Pepper Spray vs Taser: Which Is Better For You?

Taser and Pepper Spray

Pepper sprays and stun guns are different in function, range, and ideal use case. You will learn about these differences in this article.

I have written many articles about pepper spray, but I needed to do some research to see how tasers come to pepper spray. This is what I learned.

Pepper sprays are a non-lethal, chemical irritant, self-defense tools. Tasers deliver non-lethal electroshock by shooting two darts up to 15 feet away from a target.

Pepper Spray or Taser: Which One Should You Choose?

Pepper spray and Tasers are both effective non-lethal self-defense tools. However, they are very different in function and use case.

  • Pepper sprays are a low cost chemical weapon capable of incapacitating multiple attackers. The body’s reactions to OC in pepper spray almost always stop criminal behavior. If you need a low cost non-lethal self-defense tool, then a pepper spray is right for you.
  • Tasers are electroshock weapons for incapacitating one or two attackers. Tasers shoot one or two pairs of darts that deliver electroshock for 30 seconds. Taser’s are great for police and private security because they frequently deal with one perpetrator at a time. Also, unlike pepper spray, Tasers can’t hurt a user with cross-contamination.

How Pepper Spray and Tasers Differ

Comparison TablePepper SprayTaser
Mode of ActionChemical IrritationElectroshock
Bodily EffectsEyelid Closure
Respiration Difficulty
Effective Range10 to 20 Feet15 Feet
Duration of Effects10 to 120 Minutes30 Seconds
Time to IncapacitateInstantInstant

Benefits of Pepper Spray

Lady pepper spraying man
  • Distance: Most pepper sprays have at least a 10 foot range. A pepper spray’s standoff range keeps a defender away from an attacker’s hands, feet, and non-projectile weapons. Also, there are pepper sprays with effective ranges greater than the 15 feet range of a taser.
  • Multiple Threat Stopper: Unlike tasers, pepper sprays can easily stop more than one or two attackers. A pepper spray the size of a taser can stop 5+ attackers.
  • Long Incapacitation Time: Pepper spray’s effects take a long time to wear off. Even a tiny amount of pepper spray in the eyes will force eyelids closed for several minutes. That’s plenty of time to run away to safety.
  • Small Size: Pepper sprays are generally smaller than tasers. The best way to think about the size differences is in relation to the effective ranges pepper sprays and tasers have. For example, a pepper spray with a 10 foot range will be much smaller than a taser which has a 15 foot range. However, a pepper spray with a 15 to 20 foot range will still be more compact than a taser. If comfort and concealment are your priority, then pepper spray is a better option for you.
  • Many Diverse and Effective Models: There is a HUGE variety of pepper sprays. Some pepper spray models have useful features that tasers don’t have. There are pepper sprays that will send an automatic phone call and text message with the location of pepper spray when it’s used. Another feature of some peppers sprays is a loud siren that will sound when pepper spray is used. This siren can disturban attacker and alert others to either flee, come help, and/or call the police.
  • Legal Benefits: Pepper sprays are legal to purchase and carry in all 50 States and Washington D.C. Also, some states permit minors to carry pepper spray in public.

Drawbacks of Pepper Spray

  • Direct Face Contact: Pepper spray must directly hitting the eyes, nose, and mouth for maximum effect. A fast moving attacker might be able to dodge the incoming spray. Also, a glasses wearing target will have some protection against eye exposure.
  • Cross-Contamination: A person exposed to pepper spray can spread it to another person. This can happen if an attacker grabs and wrestles a defender after getting sprayed. Pepper spray is best used when the target is too far away to get a hold of his victim.
  • Wind Blow Back: Pepper spray can be moved by wind. It can move the spray away from an attacker’s face. Wind can blow pepper spray back onto a defender. Pepper gels are not moved by wind as easily as pepper sprays. If you live in a windy area, then carry a pepper gel instead of a pepper spray.
  • Immune Targets: A small number of people get little or no negative reaction from pepper spray exposure. Because of this, some pepper sprays have tear gas. Tear gas and pepper spray’s active ingredient OC work on different parts of the nervous system. By including tear gas in a pepper spray, the pepper spray becomes a two in one weapon. Click the underlined text to learn more about the differences between pepper spray and tear gas.
  • Expiration Date: All pepper sprays lose compression over time. Manufactures put use by dates on their pepper sprays. You should not rely on a pepper spray that is past it’s expiration date. Replace your pepper spray before the expiration date.

