Best Pepper Spray for Self & Home Defense: Our 7 Favorites

Last update:
We are reader supported! We participate in affiliate programs and we may be compensated (at no cost to you) when you use our links and make a purchase.

After using and carrying several different pepper sprays, we’ve decided that the POM Original Pepper Spray is the best pepper spray.

While there’s no single “best” pepper spray for everyone, the POM Original Pepper Spray consistently ranks high for its effectiveness, ease of use, and discreet design. We feel very confident in recommending it for a few reasons.

Kristin Showing the Best Pepper Sprays that we tested
Some of the Pepper Sprays that we use and recommend

At Survival Stoic, we believe in preparing for the unexpected. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing you with the knowledge and tools to navigate any situation, including those that might threaten your safety.

Our team is a collective of survival experts, veterans, and everyday people who prioritize safety. We understand the anxieties that come with feeling unprepared. That’s why we don’t just write reviews – we delve into the science, legalities, and real-world experiences surrounding self-defense products like pepper spray.

We don’t “test” pepper spray. We actually use it.

Based on this experience, let’s examine why the POM Original Pepper Spray is the best and help you decide if it’s the right self-defense tool for you.

Table of Contents

Quick Summary of Our Favorite Pepper Sprays

In a hurry? Here’s a quick look at our top pepper spray picks:

BEST FOR SELF DEFENSE
STONGEST
Fox Labs One Point Four

Fox Labs One Point Four

Invisible UV Dye

5.3M SHU

Safety Flip Cap

BEST FOR HOME DEFENSE
BEST FOR JOGGING

The Best Pepper Sprays

POM Original Pepper Spray – Best Overall

POM Original Pepper Spray
  • Strength: 1.40% major capsaicinoids (MC)
  • Spray pattern: Stream
  • Range: Up to 12 ft
  • Capacity: 0.5 fluid oz.
  • Expiration Date: Yes

The POM Original Pepper Spray is the standard when it comes to a discrete pepper spray to carry as part of my EDC for self defense. After carrying and using several pepper spray brands, it’s clear that POM is the best choice for most situations. The long range, high OC concentration, and flip-top safety make it hard to beat!

Plus, the price is much lower than much of the competition.

Kristin showing the POM Original Pepper Spray
I have a few of these and they are very discrete and easy to use

I have several of POM’s pepper sprays, and this one is my favorite by far. I prefer the clip, but their keychain makes perfect sense if you don’t already have a lot of stuff on your keychain. They also come with multiple color rings and have combo packs with other attachments.

Kristin showing the POM Original Pepper Spray Clip and Key Chain Models
The POM Original Clip and Key Chain Models

The flip-top safety is absolutely necessary. It prevents it from going off and works well in our experience.

Jason showing the safety cap on the POM Original Pepper Spray
The safety cap keeps this pepper spray from going off accidentally

POM packs a punch, too. The 10% OC formula is among the strongest available, ensuring it will stop an attacker in their tracks.

Compared to other pepper sprays we’ve used, POM is the easiest to carry and use. While some other pepper sprays may have a stronger concentration, they’re often less comfortable or discrete.

The only downside is the limited capacity. It will only last for about 10 seconds of continuous spray. I recommend also purchasing some of their trainers (called Inert Units) so you can get some practice in without having to use the real stuff.

Recommended for:

I highly recommend POM Original Pepper Spray to anyone looking for a discrete method of self defense. It just has all of the features that I consider essential.

PROS

Strong OC formula

Discrete Size

Easy to Use

Flip-top safety

Training Model Available

CONS

Limited Capacity


POM MK3 Pepper Spray – Best Self Defense Pepper Spray

POM MK3 Pepper Spray
  • Strength: 1.40% major capsaicinoids (MC)
  • Spray pattern: Stream
  • Range: Up to 18 ft
  • Capacity: 2 fluid oz.
  • Expiration Date: Yes

The POM MK3 Pepper Spray has the same formulation as our top pick, but has four times the capacity! It also has a longer range (18ft vs 12 ft).

The only downside is it is larger and is not something I can easily carry in my pocket.

Kristin showing the POM MK3 Pepper Spray
I keep these with my emergency prep gear

I especially like this model for emergency preparedness when there is the potential of higher use. Situations like multiple attackers or home defense are when I want this one.

Because of this, I keep one in my get home bag as well as my bug out bag. This pepper spray is great for getting distance between myself and an attacker without using deadly force.

