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Best Tactical Pens: Be Prepared to Defend Yourself

Keep the last line of defense with these top three tactical pens

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BY/ LAST UPDATED ON April 22, 2020

Tactical pens are an essential part of EDC gear. They go way beyond writing instruments suitable for daily tasks. Tactical pens are multipurpose tools designed for self-defense. Due to their heavy-duty construction, they transform into a weapon you can use in just about any occasion. When you run out of other means to defend yourself in a dangerous situation, this little item proves to be a reliable defense instrument. To help you find the best one for your needs, we put together the following guide.

Best Overall

TakeFlight Tactical Pen

If you need a multi-tool you can use as a weapon and a writing pen, we recommend TakeFlight. It's a self-defense tool with an integrated glass breaker. Used by many professionals such as military pilots, Navy SEALs, and others. Excellent addition to your tactical gear.
The pen is made of aircraft-grade aluminum for more strength and durability. It's ideal for demanding conditions and daily use. It writes smoothly and works well in any weather. Compact and lightweight. Comfortable grip. Carbide tip and LED flashlight. One-year warranty.
Difficult to take quick notes with it. Heavier than regular pens, so it requires more effort when writing. Pricey.
Best Value

The Atomic Bear SWAT Tactical Pen

This is a handy survival tool you can use for a wide range of situations. It's a self-defense weapon, a writing pen, and a glass breaker. The compact design allows for easy use. Ideal for both professionals and civilians. A lot of extra features, such as a matte black finish.
A classy writing utensil built to last. Made of anti-rust aircraft aluminum. The anti-slip surface ensures a firm and secure grip. Easily switches between self-defense and writing tool. Nylon belt sheath and an extra ink cartridge included in the package. Simple refills. Lifetime warranty.
The aluminum body feels heavy when writing. The cap tends to loosen rather quickly. It falls off when turned upside down.
Honorable Mention

Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen

Gerber Impromptu is an excellent option for those who need a heavy-duty tactical pen. It's one of those instruments that can withstand quite a lot of abuse and provides smooth performance. A ballpoint pen and a self-defense tool with a glass breaker tip.
Machined steel body ensures durability. Stainless steel pocket clip for easy carrying. Compact and portable. Easy to use and maneuver. Ergonomic design for a secure grip. Impact-resistant and ideal for outdoor use. The ink cartridge works in any weather conditions, both dry and wet. Refillable.
The push-button mechanism tends to stick now and then. The pocket clip is not very strong. Expensive.
Best Tactical Pens: Be Prepared to Defend Yourself

Benefits of Tactical Pens

  • Reliable writing tool. Most ordinary pens are made from cheap plastic and thin ink cartridges that either melt or freeze in extreme heat or cold conditions. This is why you need to have a tactical pen on your person, since it’s more dependable for taking down quick notes in a harsh environment. 
  • Self-defense. Even the smallest advantage over an attacker will matter should you ever find yourself in that situation. A tactical pen has a small profile that doesn’t draw attention, but is tough enough to hurt the offender and give you enough time to run. 
  • Prevent ink leaks on your clothing. Have you ever had an ink pen leak into your clothes or backpack? What hurts more is that you have to walk around with the stain. Well, a tactical pen is designed to take the abuse of being stored for long in the heat and can handle pressure changes without exploding. 
  • Avoid getting trapped in a car. Most tactical pens have a hardened metal tip that you can use as a glass breaker in case you get trapped inside your vehicle. It can also be used the other way around where you help to rescue someone trapped.

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Gerber was founded in 1939 and is currently a global producer of outdoor gear. Its headquarters are in Portland, Oregon. Its products are tailored to fit a wide range of outdoor activities including hunting, hiking, fishing, and military use. Some of its best tactical tools are the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen and the Gerber GDC Zip Blade


TakeFlight is a veteran-owned company that was formed to design better tactical gear for the military, police, and first responders. It designs some of the best tactical EDC multitools including the TakeFlight Tactical Pen and the TF TakeFlight Self Defense Tool.

Smith & Wesson 

Smith & Wesson is a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of firearms, ammunition, and survival gear. The company was founded way back in 1856 by Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson. It’s a subsidiary brand of American Outdoor Brands Corporation. One of its best-selling tactical pens is the Smith & Wesson SWPEN3BK.


Schrade is an American knife and multitool manufacturing company that was founded in 1916. Its products are manufactured in the United States and are sold globally through department stores, hardware stores, and military bases. Check out the Schrade SCPENBK, which is a refillable tactical pen from the company.

Tactical Pens Pricing

  • Under $30: The tactical pens here are about 5 inches long and are either designed with high-impact plastic or aircraft-grade aluminum. Most come with refillable ink cartridges and can write fairly well in extreme temperature conditions. However, most only offer less than three extra functions, but at least have a glass breaker and self-defense tip. 
  • Over $30: Expect to find durable pens with well-thought-out designs within this price range. The construction also gets better, ranging from aircraft-grade aluminum to heavy-duty, stainless steel. You can also expect multiple features from a single pen such as a whistle cap and a blade. In addition, you may get extra ink cartridges in the package.

Key Features

Body Material 

The tactical pen should be able to take a beating from either harsh climate conditions or rough military use. The best material for making the pens is aircraft-grade aluminum, which is lightweight and yet surprisingly tough. Stainless steel is a tougher option than aluminum and would make the best defense tool if you don’t mind having a heavier pen. Lastly, high-impact-plastic is a cheaper option that’s strong enough to handle a tactical environment. 

