Home Self-Defense 8 Best Pepper Sprays Reviewed (Strongest Self-Defense Sprays)

8 Best Pepper Sprays Reviewed (Strongest Self-Defense Sprays)

thief stealing bag from woman defending herself with pepper spray

Pepper spray is a powerful but nonlethal weapon that allows you to stop an attacker dead in their tracks. But choosing the right spray is more complicated than you might think. It comes in different sizes and shapes, as well as formulas and types.

It’s not as simple as just buying a can and being protected. You need to know the type of spray you want, the range, and sprays pattern, and about a dozen other factors.

Luckily, we have you covered with our pepper spray reviews and buyer’s guide,


9 Best Pepper Sprays of 2021: Outdoor Empire Reviews

1. Best for Women: Ruger Pepper Spray Gun
2. Best to Use Against Dogs: Mace Muzzle Dog Repellent
3. Best Keychain: Fox Labs Mean Green Keychain
4. Strongest: Pepper Shot Pepper Spray
5. Best Pepper Spray Gun: Mace Pepper Gun 2.0
6. Best for Home Defense: Sabre Home Defense Pepper Gel
7. Fox Labs Serious Business
8. Mace Pepper Gel Night Defender
9. Sabre Pen Pepper Spray

CategoryBest for WomenBest Pepper Spray GunBest for Home Defense
ProductRuger Pepper Spray Gun
Ruger Pepper Spray Gun

Mace Pepper Gun 2.0
Mace Pepper Gun 2.0

Sabre Home Defense Pepper Gel
Sabre Home Defense Pepper Gel

Max Range10 ft20 ft25 ft
Bursts5 7 32
Weight4 oz0.99 oz13 oz
Expiry4 years from the date of manufacture4 years from the date of manufacture4 years from the date of manufacture
CostCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price


1. Best Pepper Spray for Women: Ruger Pepper Spray Gun

The Ruger Pepper Spray Gun

Famed arms manufacturer Ruger and Proven Pepper spray manufacturer Sabre joined forces to create a Pepper Spray gun designed for concealed carry. The resulting Ruger Pepper Spray gun is a small, easy-to-use, and easy-to-carry option for female self-defense.

The gun-shaped designed ensures you’ll grip and point it the right way every time. The grip is short and thin, which makes it perfect for female hands. Plus, it’s very easy to aim and fire.

There is an incorporated safety that’s easily defeated by the press of a button. It’s easy to reload and offers you five bursts with up to a 10-foot of range. It delivers a cone-shaped blast that makes it almost impossible to miss an attacked. It’s also fires UV markings that aid in identifying your attacker.

Features and Specs

  • Small, handgun-like design
  • 10-foot max range
  • 5 total bursts from one cartridge


  • Easily concealable
  • Safe and quick to action


2. Best Pepper Spray Against Dogs: Mace Muzzle Dog Repellent

Mace Muzzle Dog Repellent

Not all pups are friendly, a common issue for joggers, bikers, and even people just taking a walk. Some are all bark and no bite, but that’s not easy to determine when they are bearing down on you.

The Mace Muzzle Dog Repellent is specifically designed for dogs in a number of ways. First, it blasts a 10-foot spray and can spray up to 20 times. If you miss or have multiple targets, then you have plenty of extra shots.

Second, the spray is humane and designed for dogs. It will cause burning, respiratory distress, and impaired vision, but those effects will wear away in a short period of time and have no permanent effects on the dog.

The Mace spray comes with a safety cap as well as a built-in keychain and an adjustable and strap.

Specs and Features

  • EPA approved
  • 10-foot max range
  • Contains 20 bursts


  • Light and easy to carry
  • Safe and humane for dogs
  • Quick and easy to use


  • Will not replace pepper spray for human attackers

This is perfect if your biggest threat is on four legs. If you find yourself being pursued by dogs on simple commutes, you should have a way to deal with them. The Mace Dog Repellent is an excellent tool to stay safe without permanently harming our furry friends.