It is also great for protection against animals if I ever get caught in a survival situation. I also keep one in my survival kit just in case.

I like that the clip on the side gives me a little extra security when carrying it. I can keep it in a larger pocket in my pants (like my favorite concealed carry shorts) so it is always in easy reach. The safety flip top is also a must have as it prevents me from accidentally spraying it when I don’t want to.

Recommended for:

The POM MK3 Pepper Spray is for anyone who wants the best pepper spray for self defense. It is a great tool for emergency preparedness as well.

PROS

Strong OC formula

Large Capacity

Easy to Use

Flip-top safety

CONS

Requires replacement every 4-5 years

Larger Size


Fox Labs One Point Four – Strongest Pepper Spray

Fox Labs One Point Four
  • Strength: 5.3 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU)
  • Spray pattern: Stream
  • Range: Up to 17 ft
  • Capacity: 2 fluid oz.
  • Expiration Date: Yes

Fox Labs One Point Four is the strongest pepper spray available to most civilians. If your definition of “best” includes “strongest,” I highly recommend this pepper spray.

Its 1.4% MC formula is one of the most potent options on the market, making it highly effective against determined attackers. The stream pattern allows for more targeted deployment than cone sprays, reducing the risk of accidental exposure to yourself or others.

Kristin showing the Fox labs One Point Four Pepper Spray
This is one of the strongest we have used

However, this strength comes with serious responsibility. Due to its high concentration, Fox Labs One Point Four isn’t legal everywhere. We recommend checking your local laws before purchasing.

The chance of hurting yourself (or a bystander) is also heightened. The stream pattern works better in the wind, but very windy conditions can still make pepper spray dangerous.

We love Fox Labs One Point Four’s pure stopping power. It is exceptionally strong. Many who have used the pepper spray have reported that this one is distinguishable from lower-concentrated sprays. Getting sprayed with pepper spray is always awful, but this one is particularly bad!

I also like that this one has a flip top safety cap. I certainly don’t want the strongest pepper spray I can buy going off accidentally!

Recommended for:

If you’re looking for the strongest pepper spray, Fox Labs One Point Four is the one to get.

PROS

Extremely strong

Stream pattern

Long range

CONS

Illegal in some areas

No Clip


Sabre Red Crossfire Pepper Gel – Best for Home Defense

Sabre Crossfire Pepper Spray
  • Strength: 1.40% major capsaicinoids (MC)
  • Spray pattern: Stream
  • Range: Up to 20 ft
  • Capacity: 1.5 fluid oz.
  • Expiration Date: Yes

The Sabre Red Crossfire pepper gel is our favorite home defense pepper spray.

Using pepper spray in a home defense situation is perfect when you can’t or do not want to use more lethal force. However there are some things to consider when using pepper spray indoors.

Kristin showing the Sabre Red Crossfire Pepper Gel
This is a gel, which is great for indoor use

What makes this one unique is it a gel instead of a spray.

So what’s the difference? A spray is more liquid, and tends to atomize in the air. This means that it will not only affect anyone that it is sprayed on, but also those in proximity. This is ideal outdoors where there is a crowd of multiple attackers, but not so good indoors, where it can affect everyone in the home.

With a gel, it does not atomize, so it is safer to use indoors. This makes this one a much better choice for home defense since it will likely be used inside.

The canister is almost identical to the POM MK3, and includes a clip so I can attach it to my belt or pocket. I can also attach it to other strategic areas in my home for easy access (like my mattress).

Just like most of the others, it has a safety flip top cap so I don’t spray it accidentally. It will also spray in all positions, even upside down. When I am in an awkward position, I am likely not going to be holding it perfectly upright.

While Sabre Red has a long spray distance, it isn’t the strongest pepper spray out there. However, the gel formula is ideal for use indoors.

Recommended for:

The Sabre Red Crossfire pepper spray is for anyone that would like to use pepper spray for home defense. The gel formula is better indoors than spray.

PROS

Proven, Trusted Brand

Gel formula

Good Capacity

Sprays in all positions

Good for Indoor Use

CONS

Not the strongest option


POM Runner Pepper Spray – Best for Joggers

POM Runner Pepper Spray
  • Strength: 1.40% major capsaicinoids (MC)
  • Spray pattern: Stream
  • Range: Up to 12 ft
  • Capacity: 1/2 fluid oz.
  • Expiration Date: Yes

The POM Runner Pepper Spray is a pepper spray designed specifically for runners, joggers, and those who just enjoy walking outdoors but want some protection. It integrates pepper spray with a comfortable, ambidextrous glove for easy access while running.

