Armed Defense

How To Use Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is a very common self-defense tool among women, chances are you have it, are thinking about getting some or know someone who carries it. This article will go over the actual spraying of pepper spray and what to practice.

Different Shapes and Sizes

The pepper spray canisters can come in a number of forms, in this article we will focus on the more general device (seen in the image to the right).  There are also different substances that come in the pepper spray canister. My article Pepper Spray- Is It For Me? touches on this if you are interested in learning more.

Another thing to note is not to get caught up in the frills, gizmos, and attachments. You want to purchase a pepper spray that is easy for you to use and has the stopping power necessary to help you get away if a situation arises.

Black SABRE RED Maximum Strength Pepper Spray

In theory, it appears that pepper spray is easy to use if faced with the need to use it. Simply point it in the direction of your attacker and press the button down right? If you are under this impression, read all of the below and commit to practice with it. Let’s outline what you should be practicing and why.

You Can Train With a Pepper Spray Trainer

The first thing I want to note, which many people are not aware of, is the existence of a pepper spray trainer. Pepper spray trainers are used for training with pepper spray.

The substance in this canister is inert and will not harm you when using. It allows you to actually depress the button and spray- real practice. This will let you practice your aim, get a feel for it, and help you practice getting on target.

Understand How To Use Your Pepper Spray

It’s imperative to read your instructions on the specific kind of unit you have. There are so many different variations out there, that each will have unique features and mode of operation. I recommend finding a product that either provides a trainer with the pepper spray or at a minimum, has a trainer available.

Most pepper sprays come with a lock that must be disengaged before you are able to actually spray. This should be something you practice, disengaging the safety and preparing your aim to fire. This motion should be practiced over and over again until it feels like second nature. You do not need to spray your canister each time you “draw” but this should be part of your practice time. This should be done with the trainer spray to avoid any accidental sprays. You also should do it in an area away from people in case you do spray the trainer.

The Pepper Spray we carry has a safety that you rotate with your thumb to disengage.

Propper Position

You will want to practice accessing your pepper spray and getting the proper grip. Number one, you need to make sure it is in the proper forward-facing position. You want it aimed away from you not accidentally towards you. You also need to ensure that you have it in a comfortable area of your grip where your thumb can depress the button firmly and repeatedly if needed.

The pepper spray we carry has finger grips molded into the unit. This not only allows for a good grip but it helps you get it in the right forward aiming position.

Aim and Distance When Using Pepper Spray

Practice your aim. When using the trainer you will have a few times you can depress your canister and practice your aim. This is so useful. If you have never sprayed pepper spray, you will want to become familiar with how the stream is ejected. You will want to get used to the distance you can achieve with pepper spray.

The distance you can achieve is as important as your aim. You need to know how close a target must be in order to hit it. This means two things; you need to practice your depth perception, and you need to know how far your spray will go. The pepper spray canisters have about a 10-foot reach (this is model specific so make sure you know yours). Set your target at this distance, see if you can reach it with accuracy. If you can’t what distance can you do so? Then practice getting further if needed.

The object is to give you as much space as you can between you and the threat. You need to be able to incapacitate them and retreat to a safe place. You should be able to gauge their distance, aim, and spray them around the eyes. Then have the time to get away in a matter of seconds. Hesitation will just cost you precious time.


When you are around the house, as you walk by objects guess their distance. This is a good exercise to help improve your depth perception.

Where should you aim? When using pepper spray you want to aim for the eyes and spray sideways, back and forth from ear to ear. This is the ideal target location.

Another area to practice is getting your thumb in the right position on the canister as to not accidentally spray your thumb and cause a mist.

The pepper spray we carry also has a top guard that won’t allow you to have your thumb too far forward and accidentally cover the canister discharge hole.

To Conclude

So as you can see, there are quite a few things that you will want to practice if you already carry pepper spray or wish to start. You want to be at a point where the motions are second nature and you do not need to overly think about what you are doing to prepare to use it. It is also important to practice your skills ever so often. Maybe try practicing once or twice a year, it should not be viewed as a one-and-done kind of skill.

Common FAQ’s

I have complied a few FAQ’s on pepper spray that comes from the top pepper spray company, and the only one we trust SABRE RED.

For how long do most units fire?

SABRE canisters fire up to 5x longer than the industry average. For example, the average 0.54 oz. keychain canister fires for approximately 5 quick bursts.  A 0.54 oz. (15 gram) canister is the most popular size carried among civilians.

How long will most products last?

All aerosol products will eventually lose pressure over time. Most pepper sprays last for only two years from their manufacture date. Because all SABRE products use only the best available components and formulation ingredients, all SABRE civilian products have a 4-year shelf life!

Can I reuse the canister after I’ve sprayed someone?

If you have used the canister (outside of quick testing) we always recommend to replace the canister. You always want the canister to be as full as possible in the time of need especially if confronted by multiple threats at one time. You can use the previously used canister for training and then dispose of it properly.

How far do most products fire?

Depending upon the wind, most pepper sprays using a stream spray pattern fire 8 to 12 feet (3 to 4 meters). Pepper sprays using a cone/mist spray fire from 6 to 12 feet (2 to 4 meters). Cone delivery products deploy approximately 10 feet (3 meters).

How long should I fire the can at the attacker?

It is recommended that the canister be fired until the attacker is incapacitated. Once the attacker is stopped, escape immediately and call the police. If the canister is used, it is recommended that the unit be replaced.

Are there any restrictions governing the use and sale of pepper sprays?

Though legal in all 50 States, some areas have specific regulations pertaining to the purchase, possession and use of pepper sprays. Many states, including the following, have varying restrictions: CA, FL, HI, MA, MI, NJ, NY & WI. We suggest that you familiarize yourself with your local laws. If you have a question, you should contact your local police department. Pepper sprays are meant for defensive purposes only and can only be sold to or used by persons 18 years of age or older.

Can I use my SABRE pepper spray after the indicated expiration date?

Like any pressurized aerosol device, over time the unit may not spray as far as expected, if at all. We recommend replacing your spray at the expiration date shown on your pepper spray. The manufacturer cannot be held responsible if the spray has exceeded its expiration date or if the expiration date is no longer visible.

At what temperature should I store my SABRE pepper spray?

Do not leave your SABRE pepper spray in any area that may exceed 120° F (48.88° C) or drop below 32° F (0° C). Excessive heat or cold may cause the can to leak or burst. Do not store your SABRE pepper spray in your car.

Can I bring my SABRE pepper spray on an airplane?

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, 49 CFR Part 175.10, Exceptions for passengers, crewmembers, and air operators, (9) One self-defense spray (see §171.8 of this subchapter), not exceeding 118 mL (4 fluid ounces) by volume, that incorporates a positive means to prevent accidental discharge may be carried in checked baggage only. All products under 4 fluid ounces are FAA compliant. However, certain airlines may have their own restrictions; check with your carrier before your flight.

What do I do when my SABRE pepper spray expires or is empty?

Your SABRE pepper spray does contain chemicals and should be disposed of in accordance with all local, state and federal regulations.

2 thoughts on “How To Use Pepper Spray

  1. Susan says:

    Curious if this would be a good defense for a stray dog approaching me and my dog on a walk.

    1. Carrie Lightfoot says:

      Hi Susan,
      This could be a good defense against animals, you just want to make sure you get the right kind of pepper spray. There are certain sprays that are approved for use on dogs, even bears.

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