What Are the Top Self-Defense Sprays?

First of all though, what is a self-defense spray?

A self-defense spray or pepper spray is an inflammatory agent which is used to irritate the eyes and induce breathing difficulties, and that in turn causes your assailant to become temporarily unable to attack you and/or your property. When your attacker is sprayed, his eyes will literally and instantly shut. He will also experience excessive tears, burning pain, swelling of the eyelids and temporary blindness.

If your attacker is standing, he will be brought down to his knees, suffer coughs and gasp for some air. But it will only be temporary, and a self-defense spray’s effect will just limit an attacker’s movements against you, but not to the point that it will leave him with permanent or life-threatening injuries.
The effect of a self-defense spray depends on its strength or the concentration, but generally an attacker is expected to be disabled within 30 minutes after he has been sprayed. This allows you enough time to make an escape or call the police.

The self-defense or pepper spray is also known as the OC spray, OC gas or capsicum spray. The “OC” means “oleoresin capsicum” which is one of the chief ingredients of a self-defense spray or pepper spray. The Capsicum is a genus of plants which include chili peppers; the Capsicum‘s active ingredient is the capsaicin, which produces a burning and irritating sensation in the tissue with which it comes into contact. The capsaicin is also the active component of most commercial self-defense sprays.

Examples of chili peppers include habanero, jalapeno and cayenne. These peppers contain different levels of capsaicin potency, which is measured by the Scoville Heat Unit or SHU (or Scoville scale).

Wilbur Scoville (1865-1942) was an American pharmacist best known for developing the Scoville Heat Unit (or Scoville scale), which is now the standard of measurement of a pepper’s pungency or heat. Most commercial self-defense sprays have levels of heat that range from 2,000,000 to 5,300,000 SHU.

You may be surprised to know that the use of capsaicin as a self-defense weapon dates back to thousands of years. However, pepper sprays came into existence only during the 20th century. But do you know that self-defense sprays for civilian use were introduced not by law enforcement, but by the US Postal Service? By then, postal workers had started to use such sprays as a repellent against dogs and other pets. FBI only started to recognize self-defense sprays (or pepper sprays) as an official chemical agent in 1987.

But when it comes to the purposes of civilian self-defense, not all self-defense spray types or brands can be used. There are some US states and territories that even prohibit the use of pepper sprays by civilians. That’s why before you purchase a self-defense spray, it is important to know your states’ laws whether they permit or prohibit its use purely by civilians.

Before rolling out the list of the top ten self-defense sprays, please first refer to the abbreviations below (NOTE: not all products may show all the three details):

OC – Oleoresin Capsicum, the chief ingredient of most self-defense sprays or pepper sprays.
MC – Major Capsaicinoids, the chemical components of peppers that make them hot. The MC is the most reliable indicator of the pepper spray’s strength, not the OC. Typical sprays range from 0.18% to 1.33% MC. The higher the MC of a pepper spray, the greater its potency.
SHU – Scoville Heat Unit, the standard of measurement of the pepper spray’s heat or pungency.

1. SABRE Red Pepper Spray – Runner

Considered as the best-selling brand, the SABRE Red Pepper Spray is also the most trusted brand by most consumers, including members of the state police and law enforcement. It offers you protection and safe distance against potential threats, as this product sprays up to 12-foot (4-meter) range with 35 bursts in a powerful stream spraying pattern.

Its gel formula is guaranteed to minimize wind blow-back issues. The SABRE Red Pepper Spray only gets in direct contact with your target, and won’t have any adverse effect on you (or the bystanders).

The SABRE Red Pepper Spray can be worn in your hand with its adjustable hand-strap, making you readily armed wherever you go.

OC – 10%
MC – 1.33%
SHU – 2 million

2. Fox Labs Mean Green H2OC

Many self-defense sprays are mixed with pigment so that when the attacker is sprayed, the police can identify them through the pigment they were sprayed with. One of the most notable examples of such sprays is the Mean Green H2OC from Fox Labs. It is specially formulated with a highly pigmented color spectrum, which marks your attacker as you spray them.

It contains an incredible 20.4% capsaicinoids, which make this pepper spray quite purified.