(Blake on our team is left-handed, so the ambidextrous nature of the glove was very important to us.)

Kristin showing the POM Runner Pepper Spray in her hand
Kristin holding the POM Runner Pepper Spray Glove

Many runners, especially those who run alone or at dawn/dusk, carry pepper spray for safety. However, traditionally, I find that I need to clip pepper spray onto my clothing or hold it in my hand, which can be cumbersome. The POM Runner addresses this issue by offering a hands-free carrying option. The pepper spray canister securely attaches to a stretch-fit glove, freeing my hands to maintain stride.

At the same time, the pepper spray is literally right there if I need to use it. No fumbling with a clip or pockets.

Kristin jogging with the POM Runner Pepper Spray
Kristin jogging with the POM runner pepper spray

The canister is one of the smallest diameters we have used, so it doesn’t stand out or feel awkward. It is also a little longer than the POM original. I found this to feel like I had a better grip on it since I could get all my fingers around it.

We highly recommend POM pepper spray, and this spray is the same formula as our favorite options above. The only big difference is the inclusion of the stretch glove, which makes it perfect for exercising outdoors.

Keep in mind that this model isn’t the best for everyday carry though, since it doesn’t have a clip or any other attachment options. It is best as a supplement to our top pick above.

Recommended for:

The POM Runner Pepper Spray is for anyone that exercises outside and wants a self-defense option against attackers, humans or animals.

PROS

Ambidextrous design

Stretch-fit glove fits most hands

Same POM spray formula

Hands-free carrying

CONS

Limited Versatility


Freeze +P Pepper Spray – Best for Vehicles

Freeze +P Pepper Spray
  • Strength: 1% Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) & 1% CS Gas
  • Spray pattern: Stream
  • Range: Up to 17 ft
  • Capacity: 2 fluid oz
  • Expiration Date: Yes

Freeze +P Pepper Spray is a powerful self-defense tool that utilizes a combination of CS tear gas and OC pepper spray for exceptional stopping power. Because it also includes CS tear gas, it is much stronger than most competitors. Blake, our military veteran tester, carries this spray in his EDC kit.

Kristin showing the Freeze +p Pepper Spray
This spray has an added “bonus” of CS gas

CS tear gas causes immediate eye watering, coughing, and difficulty breathing, while OC pepper spray brings intense burning and inflammation. It packs a serious punch. During his training, Blake got sprayed, but we won’t quote how he said it felt.

Plus, the formula is completely non-flammable! While this is a commonly overlooked feature, it can make a huge difference when using this spray indoors or near vehicles. The formula is also more stable in heat, making it much more suitable for permanent storage in your car.

These two features are why we recommend this formula specifically for those who want to keep pepper spray in their cars.

The 17-foot stream allows me to deploy the spray from a safe distance, giving me precious time to escape or call for help. The spray distance is substantially longer than other options on the market.

We’ve kept ours in the car for years, and it’s still as strong as ever.

However, the strength of Freeze +P comes with a caveat. CS tear gas can irritate the user more than OC pepper spray, especially if wind blows the spray back towards you. While we were measuring the spray distance, the wind turned and drenched one of our team members. Needless to say, it wasn’t very fun!

Recommended for:

Those with a military background or who want serious stopping power may prefer Freeze +P Pepper Spray. However, be sure to check the laws in your area, as CS gas isn’t legal for civilian use in all areas.

PROS

Long range

Very strong formula

Non-flammable

CONS

Can be a bit too strong


Sabre Home Defense Pepper Spray Launcher

Sabre Home Defense Pepper Spray Launcher
  • Strength: Depends on cartridge
  • Spray pattern: Cloud
  • Range: Up to 60 ft
  • Capacity: 7 cartridges
  • Expiration Date: No

A pepper spray launcher? You can’t get much better than that (and, yes, this was one of the runner things we tested). The Sabre Home Defense Pepper Spray Launcher is different than other options on this list, as it was designed for home defense. It fires pepper projectiles at a distance, offering homeowners an extra layer of protection.

Traditional pepper spray can be very effective, but it requires you to get close to the intruder. This pepper spray launcher addresses this concern by launching pepper balls up to 60 feet.

This longer range allows you to keep as much distance as possible between you and the threat.

