Pepper Spray Vs. Stun Guns: Which One Is Better?

It takes nothing more than a quick glance at a newspaper, or a few minutes of watching the evening news to grasp how violent the world is becoming. Acts of violence occur even in places that used to be considered sanctuaries, such as schools and churches. The question no longer needs to be, will something happen to me, but rather, what will I do if I am the target of a crime.

The number of Americans who have chosen to carry a firearm for protection has increased. The Government Accountability Office states that about eight million Americans had concealed-carry permits as of 2012, with those numbers soaring for 2013. It is obvious that more and more people are looking for a way to protect themselves. However, a firearm is not always the answer.

Some people are not comfortable carrying a loaded gun. Others are not able to obtain one, due to age or legal constraints. Some have moral or philosophical objections to the use of lethal force. Whatever the reason, there is a large segment of the population who cannot or will not carry a firearm. While I am a proponent for the being able to defend yourself, I believe that lethal force should always be a last resort.

Thankfully, there are non lethal self defense weapon alternatives. The two primary kinds are pepper spray and stun guns. The most common question is which of these two is better. Both are effective for self defense. Let's look at their distinctive features:


The active ingredient in pepper spray is Oleoresin Capsicum (OC). It is an inflammatory agent. Exposure to OC causes the mucous membranes to swell. The eyes involuntarily swell shut, causing temporary blindness. The throat constricts, eliminating all but life sustaingin breath. The skin undergoes a burning sensation. Panic often sets in. While the effects are non lethal and temporary, they normally last from 10 to 45 minutes, with residual effects lasting hours.

Most pepper sprays also have an identifying dye. If you ever had to spray someone, the dye is visible long after the effects have worn off. Even the small 1/2 oz keychain sizes have a 6 - 8 foot reach, allowing you to keep your distance from an attacker.

The primary disadvantage of pepper spray is that you are always at risk of blowback exposure, meaning you can get some pepper spray on yourself as well as your assailant.


Stun guns are electronic control devices. They disable your assailant by pumping less than lethal doses of electrical current into their bodies. A 2 -5 second contact disrupts the electrical system in the brain, causing loss of muscle control. This is why you will often see targets of a stun gun fall down and even wet or soil themselves. It also causes a dazed or confused mental state. The effects of stun guns last 2 - 10 minutes. Much less time than exposure to pepper spray, but still long enough for you to get to safety. One of the biggest advantages of stun guns is that even the sound of a stun gun being activated has been proven to be a deterrent to crime.

The disadvantages of stun guns are that you have to be in close enough proximity to your attacker to touch them with it. You also have to be conscious of the battery life and make sure that it always has enough 'juice' to do the job.

If you purchase either of these from a reliable source, both stun guns and pepper spray are effective self defense tools. Ultimately the one that is best for you is the one you are most comfortable carrying. Personally, I carry both.

Whatever form of self defense weapon you carry, lethal or non lethal, make sure you practice with it and have it available at all times, even places where you think you should be safe.

Wendy Megyese is a Deputy Sheriff and a Self Defense Expert. Her passion is educating and empowering law abiding citizens with self defense tools and techniques so they can be victors and not victims. Visit her website at to find the best self defense and survival products.

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