View Full Version : Looking for a good pepper spray...

March 6, 2011, 11:15 AM
Not a subject that generally comes up on gun sites to often but I'd like to talk about pepper spray. No it's not a gun and it's not as good as a gun but it does have some advantages (not really wanting to get into that in this thread) and I am looking for a good spray for the wife, maybe myself. I see all sort of options from small to big and am a little lost on what to get, how to carry it and where to get it.



March 6, 2011, 11:37 AM
IMHO Fox Labs. Stream or Cone. http://www.foxlabs.com/products.shtml

March 6, 2011, 12:16 PM
buy bear spray stronger than regular pepper spray

March 6, 2011, 12:27 PM
Inferno by Cold Steel http://www.coldsteel.com/pepper-spray.html

March 6, 2011, 04:43 PM
+1 on the Fox Labs. It's the hottest I've been able to find.:eek:

March 6, 2011, 06:38 PM
Fox is what we use in the prison. Good stuff. Our training requires we get shot with it, which is crap really. They say it's so you know what it does, next they will shoot us with a 12ga. Just macho stuff.

March 6, 2011, 09:24 PM
+1 again on Fox Labs. I have several of the larger cannisters and they are stored around the house, in my cars and on my person. Get the one's that have UV Dye in them as that is good for 24 hour marking of the person in the event that they crawl away after a good dose all over the head!

March 6, 2011, 09:39 PM

Bear spray, great stuff!! We have it in every counselor's gear bag at our summer camp, in the vehicles, and even at home.

March 6, 2011, 10:52 PM
Inferno by Cold Steel http://www.coldsteel.com/pepper-spray.html

That's what I carry as well.

March 7, 2011, 01:20 AM
Not sure if it's available commercially, but my agency just switched to Vexor from Cap-Stun. Cap-Stun was was no joke but I've been told Vexor makes you feel like your face is melting off.

March 7, 2011, 03:04 AM
I have been ordering Fox from galls.com. Haven't had to spray anyone yet. My wife sprayed some "to test it out" without paying attention to wind direction and was very, very sorry.

March 7, 2011, 11:10 AM
On these threads I often see Bear Spray mentioned. As I have searched for sources all I find are large cannisters. Those are too large to carry routinely.

The 2 oz canisters are about as large as I want to carry unless I was in bear country. Does anyone make a 2-3 oz bear spray? Th 9 oz up are too large.


March 7, 2011, 04:13 PM
I can see it now: BUG spray or "mouse" spray; "the little spray you have with you is better than the big one that's at home"


March 7, 2011, 08:45 PM
I bought 2 for my girlfriend. 1 for practice the spray, the other to carry.
This is the one we bought:

Pretty good. After one short blast the short breeze had us gasping.

Hiker 1
March 8, 2011, 01:23 PM
Has anyone on this thread had to spray a person (non-training) or an animal? What was the reaction?

March 8, 2011, 01:34 PM
Personal sized UDAP products:


I've seen it used once, on a dog that persisted in menacing a group of campers when we were on a hike a few years ago. One blast in the face from 20' ended the encounter quickly.

March 8, 2011, 01:50 PM
I was going to recommend Fox labs but, others have already beat
me to it. Second place I would say goes to Sabre Red. I always
carry that on my person. Great to have some other tools besides
just a gun.

Mike The Marine
March 8, 2011, 02:07 PM
Military grade OC spray, it hurts. I'll look later to see who makes it but I think its called First Defence..

March 8, 2011, 04:16 PM
My wife carries one made by Kimber in the sorta shape of a gun in red ... has two charges of a gooey serious irritant spray ... I've seen it demonstrated in videos and it goes 15 feet or so and sticks like glue ... ugh ...

March 8, 2011, 05:12 PM
I would hate to use something formulated for bears on a person and then have them get a good lawer, even if it was less potent I could imagine how it would get twisted around in court.

