A tactical pen can be a good option for a self-defense tool in an emergency. They make great every day carry companions due to their small size, light weight, concealability, and dual purpose functionality.
We’ve conducted extensive research and built the table below to allow you to compare some of the best tactical pens on the market.
What Is A Tactical Pen?
A tactical pen is a writing tool that is also designed to be used as a defensive weapon.
Tactical pens are typically made of metal or a very sturdy plastic. Aircraft-grade aluminum and titanium are frequently employed to make strong, lightweight, tactical pens.
One or both ends of the tactical pen is typically tapered to a point to allow for it to be used as a thrusting self-defense tool. Whereas a normal pen would bend or break if used in a defensive scenario, a tactical pen is designed exactly for this use.
Why Carry A Tactical Pen?
People carry tactical pens for many reasons.
Some may just want a high-quality pen that looks good and matches other gear they may have, like a folding knife or other tactical equipment.
The main reason people carry tactical pens is to have a reliable self-defense tool that can be hidden in plain sight.
While a knife or firearm will draw most anyone’s attention if spotted while being carried, a tactical pen is more of a “gray man” option. Most tactical pens will pass a security or TSA inspection, therefore, can be carried almost anywhere.
UPDATE: A reader has sent this article to show that some of the more aggressive style pens do get confiscated at airport checkpoints. Consider this when choosing your pen if you plan on traveling with it.
With some basic training, tactical pen carriers are more readily able to protect themselves wherever they go.
Another advantage of tactical pens is that often they are designed to be non-lethal and come with a blunt end that is intended to apply painful force to pressure points, sensitive areas, and other vulnerable locations on an attacker’s body. This can be an appealing non-lethal self-defense option for those not wanting to cause mortal damage to an attacker.
Others may just be looking to lighten their kit by combining their self-defense tool with their writing instrument into one small multipurpose item. A tactical pen is perfect for this.
Tactical pens are a robust, low key, self-defense option.
Best Overall Tactical Pen: Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen
The Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen doesn’t attempt to do absolutely everything its competitors try for but instead chooses to execute the essential functions of a tactical pen with authority.
It comes out of the box with a Rite In The Rain ink cartridge, so you will be able to confidently take notes, mark maps, and more in any conditions.
It also has a low profile glass breaker integrated into the tip to assist in emergency evacuations from vehicles of buildings.
Additionally, it is one of the few “click” pens you see in the tactical pen format, which I consider to be an advantage – no cap to unscrew every time and one less thing to lose.
Overall the machined steel body is extremely strong and will hold up to the roughest applications. Its various ridges and indentations ensure a positive grip should it be required to discourage aggressive behavior.
These features have all been added thoughtfully and executed flawlessly.
There is no excess on this tactical pen, and it strives to meet your daily needs at every turn.
Coming in around the $40 price point, the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen exceeds expectations and makes for a reliable companion for years to come.
Best Mid-Range Tactical Pen: Schrade Survival Tactical Pen
The Schrade Survival Tactical Pen gets our pick for the best mid-range tactical pen for several reasons. For one it has a ton of useful survival gear packed into its compact package including:
- Survival Whistle
- Glass Breaker
- Magnesium Firestarter
These items alone justify the $25 price tag.
As a tactical pen if both writes well and is strong enough to be a functional self-defense item.
The narrow taper at the writing end serves well as a force multiplier if you ever needed to deter an attacker with it.
This tactical pen has a rather inconspicuous profile to it, unlike some other pens that have an obvious weaponized appearance.
Its ordinary appearance will help it avoid scrutiny from security checkpoints, ensuring that you will be able to defend yourself pretty much anywhere.
The Schrade Survival Tactical Pen is a solid mid-range tactical pen that will not disappoint.
Best Budget Tactical Pen: Vktech Tactical Pen
In the sub-$5 price range, there is no better choice than the Vktech Tactical Pen.
While you can’t expect it to be of the same quality as our previous picks, it still has excellent workmanship for the price.
Picking it up you can feel its solid construction.
The knurling along its body meshes perfectly with the palm of your hand for a comfortable non-slip grip.
The Vktech Tactical Pen offers reliability and durability at an unbeatable price making for a great entry-level option.
How Do I Choose The Best Tactical Pen For My Kit?
When looking for the best tactical pen a good place to start is to choose one that writes well. This is the basic function of a tactical pen and is what you will use it for 99% of the time. The best tactical pens out there accept ink refills from quality producers like Parker and Hauser, Fischer Space Pen, and Rite in the Rain.
Once you have a good writing tool, it is time to look at the defensive features to find the best tactical pen for your personal protection.
First, decide how you would want to use your tactical pen as a defensive tool.
A smaller woman, for example, may struggle to inflict damage with one of the blunt ended tactical pens and a tactical pen with a pointier end may be more suitable.
A larger person would probably be more able to strike with enough force to ward off an attacker with either of these options so they would have a wider variety of suitable tactical pens to choose from
In addition to being comfortable in your hand for writing, having a good grip is key to using the pen as a defensive tool.
In a self-defense scenario, you will likely be swinging it with velocity you will want to make sure the tactical pen stays put in your hand upon impact.
The best tactical pen you can choose will have ridges or grooves for your fingers to sit in and knurling to aid grip retention.
The best tactical pens on the market will have a robust pocket clip for attaching the pen to a pocket, bag, or belt.
Many pens also have additional attachment options for keyrings, carabiners, and paracord.
Make sure the tactical pen you choose has an attachment option that matches the way you intend to carry it.
A common point of differentiation to look for when finding the right tactical pen is to keep an eye out for unique features.
Many tactical pen makers work to make their products stand out by incorporating additional features such as:
- Hidden Handcuff Key
- Magnesium Firestarter
- Window/Glass Breaker
- DNA Catching Scoops (for identifying an attacker to law enforcement)
Keep an eye out for special features such as these when choosing your tactical pen.
How to Use a Tactical Pen
There are many schools of thought of the best way to use a tactical pen for self-defense.
If you are going to carry one, it is essential to train in how to use it effectively.
Once you have learned proper technique, it is as important to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
Typical tactical pen targets include:
- Inner arm
- Inner thigh
- Solar Plexus
BONUS: Instructional Video
Here is a helpful instructional video to get you started.
There are a lot of great options out there for carrying a reliable, multipurpose tactical pen.
Finding the BEST tactical pen for your needs can be a challenge, but hopefully, the suggestions we have made will help you decide.
Once again, here are our picks:
- Best Overall Tactical Pen: Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen
- Best Mid-Range Tactical Pen: Schrade Survival Tactical Pen
- Best Budget Tactical Pen: Vktech Tactical Pen
Want Even MORE Info On Building Your EDC Kit?
If you are looking for even more information on how to build your ultimate EDC kit you can check out my book, The Every Day Carry Guide. It is a comprehensive manual that will teach you:
- How to be prepared at all times – no matter where you are
- How to build your first EDC kit from scratch
- How to refine an existing kit to make it more effective
- How to pick the best gear to realistically make you more prepared
- How to assess threats and risks in your every day life
Do you have a tactical pen that you want to share? Is there a quality you NEED to have when finding the best tactical pen for your environment? Please let us know in the Comments Section below.