Another benefit is this launcher’s ability to hold many cartridges. Most of the launchers we looked at only held one. And some couldn’t even be reloaded quickly! Not having to reload for seven shots is a huge deal when you’re in a stressful situation.

The Sabre brand is also a very trusted name in pepper spray. Their formula is extremely effective.

That said, it is important to remember that this launcher is pretty large! It isn’t a discreet self-defense option like other pepper spray options.

Recommended for:

The Sabre Home Defense Pepper Spray Launcher is great for the elderly, disabled, or anyone that wants something better than regular pepper spray for home defense.

PROS

Extended range

Holds multiple projectiles

Built-in sights

Intuitive reloading

CONS

Larger than other pepper sprays


What You Need to Know About Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is an extremely popular self-defense tool, but very few people really understand how it works. Let’s take a look at exactly why pepper spray is effective.

The Power of Capsaicin

The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, an oily compound found in chili peppers (hence the name). Capsaicin binds to receptors in the eyes, nose, and mouth and is known as a transient receptor potential cation channel in subfamily V member 1 (shortened to TRPV1 for obvious reasons!).

When this occurs, it essentially tricks the body into thinking it is getting burned, even though there isn’t any actual tissue damage.

When pepper spray comes into contact with the eyes, it causes many unpleasant effects:

  • Intense burning sensation: This is the primary deterrent effect of pepper spray. The burning sensation can be so strong that it causes temporary blindness, making it difficult for attackers to see.
  • Excessive watering: The eyes will produce a large amount of tears to flush out the irritant. In many cases, this is one reason the attacker is temporarily blinded!
  • Difficulty breathing: Pepper spray can irritate the mucous membranes in the nose and throat, leading to coughing, sneezing, and difficulty breathing. For someone already exerting themselves, this effect is even worse.

In some cases, allergic reactions can occur – even deadly ones. Therefore, you should never spray someone with pepper spray who you aren’t willing to kill. The U.S. Department of Justice has linked pepper spray directly to several deaths. Luckily, these reactions are very rare, but they are possible.

Blake, a military veteran on our team with professional experience with pepper spray, would like us to emphasize that pepper spray is a “less-than-lethal tool, not a non-lethal tool.”

Limitations of Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is a valuable self-defense tool, but it isn’t foolproof. Here are some factors to consider before using pepper spray:

  • Wind: Strong winds can blow the pepper spray back at the user, so it’s important to be aware of wind direction when using it. Don’t spray it if it’s just going to hit you in the face.
  • Distance: Pepper spray is most effective at a short distance (typically within a few feet). It may not be effective if the attacker is too far away. A pepper spray launcher is better in these situations.
  • Clothing: Some clothing can provide some protection from pepper spray, such as someone wearing a mask.
  • Determination: Some attackers can function despite being sprayed. Pepper spray affects everyone differently.

Pepper spray is a deterrent, not a magic bullet. It won’t keep you perfectly safe or fend off all attackers. Situational awareness and many of the skills we discuss in our concealed carry guide also apply to pepper spray.

As Blake explained, “Just because pepper/OC spray has been employed efficiently does NOT mean that your target is incapacitated. Substances that alter mental state, like methamphetamine or PCP, may reduce or entirely negate its effectiveness on the target.”


Tips for choosing the Right Pepper Spray

Pepper spray can be a valuable tool for self-defense, but with so many options on the market, picking the right one can be overwhelming. Luckily, we tested and sorted through tons of pepper sprays, many of which are very similar! Here are some of our tester’s takeaways on what makes a good pepper spray, well, good.

Strength

Pepper spray strength is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Higher SHU indicates a more potent spray, causing greater irritation. However, a super-strong spray isn’t necessarily the best choice.

Most self-defense pepper sprays range from 1.2 million to 3 million SHU, which is generally enough to deter an attacker. Ask anyone who’s been sprayed with pepper spray – strong enough is strong enough!

Extremely hot pepper spray can be a liability in windy conditions or close quarters, potentially affecting you. Stronger isn’t better in the vast majority of situations.

Type

Pepper spray is delivered in several different ways. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Stream: Offers a concentrated spray but requires good aiming. Good for experienced users who can aim.
  • Fog: Creates a cloud of irritants, making it better for situations where precise aiming is challenging (which is just about every stressful situation, if we’re honest). We recommend these for beginners.
  • Gel: Like fog, it forms a thicker stream that sticks to the attacker’s skin and clothes, minimizing blowback. However, it requires much better aiming.

