Pepper Spray: Review & Recommendations

Have you ever had a strange feeling when you were out alone in the evening? Do you often feel insecure or are you afraid that someone is chasing you? And even when there is no real danger, the feeling of insecurity can reduce the quality of life. In such a case, it might be a good idea to buy you a pepper spray.

In our pepper spray test 2020 we give you a lot of background information about pepper spray. We explain the advantages and the effect, what you can do against this effect, introduce you to different types of pepper spray and also where you can get them. We also explain factors that you should definitely pay attention to when buying.

The most important facts in brief

  • A pepper spray is suitable for defence against people and animals and gives you a feeling of security at night. The ingredients have an effect on eyes, breathing and skin.
  • Basically you can choose between an ordinary pepper spray, a pepper gel, a pepper foam and a pepper spray gun.
  • You should check the filling quantity, the range, the sharpness level and the possibility of refilling with each pepper spray before buying.

Pepper spray test: Favourites of the editorial team

  • The pepper spray with the best price-performance ratio
  • The best pepper spray for animal defence
  • The best disguised pepper spray

The pepper spray with the best price-performance ratio

The stopnow pepperdefender is a compact and reliable pepper spray manufactured in Germany. It has a strong effect and due to its small size it can be used as a defensive device for constant carrying. Its price is in the upper middle class, but for your money you get good quality and informative supplement material.

The stopnow pepperdefender has a ballistic jet. This is not pinpoint accurate, but very powerful. This has a positive effect on the application: It is more wind-resistant than other pepper sprays with a fog jet and a high level of accuracy is not necessary. So with this pepper spray you have a good compromise of the pepper spray types with fog jet and gel jet at hand.

The best pepper spray for animal defence

The small KO-JET pepper spray with the model number 24430 from Ballistol is a highly effective and handy defensive spray at an affordable price. The pepper spray from Ballistol has a bundled spray jet as

The spray jet is more resistant in bad weather conditions, but should not be sprayed against the wind. The spray jet also has an effect in the range and on the basis of these points it is an advantage in the functioning of pepper sprays compared to pepper sprays with spray mist.

The best disguised pepper spray

This pepper spray is ideal for use in places where it should not stand out as a pepper spray. With its design, it is perfectly disguised as an ordinary pen, but has a range of up to 2 meters.

Customers especially appreciate the feeling of security that they get with this pepper spray. The feeling of being able to carry a pepper spray with them at any time already gives more security against attacks.

Advisor: Questions you should consider before buying a pepper spray

What are the advantages of pepper sprays?

The advantages of a pepper spray over another self-defence weapon are obvious: The pepper spray is a ranged weapon, so you can defend yourself from a distance.
It is legally available everywhere for animal defence and can be used from the age of 14. And this is where we come to the biggest advantage: young people, seniors and generally physically inferior people can defend themselves with a pepper spray at the push of a button, without much effort.

What is the effect of self-defence sprays?

The self-defence sprays contain the active ingredient Oleoresin Capsicum (OC). This has an effect on the eyes, respiration and skin. It has a strong effect on the affected creature, but normally without permanent damage and not permanently.
The eyes experience a burning sensation and increased tears, as OC causes the mucous membranes to swell. The eyes are immediately closed reflexively. As a result, the affected person is without sight and disorientation for a while.
When the affected person inhales the active substance, he or she begins to cough and experiences breathing problems.
If the irritant is on the skin, redness, a burning sensation and itching develops. This effect is achieved particularly effectively by the adhesive pepper foam.
Asthmatics or people under the influence of drugs may find it harder to add pepper spray. Thus, several deaths have already occurred after using the pepper spray. However, these were rare exceptions and are not the rule.

Did you know that a pepper spray is 1000 times as hot as a jalapeño?
First of all, it must be said that the name “pepper spray” is completely misleading, as there is nothing to do with pepper. The reason is a translation error, because the English word “pepper” stands for both pepper and chili. The liquid in the pepper spray is organic and we extract it from a chili bush. Since this liquid in the can has a very high concentration

How do I use pepper spray?

