Best Tactical Pens

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Best Tactical Pens for EDC, LEO, & Preppers: Winners

I’m going to be absolutely honest with you:

I find the term “tactical pen” silly.

It’s an extension of the marketing gimmick that takes everyday items and makes them tacti-cool by adding a black powder coating and adding “tactical” to the item’s name.

Or is it?

You won’t see anti-terrorist teams wielding nothing but tactical pens as they prepare to storm a building and rescue a bunch of hostages.

However, a tactical pen is a surprisingly powerful addition to many people’s kits.

A good tactical pen can be trusted to write at any time, in any condition. Even in the rain.

And, being made from heavy-duty metal, you can use them as a Kubotan (a type of self-defense bludgeoning weapon)[1]. Or as a glass breaker, for when you need to exit your vehicle in a hurry.

Some even have advanced features such as a flashlight, handcuff key, or DNA catcher.

Whether you’re a hardcore prepper, a law enforcement officer, or just someone who wants a durable pen for everyday carry, there’s a tactical pen for you.

Best Tactical Pens

Best Overall Tactical Pen

Benchmade 1100 Series best tactical pens you can buy compared reviewed

Benchmade 1100 Series

If you want the best made tactical pen then you want to buy Benchmade.

Benchmade’s 1100 Series of tactical pens includes aluminum, Damascus “damasteel“, and titanium models, depending on how durable you want your pen.

The cap is pressure-fit and has an o-ring. This keeps out moisture and lets you remove the cap in a hurry.

You have your choice of a standard or carbide tip. Go for carbide. It’s only $20 and works as a glass breaker.

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Tech Specs
  • Length: 5.33″
  • Weight: 1.3 oz
  • Body: Aluminum or Steel
  • Ink Cartridge: Fischer Space Pen
  • Features: Carbide tip (optional)

Click here for full specs

Pros
  • Uses high-quality and easily sourced Fischer Space Pen refills
  • Very high quality
Cons
  • Expensive
Recommendation

Benchmade’s 1100 Series of tactical pens are expensive. If you don’t lose your pens, though, one will last the rest of your life.


Best Budget Tactical Pen

Practical Tactical Best Budget Tactical Pen

Practical Tactical Pen

Hold on, now.

$20 for a carbide tip? What if you want a tactical pen that costs less than $20?

Not many tactical pens under $20 are worth even $5. The Practical Tactical Pen, though, is worth more than its scant cost.

It’s made from aircraft-grade aluminum. The body is knurled for improved grip.

The cap unscrews and sits on the pointy end for when you want to write.

The Practical Tactical Pen doesn’t have too many features, but it is practical, discreet, and inexpensive.

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Tech Specs
  • Length: 5.875″
  • Weight: 1.2 oz
  • Body: Aluminum
  • Ink Cartridge: Generic
  • Features: Hole for keyring

Click here for full specs

Pros
  • Can be refilled with a variety of ink cartridges
  • Discreet design with no logos or obviously-tactical embellishments
  • Inexpensive without sacrificing build quality
Cons
  • No glass breaker
Recommendation

The Practical Tactical Pen isn’t much more than a heavy-duty pen. That may be all you want from a tactical pen, though!


Best Tactical Pen for the Money

Gerber Impromptu high quality tactical pen for the money

Gerber Impromptu

The Gerber Impromptu is one of the best known tactical pens.

The Impromptu has a machined steel body coated with Cerakote. Inside is a Rite in the Rain cartridge for all-weather writing.

The tip has a tempered steel glass breaker that doesn’t look dangerous but can shatter glass, harm an assailant, or be used to scribe metal!

However, the Impromptu is heavy enough to weigh you down if you have to use it for lots of writing.

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Tech Specs
  • Length: 5.56″
  • Weight: 2.4 oz
  • Body: Steel
  • Ink Cartridge: Rite in the Rain
  • Features: Glass breaker

Click here for full specs

Pros
  • The glass breaker tip looks like a pen tip instead of the dangerous instrument it is
  • Heavy-duty construction that will last forever
  • Push-button operation so you don’t have to remove a cap nor will you lose the cap
Cons
  • The glass breaker tip cannot retract and so can catch on objects in your pocket
  • Some users reported that the button was sticking until they applied lubricant
  • Too heavy for long writing sessions
Recommendation

The Gerber Impromptu is an all-steel pen that’s tough enough for duty use. It isn’t cheap, but it isn’t as expensive as some of the other pens on this list either.


Best Tactical Pen for Self Defense

Smith Wesson SWPENMP2BK best tactical pen for defending yourself

Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen SWPENMP2BK

Smith & Wesson has several different models of tactical pens. The SWPENMP2BK seems to me to be the best blend of length and weight.

