Updated April 17, 2018 by Quincy Miller

The 10 Best Tactical Pens

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This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Self-defense often comes down to one's ability to use his or her environment to a strategic advantage. Having a good tactical pen in your hands automatically gives you the edge in any unexpected encounter, and many of the designs below feature additional survival tools, like glass breakers and flashlights, ensuring you're prepared for anything the world can throw at you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best tactical pen on Amazon.

10. Smith & Wesson SWPEN3G

9. Columbia River Knife & Tool Williams

8. Sminiker Defender

7. Hoffman Richter Stinger

6. Off-Grid Tactical

5. Pocket Partners

4. Smith & Wesson SWPENBK

3. Gerber Impromptu

2. Atomic Bear

1. 2cl Direct

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Choosing A Topnotch Tactical Pen

As many tactical pens on the lower side of the price scale are still of fine quality and function, they are a good choice for corporate gifts as well.

Tactical pens come in a range of shapes and sizes, and with myriad features. Some tactical pens are designed primarily as writing implements that can stand up to the challenges of use in rugged environments; this can include everything from use by a biologist doing research in the forest to a soldier jotting down map coordinates in a combat zone. Other tactical pens are essentially compact hand to hand weapons that also happen to be writing implements.

Choosing the right kind of tactical pen means knowing what you prioritize in that little tool that will be tucked into your pocket, your desk drawer, or your glove compartment. If you are choosing a tactical pen primarily to serve as a pen, look for one of the options that is slender and well balanced. There's a reason most basic pens and pencils aren't thick and stubby, and it can be summed up by the term ergonomics.

While many tactical pens might make great blunt force striking tools, they often sacrifice a basic comfortable grip in favor of their offensive properties. For regular writing, you need a pen that is lightweight, easy to grasp with minimal force, and with a grip design that will be comfortable in your fingers. Also of course consider the type of ink cartridge the pen takes. Look for long lasting ink options that mean infrequent cartridge changes and a steady, thick stream of ink.

If you are more interested in the martial properties of a tactical pen, know that you will likely be sacrificing some of the comfortable function you expect out of most pens. But you will gain a striking weapon that is designed to fit into the palm of your hand. Look for a tactical pen with thick grooves and a heavily textured body, as your fast grasp on the pen is all the separates you from being ready to respond to a threat and from being unarmed.

Keeping a tactical pen in your car is a wise way to be prepared for an accident. You will be assured of a way to jot down information after a fender bender, and you will have a way to break out glass windows should doors be left inoperable after a more serious collision. The properly prepared first responder or law enforcement officer should also consider making a good tactical pen the writing implement of choice.

Don't forget that tactical pens also make great gifts, especially for the man for whom shopping is usually a challenge or for the groomsmen in your bridal party. As many tactical pens on the lower side of the price scale are still of fine quality and function, they are a good choice for corporate gifts as well.

The Forerunner To The Tactical Pen

The modern tactical pen owes its development to a defensive implement called the Kubotan. The Kubotan was developed by the martial arts master Takayuki Kubota -- founder of the Gosoku-ryu karate style -- in the late 1960s. Often referred to as Kubotan Keychain -- and indeed often used as a keychain -- the tool is usually less than six inches in length, yet can act as a force multiplier in the hands of a trained user.

But of course the best fight by far is the one that never starts.

A Kubotan can be used as a striking weapon, greatly increasing the amount of damage and pain inflicted by a human hand, or it can be used to add power and leverage to holds and takedowns. The slender Kubotan is particularly effective in immobilizing the wrist of an assailant, thereby rendering the weapon that may be held in the same hand essentially useless.

The same techniques developed by Takayuki Kubota in the latter half of the 20th Century, techniques that were taught to law enforcement and military personnel all over the world, can be used with your tactical pen. After all, these versatile tools comprise nearly the same measurements and shape as the classic Kubotan keychain.

The best way to prepare yourself to use a tactical pen in self defense is to actually enroll in a self defense class and to practice the martial skills you would need to successfully fight off or defeat an attacker. Being mentally and physically prepared thanks to training and then being armed with a tactical pen means a much greater chance of successful resistance to a robbery or assault. But of course the best fight by far is the one that never starts.

Aluminum And Titanium: Two Amazing Materials

Most tactical pens are made primarily from one of two metals: these are aluminum and titanium. These metals are ideal for such tools as they are both lightweight yet very strong. Aluminum, the third most common element in the earth's crust, was long known to mankind, but could not be reliably and cost effectively departed from naturally occurring ore until the late 19th Century.

Through chemical and electrical extraction techniques developed in the 1880s, aluminum became a common commodity prized for its strength-to-weight ratio.

Through chemical and electrical extraction techniques developed in the 1880s, aluminum became a common commodity prized for its strength-to-weight ratio. Aluminum is used in everything from aircraft to automobiles to construction projects to electrical wiring to the bodies of tactical pens. It is ideally suited to these many uses not only because of its tensile strength, light weight, and resistance to corrosion, but also because it is a low cost material.

Titanium is the ninth most common element in the earth's crust and is much less abundant than other metals. It was not formally identified until the late 18th Century, and was not commonly used for practical purposes until the 20th Century. Titanium boasts almost the same tensile strength as solid steel yet weighs much less than this common metal. The complex refinement process needed to extract usable titanium and its comparative rarity render titanium much more expensive than aluminum. While stronger and more resistant to corrosion than its common "cousin" the cost of titanium can be a prohibitive factor for some consumers.

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Quincy Miller
Last updated on April 17, 2018 by Quincy Miller

After getting his bachelor’s from the University of Texas, Quincy Miller moved out to Los Angeles, where he soon found work as a copywriter and researcher, specializing in health and wellness topics for a major online media brand. Quincy is also knowledgeable about home improvement, as he’s had extensive experience with everything from insulation to power tools to emergency room trips, sometimes in that order. Sharing a home with three dogs and a couple of cats has forced Quincy to learn as much as he can about pet supplies, animal nutrition and, most importantly, the best ways to tackle the mountains of fur that accumulate in every corner of your home.

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