Pepper sprays are measured in SHU's (Scoville Heat Units) here is a comparison for you:

Green Pepper = 0 SHU's
Jalapeno Pepper = 14,000 SHU's
Habenero Pepper = 40,000 SHU's
Fox Labs 5.3 Pepper Spray = 5.3 Million SHU's

We use the Fox Labs where I work, just be aware that most manufacturers will make multiple sprays with different potencies. Read the label and do your homework before you trust your life to it.

I also had to get sprayed in training and it was truly terrible, it will put most people out of commission. That being said, I have seen(first hand) where it did not work on someone having a violent psychotic episode.

You may want to ask about results from people who have actually USED it, as opposed to just "what kind do you carry?" Results are more important than the fact that some guy was told that this brand is best so thats what he carries.

+5.3 million SHU's to Fox Labs.

March 8, 2011, 07:02 PM
Be cautious with the Bear Spray advice if this is intended for use for self defense against humans. Read the label. There may be both criminal and potential civil penalties for wrongful use of Bear Spray (for instance, you could permanently blind someone if it's way too strong of a dosage for a person).

I concur that Fox labs is what you want for self defense.

I PERSONALLY received a 1/8th second blast of Fox Labs in the face. It was at an outstanding school and my military unit received a lot of types of training, including OC spray. We lined up and were allowed to hold our breath and close our eyes. The trainer just walked down the line and literally barely sprayed each of us.

Now we are all relatively tough, young, fit bucks. It affects everyone slightly differently, but I don't know of a single man that wasn't severly incapacitated. Everyone was in various degrees of pain to severe pain. I personally could not physically open my eyes for at least 15 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, we had to run through a paintball course. Talk about misery. Pure misery. The effects were so extreme and lasted for hours, gradually wearing off probably 8 hours later to mild irritation with dawn dishsoap in a cool shower.

Yes, I was sold on Fox labs and bought several canisters. Cheap and effective.

For what it's worth, however, for $1000 you could consider a stun gun. Oh My GOD, if you are looking for less-than-lethal, that's where it's at.

In the same school we also were shot at 15' with the 2-pronged stun guns. The most horrific instant pain compliance control I could ever imagine. 5 seconds of receiving 95 jolts of energy that was literally like visiting Hell and back. Takes non-lethal to a whole new level.

March 8, 2011, 07:36 PM
The officers where I live carry. A brand called sabre or sabre defence or something.

Capt. Charlie
March 8, 2011, 08:16 PM
I think leadcounsel nailed it on several fronts.

Several years ago, I bought a cannister of bear spray for hiking in bear country near Cook Forest, PA. I don't remember the brand, but I do recall the warning on the can: "Not intended for use on humans". Besides, given the potency of some of the stuff available, you don't really need anything hotter ;).

The description "Fires of Hell" don't do it justice. Our training also requires getting sprayed. Wonderful, beautiful, cold, running water was only about 30 feet away. The only problem was, you had to use an ASP to fight your way through 3 padded guys to get there. The point was to show that, if you're really, REALLY determined, you can still fight after getting sprayed. (All I remember is swinging wildly while completely blind :D)

I've been accidentally sprayed or gotten backspray several times, and other than lots and LOTS of cold water, the only thing I've found that gives any real relief is Solarcaine sunburn gel with Aloe Vera and Lidocaine.

(Hint for rookies: Application just before training helps ;) :D)

March 8, 2011, 10:18 PM
one thing I've found to be important is the cap. You want the safety type, some brands have a cap/trigger mechanism that you have to twist to spray, I've had those go off in my pocket.
The best kinds that worked for me during yrs of S/O experience in San Francisco ( also used it a lot off duty because CA law allows for self defense if someone threatens you, and homeless bums in SF routinely do that ) are the cap that has a snap hinge on it so you always know where you're aiming because you put your finger there and that is also the safest to keep in your pocket.

Inert cans for practice.
Get as many cans as you can, practice makes perfect!

Carry back up spray.

March 8, 2011, 10:57 PM
Has anyone on this thread had to spray a person (non-training) or an animal? What was the reaction?

