women holding sabre pepper spray

Pepper Spray Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve collected and answered our frequently asked questions about pepper spray, so you can stay informed on the personal safety products you use to protect yourself and your family. Read on to learn more.

What is oleoresin capsicum (OC)?

Oleoresin capsicum (OC) is the oil taken from the placenta near the stem of a pepper. Although OC is the active ingredient used in most pepper sprays, the percentage of OC within the formulation does NOT indicate pepper spray strength. The OC percentage only measures the amount of red pepper contained in the pepper spray, not the pungency or effectiveness of the product.

What are capsaicin and capsaicinoids?

Oleoresin capsicum is comprised of several different capsaicinoids. There are five major capsaicinoids responsible for providing the pungency or hotness of a pepper. Capsaicin is the strongest or most important of the five. Therefore, it is the percentage of the total capsaicinoids, not the OC percentage that is most important.
Civilian and law enforcement pepper sprays range from 0.18% to 1.33% Major Capsaicinoids.
Bear Sprays range from 1.0% to 2.0% major capsaicinoids.

Which is better, CS or CN tear gas?

    “Super CS military tear gas” offers numerous advantages over CN tear gas. Because of these advantages, the US Department of Defense switched from using CN tear gas to CS in the late 1950s. CS offers the following advantages over CN.

  • CS takes effect quicker
  • CS is more potent, but less toxic
  • CS is extremely effective even in low concentrations
  • If blended formulations are more effective, why do many law enforcement agencies carry OC only products?

    Law enforcement officers have different objectives for carrying pepper sprays than do civilians. For civilians, besides hand to hand combat, pepper sprays are usually the first and only means of defense available. For this reason, it is absolutely imperative that civilians carry the most effective products possible. Ideally, the spray will completely incapacitate the attacker and allow the victim to escape and call the police. If the victim is able to contact local law enforcement, there is a good chance that the law enforcement officers will be able to apprehend the attacker. If not, a description and an ultraviolet dye will help link the attacker to the scene of the crime.
    Many law enforcement agencies carry pepper sprays which do not contain CS tear gas, which is used exclusively for crowd control.

    Are law enforcement pepper sprays significantly more potent than civilian products?

    There are significant differences in potency from one pepper spray to the next. However, civilians have access to pepper sprays with the same potency as carried by agencies using the strongest available formulations. Though many agencies carry either the SABRE or SABRE Red pepper sprays, there is not an agency in the United States that is carrying a blended formulation which is stronger than SABRE - or an OC-only formulation which is stronger than 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. SABRE 0.54 oz canisters fire approximately 25 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 recommened 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) and gel sprays typically spray 20% further than stream.

    What sort of testing has been done on your products?

      SABRE is committed to independent laboratory testing. Independent laboratories conduct the following tests:
    • Dermal irritation
    • Eye irritation
    • Capsaicinoid pungency (HPLC)
    • Flammability
    • Inhalation

    • SABRE performs additional tests which include crimp, weight, pressure, spray pattern, range, number of bursts and temperature tests. Security Equipment Corporation has also obtained the very prestigious ISO 9001:2008 Certification!
      Learn more about HPLC testing here.

      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.

      Four factors to consider when purchasing a pepper spray:

      1. Active ingredient
      We recommend that consumers carry our SABRE Advanced 3-In-1 formulation because of its unique blend of CS military tear gas, red pepper and UV dye. SABRE contains both the inflammatory effects of red pepper and the irritating effects of CS tear gas. SABRE Red is also extremely effective because it uses the highest concentration of major capsaicinoids and is the number one pepper spray formulation used by police worldwide!

      2. Canister content
      The canister you carry should contain as much product as possible to allow you to test fire your unit and stop multiple attackers if necessary. SABRE ’s smallest canisters, the pen and 0.54 oz. keyring units, contain multiple bursts, approximately 5x the competition.

      3. Shelf life
      The longer the product is effective, the more value it has for you the consumer. SABRE civilian products have a 4-year shelf life!

      4. Safety mechanism
      An easy to use safety is a must to prevent accidental discharge from occurring. Almost every SABRE pepper spray contains a safety which can be unlocked and fired with one hand, in one fluid motion. Watch our How to Use Pepper Spray in Four Easy Steps video to learn more.

      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, and WI. We suggest that you familiarize yourself with your local laws. You can learn more about pepper spray state laws here. If you have a question, you should contact your local SABRE retailer or 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. Self-defense sprays containing more than 2% by mass of tear gas (CS or CN) are prohibited. See FAA regulations. Shop SABRE's on the go section - all products under 4 fluid ounces are FAA compliant. However, certain airlines may have their own restrictions, check with your carrier before your flight. Important note: International aviation regulations (ICAO/IATA) prohibit self-defense sprays in both carry-on and checked luggage.

      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.

      You can't ship pepper spray to me. Where can I buy it?

      See our retail locations in states with shipping restrictions. States with restrictions include CA, FL, HI, MA, MI, NJ, NY, and WI.

      Can I use pepper spray on animals such as dogs?

      Only products approved for use on dogs by the United States EPA or Health Canada can be used on dogs. SABRE Red Protector Dog Spray contains the maximum potency allowed by the EPA. SABRE Dog Spray contains the maximum potency allowed by Health Canada. You are allowed to carry the SABRE Dog Deterrent Sprays in Canada, but it is only legal to use on aggressive dogs and coyotes; it is not legal to be used on another human being.

      Take your knowledge to the next level, Pepper Spray and Dogs: 4 Things You Need to Know.

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Learn More

Have more questions about pepper spray? Check out our How to Choose a Pepper Spray video and the other resources to take your pepper spray knowledge to the next level.

Check out our YOU ASKED Video Series, where we answer our frequently asked questions about pepper spray.

Have a question that wasn't covered here? Email info@sabrered.com.