Things are feeling a little tense in New York City right now. “Is it just me?” I texted a friend in my neighborhood after some dude used a screwdriver to try and pickaxe his way into our building (creative! but scary), “oor is the vibe… agitated?” Yesterday, The New York Times highlighted the latest developments in what many are calling a new crime wave across the United States, and not just in New York. The article traces the rise in crime to three main factors: exasperation with COVID-19, frustrations with police violence, and a rise in gun sales during the pandemic. Oy vey. Interesting information, for sure, but it doesn’t make us feel any better about the commute home from work. But you know what does? A taser, and some pepper spray. I’m talking self-defense tools—from the most classic emergency accessories, to the kinds of weapons that could have a cameo in the new Batman movie.
The first step in increasing your personal safety is to remember that you’re not alone. A lot of people are feeling overwhelmed right now, but there are so many different ways to feel safer in your city, from sharing your location via smartphone with a friend, to looking into community and grassroots safety resources that don’t involve police; NYC’s SafeWalks is a volunteer-based organization that was founded in response to the crime surge last year, and continues to connect folks in Manhattan, Bushwick, Brooklyn, and Chinatown with volunteers who will accompany you during your commute or errands if you feel unsafe.
When buying self-defense weapons online, make sure you’re familiar with your city’s laws about various tools. For legal reasons, we are officially not advising you to order a taser to your parents’ house in California, and then have them send it to you in New York City; we are also not suggesting you walk around New York City with bear spray, although these are things that, feasibly, someone could do. But once you've looked into what's allowed in your area, you surely have options; whether you’re looking for a new can of pepper spray, a sound alarm, or all the details on self-defense jewelry, here are some of the best-selling, and most high-rated self defense weapons you can order online—on Amazon, in fact.
The best pepper spray
We’ve covered many coveted internet items before, but hot damn does this Sabre (nothing to do with The Office) pepper spray take the cake thanks to its combination of a 4.8-star rating, and over 80,000 widely positive reviews. It doesn’t contain tear gas, and gets a lot of praise for its ergonomic design, range of color choices, and straight-up effectiveness. “I decided to give the spray a test,” writes one user, “I was SHOCKED at how far and with what strength the spray shot. [It] would EASILY be able to reach an attacker from 10-12 feet. The powerful stream continues as long as you hold it down, so it would be next to impossible to miss someone's face. I would not want to be on the receiving end of that infernal blast.”
If you're looking for a little more jazz with your self-defense spray…
… Try this bejeweled Guard Dog pepper spray, which is a fave of one of our editors. Not only is it visually appealing (because, why not?) and comes on a handy keychain, but the distinct texture makes it easy to feel in your bag. More than 1,800 reviews give it a combined 4.5-out-of-5 star rating, the more memorable of which recalls, "Bought this for my own protection and one day I get home from picking up my baby girl from daycare since I was able to leave early this day and I hear noises upstairs and I go upstairs to check because I thought I was being robbed since that my husband usually gets out late and I open the door to find him and his mistress in bed so I pepper spray them and they were in agony and everything was burning since they were naked and I called the cops and reported a break in." So that's one way it can serve its purpose.
For lions, tigers, bears, and attempted attackers
Now, technically this is bear spray (how cool is that logo??), but we decided to include it for self-defense posterity. Not only is it also made by Sabre, but the spray has amassed a 4.7-star rating and many glowing reviews praising how helpful it has been in making folks feel safer on walks in which wildlife/weirdos could be around. (If any bears are reading this, please know it’s nothing personal.)
Jewelry that doubles as an SOS system
Easy device access and discretion can sometimes be a big help if you have to defend yourself, and companies such as invisaWear have designed entire lines of jewelry that moonlight as SOS devices. “[The invisiWear] looks like a bracelet,” said journalist Milly Almodovar in a viral TokTok that has received over one million views, “but you press it twice if you feel like you’re in danger, and it will text five of your friends your GPS location, or you can have it call the cops. To me this is one of the most valuable tools you can get.”
Flare is another company making self-defense jewelry, and while it’s not available on Amazon we think it deserves a special shout-out, because who else is making astrology-themed self-defense bracelets? At the press of a hidden button, the Nova Cuff will be able to alert everyone from the police to your own contacts of your whereabouts, or send a fake phone call to your cell to get you out of a potentially hairy situation.
These loud AF sound alarms
Never heard of sound alarms? Well, they basically make an extremely loud noise when activated, and are one of the most affordable self-defense items you can invest in; at under $20, you can order a set of six KOSIN sound alarms on Amazon that will keep you and your roommates/friends/partner feeling safer. The set has over 9,000 reviews and a 4.6-star rating on Amazon, with users praising the alarms' lightweight design and built-in flashlight. “It is L-O-U-D,” writes one reviewer, “I mean high-pitch, deafeningly loud. Much better than a whistle. It is also very easy to use.”
The best tasers
When it comes to taser brands, Vipertek is one of the best in the game. Not only do their products consistently receive high reviews on Amazon, but they’re affordable and hella effective. The brand’s signature black “Billion Heavy Duty Stun Gun” has over 30,000 reviews and a 4.7-star rating, with reviewers saying it’s both easy to use and powerful. “I'm a muscular 270 lb black belt,” wrote one reviewer, “and I can take serious pain and keep going. Unfortunately, I accidentally tested myself when I swung my arms and I was talking, and I shocked my other hand. This was some of the worst pain I have ever experienced...ever! I've had kidney stones that hurt less.”
Vipertek also makes their top-notch stun guns in different colors and formats, such as these green and pink tasers that would be easy to find in your bag.
This combo seatbelt-cutter, glass-breaker, and noise-maker
Damn! Stinger really said, “Hey, why not roll everything into one?” with this multi-tasking self-defense tool. Not only is it a sound alarm, but it is also capable of shattering the glass on a car with one attachment, and capable of cutting a seatbelt with another. “[It’s] very lightweight and fits in the hand comfortably,” according to one reviewer, while another said, “[It] was easy to assemble, and although I will not be breaking the car glass (hopefully ever) I am happy I got this.” If you were to get trapped in your car after an accident or need to get out of your house during an emergency (such as a burglary), this could be a literal lifesaver.
We hope these tools can help you feel a little more at ease. Stay safe out there!
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.