Ink Cartridge 

You need a tactical pen that writes well in any environment or climate. This is where the type of ink cartridge plays a huge role. Prioritize ink cartridges that flow well in extreme temperatures, can flow at any angle, and can write on any surface. Some common ones are Parker-style ballpoint, which holds up well in extreme conditions and is used in cheaper tactical pens. The Parker-style gel is another option that writes in ink gel, which flows smoothly for a comfortable writing experience.

Other Considerations

  • Concealment: The element of surprise is a great tactic for fending off an attacker. This is why you should choose a tactical pen that looks like an ordinary writing pen so that no one can suspect when you are about to use it as a weapon. 
  • Grip: Look for a pen that you can hold with a firm grip. You wouldn’t want the pen slipping out of your hands when you are in full attack mode. An embossed or rubberized finish is the best for optimal grip 

Best Tactical Pens Reviews & Recommendations 2020

With a simple glance, you’d think that the TF Tactical pen is just a fancy writing instrument, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s a military-grade multitool with a ballpoint pen, LED tactical flashlight, carbide window breaker, bottle opener, and a self-defense tip. Breaking this down, you can use it as a safety tool to break glass and get out of a risky situation or fight off a would-be attacker. 

If you are an outdoorsman, the flashlight will come in handy when moving around at night, and it runs on removable alkaline batteries so you don’t have to worry about recharging it. You, therefore, get multiple functions from a simple gadget at a reasonable price. What’s more, it’s made from aircraft-grade aluminum, which can take a beating without wearing out. This is why it’s popular amongst first responders, military pilots, and Navy SEALs. 

However, since it has multiple functions crammed up into one unit, it will feel a bit heavy on the hands and this can make it hard to jot down notes. It also requires a lot of effort when writing, even when you are not in a hurry.

You can’t go wrong if you decide to go with a reliable but affordable option. This is why we recommend the SWAT self-defense pen and window breaker. It’s designed with aircraft-grade aluminum with 0.08-inch walls that can survive accidental drops, harsh weather, and military abuse. It has a hardened tungsten tip for writing and is sharp enough to be used for self-defense or breaking glass. 

Interestingly, its high-precision ink cartridge accepts other types of ink refills besides Atomic Bear Cartridges. It can also use Rite in the Rain, Parker, and Fisher. You can expect a smooth and even flow of ink as you write. What’s more, the manufacturer includes some training videos on how to use the pen for self-defense. 

However, we noted some complaints about the weight of the pen. It feels heavy on the hand and it may feel somewhat awkward to write with the cap on. Also, the cap falls off easily when it’s used upside down.

It would feel somewhat off talking about tactical pens and not including a product from a brand that makes some of the best survival tools. Gerber has its own version of a tactical pen, which is a favorite of most military and police personnel. It’s popular for its dependable Rite in the Rain ink cartridge, which delivers a consistent flow of ink despite the weather and writing position, meaning this pen can write upside down in the rain. 

Its heavy-duty steel construction not only provides an indestructible writing material but also a firm self-defense tool. In addition, the integrated steel tempered glass breaker at the tip will help you get out of a sinking vehicle. What’s more, the pen has an embossed finish throughout its length to offer a firm grip no matter what position you hold it. 

However, this ballpoint pen is deployed with a push-button mechanism, which, unfortunately, can stick quite often. Also, it doesn’t come with a strong pocket clip despite being one of the most expensive tactical pens available. 


  • Although you don't need to know martial arts to use a survival pen, you should still do your research. Practice some hits with the pen and watch videos on breaking glass. You want to know how and where to strike in case of an emergency. 
  • Make sure to hold a tactical pen properly. You should use what is called an icepick grip (reverse grip), a technique used in close range knife-fighting. This way, you'll have more control over the tool and cause more damage. 
  • For a self-defense situation, bluffing is the best idea. You should avoid engaging in a fight if you can. Some tactical pens look intimidating. If you show a glimpse of the weapon to attackers, they might give up for an easier target. Calculate the odds in every situation, because bluffing goes both ways. 
  • A survival pen has a writing end that comes handy in daily and life-threatening situations. Make sure to pick a durable one for your tactical gear. It should have a quality pen cartridge that won't stop writing in critical moments. 


Q: What is a tactical pen? 

A: Tactical pens are part of everyday carry gear, suitable for writing and self-defense purposes, as well as survival experiences. A tactical pen is a reliable instrument you can use to defend yourself from attackers when you're out of other weapons. It's more durable than a regular pen, with a high-quality ink cartridge that can work in any weather, including rain. 

Q: Why should I use one?

A: Most people opt for self-defense pens because of their size. They come in handy in situations where you can't bring a handgun, knife, or other weapons with you. Also, pens usually don't cause lethal damage, which is what most people want to avoid when confronting attackers.  

Q: Are tactical pens allowed on planes?

A: No, because they are perceived as weapons that can be dangerous to others. TSA will confiscate your tactical pen, and you could be issued a criminal summons. 

Final Thoughts

The TakeFlight Tactical Pen is an excellent option for those who need a multipurpose tool that can withstand a lot of abuse and weather threats. 

For an inexpensive option, take a look at The Atomic Bear SWAT Tactical Pen, a lighter version that also proves to be very useful.