You press the button on the pepper spray can, after having unlocked it if necessary, while pointing the spray head at the attacker’s face.
It is advisable to hold the spray straight and with an outstretched arm when spraying if it is a spray, otherwise you run the risk of inhaling the active ingredient yourself. But only do this if the situation allows it. If the attacker is already close to you, he may want to steal the spray can from you.
If you are unsure about using the pepper spray, you can also practice outside on a tree or a pole, for example. There are also test sprays that do not contain any irritant active ingredient. Always pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding temperature, flammability and expiry date.

What is the range of pepper sprays?

The range of a self-defence spray varies between 1-7 m depending on the manufacturer’s specifications and depends on various factors:

Type of container (spray can or pistol)
Type of jet (fog, jet)
Consistency (liquid broad jet, gel, foam)

It is certain that a pepper pistol can achieve a higher maximum range than a self-protection spray. The range is about 4-7 m or more.

The range of a pepper spray with a spray jet, also sometimes called a ballistic jet, varies from about 2-6 m. The somewhat more expensive pepper gels and pepper foam also move within this range.

A defensive spray with spray mist has the smallest range of all defensive devices. It is about 1-4 m.

Also you have to consider that the maximum range is only achieved under good conditions and the effective range is always less than indicated. If the target is closer to you, it will also feel a stronger effect.

What pepper sprays are available for women?

The demand for self-defence products for women has increased recently. The manufacturers have reacted to this and therefore there is now a special range of small defence sprays in hand size, pink colour or lipstick shape.
The small, colourful pepper sprays are not too heavy and can easily be stowed in a handbag. The pepper sprays in lipstick form are particularly popular and cannot be identified as pepper sprays at first glance.
Some pepper spray guns can also have a color to choose from. This is good for a change if the black and grey tones are too serious for you.

Philipp HahnExpert for self-defence
“Buy a dozen cans and practice in the open with a target. It is also very important to be able to pull the can quickly. Training is as important with pepper spray as with any other weapon. It would be grossly negligent to have used pepper spray for the first time in an emergency.
Very important: always carry the pepper spray within easy reach. In case of emergency it will not help you at the bottom of your handbag. In this case, use your handbag for defense rather than searching for the spray under adrenaline.
Also be aware that using pepper spray can take violence to a new level and make the attacker even angrier. And very important: Don’t let it take you off!

Which pepper sprays are suitable for joggers?

If you need protection while running outside, you will find small, handy pepper sprays with belt clip in the pepper spray selection.
You can easily attach them to your clothes and thanks to their light weight, they are not disturbing. The handy animal defense sprays are ideal for a few applications against dangerous dogs that you might encounter while running.

What helps against pepper spray?

If you have been accidentally hit by the irritant yourself, you will need cold water. Rinse the affected areas, your eyes and skin, off with it. The longer you do this, the better, but it should be at least 10 minutes. After an hour the symptoms should have become weaker.
Cold water helps because it closes the pores, so you will not absorb the active ingredient any further. Water is also best against the active ingredient in case of burning and itching on the skin. It is best to avoid rubbing or scratching the affected area.
If the effects and pain have not diminished after an hour, you should consult your doctor.

In which countries is pepper spray illegal?

The possession of pepper spray is prohibited in many European countries and is considered a weapon. Apart from Germany, it is only allowed to buy and possess pepper spray in Serbia, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Countries in which the possession and carrying of pepper spray is illegal

Belgium
Denmark
Greece
Great Britain
Iceland
Luxembourg
Netherlands
Norway
Sweden

In other European countries, the acquisition and possession of pepper spray is subject to restrictions:

When is the use of pepper spray illegal in Germany?

In Germany, the possession of pepper spray is prohibited for children and adolescents under 14 years of age. From the age of 14 you may buy and use a defensive spray against animals if it is marked as an animal defensive spray.
Using it against people is generally forbidden. However, if you can prove that you are in an emergency situation and are acting in self-defence, then the use of pepper spray probably has no criminal consequences.
In many other countries, the possession of pepper spray is not freely marketable and possession is illegal. So if you are going on a trip, find out about the legal situation in the respective country beforehand. (More information can be found in the section: In which countries is pepper spray illegal?)
Defensive sprays are considered a weapon in many countries and are therefore forbidden on entry, and they are not allowed on airplanes.

