I’ve been a longtime proponent of men and women to having immediate access at all times to pepper spray, but up until this point I’ve devoted little effort into researching the spray’s various forms, containers, chemical components and manufacturers. During the recent SHOT Show in Las Vegas, I was having lunch with some friends and fellow writers, which included Dan Kidder, chief instructor and CEO of On Target Defense Training. While talking about concealed carry and other self-defense options, one of us mentioned pepper spray and Dan began to share his expertise. I quickly realized that there were many important contributing factors to the various formulations and containers. Dan was very knowledgeable in all aspects of the products; he had personally experienced it several times in his training. We decided to take a quick trip down to the Sabre booth, home of what he considers the best of the best in defensive spray, Sabre Red. As the Sabre slogan states, it’s been “making grown men cry since 1975.”
When we arrived at the Sabre booth, owner David Nance was willing to take a moment to go over how his products were designed with personal safety in mind, and the reasons they should be included as an option of self-defense for everyone. Just as all guns are not the same, all defensive sprays are not the same, and it truly makes a difference.
Here I am with Sabre owner David Nance and Dan Kidder of On Target Defense Training shortly after we shot a casual video reviewing Sabre’s products and processes at the company’s NSSF SHOT Show booth in Las Vegas.
After returning home, I obtained some of the Sabre products for some hands-on time, many with practice containers or cylinders. I also reached out to my good friend Lynne Finch of Female and Armed. Not only is she the author of several books focused on women self-defense and firearms and an NRA-certified instructor, but she’s also a certified instructor for the Sabre Red Civilian Safety Awareness Program (CSAP), a course taught at locations throughout the nation. With feedback from these experts, and adding my 2 cents, I chose a few questions that the average consumer might ask. Hopefully their answers will help you decide which defensive spray or gel containers to get for your loved one or yourself.
1. What are the differences between pepper spray and pepper gel? Pros and cons?
Pepper sprays will cover a wider area of your target, making it easier to get it into the eyes of the attacker. Depending on wind speed and direction, the lightweight mist may require you to be closer to reach the target effectively. There is also a chance the mist could blow back into your face. Practice (including proper preparation with practice canisters) can help prevent your exposure. Be sure to use your shirt, jacket, hand, etc., to cover your face when you spray. After the attacker has been hit, ideally you should immediately run for safety and away from the affected area.
Pepper gels offer a more targeted, concentrated application. It doesn’t atomize, so it only affects what it comes into contact with, making it safer to use indoors and in confined areas—but also may make it harder for to you to hit the target (the eyes of the attacker). Gel sprays 20 percent farther than traditional atomized canisters. The small keychain version sprays up to 12 feet with little effect from the wind.
2. What are the ingredients’ potency levels?
Pepper sprays are made from a natural source: chili peppers. Testing each batch is very important. The harvesting, processing, testing and maintaining of overall excellent quality control is the only way to assure high potency and effectiveness. This is where different potencies of pepper spray can come into play. Remarkably, some people have been known to build an immunity to certain formulations. Sabre Red uses a combination of ingredients that has proven effective against people who do not respond to ordinary pepper spray. It has been tested and works on every person every time.
The original Sabre product was comprised of pepper spray, CS military tear gas and UV marking dye. It is now called the 3-in-1 and touts “maximum stopping power unmatched by any single ingredient defense spray.” With some states and territories placing restrictions on ingredients of defensive sprays, Sabre formulated another combination that left out the CS military tear gas. These products are now referred to as Sabre Red, and are legal to possess in all states; they’re proven to be more effective with higher OC (irritating agent oleoresin capsicum) levels. The original mace/tear gas formula was replaced with pepper spray after it was recorded not to be as effective alone.
Different brands can contain a useful UV dye that can help identify an attacker after he’s left the scene. All Sabre Red products for human application contain the UV Dye. Sabre also sells products for animals that do not contain the dye.
The Sabre Pen, easily concealed in open view, contains the maximum 3-in-1 formulation (pepper spray, UV dye and CS military tear gas).
3. What canister is the best for individuals, such as runners, cyclists, hikers and hunters, or for use while shopping, at home or in the office?
A small canister on your keychain is a good option. It’s close and accessible when you are shopping or walking to and from your vehicle. Choose a compact and convenient canister that has a quick ring/clip to attach to your keyring. Most brands have a very limited choice, but Sabre Red offers several designs to choose from, some of which are refillable.