3. Best Keychain Pepper Spray: Fox Labs Mean Green Keychain

Fox Labs Mean Green Keychain

The Mean Green gains its game from the added green dye Fox places in this spray. The green dye acts as an identifier and makes it easy for police to identify and arrest your attacker.

The Mean Green keychain is light and small, making easy to carry every day. The spray is a splatter stream that can soak a face 10 feet away.

The Mean Green canister can give you 10 to 12 one-second bursts, and this allows you to take multiple shots or to just hose a threat down. It’s effective on both people and animals and offers you a 6% H2OC mixture for a good deal of effectiveness.

Features and Specs

  • 45 inches long and 1.25 inches thick
  • Has visible green dye for suspect identification
  • Range of 10 feet


  • Small and easy to carry
  • Splatter stream makes close reactions easy
  • Safe but quick to use


  • Small and can be easily lost if not careful

The Mean Green Keychain is perfect for daily carry, and it’s something you can tote in all attire without issue. It’s an excellent EDC tool and compliments a gun well. The Mean Green is best used for close quarters and is a tool you shouldn’t leave home without.



4. Strongest Pepper Spray: Pepper Shot Pepper Spray

Pepper Shot Pepper Spray

Big things and small packages are always awesome. The Pepper Shot Pepper Spray is only 4 ounces, but those 4 ounces are 10% oleoresin capsicum (OC), making it incredibly potent and powerful.

That much fine-grain capsicum is going to be absolutely brutal to an attacker and will shut one down very quickly. This is as powerful as it gets before you start getting into bear spray, and bear spray isn’t easy to tote day in and day out.

The Pepper Shot comes in a small container that is easy to carry in a pocket or purse. It comes with an impressive 18-foot range with up to 22 seconds worth of stream. One blast will leave an attacker nauseated, make it difficult to breathing, and cause severe pain.

Features and Specs

  • 10% OC
  • 18-foot range
  • 4 ounces and 22 seconds worth of sprays


  • Extremely powerful
  • Easy and convenient to carry
  • Safe and effective


  • Power makes it hard to use indoors safely

The Pepper Shot Pepper Spray is not for the faint of heart. It’s incredibly powerful and will cause attackers on two or four legs to turn tail and run. This extremely powerful concoction is a beast and well suited for professional security use.



5. Best Pepper Spray Gun: Mace Pepper Gun 2.0

Mace Pepper Gun 2.0

The Mace Pepper Gun 2.0 is a small but effective means to increase the overall range and accuracy of your pepper spray.

The Pepper Spray gun is gun shaped and completely reloadable. You slide in a canister of Mace pepper spray, and you are ready to go. This gun does have a blaze orange barrel that ensures it’s not mistaken for a real gun. That orange portion hinges forward to allow you to insert the canister.

The Mace Pepper spray gun is capable of spraying seven bursts with excellent accuracy up to 20 feet. The gun comes equipped with an LED that is capable of strobing to deter and temporarily stun attackers.

The gun also has a Picatinny rail that would allow you to add a more powerful light or even a laser aiming device.

Features and Specs

  • Fires as far as 20 feet
  • Delivers 7 bursts per cartridge
  • Comes with dual mode LED


  • Designed to be ergonomic and easy to use
  • Companies make modern holsters for the gun
  • Included UV chemical identifies attackers


  • Somewhat bulky and hard to conceal

The Mace Pepper Spray gun is perfect for those who want a long-range, easy-to-carry solution. With the right holster, you carry IWB or appendix in a completely concealed fashion but still have quick access to your pepper spray.



6. Best Pepper Spray for Home Defense: Sabre Home Defense Pepper Gel

Sabre Home Defense Pepper Gel

Sabre is a big company that produces pepper spray for civilians, police, and even military forces. They’ve been in the game for some time, and they produce a wide variety of pepper spray options. This includes their massive 13-ounce Home Defense Pepper Gel container.