OC – 6%
MC – 20.4%
SHU – 3 million


3. Fox Labs Flip Top

The Fox Labs Flip Top may be small to handle, but it can pack a mean punch with its pure resin formula with 5.3 million SHU. The Fox Labs Flip Top has fast become one of the most preferred self-defense sprays in the market today, and law enforcement agencies have started to see its effectiveness. The Fox Labs Flip Top, as the name suggests, comes in a spring-loaded safety flip top that prevents accidental discharge. It projects 18 half-second blasts in a heavy stream pattern that reaches up to 20 feet, which puts you in a safe distance from your attackers.

OC – 2%
SHU – 5.3 million


4. SABRE Red Pepper Gel


The SABRE Red Pepper Gel comes with a gel formulation which means it doesn’t get vaporized as you spray it, leading to less risks of blowbacks on a windy day. The SABRE Red Pepper Gel only affects your target as you directly spray it towards them.

Like other SABRE products, the SABRE Red Pepper Gel is one of the most trusted brands by consumers and law enforcement worldwide.

The SABRE Red Pepper Gel comes in a belt holster so that you are ready to use it when the need arises.

OC – 10%
MC – 1.33%
SHU – 2 million


5. Defense Technology First Defense 360 MK-4 Stream OC Aerosol


One of the more recent brands to enter in the pepper spray market, the First Defense 360 MK-4 Stream OC Aerosol from Defense Technology is small enough, making it easy to carry. It makes a perfect size to fit into the duty belts of police officers. But despite its size, it will produce a mean 20-25 short bursts at a range of 10 to 12 feet.

Like many self-defense sprays, the First Defense 360 MK-4 Stream OC Aerosol delivers a stream spray pattern which means it sprays directly at your target, and your target alone. The spray won’t blow back to you even on a windy day.

MC – 1.3%


6. Mace Jogger Model


For joggers and runners looking for protection, the Mace Jogger Model should be one of their must-have items. This canister contains 18 grams of OC spray unit that sprays a range of up to eight to twelve feet, which keeps you in a safe distance away from your attackers. It contains ten one-second bursts or 20 half-second bursts.

The Mace Jogger Model comes with an elastic and adjustable Velcro hand strap for easier carrying and access.

OC – 10%
SHU – 2 million


7. Mace Pepper Gel


When you hear the word “Mace,” it’s synonymous with quality self-defense products, and one of them is the Mace Pepper Gel. It is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and comes equipped with a belt clip to keep it handy. Since it is a gel-based pepper spray, it won’t spray back to your face and it only sprays directly towards your attacker.

The Mace Pepper Gel also comes with a flashlight, emitting a bright LED light to help brighten dark, unsafe areas as well as to ward off assailants.

The canister comes with a 45-gram unit which contains seven short bursts with a range of 8 to 12 feet.
OC – 10%
MC – 1.4%
SHU – 2 million


8. Little Viper


What makes Little Viper unique from other self-defense sprays is that it is directly worn on the wrist, which minimizes the burden of hand-carrying as with the case of most self-defense sprays. This wearable pepper spray comes in a thin band that looks just like an ordinary bracelet or wristband, so attackers won’t know or suspect you’re actually armed with a self-defense weapon.

Little Viper emits three to six bursts of 10% OC with a range of up to three feet, so you’re safely away from your attacker’s reach.

OC – 10%


9. Police Magnum


The Police Magnum contains one of the most potent concentrations of pepper spray, that it bears a close resemblance to the authentic sprays that law enforcement agencies use. As a matter of fact, even police officers and law enforcement agents use this brand as well. It also contains a UV dye to mark your attacker for later police identification. A 3-oz. canister can produce multiple bursts with a range of up to 12 feet.

OC – 17%


10. UDAP Jogger Fogger


The UDAP Jogger Fogger, as the name suggests, is sprayed in the form of a fog that allows tiny droplets of the OC to enter the attacker’s eyes, nose and lungs very quickly. This in turn will cause instant irritation and a burning sensation especially in the nose and throat. This spray is specifically made for joggers and runners.

The UDAP Jogger Fogger is mostly useful to deter one or more attackers, since the fog spray pattern covers a wider distance (compared to the stream pattern).  However, it can be easily carried by the wind, which means that the OC is most likely to fly back to your face after you spray it.

OC – 10%
MC – 1.34%
SHU – 2 million