Larger canisters can be velcroed under your kitchen sink, outside your shower, near your bed or desk, each entry into your home, on your patio or just about anywhere, as long as the container is not exposed to extreme temperatures. In the perfect world you would have as many containers as you can afford, always placing them safely out of the reach of small children. The containers can explode in extreme temperatures, so Sabre advises not to leave them in your automobile.
After doing some test sprays from different containers, one of my favorites for my key ring was this Spitfire. It’s small, fits into my hand easily, and although the trigger is easy to press, I found it difficult to accidentally deploy the spray, even with repeated attempts. The best thing about this unit? There are inert practice containers available, and you can purchase refills!
4. How much do the canisters contain, and do they expire?
The average keychain canister only contains 2 seconds of application. (This means most of my current keychain defensive spray canisters are of very little use, and possibly empty as I have tested them before.) Look for specifics on the packaging to determine how much bang you will get for your buck. A Sabre Red keychain model contains 5 times more applications than the average brand’s same size container. It contains approximately 10 one-second bursts/25 shots, which is great for multiple uses, or God forbid, multiple attackers. Video of Testing Sprays
All aerosol products lose pressure over time. The shelf life for the average pepper spray is 2 years from manufacture date. Since Sabre uses only top-quality products combined with the best available components and formulation ingredients, all Sabre civilian products have a 4-year shelf life.
5. What are the laws concerning the use of defensive sprays and age limits?
It is important to verify the local laws for your state, county and city. Although most products are legal to possess for ages 18 and older, some states restrict shipping. The Sabre Red website lists them, and will help you locate a local dealer of Sabre and other defensive sprays there. Some states have laws and regulations in place to deter use of defensive sprays unless absolutely necessary. Law enforcement must always respond to complaints of people harming anyone in any way, and defensive spray is considered harmful, even if temporary.
6. What are the short-term and long-term effects of spray for a human?
All effects of defensive spray are temporary. Although non-lethal, pepper spray will cause extreme pain when applied properly and bring the biggest and strongest monster to its knees. Flushing the eyes with water, and washing the skin with soap and water will usually relieve symptoms to a bearable level within 20 minutes; eventually the symptoms will wear off completely.
The above questions and answers just skim the surface of the detailed and extensive information you can discover about products online and from attending a self-defense class. To assure effectiveness with any product, become familiar with the action, and put your hands on it as often as possible. Sabre offers access to training videos with each purchase, and it also has extensive information on its website, with credible statistics, FAQs, and a list of nationwide dealers, classes and experts in the field.
Practicing with the pepper deterrent container of your choice can help build confidence and increase accuracy. Some products come with a practice canister; others have inert canisters available for purchase. As simple the operation can appear, it never hurts to become as familiar with the action needed to dispense the lifesaving chemical.
Pepper spray is the perfect non-lethal option for your personal defense; it can buy you time and save your life. Historically hard to find, it is now found at various sporting goods stores, firearms dealers, and even convenience stores. When purchasing any product you want to look for the best and most reliable item you can afford. Sabre Red offers a wide variety of options at competitive pricing. You can find them online at Sabre Red and Amazon, as well as at many local retailers.
Kuros, in turquoise containers, is the new line of Sabre products giving women in developing countries a fighting chance against the threat of sexual and physical abuse. It’s just one of the ways that Sabre is giving back to help women all over the world.
Noteworthy Footnote: Sabre Red is doing many wonderful things for women across the world by supporting some great causes and organizations. Proceeds from the sale of specifically marked pink containers have provided the National Breast Cancer Foundation with more than $1 million in donations; the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) receives assistance with the purchase of specifically marked red products; and by purchasing a keychain quick-connect model in turquoise color in support of Kuros, you are helping provide free pepper spray to women in developing nations, including El Salvador, India and South Africa, where sexual assault is a horrific problem. The purchase of a Kuros not only protects you, it protects others.
About Becky Lou Lacock
Becky Lou Lacock spent most of her life as an entrepreneur owning several retail businesses. Her shooting and hunting adventures began later in life, and her excitement and enthusiasm just seems to spill out onto everyone around her. She tells tales of her adventures here at The WON, in her column titled “Becky Lou Outdoors.”
With a firm belief of “Let No Woman Be Left Behind,” Becky Lou also participates, promotes and organizes female group activities and hunts across the country. She works diligently to provide women of all levels of physical and financial capabilities with perfect outdoor opportunities. As a professional freelance writer, she has been published by media outlets in print and online: InterMedia Outdoors’ Game & Fish Magazine / Sportsman Magazine and OutdoorHub.com
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