In a world seeing more and more violence impacting everyday people, having a go-to, non-lethal defensive product is a must. One of the most efficient and effective products is oleoresin capsicum, or OC spray. These portable defense products pack a wallop on would-be attackers without punching your wallet in the junk.
Take a look at our picks for the best pepper spray to add to your everyday carry arsenal.
What is OC Pepper Spray?
Oleoresin capsicum, or OC, is a compound whose chief ingredient is capsaicin. That’s the part of hot peppers that gives them their kick. This naturally occurring substance can be drawn from such fruits as the cayenne and other spicy peppers. The oily product can be mixed in solution or directly concentrated into a spray and packed into a small, hand-held spray canister.
Like an oily hot sauce from hell, OC clings to the skin, practically assuring it will be inhaled. The instinctive human reaction to wipe away the source of the pain only smears the OC heat over more skin surface. Would-be attackers are reduced to crying and quivering at the feet of their intended victim.
OC is superior to other spray self-defense products due to its involuntary physical effects. It causes swelling of the eyes, which causes them to close involuntarily. Also, the OC inflames the respiratory tract, making it painful to breathe. These involuntary effects will take down attackers who may be immune to pain (due to intoxication or high pain thresholds) or who are jacked up on adrenaline or PCP.
The Legal Stuff
Before investing in any of the OC options below, be sure to check laws for your area. It might seem illogical for a naturally-occurring defensive option to be illegal. However, some local and state laws limit the size of the spray canister and the concentration of OC in the product.
Now, let’s take a look at our top six OC picks.
6 – Mace 3-in-1
When most people think of a defensive spray, the Mace name often comes to mind first. Mace has been in production since the 1960s, but the 3-in-1 OC spray is a new addition to the defensive sprays they offer.
The three components in this spray are OC, CN tear gas, and UV marking dye. The advantage of this product is that it doesn’t require a direct hit to the face or eyes to take effect.
What the OC doesn’t do on a near miss, the tear gas makes up for by affecting the attacker’s respiratory tract. Still, with one million Scoville units (the unit that measures heat in peppers. For reference, a jalapeno rings in at about 10,000 SU) blasting the poor soul in the face, it’s a sure bet that he’s hitting the ground in a hurry.
Like other sprays, the Mace brand has a UV dye that marks the attacker for later identification by police. Buyers can choose between the police, personal, or pocket option, depending on their needs. All come with a key chain option, and the police product also offers a belt/bag clip.
- Offers CN tear gas for near misses
- Three options to choose from depending on the needs of the user
- UV marking dye
- Tear gas is a fairly toxic compound, so the risk of blowback is real
- One million Scoville units is punchy, but not quite as intense as other products on the market
Zarc International has been in the pepper-spray production game for nearly four decades. As early pioneers of OC spray, you can bet they bring some serious heat in their products.
The Vexor line of products is extremely diverse in size and potency. However, the most user-friendly variety for EDC is the MK-3 line. The potency of this stuff is absolutely insane, clocking in at a ridiculous 15 million Scoville units. If Hell needs a personal protection spray, Vexor Ultra Magnum is it.
Zarc tends to tailor its products for law enforcement needs, but there are several civilian friendly options. The MK-3 line offers fog, cone, foam, and stream spray options. Given that the fog and cone tend to blow around in a breeze and the foam doesn’t impact the respiratory tract efficiently, we recommend the 1.8 oz Full Axis stream option as your go-to purchase.
The Vexor sprays can be purchased with quick-release key chains or belt holsters so you can easily access your spray without digging around in a purse or pocket for the canister.
- Insanely hot spray that stops attackers immediately
- The price tag won’t break the budget
- Healthy 4-year shelf life
- The Full Axis product can be fired from any angle, including upside down
- 20-foot range
- The spray might be a little TOO hot for local prosecutors, which could land the user in hot water
- No dye for perp identification
4 – Police Magnum
The Police Magnum OC spray is a slimmer and more compact variety from the experts at Zarc International. For people with smaller hands who want a spray that will pack a punch, this is the perfect go-to option.
