most popular pepper spray

Best Pepper Spray For Self Defense | State Laws | Tips

Pepper spray is a very popular defensive spray ‘tool’. Why? Because it is effective, and legal to carry in most places. Check pepper spray laws of all 50 states below. And my personal choices for best pepper spray.

Also known as OC Spray, pepper spray is widely used around the world as a non-lethal form of self defense. All police departments use it. And for common self-defense for the civilian population.

What Happens when Sprayed with Pepper Spray?

When pepper spray is sprayed onto another person, it will cause inflammation, coughing, choking, nausea, and will dilate the eyes with temporary blindness (while not causing permanent damage). 

 All three are SABRE brand, made in the USA. They are the most popular defensive spray based on the number of reviews and best rated reviews.

1. SABRE 3-IN-1 | Compact Size with Clip

( view on amzn )

2. SABRE Pepper Spray with Quick Release Key Ring

( view on amzn )

3. SABRE Gel Spray | Runner with Adjustable Hand Strap

( view on amzn )

Smallest Pepper Spray

I researched this. Beware if it’s too small, it might not be as effective. You might have some clumsy difficulty handling it.

My recommendation is to use the keychain style for the smallest. Not too big, not too small…

( Browse Keychain style on amzn )


SABRE pepper spray is made in the USA.
The SABRE factory is located in St. Louis, Missouri.

SABRE pepper spray factory

HPLC technology process assures high performance and eliminates failure rate compared to other brands.

More Bursts

SABRE claims up to 5 times more pepper spray bursts from most of their products compared with competing brands.

SABRE 0.54 oz canisters fire approximately 25 quick bursts. The average competitor brand comparative canister fires for approximately 5 quick bursts.

The 0.54 oz. canister is the most popular size carried among civilians.

Pepper Spray Shelf Life

It does have an expiration date posted on the container. However the spray will not suddenly lose its effectiveness on that date. It may lose some pressure and potency over time. All aerosol products eventually lose pressure.

Most pepper spray canisters last about 2 years from their date of manufacture. SABRE products have a 4 year shelf life.

 A Few Statistics | Did you know that:

  • You’re 52 times more likely to experience violence than serious injury in a car accident.
  • You are 229 times more likely to be violently assaulted than have your house catch fire.
  • You’re nearly 1,000 times more likely to be killed or maimed in an attack than to die in a plane crash.

Pepper Spray Discharge Patterns

Pepper spray is available in a wide variety of container sizes, shapes, and formulas. Canister nozzles are designed with different spray patterns.


The most common pepper spray discharge is the stream pattern. It’s popular because it can be aimed directly in a concentrated stream.

Fog | Mist

The fog pattern can be effective when trying to incapacitate more than one target at a time. However you may experience some pepper spray blow-back yourself since it is a fog. Just move away or backward as you spray.

Foam | Gel

Why use foam or gel pepper spray? It will stay on the attackers face longer, therefore burning sensation longer. Foam sprays out over a wider area. Gel will shoot farther.

How Far Does Pepper Spray Go?

Depending upon the wind, the following are typical expectations:

Stream Spray (8 – 12 feet)

Most canisters using a stream spray pattern fire 8 to 12 feet.

Fog| Cone | Mist Spray (6 – 12 feet)

Canisters using a fog/cone or mist spray fire from 6 to 12 feet. Cone delivery products are typically 10 feet.

Gel (10 – 14 feet)

Gel sprays typically spray 20% further than stream. So, 10 to 14 feet.

How Long To Pepper Spray An Attacker

SABRE recommends that the canister be sprayed until the attacker is incapacitated. Once the attacker is stopped, escape immediately and call the police.

Pepper Spray Tips

1- KNOW HOW TO USE IT. Maybe have an inert can for practice in drawing and spraying it. People may forget to flip the thumb switch or cover their own face with the opposite arm in an attack situation if they don’t practice.

2- MAKE SURE IT IS EASILY ACCESSIBLE. Not buried in the bottom of a purse so you have to dig for it for five minutes while being attacked. Seconds count.