Yes, trying to do a plain clothes arrest on a dope dealer/gang member after witnessing a hand-to-hand deal. Bad guy was 22 and built like a linebacker. 2-on-1 with us rolling on the ground and my partner and I still couldn't get his hands behind his back to cuff. Things took an ugly turn and deadly force was probably justified, but I happened to have a lipstick size CAP-STUN in my jacket pocket. I deployed it reaching over the top of dude's head, firing down into his face at about 2 inches. He got the restricted airway pretty good: he kept gasping "I can't get no air." Great distraction which let us get the cuffs on, but he didn't collapse into a ball or anything. In fact, he was panicking pretty good and was bucking around as we cuffed him. Once cuffed, he stated his eyes were burning and begged me to wipe them out, which I did with his t-shirt - I doubt it helped much.

Incidentally, both I and my partner got some blow-back, which had us coughing and spitting. Made me a firm believer in pepper spray, though. If we had been trying to get away rather than cuff him-no problem.

March 8, 2011, 11:10 PM
I like the Fox Labs a lot but I often carry the ASP Street Defender. It is a combination refillable spray dispenser and impact weapon (palm stick). Two friends and I have used the ASP spray against problem individuals and found it very effective, despite having a lower SHU rating than the Fox spray.

March 11, 2011, 05:54 PM
Just before reading this, I just purchased two cans of the Mace PepperGel spray for myself and the wife. I liked the idea of eliminating blow back and the slightly better range. Anyone have any feedback on this particular product? I already see it's not quite as hot as the Fox Labs spray. :(

March 11, 2011, 06:54 PM
I never see it mentioned in these threads, but I find that unless there is a definite breeze from my back I get some of the spray, and I seem to be very susceptible to it. As a result I buy the foam in the hopes that if I need to use it I won't be the first to be blinded.:D

I have a friend in LE who used foam on 3 guys who were going to whip him. He reported that each went down as if shot when he gave each a short burst.
I have read that prison guards do not use it as the prisoners just wipe it off and throw it back at you.

However, I doubt that one would experience that on the street or with a dog. In addition, inside a car or from the window of a car I am not sure that the spray would not blind the driver using the spray.

Any experience? Thanks.


March 11, 2011, 09:36 PM
I don't think pepper spray MUST be as hot as Fox to be effective, although Fox is excellent stuff.

With regard to the foam or gel question, one time when I had to discharge the ASP for about a one second burst, some of it got sucked into a country club ventilation system and cleared a couple rooms. One was the ladies' room, where my date happened to be at the time. She and the other gals in there were not amused. As a result, I can see the potential benefits of foam or gel.

March 12, 2011, 01:56 AM
I've used pepper spray a whole lot, the only time it didn't work immediately was on an old hardened junkie convict, it took repeated applications and 3 or 4 long minutes for it to stop him.

I got so proficient that I always knew which way the wind was blowing.
If you want practice, go to San Francisco & tell the pandhandlers to "Get a job" Half will will tell you they're gonna kick yer azz, ( it used to be more but I taught them manners) & voila-you have a self defense reason. They threatened you and under CA law you're allowed to defend yourself.

March 12, 2011, 02:51 AM
There are a few common brands of chemical agent on the US market, Mace, First Defense, Cap-Stun, Fox, etc.
I have a small(mark III) size container of OC/pepper gel. It works out to about 25ft and puts a sticky red film of powerful OC on a subject.
There are foams, sprays, fogs, etc. I'd avoid the foam types. An aggressive attacker could wipe off the foam and smear it on you(a point made on a forum by a working LE officer). Most chemical agent sprays I've used always get problems with wind gusts or breezes. :(
Fog type units are okay but best suited for large crowds or riot/LE type events. Unless you hang out with Dog Chapman, I doubt you'd need a fog type system.
When buying or researching chemical agents, it's good to know the OC % content(5, 10, 15, etc). 10% is the normal level in most cans available to the public. Some chemical agents contain UV dyes, tear gas or other substances too. This may help with IDing a violent subject later on or ending an attack.
Be very careful too about the contents of a chemical agent if you plan to also use or carry a EDW(a taser or stun gun). Documented cases of a subject being hit with a alcohol based chemical spray then shot with a stun gun having a large flash or flame have been reported.

