Tactical pens provide a low-profile tool that can be a lifesaver in a tough situation. People carry these types of tactical pens as standard writing implements and also keep them handy when walking through a less trustworthy part of town late in the evening.
The origins of tactical pens can be traced back to a Japanese man by the name of Soke Takayuki Kubota. Kubota invented a tactical keychain weapon back in the 60s. (1) His initial model featured finger grips, a dull point on one end, and the ability to attach to your keychain.
Tactical pens have increased in complexity and effectiveness over the years and there are quite a few more options today than in Kubota’s time.
So we have compiled our list of the Top Ten Tactical Pens to help you simplify your selection. Also, be sure to check out our Buyer’s Guide to find our recommendations for choosing a tactical pen that’s perfect for you!
1. The Schrade SCPENBK Tactical Pen
This tactical pen from Schrade is a perfect blend of security, dependability, and durability. With the cap on it’s a concealed helper in any self-defense situation. When the cap comes off, it appears much like any regular pen. It can also be refilled with Schmidt P900 Parker Style Black Ball Point Cartridges for continued use.
The Schrade SCPENBK is constructed from reliable CNC Machined 6061 T6 Aluminum and sports a length of 5.7 inches and weight of just 1.4 ounces. It also offers a pocket clip and screw-off top designed to optimize accessibility. Best of all, it can be refilled with Schmidt P900 Parker Style Black Ball Point Cartridges for continued use.
2. The 5.11 Double Duty 1.5 Tactical Pen
This model from 5.11 provides a functional writing implement that’ll make anyone who looks cross-eyed at you think twice. With durable, high strength construction and a matte black finish, the Double Duty 1.5 Tactical Pen is great for use on your next love note or in self-defense.
This tactical pen also features a reversible clip to allow for a variety of carrying options and gnarled grip areas assist in strong, secure wielding. It also includes threaded end caps and comes with a Fisher Space Pen PR4 Medium Point Black ink cartridge.
3. The Smith and Wesson SWPEN3BK Tactical Pen With Stylus
This selection from Smith and Wesson can be your most trusted friend in a nightmare scenario or a useful writing tool to craft your riveting biography. Smith and Wesson manufactured this stunning pen with reliable T6061 Aircraft Aluminum (2).
This tactical pen features a convenient pocket clip, screw-off top, and stylus end. It can also be refilled with Schmidt P900M Parker Style Black Ball Point Cartridges. At 5.4 inches in length and weighing in at just 1.6 ounces, Smith and Wesson’s SWPEN3BK model is a lethal and lightweight tactical pen.
4. The Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) TPENWK Williams Tactical Pen
The CRKT Tactical Pen isn’t just an everyday pen. It’s a sophisticated writing instrument crafted from precision machined aluminum and hard coat color anodizing. The Williams model is a heavyweight amongst tactical pens, weighing in at a solid pound and it’s just over six inches in length.
This tactical pen features a black, non-reflective finish, a low profile clip, and was designed by Former Army officer and martial arts instructor James Williams (3). It’s the perfect tactical pen to make you forget all others, in part because it comes with a lifetime warranty and comes with its own case!
5. The UZI TACPEN2-BK Defender Tactical Pen
The UZI Defender Tactical Pen is widely trusted by Military, Police, and Special Forces, but it’s also a great pen for business executives and creative writers. This pen features a highly durable carbide glass breaker tip on one end and a smooth ballpoint tip on the other end designed for a seamless writing experience.
The TACPEN2-BK is refillable with Standard and Fischer space pen refills, as well as other generic space pen refills. When you’re not using it, the UZI TACPEN2-BK Defender Tactical Pan with Glass Breaker will fit easily into your briefcase, desk, or backpack.
6. The Benchmade 1100 Titanium Series Pen
Proudly manufactured in the U.S.A, this tactical pen from Benchmade features a machine-turned titanium body and O-Ring Pressure Fit Cap for a secure seal. The Benchmade 1100 is great for your everyday writing needs as well as providing a useful tactical tool.
This titanium tactical pen weighs just 1.89 ounces and is just over five inches in length. It also offers a Fisher Space Pen ink cartridge and the writing end features a removable cap. As an added bonus, this pen comes with Benchmade’s Lifetime Warranty (4).
7. The BOKER PLUS Carbon Tactical Pen
This is a fantastic lightweight and low profile tactical pen from BOKER PLUS, an international powerhouse in the tactical tools industry. The Carbon Tactical Pen offers a carbon fiber body with titanium-coated end caps.
It also features a comfortable grip that molds to your hand for an incredible writing experience. At just over four inches in length and weight just one ounce, your friends, or an assailant, will hardly notice it when it’s not in use. This tactical pen is also compatible with Fisher Space Pen PR4 ink cartridges.
8. The Smith and Wesson SWPENMP 2nd Generation M&P Tactical Pen
An ultimate option on the lightweight tactical pen market, this model from Smith and Wesson weighs in at 1.4 ounces. With a length of 5.8 inches, however, it can still pack a punch.
