Don’t Buy Pepper Spray Until You Read THIS!

03 28 2021

Before you buy a car, you test drive it. Before you buy a new bed, you try one out. And with the Internet - you can read review after review on whatever product you're thinking of buying.


The right pepper spray could be used to save your life, and SABRE recommends that you do your research before making the purchase. But the terminology often used to describe why a certain pepper spray is the most effective can be hard to understand.

This blog, along with our pepper spray strength chart, will help you make a better, more informed choice.

Did you know that Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) percentage and Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) are NOT appropriate heat indicators for pepper spray? Some pepper spray brands highlight these measurements to get consumers to buy their products.

SABRE is here to explain the true meaning of OC percentage and SHUs.

OC percentage

The OC percentage only measures the amount of pepper in the formulation; it does not measure the heat-bearing component or strength of the formulation.

By listing a higher OC percentage, some brands hope you will believe these high numbers will mean their sprays are more effective.

Brands claim they contain anywhere from 2% to 20% (OC). Some brands outright misrepresent their OC percentage; it is highly unlikely that any pepper spray designed for protection against a human attacker contains more than 10% OC (pepper).

Scoville Heat Units (SHUs)

Another popular claim is that Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) determine pepper spray strength. There are two problems with this claim.

1.) Some brands advertise the SHUs of the raw pepper rather than the SHUs of their pepper spray formulation.

For example, if a brand advertises SHUs of 5,300,000 (raw pepper rather than pepper spray formulation) and has an OC concentration of 2%, the actual SHUs of the pepper spray formulation is only 106,000 SHUs.

2.) SHUs are based on a taste test and are highly subjective. What's hot to one person could be rather mild to the next.

How are brands getting away with this?

The only government-regulated portion of the pepper spray industry is animal attack deterrent sprays, which are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Canada.

This gives pepper spray manufacturers the opportunity to make unchecked and exaggerated claims with regards to the heat and implied effectiveness of their sprays.

What is the real indicator of heat?

I'm glad you asked!

Major Capsaicinoids (MC) are the true indicator of pepper spray strength! MC does not measure the amount of OC within the formulation. Instead, MC is the heat bearing and pain producing components of the OC. MC identifies the exact heat of the liquid deployed from your canister.

The only way pepper spray manufacturers can guarantee their MC content is through High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) laboratory testing

The University of Utah discovered that pepper sprays fail 30% of the time if not backed by HPLC testing.

Peppers are grown naturally, so their strength is determined by ever changing climatic factors such as sunlight, precipitation, soil nutrients, etc. HPLC testing is the only way to guarantee that Major Capsaicinoids remains consistent from batch to batch.

See our pepper spray strength chart below to learn how SABRE Red compares to other sprays.

SABRE Pepper Spray Products

We carry a wide range of highly effective pepper sprays and pepper gels, available in different configurations, for joggers to law enforcement officers. From our SABRE Red Tactical Pepper Gel with flip top and belt holster, which provides maximum stopping power and a greater range, to our discreet yet equally powerful key ring, lipstick and pen pepper sprays, you'll find the right product for your usage and lifestyle.

SABRE is the #1 most trusted and widely used safety brand by police departments worldwide! SABRE Security Equipment Corporation is the ONLY manufacturer which operates an in-house HPLC Laboratory to ensure capsaicinoid consistency in all of our SABRE SABRE Red and FRONTIERSMAN Products. Help protect yourself, your family or a loved one with a spray backed by the industry's latest technology. Be Smart. Be Ready. Be Safe!

-The SABRE Team