Finally, I suggest obtaining formal skill training from a respected or certified course. If you have a self defense event or need to later explain your actions in court it will look a LOT better to a judge & jury that you had documented skill training. I took a 4 hour class & got hit with a 5% OC spray about 5 years ago. It wasn't fun but I could answer honestly if I knew what Mace or pepper spray really felt like.
See www.PoliceHQ.com www.Galls.com www.QMuniforms.com www.UScav.com .

March 12, 2011, 09:17 AM
Has anyone on this thread had to spray a person (non-training) or an animal? What was the reaction?

Was certified with FOX 5.3 and we spray folks on a fairly regular basis with it.

One person out of like the last 20 didn't succumb to its effect. The guy came into the jail on PCP and didn't feel any pain thats why. He took a full stream in the eyes, nose, and in his MOUTH!! whilst he shouted obsenities at us. He spit it out and continued to shout obsenities like it didn't happen.:eek:

Now this isn't a normal case usually when we administer hell in a can they give up in about 5 or< seconds and are screaming from the pain in their cell after their decon shower for the next hour.:D

Folks that are really determined or high can still give you a hard time after being sprayed. I hit bags at 3 stations with a baton, elbows, knees, running between them. Then had to identify a particular person among others and draw my simulated weapon on him and take him into custody all after having my face painted orange by FOX. It succccckkkkkked but I faired alright. So I KNOW that if I get sprayed, I can still dish out the arse woopin of someones life.

Keep that in mind.

March 12, 2011, 10:16 AM
I've seen it used once, on a dog that persisted in menacing a group of campers when we were on a hike a few years ago. One blast in the face from 20' ended the encounter quickly.

That's sure good to know for me. Thanks for sharing.
I peppered a couple of Anatolian Shepherds (very large breed) engaged in a fight and it didn't stop them.
Maybe I don't have a good pepper spray. I don't know what kind it is, but my ex, who is a LEO bought it from his local Law Enforcement Supplier.

March 12, 2011, 11:36 AM
Sabre Red has a red dye in it so if you use it, the perp is clearly marked. Like a exploding red dye money bag from a bank. Supposedly NYPD uses Sabre red. May be advertising hype

Fox Labs top shelf as well.

Capt. Charlie
March 12, 2011, 12:59 PM
Be very careful too about the contents of a chemical agent if you plan to also use or carry a EDW(a taser or stun gun). Documented cases of a subject being hit with a alcohol based chemical spray then shot with a stun gun having a large flash or flame have been reported.

Very true and worth repeating.

March 13, 2011, 12:18 AM
If you live in a hot climate like I do, don't leave pepper spray in your truck. Both myself & a friend of mine did & it blew up in the trucks. Not a fun surprise when you get in!!!!!

March 13, 2011, 04:56 AM
The spray that we are issued is the First Defense pepper spray. It's very effective. Whatever you get, don't get any of the foams or gels. We are not issued that, but a couple of the local officers used it in the past and we've had it thrown back at us more the once. It was what they were issued and they got to where they wouldn't use it. The main thing to remember with the pepper spray is that it reacts different with some people. Most people it will have an instant effect on. Some have a delayed reaction. It will take 20-30 seconds to kick in. Out of my academy class of 110, about 20 people it took about that long to start working. We had 2 that had little to no effects from it. They told us about that before sprayed us and I didn't believe it till I saw it, and we pretty much got soaked with pepper spray. About 1 can per 2 people.

Single Six
March 13, 2011, 07:49 AM
Hiker 1: I had to hose down a pit bull once. He had latched on to a cat. That pit bull took the OC spray like it was water; never fazed him in the least. The cat died. Meanwhile, in response to the original thread: I'll put in my vote for Inferno by Cold Steel.

March 13, 2011, 04:21 PM
I have had to use the Fox 5.3 on a few aggresive bar patrons and it will immediately take the fight out the most determined opponent. The effects are positive and instantaneous.