The M&P is manufactured with CNC Machined Black T6061 Aircraft Aluminum and compatible with Schmidt P900M Parker Style Black Ball Point Pen ink cartridges. The Second Generation improves upon the earlier model and is trusted by both Military and Police officers.
9. The Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen
The Impromptu Tactical Pen from Gerber is on the forefront of all-weather pen design. Gerber has designed this pen with a Rite in the Rain ink cartridge, which is perfect for the on-the-go adventurer or journalist that needs to make useful notes in all conditions.
This tactical pen features a rugged, machined steel body and stainless steel pocket clip so it’s handy right when you need it. It also boasts an integrated glass-breaker tip made from tempered steel and a reliable push-button mechanism to deploys the pen’s ballpoint only when you need it.
10. The Schrade SCPEN4BK 5.9in Survival Tactical Pen
A close cousin to the SCPENBK Tactical Pen, the Survival 5.9-inch Pen is slightly longer and weighs 1.7 ounces in comparison to Schrade’s slightly lighter version mentioned above. It’s a great tactical pen for those looking for a bevy of features in one concealable tool.
This pen features durable CNC Machined 6061 T6 Aluminum construction and a convenient pocket clip and screw-off top for quick access. The SCPEN4BK model also boasts a number of useful features, including a defensive endpoint/glass breaker, whistle cap, and Ferro rod with striker plate. It is refillable with Black Starminen Fine Point D1 Pen cartridges.
Tactical pens have grown immensely in popularity in the last couple years. This increase in popularity is largely attributed to the growth of survivalist communities and the fact that today’s most are more affordable than ever. (5)
Today’s tactical pens are useful self-defense tools that don’t require an excessive amount of space for storage. The best models are manufactured with high-quality materials and designed to last. In some cases, they also provide lethal efficiency, but the main purpose is to defend against a worst-case scenario.
Tactical pens have been utilized by law enforcement and military agencies worldwide for years, but recent improvements in technology are making these handy tools more accessible for a variety of outdoor and tactical uses.
Whether you need a tool that allows you to write in the harshest of Amazon rainstorms or you simply want a tool that can protect you if needed, our goal is to help you find a tactical pen that works for you. In that interest, our buyer’s guide will focus on three important considerations: style, features, and cost.
Although your friends may not be in awe of your new tactical pen, style does matter. It’s important to strike a balance between a pen that will be effective when you need it and one that’ll scare the patrons of the next coffee shop you visit out the door.
Consider where you’ll mainly be using your pen. This will have a large impact on which style you choose. If you’re a teacher, for example, you’ll probably want to shy away from a model that clearly resembles a dangerous weapon. Additionally, if you travel frequently by plane, it can prove beneficial to select a low profile pen that doesn’t draw too much attention.
The process of sorting through the various tactical pens available today means you’ll have to decide which features you can live without and which are absolute necessities. How much might a whistle cap come in handy in a survival situation? And do you really need a pen that weighs almost a pound?
If you’ll largely be taking your pen on extended wilderness expeditions, for example, it might be useful to have a few additional survival features like a signal whistle or a flashlight. If you’re simply looking for a useful writing utensil that doubles as a self-defense tool for those late night campus crossings, however, a host of additional features become unnecessary.
In many cases, the bottom-line cost will be your deciding factor. You have to decide just how much you’re willing to spend on a tactical pen, which often comes down to just how much you value self-defense and which pen you feel will provide the degree of protection you’re looking for.
Fortunately, some of the best tactical pens on the market are actually relatively inexpensive. You might be able to find a model that works for you for as low as $20 to $30. However, if you’re looking for a few more features and enhanced durability, be prepared to pay somewhere in the range of $100 to $120.
While we hope you’ve already gathered a great amount of information by reading this far, we realize that we may not have answered all your questions. So, we’ve taken a few moments to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about tactical pens.
What are the best materials for a tactical pen?
Tactical pens are manufactured using a wide variety of materials, including aluminum, titanium, steel, and various types of plastic. If we ranked these materials from strongest to weakest, we’d rank them in the following order: titanium, steel, aluminum, and then plastics. However, many tactical pens are manufactured from a specific type of metal that is coated with another substance for increased durability.
What are the parts of a tactical pen?
This will, of course, depend on the exact model you’re interested in because some pens offer many more features than others. In general, however, tactical pens include an ink cartridge and ink cartridge compartment, striking grip, writing grip, pocket clip, and striking tip or glass breaker. We’ve also included this graphic, which we hope is useful.
How can I use a tactical pen?
The choice is really up to you! You may only use your tactical pen to take notes in class or to add events to your calendar. But you may wind up writing a groundbreaking novel. The most common uses outside of writing, however, are self-defense, DNA collection, and in survival situations.
The use of tactical pens is no longer limited to law enforcement officials, military personnel, and James Bond. They are becoming more and more popular from college campuses to urban workplaces and tactical pen designers continue to add new, useful features to their latest models. With high-quality materials becoming more affordable than ever, you can be sure to find a tactical pen that fits your budget and is durable enough to be effective when you need it!