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How To Differentiate Pepper Sprays

pepper spray

In today’s article we are going to discuss and explain the different types of pepper spray so you can be better informed about it. There are many different ways to differentiate them, as you will see, and they all pretty much do the same thing. But choosing the right one for you is extremely important. First we start off with some background information.

You already know that pepper spray is the most popular and widely used self-defense product in the world. It is legal in all 50 United States and in many countries around the world whereas other self-defense products are mostly illegal in other countries.

This informative website gives us a Pepper Spray History which “reveals that red chili pepper was being used for self-defense in ancient India and China (thousands of years ago). In ancient India, it was not as popular as it was in China. Chinese people and even warriors had their own innovative method of using this spice; and it included wrapping grounded cayenne in rice papers so that they could throw it at the faces of their enemies, opponents, or intruders.”

What you may not know and that same website tells us is that pepper spray was actually “introduced not by the lawmakers but by the U.S. Postal Service in the 1980’s. The F.B.I. was able to endorse it as an official chemical agent only in 1987 and it took another 4 years before it could be legally accepted by the law enforcement agency.”

So basically modern-day pepper spray is less than 30 years old. The online encyclopedia explains the definition of pepper spray “also known as OC spray (from “oleoresin capsicum”), OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent (a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness) used in policing, riot control, crowd control, and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears. Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision.”

There are several ways that you can differentiate pepper sprays.

In our article called Pepper Spray-Everything You Need To Know we point out the several disbursement methods.

The first is disbursement methods:

  • “Stream-the most common where a narrow stream of liquid is expelled which concentrates the solution on the area being sprayed.
  • Mist-this allows for a larger area to be covered and makes it easier to hit the target’s face. This is the type of disbursement method used in bear sprays.
  • Foggers-similar to mist but covers a wider area.
  • Gel-a concentrated stream that holds up better in windy conditions and has a longer range.”

Then the type of container. There are four types of containers for pepper sprays.

  • The most common is the canister which can hold anywhere from ½ ounce for a normal consumer pepper spray up to a 9 ounce canister for bear spray and even a 16 ounce behemoth fogger used by law enforcement.
  • Then comes the pepper gun which can use replaceable canisters (Mace) or
    hot pepper balls that explode on impact for use with the PepperBall® Launchers.
  • And finally there are throwing grenades that are hand held throwing units with a lock on continuous discharge top that spins in a 360-degree disbursement circle.

Are They Disguised?

Another common way to differentiate pepper sprays is whether they are disguised or not. A disguised pepper spray can look like a lipstick container, perfume dispenser, a pen or even a small baton. A disguised pepper spray can give you the element of surprise in an attack and level the playing field against an assailant.


Color is another way to differentiate pepper sprays. Most of them are black. Since most users of pepper sprays are women, pink has become an option offered by all major manufacturers.

How Is It Used?

Another possible way to differentiate pepper sprays is with their use. Civilians use pepper spray for self-defense. Almost all police officers carry pepper spray for use on their utility belts in their continuum of force-that is using the least amount of force required to get suspect compliance. But they have another use in law enforcement - Pepper Spray For Crowd Control. it has become the crowd-control measure of choice by police departments across the land ever since the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York and the boisterous protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

Pepper sprays are widely used as bear and dog repellents.

According to this PDF document from the Federal Wildlife Service, Bear Spray “since 1992, persons encountering grizzlies and defending themselves with firearms suffer injury about 50% of the time. During the same period, persons defending themselves with pepper spray escaped injury most of the time, and those that were injured experienced shorter duration attacks and less severe injuries.”

In our story called the Guide To Bear Attack Prevention we quote a study done by Dr. Tom Smith who is an associate professor and wildlife research biologist at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. His undergraduate degree is in Zoology and his Master’s degree from the University of Alaska is in Wildlife Management. His doctorate is in Wildlife Ecology. For the last 15 years he has focused on bear conservation and conflict management. He know a thing or three about bears.

Dr. Smith did a highly regarded study of bear deterrents and found that “in 92% of the cases in the study covering incidents from 1985 to 2006 the bear aggression was stopped using bear pepper spray. Firearms on the other hand are only 76% effective.”

So it’s one thing to know you want to get pepper spray. Before you buy one do some homework and figure out what type of defensive spray will be best for you. Not all pepper sprays are created equally.

We have around 200 OC Pepper Sprays to choose from on our online store from all of the major manufacturers.

bear spray

They include the biggest selection of dog repellent and bear spray anywhere.

Feedback on these posts is appreciated. Please share your experience. We want to hear your thoughts.

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