It’s a little on the long side but isn’t overly heavy. The ink it comes with isn’t the best but you can replace it with Fischer Space Pen refills.

The wavy, but not knurled, sides are easy to grasp and you can comfortably place your thumb on the top for easy use as a jabbing weapon.

The biggest problem with the S&W MP2 pen is the Smith & Wesson logo on both the clip and the top of the pen.

Specifically, TSA agents may recognize the logo and prohibit you from carrying this pen onto an aircraft. Or even “confiscate” it from your luggage[2]!

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Tech Specs
  • Length: 5.8″
  • Width: 1.4 oz
  • Body: Aluminum
  • Ink Cartridge: Generic

Click here for full specs

Pros
  • Inexpensive yet still quality
  • Well balanced and easy to use as both a pen and a Kubotan
Cons
  • The cap is hard to unscrew
  • The Smith & Wesson logo makes it easily identifiable as a self-defense weapon by TSA agents
Recommendation

The Smith & Wesson SWPENMP2BK is well balanced, so it’s easy to use for both utility and defense, without the price being inflated by extra features.


Best Tactical Pen for EDC

Schrade SCPEN4BK best tactical pen for survival EDC

Schrade Tactical Survival Pen SCPEN4BK

Schrade has a series of tactical pens. My favorite is their SCPEN4, which is their Tactical Survival Pen.

It’s not only a tactical pen but is also a survival tool because of the accessories hidden inside.

The end cap has a suitable loud emergency whistle and the far end has a ferro rod. The striking plate is hidden in the glass breaker tip.

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Tech Specs
  • Length: 5.9″
  • Weight: 1.7 oz
  • Body: Aluminum
  • Ink Cartridge: Starminen Black Fine Point D1
  • Features: Firestarter, glass breaker, emergency whistle

Click here for full specs

Pros
  • Cleverly hides multiple survival tools within a pen that’s less than 6″ long
  • There’s room enough inside to store a small amount of tinder
Cons
  • Some users have reported that some of the accessories tend to unscrew themselves, probably from the reverse-threaded construction necessary to hide everything inside a pen
Recommendation

The Schrade SCPEN4BK hides several survival tools inside, which makes it a great choice for a pen you’ll always have on you.


Best Tactical Pen for Law Enforcement

Uzi tactical Defender Tacpen 3 DNA Catcher for police law enforcement

Uzi Tactical Defender Pen 3

The Uzi Tactical Defender Pen 3 is a great choice for police officers.

It comes with a standard ink cartridge that you can replace with a Fischer Space Pen refill for better writing performance.

What makes it great, however, is that it has a DNA catcher. If you’re attacked by an assailant this makes it easier to identify who attacked you.

There’s also a handcuff key hidden inside the “tactical” crown in case you misplace one of the darn things.

CTA TEXT

Tech Specs
  • Length: 6″
  • Weight: 1.7 oz
  • Body: Aluminum
  • Ink Cartridge: Generic
  • Features: DNA Catcher, Glass Breaker, Handcuff Key

Click here for full specs

Pros
  • DNA catcher and cuff key
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Relatively lightweight; still tougher than normal pens but not as tough as other tactical pens
Recommendation

The Uzi Tactical TACPEN3 is a fine pen and a good backup weapon that sports several features useful to people who cross paths with handcuffs.


Best Tactical Pen with Flashlight

Tactical Pen components

ApeSurvival Strikepen

The Strikepen, by ApeSurvival, is more than just a pen. It’s a miniature EDC kit.

The Strikepen includes a tungsten steel striker/glass breaker, an LED flashlight, a knife, and a miniature multitool.

The multitool includes a flat head driver, hex wrench, and a bottle opener.

You don’t get access to all of these features at once, though. You’ll have to disassemble and reassemble the pen to use them all.

The best part is the low level of commitment it takes to try out the Strikepen.

Just pay for shipping and you’ll get a tactical pen!

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Tech Specs
  • Body: “Alloy”
  • Ink: Generic
  • Features: Knife, flashlight, multitool, DNA catcher, glass breaker

Click here for full specs

Pros
  • Many features
  • Limited-time promotion where the Strikepen is available for just the cost of shipping
Cons
  • The pen cannot store both the knife and multitool at once
  • You have to move components around to use everything
Recommendation

The Strikepen is a fiddly piece of equipment and you cannot store both the multitool and the knife in the pen at once. However, it does give you the capability to customize the pen how you want, and the price is great!


Best Tactical Pen with Handcuff Key

Uzi Tactical TACPEN 4 with handcuff key quick escapes

Uzi Tactical TACPEN4

The TACPEN4 is another tactical pen by Uzi. It may be a better choice if you don’t want the DNA catcher.

The body has more knurling so you have a much stronger grip even when sweaty or bloody.

The handcuff key is easier to access since it’s part of the clip.

