Tasers vs. Pepper Spray: When to Use

Guest Post by Joe Humphries

It is a common question for people into self-defense of which is more powerful and effective: tasers or pepper spray. Both options have their positives and their shortcomings, but people still wonder which is the better option for them as they traverse this dangerous world.

Before you can choose the right option for you, you need to look at both self-defense items, their pros, and their cons. Below, you will find the information you need to decide whether pepper spray or a taser is the best option for your self-defense needs.

Pepper Spray

Pepper spray, which is made with capsaicin, is a chemical that can cause swelling, pain, and more when it comes in contact with the skin, eyes, mouth, and nose of an attacker. There are various positives to having pepper spray, making it an effective self-defense option:

  • Affordable
  • Effective in most situations
  • Legal in every state
  • Can be used on wild animals as well

However, pepper spray isn’t all good things. It does have some setbacks that make it a less effective option in various conditions. Some of the cons of using pepper spray are:

  • Can cause blowback to yourself in wind
  • Easier to hurt yourself in small spaces
  • Low ventilation can cause issues with yourself
  • Some attackers may still attack despite being sprayed


Much like pepper spray, tasers have a variety of pros and cons. Tasers are made similar to a stun gun that either must be placed directly on the skin or shoots electric wires toward the attacker. Once the taser comes in contact with something, it delivers an electric charge to incapacitate them. There are several things that make tasers a great option for self-defense:

  • Various wattages and sizes
  • Incapacitates attackers
  • Higher ability to stop attackers
  • Charging sound can frighten attackers away

There are also several downfalls to having a taser that might discourage people from using it:

  • Requires proximity
  • Projectiles are less common
  • Not as effective on large animals
  • Only holds 1-2 shots

Which is Best

There is much to consider when you are trying to decide which is the better option for self-defense. Pepper spray is great for use against animals, but tasers are more effective for people. Pepper spray can be sprayed directly into the face to scare off attackers, but tasers have a charging sound that seems to scare away attackers before even seeing the object. Both have negatives as well. For example, pepper spray can be dangerous to yourself in small spaces or areas of low ventilation. Tasers only have one or two shots loaded inside, which might not be effective against attackers. Both options require proximity to the attacker to be effective, which might discourage people from getting either option.

However, choosing the best from either pepper spray or tasers is completely up to your comfort level and your confidence in the object. If you think you could better manage pepper spray, that would be the better option for you. If you think tasers would be more effective for you, then you should look into the various taser options.

When to Use

If you feel uncomfortable, it is always best to get prepared to use either object. If you are being attacked by someone who has on thick clothing, pepper spray can be effective at deterring them long enough for you to run. Simply spray the pepper spray in the eyes or on the face to deter the attacker. If your attacker is a large, wild animal, pepper spray will also be effective at deterring them from attacking you. If you come into contact with a smaller animal or a person with much exposed skin, a taser would be the better option. Simply charge up the taser and hold it on the attacker for a few seconds. This should knock them down long enough for you to run to safety.

Joe Humphries is a contributing writer and media specialist for High Tech Safety. He regularly writes for self defense and survival blogs.

Leave a Comment:

Best Pepper Spray says April 8, 2018

[…] A: Defensive chemical shooting devices and tasers are both non-lethal ways of defending yourself. They have the following differences: […]

Best & Strongest Pepper Spray says April 23, 2018

I’m a woman who frequently travels alone. I carry Sabre Red. I don’t want to kill anyone, but I don’t want to be a victim of crime either. In other words, I only carry it for protection. My small tube sprays a fine thin stream of the liquid pepper that shoots at least 15 feet (it seems). It also marks the attacker with a dye. Sabre products are made in the USA, and they have self defense instructional videos at the SabreRed website. I highly recommend these for students, joggers/walkers, women shopping alone, people walking their dogs, and for anyone that may travel alone in any area. You can carry it in your hand inconspicuously. I’m not affiliated with the SabeRed company, but I really believe in the non-lethal Sabre products, and I appreciate all the Sabre safety techniques online. I’ve never had to use my SabreRed spray, but I try to stay ready just in case. One more tip, I practice switching the lever into “off” and “on” position.
I’ve test sprayed it once.

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