It’s designed for inside the home and fires up to 25 feet. The Home Defense Pepper Gel container allows you to fire up to 32 carefully aimed bursts.

The Pepper gel is easy to use, and the provided pistol grip that allows for easy aiming and maximum control. Pepper gel is designed to provide a painful reason to stop and run, but it also marks suspects with a UV chemical to make them easy to identify.

Features and Specs

  • Effective range of 25 feet
  • 13 ounces
  • Fires 32 bursts


  • Comes with a mounting bracket for secure storage
  • Pepper gel does not have blowback
  • Endorsed by Johnny Knoxville


  • Pistol grip feels somewhat flimsy

The Sabre Home Defense Pepper gel is perfect for anyone uncomfortable or unable to own firearms and wants a means to defend their home. It’s incredibly potent, powerful, and very easy to use.



7. Fox Labs Serious Business

Fox Labs Serious Business

The Serious Business Pepper spray from Fox labs is technically a foam. A pepper foam is the safest when it comes to blowback situations, making it perfect for close quarter’s indoors use.

Using foam does require you to be accurate, but your accuracy will be rewarded up to 12 feet and for 14 to 16 1-second bursts. This 5% OC formula will hit hard and become near impossible to just wipe away.

The Serious Business foam agent is nonflammable and taser safe, just in case an attacker needs a double dose of nonlethal force. The unit is a bit big for daily carry, but in some situations, it is a must-have. The foam also gives you a UV dye for assailant apprehension and arrest post-attack.

Features and Specs

  • 12-foot range
  • Provides 14 to 16 one second bursts
  • 5% OC mixture


  • Almost no chance of blowback
  • Spring-loaded flip top for top-notch safety
  • Insanely painful and effective


  • Large and difficult to conceal

If you work and live in a crowded environment, the chance of blowback hurting someone else is very real. But a foam agent like the Serious Business can take down an attacker without the risk of blowback. Still, be prepared to be accurate.



8. Mace Pepper Gel Night Defender

Mace Pepper Gel Night Defender

When darkness falls, you still want to be ready to intercede and stop threats with a nonlethal option. The Pepper Gel Night Defender in a handheld unit that comes with an LED safety light that allows you to identify your target and attack with accuracy.

You can’t pepper spray a target without properly identifying it as a threat, now can you? The Night Defender uses pepper gel, so blowback is limited, but so is the range. The gel sticks to an attacker and causes serious pain and takes the fight out of them.

The Pepper Gel Night Defender is a safe and reliable way to identify and eliminate a threat. It’s somewhat large, but could easily be kept in a vehicle, briefcase, or purse. The canister will shoot pepper gel up to 18 feet away for 20 bursts.

Features and Specs

  • Pepper gel combination delivers serious stopping power
  • LED allows you to identify threats
  • Flip top safety cap installed


  • Good range for pepper gel
  • Comes with a UV dye
  • Difficult for an attacker to remove


  • Somewhat large for everyday carry

The Mace Pepper Gel Night defender gives you an awesome option for taking someone down at night. The use of gel minimizes blowback, and the integrated light is bright and easy to use. The Pepper Gel Night Defender is perfect for home defense or for biking or jogging at night.



9. Sabre Pen Pepper Spray

The Sabre Pen Pepper Spray

The Sabre Pen Pepper Spray is the most discreet weapon you’ll find. The small device looks identical to a pen and can be easily hidden in the pocket, on the shirt collar, or simply carried without attracting attention.

This little pepper spray device gives you 8 feet of range and offers 15 bursts at the press of the cap.

This Pepper Spray pen gives you a cone of pepper spray that acts as a net to catch attackers in the face and chest. It will cause immediate pain as well as cause trouble breathing and temporary blindness. The spray even has a UV marking dye mixed in the formula.

Features and Specs

  • 15 bursts
  • Pen top safety cap
  • 8-foot range


  • Insanely small and easy to conceal
  • Awesome for daily carry
  • Makes it easy to have pepper spray on hand without drawing attention.


