Here’s the scene: You’re walking home from a party—it’s late and you’re alone. That’s  when someone jumps you. It could happen to anyone. And regardless of the motive behind the assault, you’ll want to be prepared. Familiarizing yourself with proper self-defense techniques can potentially save your life, but so can carrying pepper spray.

Pepper spray is a powerful substance containing capsaicin, a derivative of cayenne pepper. Also known as Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), when sprayed in the eyes, it causes an excruciating burning sensation—incapacitating your attacker and allowing for a safe getaway. It’s important to note that pepper spray is legal in all 50 states (when used as a self-defense weapon), but some states have strict regulations. 

The Best Pepper Sprays for Self-Defense

1. SABRE 3-IN-1 Pepper Spray

Best Overall
Sabre brand pepper spray

Trust the compact can of SABRE 3-IN-1 Pepper Spray to fend off assailants. This pepper spray is trusted by law enforcement officials all over the country, comes with a spray range of 10-feet, and delivers a nasty combination of pepper spray, tear gas, and UV-marking dye to help you thwart an attack and get away from danger.

Unique Feature: This police-strength pepper spray comes with a belt clip.


      • Best Seller. The SABRE 3-IN-1 Pepper Spray is the number one Best Seller on Amazon.
      • Police Force. Police units use this brand to restrain criminals and control mobs.
      • 3-in-1. This comes with a mix of pepper spray, tear gas, and UV marking dye.
      • 10-foot range. You won’t need to get too close to an attacker to have them feel the effects of this pepper spray.
      • Belt Clip. Keep this pepper spray within reach by clipping it onto your clothes with a convenient belt accessory.
      • Large Capacity. This device holds 35 bursts of pepper spray.


    • Too Strong for Some States. You can’t buy this in DC, HI, MA, MI, NJ, NY and WI, and possibly other states with restrictions on pepper spray strength and ingredients.

2. Kuros! Pepper Spray

Kuros! is a top self-defense company that does more than produce a product. When you buy Kuros!, your purchase helps provide women in third-world countries with pepper spray, so they can combat sexual assault and violence.

Unique Feature: This pepper spray is a keychain you can clip to your keys, belt, bag, or backpack.


      • Compact. Designed to be used on a keychain, this OC pepper spray bottle is small enough to stick in your pocket.
      • Self Defense Advocacy. Kuros! donates pepper spray canisters to women in the developing world to help prevent sexual assault and other violence.
      • Keychain. Clip this pepper spray container to your keys, bag, or clothing.


    • Less Capacity. You’ll receive 25 bursts of pepper spray with this device—10 less than other models.

3. SABRE Pepper Gel

Best Alternative
Sabre brand pepper gel spray

This is the second SABRE pepper spray product to appear on this list, and for good reason. This can emits pepper spray gel that easily adheres to the face and is resistant to environmental factors like wind and rain. Plus, its spray range is the longest on this list.

Unique Feature: This pepper spray gel can reach up to 18 feet away from where it’s sprayed.


      • Holster. A concealed fabric holster comes with this pepper spray gel, so you can attach it to clothing without it sticking out.
      • Safer Indoors. The gel is much more contained and can be safely used indoors.
      • Sticks to Attacker. The gel is harder for an attacker to wash off, so police will have an easier time finding him/her.
      • Water-resistance. The gel stands up to water and weather much better than sprays.
      • Very Long Range. This pepper spray gel is designed to spray up to 18 feet.


    • Too Strong for Some States. You can’t buy this in DC, HI, MA, MI, NJ, NY and WI, and possibly other states with restrictions on pepper spray strength.

4. The Wrist Savers Pepper Spray

The Wrist Savers Pepper Spray is one of the best pepper sprays for runners, bikers, walkers, and people who want to wear their self-defense on their sleeves. That’s because this pepper spray is designed to be worn as a bracelet, so you can always reach it if you’re in trouble.

Unique Feature: Wear this pepper spray on your wrist for quick access.


      • Wearable. This pepper spray was designed for runners, bikers, and people who want fast access to self-defense spray.
      • Long Range. Sprays up to 10 feet away.
      • Compact. This is a small pepper spray bottle (half of an ounce), so it’s legal in most states.
      • ID Holder. The bracelet itself has space for your ID.
      • LED Light. The light on this bracelet makes it easier for you to see what you’re doing, and for motorists to see you too.


    • Low Capacity. You’ll only get 10–20 bursts of pepper spray with each of these canisters.