The glass breaker is made of carbide and, in my opinion, is better designed and easier to use than the window breaker on the TACPEN3.

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Tech Specs
  • Length: 6″
  • Weight: 1.5 oz
  • Body: Aluminum
  • Ink: Generic
  • Features: Handcuff key, glass breaker

Click here for full specs

Pros
  • The cuff key is on the outside of the pen so you don’t have to disassemble anything to access it
  • Serious grip texture
Cons
  • The handcuff key is visually obvious so don’t wear this pen with the clip out if you think you may get handcuffed
Recommendation

The Uzi Tactical Pen 4’s handcuff key is easily accessed without having to disassemble the pen. This makes it easier to use when your hands are cuffed together. I ain’t judging.


Best Tactical Pen with Glass Breaker

Hoffman Richter Stinger Tactical Spy Pen Upgrade Pick

Hoffman Richter Stinger

Most tactical pens come with a glass breaker. However, they are often a secondary consideration.

The Stinger tactical pen by Hoffman Richter has a very well designed glass breaking point with a beveled edge.

The pen’s cap is flat so you can put your thumb or your other hand’s palm against the cap for greater striking force.

That makes the Hoffman Richter Stinger an excellent choice if you need to use the glass breaker in the real world.

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Tech Specs
  • Body: Titanium-coated aluminum
  • Ink Cartridge: Generic
  • Features: Glass breaker

Click here for full specs

Pros
  • Easy to use the strike end with all your force behind it
  • Tough for its light weight
Cons
  • Hoffman Richter doesn’t make it clear what ink refills work but Fischer Space Pen refills should fit
Recommendation

The Hoffman Richter Stinger is well designed for being able to use the strike end against a window or an attacker.


What is a Tactical Pen?

Tactical pens aren’t the same pens as the ones you buy at Walmart for $5 per pack of twelve.

Neither are tactical pens the symbols of wealth and class you’ll find used by CEOs and boardsmen.

Instead, a tactical pen is a heavy piece of equipment (comparatively speaking) that’s pen second and self-defense backup weapon first.

You’re not supposed to grab a tactical pen before picking up a rifle.

However, if your life is on the line and you don’t have a better self-defense weapon at hand, then a tactical pen may save your life.

And, if you need to break a window–such as to pull someone out of a burning car–then most tactical pens are a great choice.

That’s because these pens are made of metal, not plastic.

A 6″ metal rod with a sharp point can concentrate a lot of force into a small area. This will penetrate materials you’d otherwise not be able to penetrate.

Also, tactical pens are pens.

This means they are not legally considered weapons.

Because of this, you can buy a tactical pen in every state, and you can even bring some models onto airplanes!

Be careful with this, though.

If your tactical pen looks overly dangerous, or sports an obviously weapon-related logo, then the TSA agent may catch it.

What to Look for When Buying a Tactical Pen

Not all tactical pens are made the same.

Let’s look at some features which can help you decide which is the best tactical pen to carry with you.

Materials

The best tactical pens are always made out of metal.

Most are aluminum but a few are made of steel.

Aluminum is plenty tough but is lighter. This means that an aluminum pen is:

  • …easier to write with for a longer period of time
  • …less noticeable in your pocket
  • …more resistant to weather
  • …more easily damaged if you have to strike something with it

Steel pens, on the other hand, are denser and tougher. Steel pens:

  • …can survive more abuse
  • …can cause hand fatigue if you have to write a lot
  • …may be prone to rust if worn and exposed to the elements

A steel pen will outlive an aluminum pen.

However, they will cost more, and you may not need that extra durability.

Pen Quality

Tactical pens are still pens and, if your chosen pen sucks to write with, you won’t want to carry it!

Thankfully, most tactical pens don’t try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the ink cartridge.

Almost all of them can take Fischer Space Pen refills or Rite in the Rain ink cartridges, even if they come with a barely-usable knockoff ink cartridge.

No tactical pen will write as smoothly as a fountain pen such as the Lamy Safari, but writing with them shouldn’t be a pain, either.

Features

Ink and weight aren’t the only measures of a good tactical pen.

Think about the following features.

If you decide you need one or more of these features then that will narrow down your choices considerably.

Glass Breaker

All tactical pens can be used as a window breaker because of their metal construction, but that doesn’t make them good glass breakers.

A good tactical pen for car escape shenanigans will have a purposely-designed glass breaking point.

This may even be the same striking point for defending yourself, too.

The stronger this point the better.

Carbide is the best choice for a glass breaker and will be the most reliable when used in an emergency.

Also, consider the other end of the pen.

If you cannot place your thumb or other hand on the end opposite the glass breaker then your ability to impart force to your blow is limited.

Note, however, that glass breakers work on tempered glass windows, not laminated glass windows, and car manufacturers have been switching to laminated glass windows[3].

