Pepper Spray Information

Frequently Asked Questions

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 self-defense 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 defense spray, not the pungency or effectiveness of the product.

What are Capsaicin & Capsaicinoids?
Oleoresin Capsicum is comprised of several different Capsaicinoids. There are five major Capsaicinoid 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.

What are Scoville Heat Units (SHUs)?
Scoville Heat Units is NOT an inaccurate indicator used to measure the pungency of defense sprays. The Habanero is the hottest chili pepper, measuring 325,000 SHUs. The raw pepper used in SABRE and SABRE Red measures 2,000,000 SHUs which is over six times hotter than a habanero.

SHUs would be an accurate indicator if manufacturers presented the SHUs of their formulation. Instead, they present the SHUs of the raw pepper which is not the strength of the spray. Here are three examples confirming the lowest SHUs listed is actually the strongest of the three products:

Raw SHUOC PercentageDilutionNET SHU

The above chart confirms raw SHUs do not represent pepper spray strength. Ask for independent confirmation of capsaicinoids and NET SHUs when comparing two products.

Which is better CS or CN tear gas?
“Super CS Military Tear Gas” offers numerous advantages over CN “Mace” tear gas. Because of these advantages, the US Department of Defense switched from using CN tear gas to CS in the late 1950’s. CS offers the following advantages over CN/Mace.

  • 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 defense sprays than do civilians. For civilians, besides hand to hand combat, self defense-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 in order to reduce contamination of innocent bystanders and unwanted areas.

Are Law Enforcement Defense Sprays significantly more potent than civilian products?
There are significant differences in potency from one defense spray to the next. However, civilians have access to defense sprays with the same potency as carried by agencies using the strongest available formulations. Though many agencies carry either the SABRE or SABRE Red defense 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 five (5) times longer than the industry average. For example, the average 1/2 oz. (key chain) canister fires for approximately 5 quick bursts. SABRE 1/2 oz canisters fire approximately 25 quick bursts! A 1/2 oz. (15 gram) canister is the most popular size carried among civilians.

For how long will most products last?
All aerosol products will eventually lose pressure over time. Most defense 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 four year shelf life!

How far do most products fire?
Depending upon the wind, most defense sprays using a stream spray pattern fire 8 to 12 feet (3 to 4 meters). Defense sprays using a cone/mist spray fire from 6 to 12 feet (2 to 4 meters).

What sort of testing has been done on your products?
Each of our defense sprays have been tested by independent laboratories for the following:

  • Dermal Irritation
  • Eye Irritation
  • OC Pungency (HPLC)
  • Flammability
  • Inhalation

In addition, numerous other tests are performed on every defense spray canister that we produce. For example, a crimp, weight, pressure, and temperature test is performed on every SABRE canister.

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.


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 very effective because it uses a very high concentration of major capsaicinoids.

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 1/2 oz. key-ring units, contain multiple bursts, approximately five times more than the competition.

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

An easy to use safety is a must to prevent accidental discharge from occurring. Every SABRE unit contains a safety which can be unlocked and fired with one hand, in one fluid motion.

Are there any restrictions governing the use and sale of personal defense sprays?
Though legal in all 50 States, a number of cities and states have specific regulations pertaining to the purchase, possession and use of Defense Sprays. The following states each have varying restrictions: CA, HI, MA, MI, NJ, NY & WI. Security Equipment Corporation suggests that individuals also familiarize themselves with their local laws. If you have a question, you should contact your local SABRE retailer or Police Department. Defense 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 Defense 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. Security Equipment Corporation recommends replacing your spray at the expiration date shown on your SABRE Defense 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 Defense Spray?
Do not leave your SABRE Defense Spray in any area that may exceed 120 degrees F or drop below 32 degrees F. Excessive heat or cold may cause the can to leak or burst. Do not store your SABRE Defense Spray in your car.

Can I bring my SABRE Defense 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 bag

7 Important Pepper Spray & Self Defense Rules to Follow:

  1. Make sure you purchase a reputable brand! Purchase a brand which is backed by ISO 9001:2000 Certification!
  2. Keep it handy and accessible. Don’t tuck it away in a bag.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings. Look around and be ready.
  4. Do not put the spray in front of the attacker until it is positioned properly in your hand and you are ready to use it.
  5. Aim for the eyes and spray ear to ear across the eyes for best results.
  6. Side step the approaching attacker and run away.
  7. Get to a safe place and call the police.

A trusted formula:


Piexol is a cayenne pepper extract and the most potent pepper-based irritant on the market. The irritant effect generated by the extract is caused by the capsaicinoids contained in cayenne. The liquid extract acts as an irritant to eyes, mucus membranes (nose and mouth) and the respiratory system. The effect: temporary blindness, coughing and nausea. These symptoms start resolving within approx. 45 minutes, and generally without any lasting effects.

» Pepper extract
» most potent pepper-based irritant
» acts instantly
» incapacitates for 45 minutes
» no lasting effects