  • Very limited range

The Pen Pepper Spray from Sabre allows you to easily engage an attacker before they can even understand what is happening. It’s perfect for concealed carry, especially if your work prohibits more traditional weapons. It’s basically invisible since it’s disguised as a pen and won’t draw any unneeded attention.



The Down and Dirty About Pepper Spray

hot chili pepper in the water

The word “pepper” likely elicits an image of a hot paper often used in hot sauce or as an ingredient to foods. With pepper spray, that same pepper has been weaponized. The active ingredient of pepper spray is capsaicin, a chemical derived from peppers.

Believe it or not, the other main ingredient is water. Usually up to 99% of the chemical is water with the capsaicin evenly distributed in it.

Pepper spray is a chemical weapon that is used as a self-defense tool. It’s considered a less-than-lethal tool and acts to blind, disorient, and cause respiratory arrest.

Pepper spray should only be used as a self-defense tool to stop an attacker. Pepper spray is effective on both humans and animals. When used in any manner outside of self-defense you are facing an assault charge, so be cautious and use it appropriately.


How to Choose A Pepper Spray For Self Defense

Type: Spray vs. Foam vs. Gel


hand pressing traditional pepper spray

Traditional pepper spray fires liquid and is the most common type of pepper weapon on the market. Sprays can typically have a decent overall range and are very easy to aim, with most firing in a cone-like pattern. This makes striking the eyes and face very easy.

The downside is that traditional sprays are prone to blowback and experience a higher cross contamination effect on the environment. This means it may soak into carpets, furniture, and other areas, requiring decontamination.


foam pepper spray

Foam is slightly thicker and provides the same cone of fire effect. Foam is also much easier to wipe away and to decontaminate when you miss. Foam is heavier than spray and is not affected as much by blowback.

Foam does not typically have the same range as gel or spray. It also requires a slightly larger container. You can’t really find keychain-sized pepper foam dispensers.


pepper gel sprayed on mock head

Gel-based pepper spray is the heaviest pepper spray and offers an extended range compared to other types. Gel also stands up well to wind and resists blowback. It will stick to an attacker, causing more pain, but be aware that that stickiness can also impact materials in the environment.

Gel doesn’t spray in a cone, so it requires more accuracy than liquids or foams. Luckily you do have more range than most, and this results in more time to engage.


The Question About Range

woman using pepper spray in black background

Most people want as much range as possible when it comes to employing a chemical weapon such as pepper spray. You have to understand that the smaller the unit, the less range you’ll have.

Though gel will get you the most range, you need a rather large container to reach out to 20 feet. Your average concealable weapon style will give you about 10 to 15 feet of effective range.

Some pepper spray guns increase this range, but again these are larger and harder to conceal. With home defense-sized sprays, you can stop an attacker from quite some distance, but it’s hard to carry such a large container of Mace.


Spray Pattern and Range

woman using pepper spray on a thief

Range and spray pattern also go hand in hand. If you have a long-range spray, you won’t have the widest spray pattern. Long-range sprays hit bad guys with a stream.

Close-range sprays often fire in a cone at longer ranges, covering all of an attacker’s face. Close-range sprays thankfully often require less overall accuracy.


Size and Capacity

pink pepper spray on hand

The larger the container, the more spray you’ll have. Most small containers contain a little over half an ounce, and that is enough to deliver 20 to 25 1-second sprays. These are your common keychain units of pepper spray that most people carry.

From there, you can get .75-ounce cannisters, which are still pocket-sized but offer 30 to 35 shots of spray at a greater range.

When looking bigger than that, you start getting into gels and foams. Gels and foams can be the size of traditional sprays but will not last as long because they are denser. This density, however, adds to range.

For example, 13 ounces of pepper spray gel may only offer you 32 bursts, but you’ll be able to fire up to 25 feet. The denser the material, the more aerosol is used to propel it.

Along with range and size, your capacity and the number of bursts can also be determined by your spray pattern. The wider the pattern, the fewer bursts you’ll have.

