Pepper Gel vs Pepper Spray: Which Offers The Best Protection?

Both pepper gel and pepper spray can incapacitate someone within seconds. They are powerful, non-lethal self-defense weapons, but which is the best?

We plan to scrutinize these products to see how they compare in several critical categories, including range, safety, and ease of use. 


Pepper gel is thicker than pepper spray, which means it travels a little further. Experts agree that pepper gel’s sticky viscosity extends its range to between 18 and 25 feet. 

The standard pepper spray’s range is limited to 12 feet, although some, like the MACE pepper gun 2.0, feature advanced firing systems that can increase their range to around 20 feet. 


Pepper spray has a wide dispersal field, so you’re more likely to hit your target with a spray than with pepper gel. 

On the other hand, pepper gel is more compact, making it more accurate. If your aim is good, you should be able to get a lot of pepper gel onto your assailant. That will be more difficult with the pepper spray, but if your aim is a bit off, pepper spray will compensate for that by covering a wider area. 

Pepper spray is made up of tiny droplets, like a mist, and is therefore susceptible to any changes in wind strength or direction. This viscosity could make it challenging to use with any level of accuracy. It also puts you in danger of self-contamination. 

As pepper gel is thicker, it’s more resistant to wind than pepper spray. As it is ejected in a tight stream, it gives you better accuracy, especially in windy conditions. 


Pepper spray contains tiny droplets that are easy to inhale and ingest. That means it’s will have an almost instantaneous effect, as long as you’ve fired it on target. 

Pepper gel is a sticky substance that, once it hits its mark, is difficult to wipe off. As it comes out in a smaller stream, however, it may prove more challenging to get it into your attacker’s eyes. Pepper gel will, however, increase in potency should your attacker try and wipe it off, so has a longer-lasting effect.


Sabre red pepper gun

Regardless of whether you’re firing pepper spray or using a pepper gel gun, the more potent the formula, the more effective the product. 

According to MACE, most spray and gel formulas have an OC content of between 2% and 10% OC, with pepper gels tending to be stronger and, therefore, more effective.

Lifespan and Storage

Both pepper gel and pepper spray have a shelf life of around two years.

Ideally, both need to be stored at no less than 32℉. Although the vital ingredient, capsicum, doesn’t lose its potency in cold weather, freezing temperatures could reduce the range of your spray or gel, making them less effective over long distances. 


The biggest danger with pepper spray is that it gets blown back and contaminates you instead of your attacker. Even on a still day, the last bit of formula poses a danger as it has almost no pressure behind it when it leaves the canister.

As pepper gel is thicker, there’s less likelihood of it blowing back at you, making it a safer option.


There’s little difference in price between pepper gel and pepper spray devices, but the refills for the pepper gel devices tend to be a little more costly than the sprays.  

CategoryPepper SprayPepper Gel
Range Loser Winner 
AccuracyLoser Winner 
EfficacyTie Tie 
StrengthWinner Loser 
Lifespan and StorageTie Tie 
SafetyLoser Winner 
PriceWinner Loser 


Pepper gel is a safer, more reliable method of self-defense than pepper spray. It’s thicker, easier to aim accurately, and more potent. It’s also less likely to blow back into your face and contaminate you. 

The only real benefit of pepper spray is that it has a wide dispersal range, so requires a less accurate aim. It is also more effective against multiple assailants. 

At the end of the day, which self-defense method you choose depends on which you feel most comfortable with. Both pepper gel and spray can incapacitate a person within seconds, giving you ample time to get to safety.


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