


Also called a stun gun, a taser is another type of public self-defense or law enforcement tool that uses stored electricity to temporarily incapacitate or disable someone with an electric shock.

Tasers are Conducted Energy Devices or Weapons (CEDs or CEWs) producing different levels of nonlethal electric shocks that can cause neuromuscular incapacitation.

My fellow law enforcement officers and I use tasers to disrupt an assailant’s voluntary control of muscles so that we can approach and apprehend them without resistance.

On the other hand, civilians can use tasers to defend themselves from attackers nearby and escape to safety.

facts about pepper spray vs taser

Is a Taser a Good Self Defense Weapon?

Tasers are also very common reliable public self-defense and law enforcement weapons.

Like pepper spray, it is very lightweight, so you can carry it around in a pocket or a purse.

If you successfully incapacitate an attacker with a taser, you’ll have time to call law enforcement personnel to apprehend the attacker.

Can You Go to Jail for Tasing Someone?

Yes, definitely. Since tasers inflict some harm during self-defense or arrests, it also has its usage limits.

Deliberately inflicting harm using a taser without just cause is grounds for a criminal offense.

Tasers are commercially available self-defense weapons, and hence, even perpetrators have access to them to commit crimes.

Wrongful use of a taser can lead to a person’s death; thus, regulations govern the use of tasers.

Is a Taser Illegal to Have?

As I mentioned earlier, tasers are legal to sell and purchase in most US states, with few to zero restrictions.

Before getting a taser, I recommend that you consult your local law enforcement sector regarding possible laws and restrictions in your area.

Some restrictions include required permits for concealed carry, permits for ownership, and background checks.

Can You Buy a Police Taser?

Civilians are protected by state and national laws about the level of harm any person, even us from law enforcement, can do during self-defense and apprehensions.

As such, the specifications and limitations for police-grade tasers are the same as for commercially available products.

You can buy a police taser because the police use the same tasers that the public can buy.

What States Are Tasers Illegal In?

Recently, the number of states where tasers are legal to purchase and own rose to 48, with some states still having the same restrictions.

The only states that completely ban the ownership and use of stun guns are Hawaii and Rhode Island.

Pepper Spray vs Taser

Being ready for every situation includes having a powerful and reliable self-defense tool on hand.

When some irregular noise wakes you up in the middle of the night, or when someone mugs you while you’re putting out the trash in a dark alley behind your house, you will need a defense.

The most popular pieces of defense equipment are pepper sprays and tasers.

To establish your choice between pepper spray or taser, factor in several variables that differentiate the two.

These variables include effective range, effective speed, legality, size, concealability or intimidation, lethality, and price.

Effective Range

Effective range tells you how close you have to get to your attacker to mount a defense effectively.

A pepper spray or taser can have variable effective ranges depending on the brand or model.

I’ve used pepper sprays that have an effective range of 25 feet but can still be prone to blowback.

On the other hand, I’ve handled tasers with electroshock prongs that can shoot up to 15 feet and stun guns that require close contact to deploy an electric shock.

When choosing between pepper spray vs taser, consider if you are more comfortable mounting a defense farther or at close range.

Effective Speed

You also have to check how soon a device delivers an effect against an assailant.

Whereas stun guns and tasers deliver instant shocks as soon as the prongs touch an attacker, pepper spray may have some delay in delivering its intended effect.

However, the effects of an electric shock from a taser lose their effectivity sooner than the effects caused by pepper spray.

If you want more time to escape an attacker, the choice between stun gun vs pepper spray should be the latter.


Remember to check your local state laws regarding self-defense equipment.

Learn all about the restrictions surrounding the purchase, ownership, and transportation of tasers and pepper sprays before you ultimately decide which one you need.


In most cases, pepper sprays are smaller and more portable than tasers.

While pocket-sized stun guns offer increased portability, they are still larger than the smallest pocket-sized pepper sprays.

Your portability preferences can also dictate your choice between pepper spray vs stun gun.

Concealability or Intimidation

The small size of pepper spray gives it maximum concealability, but it doesn’t intimidate at all.

You can successfully conceal some small-sized stun guns, or you can flaunt it so its electricity charging feature is visible and audible enough to be intimidating.

The choice between a warning offense and a surprise defense can be as easy as taser vs pepper spray.


Laws and regulations only permit the use of both stun guns and pepper sprays as non-lethal devices for self-defense and apprehension.

More deaths are linked to the use of stun guns and tasers than to the use of pepper sprays.

Tasers are linked to plenty of cardiac arrests, while some incidents of asphyxiation relate to the use of pepper sprays.

If you are concerned about causing a person’s death while defending yourself, the better choice between a pepper spray vs stun gun would be the first option.


The more affordable choice between a stun gun vs pepper spray would be pepper spray.

Some high-quality pepper sprays cost as much as the mid-range quality tasers and stun guns.

You might want to compare products at the same price level so you can see the difference between the two regarding other factors.

If you want a low-budget, low-key, and easily replaceable line of self-defense, I suggest you go for a pepper spray.


You now have all the possible reasons for choosing a taser over a pepper spray and vice versa.

Each has its merits, and it all boils down to your personal preferences.

I recommend that you make a list of whatever properties interest you and weigh out all the factors involved.

Both are reliable self-defense equipment, but they vary in effective range and speeds of efficacy.

Remember, though, that any attacker or assailant is also a human being, and as much as we would want to defend ourselves, we also submit ourselves to the full extent of the law.

Only use a Taser or pepper spray when there is no possible way to apprehend someone without causing that person any harm.

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