The Sabre Magnum 120 is a common police pepper spray that gives 4.4 ounces of pepper spray in a cone-shaped spray pattern that covers the entire face. This gives you 35 bursts at 12 feet.

Capacity and size are a balancing act between the type of pepper spray, the effective range, and the spray pattern.


Safety Features

Hand holding Pepper spray with flip-top safety
Flip-top safety

Pepper spray should always have some form of safety to defeat when carried concealed. Without a safety device, you could have an accidental discharge that can clear a room out and cause damage. You’ll be at fault for this damage, so choose a pepper spray with a safety.

The safety features on traditional pepper spray cans are built around the top of the device. Two safeties of the most common are the twist-lock trigger safety and the flip-top safety.

The twist lock requires you to use your thumb to push the safety out of the way. The flip top requires shoving your thumb under the top and accessing the button. Both can be done quickly and with one hand.

Large home defense units have something similar to a grenade pin that must be pulled and defeated to access the trigger. This requires both hands typically but is a more secure safety device in case kids every try to access the spray.


Top Pepper Sprey Brands

Fox Labs

Fox Labs logo

Fox Labs is mostly known for producing pepper spray that is incredibly pure and very hot. They do measure in Scoville units (pepper hotness) and use that as their main point in marketing.

While that might not be the most accurate way to measure pepper spray, they do produce some potent and powerful products. Fox produces pepper spray for a wide variety of users, including police and military forces all the way up to the Secret Service.

They have been at the pepper spray game for over 25 years and produce some innovative and interesting dispenser designs. These include large tactical units aimed at home defense and police use, as well as keychain-sized concealed carry pieces.

Fox Labs makes a little bit of everything for everybody. These units are incredibly easy to use, and they keep safety in mind so you don’t need to worry about an accidental discharge.



Mace has become the Kleenex of paper spray. Their name is so well associated with pepper spray that their name is often used to describe it all. It makes sense, though. Mace invented pepper spray in 1965 and has been a major producer of pepper spray ever since.

They make wide varieties of peppers spray, including tactical units, home-defense units, pocket-sized units, and even pepper spray guns.

Mace has worked closely with law enforcement, but they’ve courted the civilian market more and more. They want to provide users with an a variety of choices for self-protection inside and outside of the home. Mace certainly delivers with the widest variety of products designed for civilian use.

The Mace brand is trusted for quality, reliability, and durability.



Sabre LogoSabre is a massive company that pushes most of its focus towards the law enforcement side of the market. Still, they produce a number of products aimed at civilians, including keychain and pen-sized pepper spray dispensers.

They also produce stun guns, personal alarms, and sprays aimed for use against both dogs and bears. On top of all of that, they teach pepper spray classes that aim to leave you with both the know-how to stop a threat.

Their product line is large and includes sprays, gels, and foams. This variety allows you to choose your personal protection choice with ease. Sabre is dedicated to quality control and creates some outstanding sprays.

They have an in-house liquid chromatography lab that eliminates the 30% heat-failure rate experienced with other brands. Sabre is the number one pepper spray brand trusted by police worldwide, and their products are carried on six continents and by police in more than 40 countries.



Is Pepper Spray Legal and Where Can It Be Purchased?

The legality of pepper spray depends on the state. There are no federal laws prohibiting pepper spray, but check your local laws to ensure you can legally obtain it. Pepper spray is often found in gun shops, outdoor stores, and online.


What Pepper Spray Do Police Use?

Sabre is the most popular pepper spray with police forces, but pepper spray usage varies greatly between police agencies.


How to Test Pepper Spray?

Never test pepper spray on yourself or another without a trained professional in place. Reactions vary, and you need an experienced instructor to ensure the testing and training is completed safely.


Does Pepper Spray Expire?

Yes, pepper spray typically expires within 2 to 4 years of its manufactured date. Most companies will indicate the expiration date on the container.

Good to know: How To Use Pepper Spray On Animals To Fend Off Attacks



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