Many women carry it – as they are potential targets for rape and crime.

Consider carrying pepper spray on a key-chain. It’s especially useful while walking to or from your vehicle in a public place, etc…

Your keys should always be out before exiting a store (or wherever). It’s best to get into the habit of holding the set of keys by the pepper spray canister itself. This will enable quick use if suddenly attacked.

Walk confidently with situational awareness of what’s going on around you! Unfortunately too many people are narrowly focused in their own little world and oblivious to their surroundings as they walk — and could easily be surprised by a predator.

I recommend that women joggers should carry canisters designed with a hand strap (see top-3 recommendations above).

Bear Pepper Spray

Not only is it effective for protection against 2 legged creatures, but it’s also effective against the 4 legged variety.

Typically, pepper spray designed for animals will have a higher concentration formula (e.g. Bear Spray).

This is the Bear Spray that we use here at the homestead in black-bear country, which I believe is the best on the market:

Frontiersman Bear Spray
(view on amzn)

I also sometimes carry a Bear Bell when hiking out back in the woods so as not to surprise a bear.

What’s Best About the #1 Pepper Spray?

SABRE 3-in-1

  • Blend of CS military tear gas, red pepper and UV dye.
  • Contains both the inflammatory effects of red pepper and the irritating effects of CS tear gas.
  • Uses the highest concentration of capsaicinoids and is the number one formulation used by police worldwide.

Pepper Spray Laws

Are there any restrictions regarding the use and sale?

Evidently legal in all 50 States. However some areas have specific regulations.

Many states, including the following, have varying restrictions: CA, FL, HI, MA, MI, NJ, NY & WI.

It is suggested that you familiarize yourself with your local laws. If you have a question, you should contact your local police department.

Here is a resource and list of all 50 states and their pepper spray laws:

Laws by State

[ Read: ]

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  1. I mean if your gonna go engage someone with pepper spray you might as well use the bear spray… If your gonna get in trouble any way by LEO who cares at that point don’t do half a job. Do it right and hose them down with the good stuff.

    In FL I can pull a ccw to defend myself and repel an attacker but I can’t use bear spray to hose down the same perp? whatever…

    Rather be Judged by 12 than carried by 6. I would keep the bear spray on hand for panther, black bear, coyote etc. But if I ever had an angry mob of antifa types on the property I wouldn’t hesitate to disburse that crowd with non lethal bear spray. If cops can use it so can I.

    1. White Cracker,
      The SABRE pepper sprays listed above are VERY effective on humans. If they were not, then people wouldn’t be using it.

      I too have a few cans of Bear Spray. I will carry them for Bear protection when appropriate (I live in Bear country). The cans are quite large. It would be very inconvenient for normal carry for ordinary ‘people’ protection.

      1. Ken I I agree sabre makes a fine product. And it is good for public carry.

        If things were to de-stabilize in town I would carry the bear spray in rig with a 20-30ft range it would be effective against say a mob of people blocking the road.

        Current Example: If I was in Portland OR with the Antifas… I think I would keep one can of bear spray handy as this is an example of a de -stabilized area. a small can of Sabre would be ineffective for a mob of people but a large can of bear spray would be more effective. Volume and Range advantage. combine this with situational awareness and ccw and you would be prepared. Best move is to just stay out of the area all together of course.

        Or I guess I could just step on the gas pedal on my rig too. I dont think 20 people would be able to slow me down LOL. To think of it the gas pedal would be the better option if I could not back-out of the area in reverse and move away from an angry mob and my family’s lives where in danger.

        1. Quote, “Best move is to just stay out of the area all together of course.”

          That is certainly the best course of action.

          The article and recommendations above is primarily about general non-lethal preparedness during ordinary times.

  2. TRASH! Got it blown back in my face many times trying to pepper spray the neighbors aggressive dog…not worth bothering with when a stick does far better!

    1. @jbl,
      Trash? No, I don’t agree. Just because you had an issue, doesn’t mean that it’s ‘trash’.