5. Fox Labs Mean GreenTM Pepper Spray

Fox Labs Mean Green pepper spray is top-rated on Amazon for a multitude of reasons. For one, it’s a compact self-defense weapon that doesn’t take up too much room or cost a ton. While it doesn’t come with bells and whistles like a keychain or holster, it’s still a handy device to keep in your bag or car.

Unique Feature: The Mean Green projects green colored dye onto an assailant, so they’ll be easily identifiable by police.


      • Long Range. Spray 12–18 feet.
      • Green Dye. Identify your attacker when you spray them with this green dyed pepper spray.
      • Compact. The canister is only a little over four inches long, making it easy to tuck into a purse or pocket.


    • Low Capacity. You’ll only get 16–18 half-second bursts with this pepper spray container.
    • Too Strong for Some States. You can’t buy this in DC, HI, MA, MI, NJ, NY and WI, and possibly other states with restrictions on pepper spray strength.

State-by-State Pepper Spray Laws

All 50 states have made pepper spray legal when used in self-defense. However, some states have restrictions on how you can use it, how much you’re allowed to carry, and the minimum age range in which you’re permitted to use it. And on a federal level, you’re never allowed to take pepper spray onto an airplane, or you could face a $25,000 fine. Take a look at state pepper spray laws below, so you can learn exactly what’s required of you in your state.

Alabama Legal with no restrictions
Alaska You have to be over 18 to possess pepper spray. You’re also not allowed to bring pepper spray to school unless you’re 21 or older.
Arizona Legal with no restrictions
Arkansas You can’t carry more than 150cc of pepper spray (about 5 ounces).
California You can’t carry more than 2.5 ounces of pepper spray. If you break this law or use it illegally, you can get up to a $1,000 fine or three years in jail.
Colorado Legal with no restrictions
Connecticut Legal with no restrictions
Delaware Minors may not use pepper spray.
Florida You can’t carry more than two ounces of pepper spray.
Georgia Legal with no restrictions
Hawaii Only people 18-years and older can carry pepper spray, and no more than half of an ounce.
Idaho Legal with no restrictions
Illinois You have to be over 18 to possess pepper spray. Carrying pepper spray in Chicago is illegal.
Indiana Legal with no restrictions
Iowa Legal with no restrictions
Kansas Legal with no restrictions
Kentucky Legal with no restrictions
Louisiana Legal with no restrictions
Maine Legal with no restrictions
Maryland Legal with no restrictions
Massachusetts You can only purchase pepper spray from licensed firearm dealers.
Michigan You can’t have pepper spray with more than 10 percent Oleoresin Capsicum (OC).
Minnesota Legal with no restrictions
Mississippi Legal with no restrictions
Missouri Legal with no restrictions
Montana Legal with no restrictions
Nebraska Legal with no restrictions
Nevada You have to be over 18 to possess pepper spray, and it can’t be more than two ounces.
New Hampshire Legal with no restrictions
New Jersey You have to be over 18 to possess pepper spray, and it can’t be more than three quarters of an ounce.
New Mexico Legal with no restrictions
New York You have to be over 18 to possess pepper spray.
North Carolina You can’t carry more than 150cc (about five ounces) of pepper spray
North Dakota Legal with no restrictions
Ohio Legal with no restrictions
Oklahoma Legal with no restrictions
Oregon Legal with no restrictions
Pennsylvania Legal with no restrictions
Rhode Island You have to be over 18 to possess pepper spray.
South Carolina You can’t carry more than 50cc of pepper spray (about 1.69 ounces).
South Dakota Legal with no restrictions
Tennessee Legal with no restrictions
Texas Legal with no restrictions
Utah Legal with no restrictions
Vermont Legal with no restrictions
Virginia Legal with no restrictions
Washington You have to be over 18 to possess pepper spray, or 14 and older with parent permission.
West Virginia Legal with no restrictions
Wisconsin Pepper spray can’t contain UV dye or a combination of spray types. It also may not have more than 10% Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) concentration or be camouflaged. Wisconsin is pretty strict, so it’s best for residents in this state to check with local law enforcement to ensure they’re following the law.
Wyoming Legal with no restrictions

* This data was used from Cabela’s pepper spray database. Everyone who purchases pepper spray should double check with local police departments to verify state laws.

Pepper spray is a non-lethal weapon and should only be used for self-defense. It’s also not the only way you can protect yourself. Simple defense education can enhance your ability to thwart attackers and get away safely. If you’re eager to learn how to stay safe, you can learn more about how to protect yourself with our professional self-defense advice.

Written by Caroline Maurer

Learn more

Share with your awesome friends.