Did you know that you can’t protect yourself from police pepper spray attacks?
Some people protect themselves (for example at a demonstration) from pepper spray by using ski goggles, swimming goggles, breathing masks or damp cloths. However, this is not allowed and can be punished with a fine or one year in prison. This is the intention of the Assembly Act, as the police and the judiciary believe that this spray is suitable as a firearm and is intended, under the circumstances, to ward off enforcement measures by a holder of sovereign powers.

What alternatives to pepper sprays are there?

Pepper spray is not the only means of self-defence. If you want to protect yourself in a different way, take a look at our list of other options for self-protection.
These are suitable for personal defence from the outset:

Pocket alert
Stun gun
Kubotan (small baton)
CS irritant gas (tear gas)

How much is a pepper spray?

Small pepper sprays are sometimes available at very low prices starting at just under 2 euros. The price of course depends on the size or brand. The larger the quantity and the higher the quality of the brand, the more expensive.
Many sprays for self-protection are made for the normal consumer and so you will find many in the price range below 10 Euros.
For professional use the price increases and there are some defensive sprays for 20-30 Euros to buy. The price range of pepper spray guns usually starts at about 30 Euro and ends at 200 Euro.

Where can I buy pepper sprays?

You can find the animal repellent spray online on various sites for purchase, as well as in specialized shops (e.g. outdoor, weapons, army shops).
Pepper sprays are mainly bought in the following online shops:

amazon.com
ebay.com
F
[…]

On the Internet you can also find many sites that specialize in self-defense and offer a large assortment of pepper sprays at different prices and offers. An advantage if you buy it locally is of course the advice and a possible test.

Pepper spray was also added to the product range in the Dm drugstore, as the demand for self-defence sprays has increased.

And even in online shops where you might not expect it, pepper sprays are available for purchase. For example, the Conrad shop for electronics and technology also offers defense sprays.

The pepper sprays that we present to you on this page can be found with a link to the online shops listed here. So you can buy the article immediately if you like it.

Decision: What types of pepper sprays are available and which one is right for you?

There are basically three different types of pepper sprays:

  • Pepper spray
  • Pepper gel and pepper foam
  • Pfefferspray-Pistole

In the following we introduce you to each type of pepper spray and explain its individual advantages and disadvantages.

How does pepper spray work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The pepper spray is suitable for every person. This is due to its easy application and high hit safety, which is based on the wide spray jet.

Since you simply have to press a button to spray, it is easy to use.

The range of the stimulation spray usually varies between 1 – 5m depending on the manufacturer and spray jet. The spray cans are also available in different sizes, so you should consider how much you need. And also for what purpose: do you need a defensive spray during sports activities like jogging or hiking, to carry around in your pocket or for emergencies in a building?

The pepper spray is effective and easy to use, as the irritant comes out as a wide jet (also known as jet) or fog. A jet has a greater range than fog. But above all the fog is advantageous in case of inaccuracy. In stressful situations it can happen quickly that you do not aim exactly because of panic. Spray mist is therefore also very suitable for beginners.

Advantages

Easy to use
Inexpensive available
Available in various shapes and with practical accessories
Partially refillable

Disadvantages

Impairment of use in windy conditions
Safety risk: Possible impact on the user himself
Not suitable for indoor use

A disadvantage, however, is that you yourself can also be hit by the irritant, e.g. if you are outside and the wind is blowing unfavourably. It is also not particularly recommended for indoor use, as the pepper spray spreads and cannot evaporate quickly.

If you need self protection when hiking or running, you can buy a pepper spray with a belt clip. There are also practical holders or holsters for pepper sprays. You can also buy a small spray that fits into a running belt or a fanny pack.

Also noteworthy are for example the variants of pepper sprays in lipstick or ballpoint pen form. There are also pepper sprays that contain a dye to identify the attacker.

Certain irritant sprayers have cartridges that can be replaced or refilled. So if you need a lot of pepper spray, then such a defensive device is a good choice.