Even then, car manufacturers tend to leave at least one window tempered so you can still escape in an emergency. Learn which windows are tempered in your vehicle before you need to put that knowledge into practice.

Flashlight

As I’ve said before, everybody should have a flashlight available at all times.

A flashlight inside your pen will cover two birds with one stone.

I’m not sure it’s worth carrying this “stone,” though, because it’s hard to fit a powerful flashlight in something as narrow as a pen.

Still, a tactical pen with a flashlight is a good backup light.

Handcuff Key

Handcuffs are more prevalent than most people think.

Anybody can buy handcuffs online so, even if you’re never arrested, you may still face the prospect of getting handcuffed.

Carrying a cuff key with you is good insurance against this situation and some tactical pens integrate such a key.

If I had owned an Uzi Tactical Pen 3 or 4 in my college days then I would’ve been able to remove the set of cuffs attached to my bed…

DNA Catcher

A DNA catcher is a rough area in the pen, typically close to the strike end, that’s designed to catch the flesh of an assailant.

That way, if the person manages to get away, you’ll be carrying DNA evidence linking them to the attack.

The problem with DNA catchers is that they make the pen look more dangerous, which makes the tool more visible as a weapon.

Knife

Just like a flashlight, everyone should have an EDC knife.

And just like a flashlight, hiding one in your tactical pen is a compromise.

I wouldn’t get a tactical pen just because it has an integral knife, but you may think it’s a good backup.

Firestarter

Some tactical pens include a firestarter within their cylindrical body.

A ferro rod and a striking plate can both be hidden within the pen, granting you the ability to light a fire wherever you are.

You should have a firestarter already.

Or three.

Multiple methods, preferably, because starting a fire can be difficult.

But they’ll probably be stored in a Go Bag rather than in your pocket.

An extra firestarter in your tactical pen is a good way to keep the ability to light a fire with you at all times.

Price

Here’s where tactical pens can get tricky.

The cheapest pen on this list costs less than $20 and the most expensive costs over $300!

That would be the Benchmade 1100 Damasteel pen, which is made from a Damascus-like steel.

Now, I love the ability to write, but that’s just a bit out of my pen budget.

Also, I tend to lose pens, so I have a hard time paying even $50 for a tactical pen.

If you’re good at keeping track of your pens but don’t want a Benchmade then you may want to consider one of the mid-range pens like the Gerber Impromptu or the Hoffman Richter Stinger.

However, if you’re unsure if you even want a tactical pen, then there are two great choices:

The Practical Tactical Pen and the Strikepen.

The Practical Tactical Pen is under $20. It should be easy to fit that into most budgets.

If that’s still too much to try out a tactical pen then look at the Strikepen.

The Strikepen’s retail value is over $50, but there’s a promotion running right now that makes it free.

Free, with a caveat, of course:

You have to pay for shipping.

The cost of shipping the Strikepen is less than even the Practical Tactical Pen, which makes it the cheapest method for getting a tactical pen in your pocket.

Then, if you decide you like the concept, you can buy one of the fancier options!

Conclusion

Tactical pens are commonly used by the military and police.

That’s because they’re reliable writing utensils that can also be used to break windows or defend yourself.

Add a Rite in the Rain or Fischer Space ink cartridge and you get the ability to write anywhere, anytime, too!

Plus, with options ranging from the shipping-cost-only Strikepen to the fancy-as-heck Benchmade 1100 Damasteel, you can get the best tactical pen to match your budget, need, and style.

FAQs

Can a Tactical Pen Kill?

A tactical pen is a weapon. You can use one to kill a person, though it wouldn’t be easy.

You can kill a person with a pencil, too, if you tried hard enough.

A tactical pen is better for causing enough pain to get your attacker to stop attacking you.

What are the Parts of a Tactical Pen?

A tactical pen is like a pen in that it has a body, a clip, and a writing point. Most, but not all, have removable caps.

Tactical pens will also include a strike point that concentrates force so you can use it as a weapon or a tool. This may be the writing point, too.

Some include other features such as a DNA catcher or a flashlight, depending on the model.

What are the Best Materials for a Tactical Pen?

The best material for a tactical pen is metal.

Aluminum is a good choice as it makes the pen hefty but not overly heavy. It’s also durable enough for most uses.

If you want your pen to survive a war zone, however, steel is a more durable choice.
Though, then you’ll have to watch for rust.

Resources

  1. https://www.edcforums.com/threads/has-anyone-actually-used-a-kubaton-or-tactical-pen-here.87771/
  2. http://smith-wessonforum.com/concealed-carry-self-defense/555686-tactical-pens-airport-security.html
  3. https://www.aaa.com/autorepair/articles/vehicle-escape-tools

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