March 13, 2011, 05:21 PM
Though I'm not LE, I bought some Extreme Take Down Pepper Gel (from Mace) in a 2.8 oz can at a Phoenix gun show. I like the idea of the gel for a couple of reasons and some of it has to do with the reason I carry it:

1) My German Shepherd is always with me on a walk and I carry it as first line of defense against coyotes, other dogs and javelina. It has an 18 foot spray reach and I need some accuracy so that I don't spray my dog (or family) too.

2) I also carry my gel even when I carry my gun. I do so as a first line of defense (if possible) against attackers so that it shows I'm willing to use less lethal measures before I pull the gun. Again, I state if possible. If I do need to pull the gun then I'm less likely to be dealing with possible blow-back that one might get with a spray. Blow-back would be a problem if I'm pulling my gun out of it's holster and I'm struggling to see the target.

Anyway, this works for me.

Extreme Take Down Pepper Gel (by Mace) (http://www.mace.com/personal_defense/take-down-law-enforcement-pepper-sprays.html)


Lost Sheep
March 13, 2011, 06:03 PM
I recall that tear gas (and mace) has no effect on canine species, so for dogs coyotes or wolves, not so good. So, make sure whatever chemical you choose is effective (the literature should tell you) for your threat to be defended against.

DO get an out-of-date can and practice with it. (This advice more for the private citizen who is not afforded institutional training, training films and such).

Remember, that nothing is 100% effective. Spray-resistant individuals has been mentioned already. The related subject of Tasers (as an alternative sub-lethal application of force) has been mentioned. As effective as it is, it's not 100% either.

A man in Crestview, Florida was tasered on April 25, 2009 and when the juice was turned off, successfully drew a concealed weapon and killed the two Deputies who were arresting him.

see this news story

followed by this report of the incident

the second report mentions the Taser, the newspaper article did not.

from this thread on TFL


Lost Sheep

March 13, 2011, 10:00 PM
Thanks mucho for the praise Captain, ;) .
I'd add that when you purchase new chemical agents or pepper sprays/gels, be aware of the expired date. Most US self defense products have a shelf life of 3-5 years.
For normal carry or storage, I'd replace any chemcial product after 36mo/3yr just to be safe.
As posted before, you can spray out the older container or use it for training-practice under safe conditions.

ps; Be very careful with EDWs/tasers too. About 5-6 years ago I read a news item about a female police officer in the Daytona Beach FL area who drew her PD issued taser, fired at a violent subject then had the small hooks make contact with a cheap lighter in his shirt pocket!
The subject suffered burns from the injury and was treated at the scene by EMTs.

March 15, 2011, 02:42 AM
I carry Counter Assault bear deterrent spray (in appropriate circumstances, that is: where there are bears), and I just wanted to note that it is 2% capsicum spray and 3.2 M SHU (vs. Fox Labs' 2% and 5.3 SHU). And Counter Assault makes a 10% capsicum spray (OC-10), but it is somehow less hot, at 2.0 M SHU.

I'm a little surprised there isn't more of a relationship between the extract percentage and the heat rating, but obviously it isn't as simple as how much capsicum is in the spray.

In any case, my point is that the bear spray isn't more potent than what's used on humans. But its size, and the warning against use on humans on the can, make it impractical and inadvisable.

March 22, 2011, 01:09 PM
Cold steel sells inert training cans of their sprays. The spray isn't as hot as some options, but has some features I like.

It's a foam spray so that limits the backspray, but the foam disolves quickly so it's pretty much impossible to throw it back at you.

March 22, 2011, 09:06 PM
After many years of research, my wife carries the 2oz Fox 5.3 cone flip top.


March 22, 2011, 11:41 PM
ASP palm defender is what I carry everyday. It's small enough to fit in my jean's pocket, and I never forget it / know where it is, as it's attached to my car keys...

March 23, 2011, 01:06 PM
Lots of good stuff here, years ago I saw a postal guy spray a dog in the face, dog took off fast. Do they carry the same stuff?

Is there one that works on both people and stray dogs?

March 23, 2011, 03:56 PM
Has the same effect on both dogs and humans... In any case more efect on dogs, as they have very senitive nose (if you been sprayed you know it burns everything it makes contact with)..