      Regarding being blown back in your face, well, sounds like it was a windy day and you were downwind. Also, a stream nozzle will lessen the likelihood of blow-back.

      Lastly, the primary purpose here is ‘people’ defense (rather than dogs). I have not investigated what may or may not be most effective for dogs. Perhaps Bear Spray.

  3. I walk my dog every morning with a small spray as we have a Coyote in the area once and awhile. I have never had to use it, but being in a rural area where it is illegal to fire a weapon it is the best that I can come up with.

  4. I’ve sprayed dogs before with my off duty spray MK3 Defense Technology. The results are less than dramatic but it was effective. The dogs just stopped and usually start licking themselves.

    Yes wind effects the spray as it does anything else that sprays. I’m in Oklahoma so we understand and practice proper directional usage. Again the trainer units sold with them are worth the money. It’s just water but it’s pressurized the same with the same nozzle.

    I suggest you get properly trained by a local trainer familiar with your laws. If you are armed with the proper tool, show competence and knowledge and drop the attitude you probably will be pleasantly surprised by the end results after a defensive use.

    I’m very wary of the character of folks who try and talk others out of being properly armed. There’s only one group I know of that doesn’t want regular folks to have it on them. The spread of disinformation intentional or not should also be strongly rebuked. This isn’t Gunstore barber shop bravado this is your and those you love who’s safety we are discussing.

    Bear spray is a last ditch defense or SHTF on people only. Use the proper tool when possible.

    Be smart and stay safe.

    1. Matt,

      Had to laugh about your experience with pepper spray and dogs. Our department replaced our issue pepper spray every six months. We didn’t have to turn in the spray being replaced. I would give it to family and friends and always had several on hand at home.

      When our female Chihuahua would go into heat, there were always would be suitors showing up, pacing the perimeter of our fence. I would literally drench their faces with the pepper spray with no effect. Either it didn’t bother them, or it wasn’t painful enough to deter them from their mission. My experience with pepper spray and dogs leads me to doubt its effectiveness in stopping a canine attack. Others may have better results.

      1. Dennis that brings up a good point on rotation. Our duty is rotated annually and I do the same with off duty too mainly because it rides/sits in my truck as much as it’s carried. The extreme temps can mess it up.
        Just like your carry ammo change it out every year.

  5. My oldest daughter was out jogging one morning in a real nice neighborhood when a man grabbed her. She had some pepper spray in her hand which he quickly knocked out of her hand. He then threw her in the trunk of his car. My advice is to be very, very aggressive with whatever defensive device, gun, etc. you are carrying. Her story has a happy ending. She was able to get the trunk open while going down I-55. At 70 mph she bailed out of the trunk and lived. The guy was captured and sentenced to life in prison.

    1. Senior Chief
      I’m glad she’s ok.
      They make a joggers model that has a hand strap to help maintain control but you are correct in the aggression.
      3 elements of success in an encounter are Speed, Surprise and Action of Violence

      1. Matt in OK I wish they made a Sabre Pepper Spray with a stout folding knife built in. I would have asked for a set of brass knuckles but that’s illegal in most states.

        Sad that self defense has been mostly outlawed by liberal “Don’t Hurt them, Don’t BLAME them, Don’t Name them or shame them” laws that make the Perpetrators able to Sue the citizen for defending themselves.

        Your well said “3 elements of success in an encounter are Speed, Surprise and Action of Violence” puts the peaceful law-abiding folks at a disadvantage as criminals act thusly.

        When the Civil is removed from Civilization by bad laws who’s side is the Government on?

  6. My only warning about the pepper sprays out there is be sure to check the expiration date. Pepper spray will break down and expire in 2 years. Some the other elements like CN or CS had an expiration date of 7 years.

    If I remember right, Sabre sprays contain multiple compounds. I have limited faith in the various sprays out there against determined attackers so I still pack a sharp, stout bladed, lock blade folding knife me even when out jogging.

    I am sorry for what happened to your daughter Senior Chief. Young ladies get attacked more frequently than dudes do.

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