Should You Carry a Tactical Pen?

Should You Carry a Tactical Pen?

Should You Carry a Tactical Pen?

When I walk out of the house I have a ton of stuff in my pockets. And unlike some friends of mine, all of the items I carry are practical. For instance, I don’t have fish hooks in my pockets or a water filter or a signal mirror and whistle.

I have my Glock 19 in an inside the waistband holster. I have a spare magazine, my cell phone, car keys, a blank piece of paper (to write down brilliant ideas that never seem to come), credit cards and cash, a Benchmade knife that clips to my pocket and a tactical pen that also clips to my pocket.

Now, if you carry concealed, I’ll bet that most of those items are what you carry too, except perhaps for the tactical pen, and in this article I want to change that. You see, I think every person that carries a gun should carry a tactical pen too.


Well, first off, I believe that you should always have a pen on you anyway. And if you’re going to have a pen in your pocket it might as well be one that serves a purpose and not the ballpoint pen you brought home from the last motel you stayed at.

The second reason to have a tactical pen is because it gives you a less than lethal option to deal with a potential attacker. For example, on their duty belts police officers’ carry their gun, a baton, pepper spray, and stun guns. The last three items give the officer a chance to use less than lethal force on a suspect so they don’t have to immediately resort to their gun. (Which is what would likely happen if they didn’t carry anything else.)

And as civilians I think that you and I should have a less than lethal option too. Just picture this and tell me what you think is going to look better: Let’s say that, heaven forbid, you had to use your firearm in self-defense and shoot somebody. And that you’re sitting in front of a jury as some scumbag lawyer is saying how you were a trigger happy person who was just looking to shoot someone that day. And this lawyer points out that all you had on you was a gun because if someone ever messed with you, you always planned to shoot them.

Or, what if that same lawyer was trying to portray you as a trigger happy person and you could say to the jury “The last thing I would ever want to do is be forced to defend myself by shooting someone, which is why I carry a tactical pen on me at all times. But since the robber pulled a knife on me I knew the pen wouldn’t stop a knife so I had to draw my gun and shoot.”

Now I’m no lawyer…

But I’d imagine that it’s going to look better in front of a jury if you can show that you had other options on your person. Of course, there are other less than lethal choices such as pepper spray, but I prefer the tactical pen. After all, as I mentioned earlier, I carry a pen on me every day anyway, so why not a tactical pen?

Perhaps you’re wondering what tactical pen I carry? Well, I looked around at all different types of pens. I looked at fancy pens costing all the way up to $200, to Smith and Wesson pens for around $40. What I ended up buying was a Maxam pen which costs about $30, but I think you can find it cheaper if you search online. It has solid construction and the ink cartridges are refillable.

Before I forget, another big bonus of the tactical pen is the fact that you can carry it places that you can’t bring a gun. For instance, we know that we can’t bring a gun into the airport. (Yes you can check it in your luggage, but you can’t bring it in your carry- on.) Well, I just got back from vacation in Puerto Rico and I brought my tactical pen with me. I’ve never had a problem getting it through airport security and either has anyone else I know.

In addition, if you happen to live in Maryland, California, or New York, where it’s next to impossible to carry concealed, at least a tactical pen gives you another tool at your disposal to defend yourself. So if you haven’t thought about it before, I would certainly consider getting yourself a tactical pen this week (or at least some type of less than lethal option.)

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  • Pmb61

    I actually carry two, a Smith & Wesson and an Uzi pen.

    • jake

      which do you like better? I was looking at both…

  • charlieinthebush

    Pretty solid reasoning.  For the same train of thought, in addition to my 1911, two extra mags, a strong tactical folder and Kunai Pen from Tuff, I always have a Kimber PepperBlaster II and the civilian version of a taser.  In addition to your pen reasons, I also have the Kunai Pen for emergency auto glass breakage as the tip (opposite where it writes) incorporates a glass break nib.  What the heck kind of pants do I wear?  Good question.  5.11 Tactical Covert Cargos, pants and shorts.

    • Jenny Everywhere

      Goodness…the image I get is this massive Chandelier O’Gear….

  • Saffordguy

    Well??? I see the issue, and understand it. But a pen for 40 dollars? I think maybe a cheap bic ( the clear plastic one’s) would work as well? Leaving me a option of buying a couple extra gal of gas. But your thoughts are sound

  • What defines “tactical” when referring to writing utensils?  I carry a Zebra F-701 made of stainless steel with a knurled grip and, although I have never tried it, know that it can do some very serious damage to various body structures in the event it is necessary.  The cost of this IMO “tactical” pen….$7.99.  It doesn’t have the appearance of a defensive device and can be carried aboard an airplane (some tactical pens are not allowed to take to the skies thanks to our illustrious TSA). So why pay more when you don’t have to?  Just my .02 worth.

    P.S. Anything can become “tactical” for it is the person wielding the device, not the device itself that defines it’s abilities.

  • Cuban8

    He told us everything about a tactical pen except what the heck IS a “tactical pen?”


    I always carry my CRKT Self Defense Pen. It will be used in conjunction with my self defense techniques. I suggest everyone who has a gun also have a strong pen. A tactical designed pen will be made of aluminum that is strong & thick that won’t come apart if your attacker try’s to pull the pen out of your hand leaving you with just the pen cap. The CRKT Pen screws together tight & will not bend or break or pull apart in a critical self defense situation. If you don’t want to spend the money for a great high quality self defense pen, almost any pen will disable or slow down your attacker if you use it wisely. MODiFiEDZ

  • That is all well and good. I agree a “tactical” pen is a good carry option that you can take with you in places where there are no other legal options.  However, it is important to stress that the use of these devices is not immediately self-evident – they require training and practice to wield effectively.  Just as CCW holders should practice drawing, shooting, weapon retention, situational awareness etc., the user of a tactical pen should familiarize with kubotan/yawara and other similar weapons training.  

    Some of the pain-compliance techniques possible with a tactical pen can be very effective in ending an unwanted encounter, but they must be practiced.

  • Mr Shinobi

    I know this is an old article, but here is a little bit more info on the tactical pen. The tactical pen is a bit larger in diameter than a regular sized pen. The tactical pen functions the same way as old self defense tools such as the Kuboton and even older, Yawara stick. One thing that needs to be noted, is that in most state court systems will view the tactical pen as an “offensive weapon”, even if you are using that tactical pen alone with “no gun”. I don’t like that idea at all, but it’s true. As others have noted, the cost of tactical pens are very high. You can get some nice metal pens (Zebra makes some models “other” than the F701 that are around the $2.00 to $3.00 USD range) or even plastic pens that have a metal cone “tip” that are just as effective for self defense, without the “tactical” look. At full force, I have taken small “chunks” out of a 2×4 with a plastic pen with a metal tip, when hitting the 2×4 with full force. No damage to the pen.. at all.

  • Jenny Everywhere

    I have an inexpensive but sturdy tactical pen I got on Amazon for about $8. It’s adequate, and writes real well. They even gave me a refill for it.

    I always have several options, most of them multitaskers. In addition to a firearm, a Kel-Tec PMR-30 with 2 extra magazines (I have a neck injury and can’t take the recoil from my Kimber without debilitating pain), I usually have that tactical pen, a Kershaw Select Fire knife that also has a socket screwdriver (clearly intending it to be in the “tool” category), my solid white oak crook-top cane that I actually use to walk…and practice Cane-Fu, and a device I’ve owned several of since I was 12, a Starrett janitor’s key-bak with a retractable steel sash chain. I’ve taken knives away from people with that chain, and it makes a dandy flail or garotte if needed, and it goes through security at the airport just fine.