Size and Design

Pepper spray is typically used as a discrete self-defense tool. Therefore, it must be concealable and accessible – two factors that are hard for many pepper sprays to get right.

Kristin showing the sizes of Pepper Spray
Choosing the right size for your lifestyle is key

That said, in some cases, pepper spray isn’t made to be concealable. The launcher we discussed above is made for home defense, not carrying around concealed!

A keychain or mid-sized canister can be kept in your pocket or purse for everyday life. Most pepper sprays fit this category, though some can get quite large! All the ones we suggested above are small enough to fit in a pocket.

Running has some complications. You probably won’t have a purse or bag, and you don’t want pepper spray slapping your leg as you run. Luckily, POM makes a glove that holds the spray for you while you run, keeping it very accessible.

Safety Lid

Most pepper sprays have some sort of safety lid to keep them from going off accidentally. The best-performing option in our testing was the flip lid. These sprays have a lid over them that must be flipped back before they turn on.

Jason showing the Safety Cap on a large Pepper Spray can
The flip top safety cap on a large bottle of Pepper Spray

Twist tops performed the worst. These “hide” the spray nozzle until you turn them, which requires more finesse. In a stressful situation, that’s typically the last thing you want.

Rarely, you’ll find a “safety switch” that you must press before the trigger will work. While these can work okay, we much prefer the flip lids.


Safety and Training

Pepper spray can be a valuable tool for self-defense. In our experience, your training matters far more than the pepper spray you purchase! Safety and training are vital to using pepper spray.

Blake Spraying Pepper Spray
Blake testing Pepper Spray distances

Safety First

You should treat pepper spray like a firearm. Don’t play with it, and take steps to avoid accidental discharge.

Let’s be honest: pepper spray isn’t exactly a soothing lotion. Accidental discharge can be a nightmare! I always keep my pepper spray out of reach of children and pets. Think high shelf, not purse bottom. Imagine a curious toddler getting a hold of it – yikes!

When I carry my pepper spray in my purse, I take it out when I get home. I have children, and my toddler would absolutely play with it.

Heat can affect the potency of pepper spray, so avoid storing it in your car on a scorching day. Carry it on you and consider it something you grab every time you leave the house, like your keys and wallet, not something you store in your glove box.

If you want something to keep in your car, we recommend Freeze +P, which has a more heat-stable formula.

Training Importance

Pepper spray is often considered “safe,” and it is true that it rarely causes fatal reactions. However, “rare” doesn’t mean “never.” Training is vital. It keeps you from fumbling around when you really need it and prevents accidental discharges.

Many companies sell inert training sprays that mimic real pepper spray’s deployment mechanism and spray pattern. Practicing with an inert spray helps you get comfortable aiming and using the safety features in a controlled environment. We recommend the one from POM, which we’ve used personally.

Jason training with Pepper Spray using the POM Original Trainer
The POM trainer is great for getting a feel for how to use Pepper Spray safely

Remember, pepper spray is still dangerous, even if it’s far less dangerous than a firearm.

In the case that you get in legal trouble for using pepper spray (which has absolutely happened in the past), Blake emphasizes that having a record of professional training with pepper spray can only work in your defense. So, consider taking classes if at all possible.


Which Pepper Spray Should You Get?

While we explored various pepper spray options, after extensive research and real-world use, we believe the POM Original Pepper Spray is the best choice for most users. Our experts preferred it because:

  • Effective Strength: Packed with 1.4% major capsaicinoids (MC) formula, it’s powerful enough to deter attackers.
  • Unobtrusive Design: Compact and discreet for everyday carry.
  • Easy to Use: Flip-top safety prevents accidental discharge and allows for quick deployment.
  • Stream Pattern: Offers more targeted application compared to cone sprays, minimizing the risk of self-exposure.

POM offers their spray with both a clip and keychain attachment.

Remember, while pepper spray is safer than other self-defense tools, it should still be treated with respect and caution. Keep it out of risk of children and pets. Invest in pepper spray training with inert sprays like those offered by POM.

Now, check out our other Self Defense Guides. Our Concealed Carry Guide has everything you need to know once you want to make that step and carry a firearm.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Photo of author
Kristin is a fulltime writer with an obsession for being prepared. She spends much of her time working towards making her family self-sufficient, including homeschooling her children. When she isn’t writing, she’s shooting with her husband or homesteading.