Pepper spray is often viewed as the little sister of the self-defense weapons family. We couldn’t disagree more! Pepper spray has its’ advantages and disadvantages in different self-defense scenarios and it’s important to understand these so that you can maximize your self-defense abilities. Here’s a list of the major pros and cons you should consider when choosing pepper spray as your personal safety option.
Pros of Pepper Spray
👍 Advantage of Distance.
The biggest advantage that pepper spray has over other non-lethal self-defense options is that you don’t have to be in physical contact with your attacker to begin defending yourself. Every inch that you can put between you and your attacker works to your advantage. Most key chain pepper sprays have a distance between 6-10 feet, depending on the model. The PepperBall LifeLite even shoots a pepper ball projectile 60 feet!
👍 Convenient and Lightweight.
Comfort and convenience are important criteria in your choice of a self-protection product because if it’s heavy or takes up a lot of purse space, you will be less likely to carry it with you at all times. Pepper sprays for concealed carry are lightweight, easy to carry and come in all kinds of discreet shapes and sizes. The pepper spray bracelet goes on your wrist, just like a watch, and keeps your hands free while allowing you to always have personal defense available right on your wrist. There are literally hundreds of different pepper spray/mace models available to fit anyone’s lifestyle.
👍 Extremely Effective
Pepper spray is designed to irritate the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat. The reaction is violent and involuntary. Your attacker can’t stop their body from reacting and this effect can last up to 45 minutes. The effects of pepper spray are a very powerful advantage to create your window of escape to safety.
👍 Legal in all 50 states.
The legal restrictions on pepper spray are less than other forms of self-defense. Pepper spray is legal in all 50 states, but may be regulated by individual jurisdictions. Some states only allow up to a maximum % of pepper concentration. Others allow you to own it, but it cannot be purchased online or from an outside supplier. Always check your local regs.
Cons of Pepper Spray
👎 Weather conditions affect accuracy and range.
Pepper spray is not a good self-defense option on windy days or in rainy weather. The wind will not only decrease the accuracy and distance of your pepper spray, but may also blow the spray back into your own face and cause you to experience its’ incapacitating effects. Rain will drastically decrease the range and accuracy of your spray.
👎 Pepper spray expires.
Pepper spray will never lose its’ “pepper power” or potency, but it will lose its’ ability to project the spray any distance. The components of pepper spray are in a pressurized vacuum which forces the spray out the nozzle. This pressure naturally decreases over time and affects the accuracy and distance of your mace. Various manufacturers’ claims for expiration dates range between 12-36 months, but we recommend replacing your pepper spray every 12 months to ensure your self-defense protection is operating at optimal performance when you need it.
👎 Must make specific contact.
Pepper spray must make contact with an attacker’s eyes, nose or throat tissue in order to work. In other words, if you spray someone’s arm with pepper spray, they will not have a reaction to the product (unless some of the fumes happen to drift into their face). This is a major disadvantage. But does it outweigh the advantage of distance? As you practice you will get comfortable with the accuracy of your pepper spray when an attacker is in front of you and feel confident that you can hit your target.
👎 Useless if attacked or grabbed from behind.
Because pepper spray must make contact with the eyes, nose or throat it is relatively useless if you are attacked from behind. One option in an emergency is to spray the pepper spray onto your hands (if they are free) and then try to rub your hands in your attacker’s face. A stun gun is much more effective for such an attack.
👎 Can be used against you by an attacker.
The majority of stun guns have a safety feature called a disable pin wrist strap. The proper way to hold a stun gun is with the wrist strap around your wrist. If an attacker were to grab the stun gun from your hand, the pin would disable the unit and it could not be used against you by the attacker. At the current time, there are no pepper spray models on the market with this safety feature. You need to be prepared and aware that this is a very possible scenario when you choose pepper spray as your self-defense choice.
If you’ve read our article on the pros and cons of stun guns, you know that pepper spray/mace and stun guns both play important roles in self-defense depending on the conditions of the attack. For example, pepper spray would be the preferred self-defense option when someone is rapidly approaching from the front and you can begin spraying them from a safe distance. The attacker would have to be close enough for you to touch them with a stun gun. The flip side of this is that pepper spray is not beneficial if you are grabbed from behind, but a stun gun is. Pepper spray is not effective in rainy or windy conditions, but a stun gun would be fully operational in these conditions. Currently, the Olympian is the only self-defense weapon on the market that carries a stun gun, pepper spray and a flashlight all in one convenient handheld unit.
It’s always wise to have more than one self-defense option at your disposal. Knowing when to use each to maximize your advantages is equally important. Defense Divas® offer an extensive educational resource on personal self-defense training and safety awareness.
We also carry a huge selection of self-defense products for women including Bulletproof Clothing & Accessories, Stun Guns, Tasers, Pepper Sprays, Concealed Carry Purses, and Campus Safety products.
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