How do pepper gel and pepper foam work and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pepper gel and pepper foam are used like pepper spray. They differ from pepper spray in their firmer consistency. The pepper irritant emerges as foam or gel.

Their strength makes these types of irritant sprays more suitable for indoor use, as the active ingredient OC does not spread in the air. They are also more resistant to wind. The disadvantage, however, is that small targets cannot be hit so easily.

Advantages

Suitable for indoor use
More resistant to wind
Adheres better and therefore harms the attacker more

Disadvantages

More expensive than pepper spray
Accuracy required
Not available everywhere

This is because the gel emerges as a narrow spray jet. Even with foam, the spray jet is not quite as wide as with pepper spray mist. Therefore the foam and gel are not recommended for inexperienced users.

However, you can see exactly where you hit the attacker.

The effect of pepper foam is particularly strong, as it can completely cover the affected person’s vision and stick to it, which leads to persistent irritation of the skin.

How does the pepper spray gun work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A pepper spray pistol is a pepper spray in the shape of a firearm. This makes it very easy to use this defensive device, because it intuitively fits correctly in the hand.

In contrast to the spray cans, where you have to keep a button pressed to spray, you pull the trigger once with the pepper spray gun and an irritant shot is triggered.

With the pepper spray gun the irritant is shot under higher pressure and therefore has a longer range depending on the model. The shot is also more resistant to weather and has a higher penetration power and could also penetrate through fabric.

Advantages

High range
Resistant to resistance (weather)
High penetrating power
Available with interchangeable cartridges

Disadvantages

Risk of injury at short distance
Partially prohibited to be carried in public
Higher costs

However, you should be accurate for a pepper spray gun, as the jet is very precise.

There are a few models where you can replace the pepper spray cartridges. As the guns are relatively expensive, it is a good idea to take advantage of this and simply buy the cheaper cartridges when they are empty.

But consider the following: Some of these defensive pistols are so similar in appearance to real firearms that it is forbidden to carry or use them in public. You may, however, use them on your private property.

In the USA the pepper spray guns are mainly used against bears. They are really effective against animals and should not be used against people.

Purchase criteria: You can compare and rate pepper sprays based on these factors

To help you find the right pepper spray for you, we have compiled a few criteria to compare and rate pepper sprays.

The criteria are based on these characteristics:

  • Spray type
  • filling quantity
  • Size
  • Severity
  • OC content
  • Reach
  • Dyestuff
  • Belt clip
  • Formular
  • Colour
  • Suitable for indoor use
  • Refillability

You can read what these purchase criteria are all about in the following:

Spray type

The spray type of a pepper spray is an outstanding feature that strongly influences its use. The spray type of a pepper spray can be divided into fog, jet and shot. Think about how safe you feel when using pepper sprays and whether you can aim well.

As explained in another section, the spray is more suitable for you if you are inexperienced with pepper spray and have poor aim. The mist jet is wide and covers the target with the irritant, so aiming accuracy is not necessarily required.

The spray jet, on the other hand, is suitable for you if you have practice with pepper sprays and can aim well. The jet is comparable to a water pistol jet, for example. The pepper irritant comes out as a bundled jet and therefore you have to aim well at the attacker to get an effective effect.

A gel jet refers to a pepper gel that is firmer in consistency than pepper spray. Therefore, the gel is also suitable for wind or indoor use.

The shot is fired from a pepper spray gun. In this use, you must aim and pull the trigger. As with the jet, it is an advantage here if you can aim well.

The Spühnebel is particularly suitable for self-defence. Especially women will probably not have enough experience in handling pepper spray. The success rate for defence is definitely high in this case.

filling quantity

With regard to the filling quantity, you should consider how much pepper spray you need. Would you like a pepper spray for an absolute emergency situation that may and hopefully never occurs? Or are you more often exposed to a dangerous situation, e.g. because you hike or run a lot and biting animals regularly run into you?

Many of the small pepper sprays have a capacity of around 40 ml. Depending on the size of the attacker, distance and duration of spraying, this may be enough for only about one application.

