How to Use Your Pepper Gel

One of the most important elements of your safety plan is being comfortable with the safety tool(s) you’ve chosen. Pepper gel is easy to use and convenient to carry with you on-the-go. Here you’ll find information for how best to use your pepper gel.

Ready to maximize your safety? Check out our inert water sprays to help you build muscle memory with your pepper gel.

practice sprays

How to Hold Pepper Gel

Pepper gel should always be deployed using your thumb, rather than forefinger/index finger. The thumb is stronger than the forefinger and a thumb grip leaves more fingers around the body of the pepper spray, making it more difficult to take away. And, in the event of up-close or hand-to-hand contact, this grip reinforces your fist without changing your hold enabling you to strike if need be. This grip will also increase your accuracy making it easier to reach the target.

Practice your grip: start by wrapping the forefinger of your dominant hand around the pepper spray body, just below the nozzle. Then wrap the remaining three fingers around the body and set your thumb on the actuator.

How to Spray

All SABRE pepper gels have a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. Safely release the safety mechanism to deploy the product.

For flip tops, slip your thumb under the flip top safety and press down to deploy.

For twist locks, slide the actuator to the right and press the actuator down to deploy.

Spray Technique: Ear to ear, across the eyes

Aim pepper gel directly at the eyes and spray side-to-side, across the eyes. Pepper gel has a burnt orange color that allows you to see where the gel has landed and pepper gels contain up to 25 bursts per canister, so if you don’t hit the target the first time, you can spray again.

SABRE offers free practice targets to practice deploying your pepper gel.

Remember: Spray and Away

Once you hit the target’s eyes with pepper gel, you want to get away as fast as possible. As you run to safety, keep your spray with you, do not drop it in your haste.

You’ll want to memorize the phrase “spray and away” and practice the motion just as you practice holding and deploying your pepper gel. With eye contact, the gel will temporarily take away the threat’s vision, but it doesn’t stop their legs from moving. So, spray the target, side-step, and run to escape to safety.

Additional safety tips

  • Pepper gel is only useful to you if you have it with you. Put it on your keychain, in your purse, or next to your door so you grab it on your way out.
  • If you feel unsafe, take your pepper gel out and carry it in your hand so you’re prepared. If not in your hand, it must be immediately accessible, not at the bottom of a purse, bag, or pocket.
  • Sign up for a civilian safety awareness course to learn techniques from SABRE's certified personal safety trainers: Find an Instructor
  • Check out our additional training videos: Safety Training Page

What is pepper gel? Watch the video to learn more.