The 10 Best Tactical Pens

Updated February 16, 2018 by Quincy Miller

10 Best Tactical Pens
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. 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 picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best tactical pen on Amazon.

10. Smith & Wesson SWPEN3G

The Smith & Wesson SWPEN3G has a stylus tip at the end of its screw-on cap, so it's perfect whether you're using a tablet or a pad of paper. Its opposite end is threaded to prevent lid loss, or to give you fast, interchangeable writing options.
  • available in several colors
  • stylus robs you of a tactical point
  • rubber coating wears away quickly
Brand Smith & Wesson
Model SWPEN3G
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Columbia River Knife & Tool Williams

The Columbia River Knife & Tool Williams has a tapered body for a more comfortable grip, so that you can actually use the pen for, you know, writing. However, its sleek finish could make it difficult to hold onto if it becomes coated with blood or sweat during a tussle.
  • doesn't look like a weapon
  • flat end for your thumb on cap
  • cap can get wobbly
Brand Columbia River Knife &
Model TPENWK
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. Sminiker Defender

The Sminiker Defender is built with an extended clip along its body, making it easy to snap into place in a pocket or on a backpack. The whole clip is one piece of steel as well, so you don't have to worry about it breaking off in that pocket (or in a goon's skull).
  • high-quality glass breaker
  • easy on fingers while writing
  • doesn't come with instructions
Brand Sminiker Professional
Model TPA1
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

7. Hoffman Richter Stinger

The Hoffman Richter Stinger feels like a pen that was made into a weapon, rather than a weapon that was haphazardly made into a pen. When its cap is on, it blends right in with the rest of your business attire, while still looking like it would mean business in a fight.
  • slim enough for smaller hands
  • cap clips securely in place
  • rubber gasket in cap often falls off
Brand Hoffman Richter
Model pending
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Off-Grid Tactical

The Off-Grid Tactical is longer than many other available models, leaving plenty of excess tungsten sticking out of your fist if you find yourself in a scrap. It has an anti-slip grip as well, so your attacker will have his hands full trying to pry it out of your mitt.
  • time-saving snap-on cap
  • well-balanced for writing
  • design is as subtle as a train wreck
Brand Off-Grid Tactical
Model pending
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Pocket Partners

This option from Pocket Partners has both a pointed and a rounded end, so it can double as a club or a knife, as the situation warrants. It's not sharp enough to poke through fabric accidentally, though, so you can store it in your pants or shirt pocket without worry.
  • textured grip for easy writing
  • uses easy-to-find refill cartridges
  • takes a long time to unscrew
Brand Pocket Partners
Model pending
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. Smith & Wesson SWPENBK

The Smith & Wesson SWPENBK weighs in at a mere 1.4 ounces, yet it remains virtually indestructible thanks to its rugged T6061 aircraft-grade aluminum build. The sleek black finish won't be out of place in a business setting (unless you whack somebody with it, of course).
  • reliable screw-on cap
  • total length is under six inches
  • nifty fire starter
Brand Smith & Wesson
Model SWPENBK
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Gerber Impromptu

The Rite-in-the-Rain ink inside the Gerber Impromptu won't run on your page, even in a torrential downpour. Its machined steel body is among the most durable in its class, and its push-button retraction makes it fast and easy to use in the field.
  • carbide glass-breaking tip
  • nice solid heft in hand
  • fluted cutout design in the handle
Brand Gerber
Model 31-001880
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Atomic Bear

You won't have to hold up a bank to afford this option from Atomic Bear — but you could possibly stop a robbery with it. It manages to be both lightweight and dense, so you can certainly generate some force behind your swings if the situation requires it.
  • clip keeps it in place well
  • ships with free belt pouch
  • online training videos available
Brand ATOMIC BEAR
Model pending
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. 2cl Direct

This gadget from 2cl Direct does a little bit of everything, as it has a glass breaker, a flashlight, and a multi-tool in a sleek aluminum package. It's rust-resistant as well, so if you forget and send it through the washing machine it will still write (and break stuff).
  • comes with spare ink and batteries
  • writes smoothly and crisply
  • light is impressively bright
Brand 2cl direct
Model pending
Weight 2.1 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Choosing A Topnotch Tactical Pen

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.

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. 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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Last updated on February 16, 2018 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.


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