So if you can assume that you only have to resort to pepper spray in exceptional cases, then a pepper spray with a small filling quantity, which is also space-saving, is sufficient for you.

If you need pepper spray more often, you can also buy one with a larger filling quantity. These exceed the size of your hand and of course weigh more. So you have to consider whether you want to use a larger spray bottle with more content, but which is also heavier and bigger.

Size

As with the filling quantity, the size depends on how often you want to use the pepper spray and how much space it can take up in your home. You must also consider that the bigger it is, the more filling capacity and weight it has.

The pepper sprays in small format have a height of around 10 cm. They fit easily into a pocket and trouser pocket without taking up much space. Since their number of sprays is very small, many of the small pepper sprays are also available in e.g. 5 or 10 packs. This way you have a stock for the case that you use up the pepper sprays quickly. Or you can share with family members or friends.

You can buy the larger defensive sprays if you don’t mind the size and weight and you have room for them, be it in your bag/backpack or in your home.

Weight

The weight depends on the size, filling quantity and housing/spray bottle of the pepper spray. If you don’t want to carry a lot of extra weight around with you, then a small pepper spray is a good choice, which is of course lighter.

Columbia offers a true flyweight of pepper sprays for sale with its hand-sized pepper spray. The werewolf Columbia weighs only 31 g and is hardly noticeable when carried.

Heavier are the pepper sprays from e.g. FOX Labs, which have a higher filling capacity of 90 ml and a height of 14.7 cm. This is then noticeable in the weight, which is 132 g. The TW 1000 pepper spray also weighs considerably more with 222 g and this although it has a similar size as the defensive spray of FOX Labs (14 cm). The difference lies in the pepper spray housing.

In summary, the three criteria filling quantity, size and weight are linked. You have to weigh up your needs and find out what is best for you.

Severity

The degree of sharpness is specified by some manufacturers in Scoville or SHU (Scoville Heat Unit). The higher the number given, the sharper the pepper spray irritant.

Are you looking for a particularly strong pepper spray? Then you can look at this number. It indicates how much water would be needed to neutralize the irritant.

Many pepper sprays have 2 million Scoville, some manufacturers also advertise with a sharpness level of 3 million (e.g. FOX Labs). It is not clear whether the effect of pepper sprays of 2 and 3 million Scoville differs significantly. It also depends on the concentration of the active ingredient Oleoresin Capsicum (OC).

OC content

The active ingredient Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), extracted from the Tabasco plant, is contained in pepper sprays in varying quantities. In most cases the concentration is 10-11% according to the manufacturer’s information and therefore there are no significant differences in this point. Pay attention to a high concentration if you want a strong and attractive pepper spray.

Some manufacturers specify the OC concentration and the capsaicin concentration. FOX Labs, for example, has two figures and gives 6% as OC concentration, but also 20.4% capsaicin, which results in the high Scoville number (3 million)

Capsaicin alone is the substance from the chili plant, which causes strong and painful irritation in living beings. Oleoresin stands for the resin oil of the chili plant from which capsaicin is normally extracted.

Look for a high OC content in your favorite pepper spray if you want a very effective spray.

Reach

Do you want to spray the attacker from a distance and disable him? Then pay attention to this parameter in your purchase. The types of sprayer make a difference here again. The mist jet has a smaller range than a bundled spray jet.

The pepper sprays with a fog jet usually do not get beyond 3 m range. But there are a few self-defence sprays with a powerful spray jet that achieves a higher range. This also applies to pepper gels. The range can then already be 4 or 5 m. However, you must be able to aim well for this.

Pepper spray guns have the highest range and are therefore often used against bears in the USA.

In order to be prepared to defend yourself, you should definitely practice shooting with the respective pepper spray types.

Dyestuff

Do you want to see where you sprayed or even mark the attacker? Then the pepper sprays, which contain dye, are the right thing for you.

FOX Labs MEAN GREEN pepper spray already says with its name that green colour is involved. But also the pepper sprays Werewolf Columbia, ProSecur from WALTHER or stopnow Pepperdefender contain substances that make the pepper spray content visible on the target.

With the WALTHER ProSecur pepper spray, however, the marking is only visible under UV light.

