If every product boasts to be the #1 choice or the “best rated,” how can you be sure what pepper spray actually works? We put five different products to the test. To my surprise, no one in the WKRG newsroom volunteered to let me spray them to test formula effectiveness, so I resorted to using a cardboard target to find out how far each spray reached and how long they last.
Purse Defense Spray: Mace Brand Pepper Spray
Price: $9.99 (at Academy)
Move over James Bond, this covert pepper spray looks identical to a woman’s tube of lipstick. The sleek, hot pink container slips easily in your purse or pocket without putting a damper on your stylish outfit, but as the phrase goes, “looks aren’t everything.”
The package claims the tube contains 17 grams of formula with the ability to spray up to 5 short bursts from almost 10 feet away. Whoever wrote those claims may have embellished slightly or practiced inside a windless room.
When we put the Purse Defense Spray to our test, we had to stand closer to five feet from the target just to produce a delicate mist that barely graced the cardboard target we set up in the WKRG parking lot. (not very intimidating if you ask me)
The Purse Defense Spray sputtered out of spray in less than 7 seconds. You better be prepared to sprint away at Olympic speeds, since you have to stand less than 5 feet away from your attacker to make an effective impact.
Aside from the less than threatening delivery, the Purse Defense Spray tube has a swivel top which repeatedly fell off and proved difficult to point in the desired direction.
If you’re a woman who wants style over the safety, then the Purse Defense Spray is for you. If not, you might want to keep looking.
Pink Key Case Pepper Spray: Red Sabre
$9.99 (at Target)
Apparently this is the #1 Pepper Spray sold worldwide, according to the website. Who wouldn’t want their attacker to know they support the National Breast Cancer Foundation while spraying them in the eyes? Plus, you can hook it on your car keys right next to your five grocery store reward cards. As for effectiveness, I’m not sold on it.
Just like the purse spray, the Key Case Pepper Spray should be able to work from up to 10 feet away. It has a slightly bigger canister so the package boasts it can squirt 25 short bursts before running out of its formula.
I don’t know about you, but if there is a “bad guy” threatening me, my heart is going to be pumping too fast for me to stay calm enough to hit the button up and down 25 times. I’m going to push that sucker down as hard as I can and leave it there until my thumb falls off. (So, that’s exactly what we did for our test)
At 10 feet away, the Key Case Pepper Spray barely hits the target. When we scooted up to the five feet mark, the spray produced a much wider mark on the target. The problem was the spray didn’t have much force behind it, and the container was empty in less than nine seconds.
Again, I hope you hit the gym regularly because the Key Case Pepper Spray doesn’t give you much time to get away.
Pepper Gun: Mace Brand Pepper Spray
$49.99 (Dick’s Sporting Goods Online)
Is the Pepper Gun as intimating as it looks? We think so.
The good news: it looks like a gun. The bad news: It looks like a gun.
The Pepper Gun isn’t convenient to carry unless you want to buy the holster to go with it ($19.99), at which point you might as well carry a real gun.
But, it sure packs a punch!
The Pepper Gun is designed to deliver a constant stream of pepper spray at any angle from up to 20 feet away from your attacker while disorienting them with a strobe light activated with the trigger.
It has the same problem as the first two pepper sprays. The advertised distance isn’t realistically accurate. We scooted up to about 10 feet and let her rip!
The spray effectively coated our cardboard target, and unfortunately for me, the leftover formula floating in the breeze affected our news director (AKA the
He said his eyes burned, and his skin turned a bright shade of red.
We never intended to test out the effectiveness of each formula (since surprisingly no one volunteered to let me spray them), but the Pepper Gun was the only spray to put our news director out of commission for a few hours (and he didn’t even receive a direct hit). It’s safe to say, the concoction inside the Pepper Gun will get the job done.
Ultra Pepper Spray: Ruger
$18.99 ( Wal-Mart)
The Ruger Ultra Pepper Spray is “ultra” complicated to use because it breaks apart into two nearly identical pieces. One-half is a shrill 125-decibel alarm to quickly draw attention to your situation.
The other contains the actual pepper spray. If you drop the wrong one, you’re out of luck.
Don’t expect to buy the Ultra Pepper Spray and instantly be ready to use it. This was the only spray that we had to read the directions multiple times to figure out what tabs to pull out and how to open it. Even after we got a grasp on it, it’s difficult to tell which side is the spray and which is the alarm when you’re in a hurry.
The Ultra Pepper Spray quickly shoots out a formula to hit our target from 10 feet away, even though it boasts it should be able to shoot from 15 feet away. (We’re quickly learning to take those claims very loosely when it comes to pepper sprays).
As far as small compact sprays go, we found this one more effective than the Purse Defense Spray and the Key Case Spray if you’re talking about distance and power.
Pepper Blaster II: Kimber
$44.99 (Bass Pro Shop)
Putting your attacker on “blast” proves true with this self-defense tool. The PepperBlaster II is designed to operate like a gun to deliver two short bursts of pepper gel out of an over/under barrel at a high-speed (exactly 90 MPH according to the Kimber website)
The website advertises the PepperBlaster II can work from up to 13 feet away. We considered our luck with the other tools, so we conducted our test at the 8-foot mark.
After pushing the white plastic safety tab out-of-the-way, I pulled the trigger and the PepperBlaster II immediately shot out a glob of red gel that coated a large portion of our cardboard target in a split second.
Unlike the pepper sprays we tested, the PepperBlaster II didn’t have the blow-back that could affect the person firing it (or the boss who’s watching from the sidewalk).
Another aspect that sets it apart, the PepperBlaster II is not a pressurized container so you don’t have to worry about it leaking or losing pressure with age.
After trying out 5 different products, we determined if you want to take the cheap route, you’re going to pay the price when you really need it. It’s better to spend the money on a quality product and test it out for yourself before depending on it for protection. Nearly all of the products we tested offer water testers for you to practice with. After finishing the story, I bought a pepper blaster for myself.
Several of our viewers called the newsroom to suggest using wasp spray as an alternative to pepper spray. The claims are that wasp spray can shoot much further and can temporarily blind an attacker until they visit a doctor for an anecdote. Ctritics have three problems with this method:
- It’s unpredictable: Since wasp sprays are not designed to be used directly on human beings, some critics argue that you shouldn’t depend on wasp spray as a defensive measure because they haven’t been tested for that purpose. Wasp spray contains a chemical called Pyrethrin that could potentially be much more harmful OR much less effective than you expect.
- It’s illegal: Technically the canisters contain a warning label that says, “it is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.”
- It’s hard to conceal: Think about it. How annoying would it be to carry a giant canister of wasp spray in your purse? Not to mention, you have to deal with the little straw falling off if it bumps something.