Benefits of Tasers

Cop Shooting Taser
  • Neuromuscular Disruption: A taser shock prevents the target from controlling their muscles. The shock prevents the nervous system from controlling the muscles. Once shocked, an attacker will fall over and endure painful shocking for 30 seconds.
  • Large Contact Area: Unlike pepper spray, tasers are effect when they contact any part of the body. As long as both darts fully enter the target, the taser will shock and incapacitate the target. A target’s torso is where a taser should be fired at. A torso is a much larger target than the aim point of pepper spray, the face.
  • No Cross-Contamination: A Taser’s shock can’t travel from the target to the user even if they are touching. This makes Tasers great for police and private security because they won’t be harmed when cuffing, handling, and transporting a perpetrator.
  • Built-in Flashlight: All taser models have a built-in LED flashlight.
  • Pistol Functionality: Taser are operated just like pistols. They have pistol grips, triggers, and sights. If you want a non-lethal self-defense tool that operates and feels like a pistol, then a taser is right for you. Tasers are so similar to pistols that police have mistakenly fired pistol bullets into people when they intended to tase them.
  • Highly Focused Force: Taser’s project very direct force. Unlike pepper spray, taser use does not risk harming people who could be of aid to a victim such as innocent bystanders or fellow police or private security.

Drawbacks of Tasers

  • Expensive: Tasers are one of the most expensive self-defense tools on the market. At $400, the Taser Pulse is the least expensive model. You could get both a pepper spray and pistol for $500 to $600. These include excellent name brand pepper sprays from Mace and Sabre and pistols from Glock, Springfield, CZ, Sig, etc. The high purchase price is the biggest reason to not use a taser.
  • Aiming: Tasers require aiming and firing just like a pistol. They include front and rear sights for this purpose. Poor vision, disabilities, and lack of training can prevent a user from effectively aiming. Tasers have red laser sights that can be used instead of the front and rear sights. The laser can be used instead of the front of rear sights when an attacker is too close for line of sight aiming.
  • Two Dart Contact: Both taser darts must enter the target to deliver a shock at a distance. Tasers require two points of contact. It’s fairly common for one or both darts to miss the target. If only one dart enters the target, then drive-stun can be used to complete the circuit. A drive-stun is done by touching the target with the electrical points on the front of the taser. Doing this will complete the circuit and cause the target to be shocked even with only one dart contact. It’s better to have both darts make contact and avoid drive-stunning because a drive stun removes the distance between a user and the target.
  • Single Company Source: Tasers are produced by one company. They have no competition in the marketplace. Consequently, relying on a taser requires complete trust in one company.

For Self-Defense, Pepper Sprays Are Better Than Tasers

Pepper sprays are better than tasers for concealed carry and home defense. Pepper sprays provide great stopping power and range at a low cost. Taser are only better than pepper sprays when a user needs to get close to the target after incapacitating them. Police and private security often carry tasers because they need to get close to one perpetrator to cuff and detain them. Furthermore, tasers don’t harm innocent people, or contaminate patrol vehicles like pepper sprays do.

Andrew Jordan

I’m a lifelong native of Memphis, TN. Shooting drills especially with 22LR are one of my passions. My concealed carry permit application was submitted on my 21st birthday. The P10C is my EDC pistol. I invented the patented 15 round 5.56 stripper clip. You can also find me on the “Concealed Carry Andrew” Youtube channel.

Recent Posts