Belt clip

A pepper spray with a belt clip can be especially practical if you are on the road a lot and want to have it ready to hand quickly. You can simply clip the pepper spray to your belt or even to your backpack, for example. So you have it right at hand. This saves you having to search for and retrieve the pepper spray.

The BALLISTOL KO-JET 24430 has an integrated belt clip and is suitable for running and hiking due to its size and light weight.

If the pepper spray you want is not available with a belt clip, you can still check to see if the manufacturer offers similar models with belt clip or extensions.

Formular

The form of pepper sprays is simple and usually basically similar. Most pepper sprays have the shape of a spray can with a snap-on lid. Some also resemble a fire extinguisher. And others stand out because of their special shape.

For example, SABRE Red has pepper sprays in lipstick form or as a key ring. This is especially appealing to women, as they are small and handy. In addition, the pepper spray in lipstick format is not immediately recognizable as pepper spray, which can be an advantage in some situations.

But the TW1000 in the RSG6 housing may also appeal to you if you want to hold a non-slip pepper spray in your hand, as the police do with this housing.

The pepper spray pistols such as the Piexon Guardian Angel II are also pleasant to hold and their use is very intuitive due to the shape of the weapon.

There are also pepper sprays in pencil form, which are correspondingly narrow and small.

Colour

The colour of the spray can has nothing to do with the function or effect of the pepper spray. Nevertheless, it can be a factor influencing your decision. If you personally like it more colourful or if you want it to match your bag or other accessories, there are also

SABRE Red, for example, offers such. And if you like the SABRE Red Keychain Pepper Spray but don’t like pink, you can buy it in black.

If one person likes it colourful or garish, the other person may also feel uncomfortable being seen with pepper spray. In this case, you should rather look for an unagitated, inconspicuous color.

Suitable for indoor use

Think about where you want to use the pepper spray. Because not all pepper sprays are made for indoor use. The more firmly and purposefully the irritant comes out of the pepper spray, the lower the risk of accidentally getting some of the pepper spray on yourself or other people.

The fog jet is generally not suitable for indoor use. A pepper gel or pepper foam, however, is. But some manufacturers also advertise their pepper spray models for interiors.

The KO-Jet pepper spray from BALLISTOL, for example, is such a model with a bundled spray jet, so you can use it in four walls. Also suitable are e.g. the TW 1000 pepper gel because of its firmer consistency and pepper spray guns, from which targeted shots hit the attacker.

Refillability

If you use pepper spray frequently, then a refill pepper spray may be of interest to you. Some pepper spray models use cartridges or cartridges that can be replaced. This saves you money and you don’t always have to buy a whole new defensive device.

The TW 1000 pepper spray in the RSG6 housing, for example, can be replaced by another pepper spray, but the housing remains the same.

Trivia: Worth knowing facts about pepper sprays

Which is the strongest pepper spray?

The strength depends on the sharpness level specified by the manufacturer. However, these are not always stated in a uniform manner. The strongest pepper spray can therefore not really be determined.

But you can simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions and choose a pepper spray with the highest possible Scoville value, which indicates the degree of sharpness, and a high percentage OC active ingredient concentration.

To understand: A pepper spray with the indication 2 million Scoville means that 2 million water drops would be needed to neutralize the effect of the pepper spray.

It is not clear whether a pepper spray with 3 million or 2 million Scoville sharpness levels has a big difference in effect. At a certain point, it simply gets to the creature and affects it, no matter how high the sharpness level is.

The main thing is that you use the pepper spray correctly and can quickly escape from the dangerous situation without damage.

Since when are pepper sprays available?

The defensive spray with pepper substance is only available for a few decades.

The use of the spray began in the USA in the 1980s thanks to the invention of the spray can in the 1930s.

It was then that police forces first took advantage of the property of the irritant spray to incapacitate anyone. Postmen and women used it to protect themselves from aggressive pets.

However, the chili pepper irritant was used long before that time as a means of control and restriction or for torture.

E.g. in China and India, where “pepper bombs” were built to throw at the enemy and make him unable to fight.

Table of Contents