Best Tactical Pens: Be Prepared to Defend Yourself
Keep the last line of defense with these top three tactical pens
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
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.
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.