Police Magnum OC comes in a .50 or .75 oz canister that hits with a 17% OC mix that stops an attacker instantly. The effective range of this compact canister is 10-12 feet, making it possible to keep bad guys and hostile animals at a healthy distance while you make a quick escape.
This spray also includes a dye, which makes it useful for identifying the attacker (assuming the police don’t show up sometime during the 30 minutes of hell he is experiencing after being sprayed).
- Slim, compact design with easy-to-use trigger
- Contains UV dye
- Can be purchased with key chain holsters for ease of access
- Less product means you’ll need good aim
- Fog and foam spray options are less effective than gel or stream
Fox Labs developed this product in 2007 and developed one of the purest OC options available on the market. Packed with a searing 3 million Scoville units, the super-pure Mean Green is sure to drop an attacker in mere seconds. The product comes in either 1.5 oz or 3 oz canisters.
As an added bonus, the purified OC is paired with a hard-to-wash green dye (Guess where the product got its name). When the spray is deployed, the color helps you aim for the attacker’s face and leaves a bright green stain on the hands and clothing. The green dye makes it easy for police to ID the attacker once you escape to a safe location.
- 3 million Scoville units will make the attacker’s face feel like it’s melting.
- Green dye aids in aiming the product and identifying the perp
- You get a canister filled with liquid hell.
- No key chain carriers or holsters. Those are extra.
- Mean Green is a bit pricey.
- Two-year shelf life means you’ll need to replace unused canisters often.
2 – Sabre 3-in-1
Sabre is the Big Kid on the OC playground. The products they offer are preferred by LEO and personal self-defenders all across the nation. Their 3-in-1 spray is similar to the Mace product but comes with a few additional perks that make it number two on our list.
The three components in this spray are the OC spray, tear gas, and UV marking dye. What we think makes the Sabre product just a bit better is the CS tear gas. CS tear gas packs 10 times the punch of its CN counterpart, only it is less toxic. When you’re trying to hurt the bad guy, it’s a good idea to reduce the potential harm to yourself. The good folks at Sabre took this into account in their 3-in-1 spray.
Buyers of Sabre 3-in-1 can also get the belt holster or belt clip to keep the product handy. Included with the product is access to free online training, which will give buyers an added confidence in using the spray.
- Large volume canister offers 35 bursts at 10-12 foot ranges
- Safer CS tear gas
- Holster included with purchase
- Free online training
- The canister is a bit bulky
- Will not ship to many areas around the country
Our Top Pick for the Best Pepper Spray
Sabre put out their major hitter with the Sabre Red Crossfire Stream spray. This product packs a massive punch against attackers while reducing the potential for debilitating blowback. The fiery mixture that emanates from the Red nozzle is 1.33% major capsaicinoids, the highest percentage of OC allowed in human sprays. This stuff hits with major effect and will leave most attackers blubbering at your feet for the better part of an hour.
The stream spray makes target acquisition much easier and reduces the likelihood of blowback in outdoor conditions. As opposed to Sabre’s gel sprays, the stream affects attackers much more quickly, making it easier for you to get to safety.
The stream has an effective range of 15-20 feet, so keeping a bad guy at bay is no problem. Further, the Crossfire stream can be fired from any angle, making it usable from standing, running, or defending from the ground.
The Crossfire MK-4 formula is the preferred OC spray of police and correctional officers all over the United States. If they trust their lives to it, you can too.
- Stream spray makes finding the target much easier
- High concentration of capsaicinoids for maximum punch
- Long range
- The belt holster is an added expense.
Pepper spray is only a tool. Unfortunately, it often gives people a false sense of security. It isn’t a magic talisman that keeps away evil. You need to know how to use it effectively, safely, and efficiently, so no matter which of these best pepper sprays you decide to carry, consider getting some training from a qualified self-defense instructor.
Do you have a favorite EDC self-defense spray? Has your pepper spray saved you from a violent encounter? Tell us all about it in the comments.
If you want more information on basic EDC (Everyday Carry) items for women, check out THIS ARTICLE.