For most people the words “tactical” and “pen” don’t really go together. “Tactical” and “Fighter Jet” sure. But not tactical and pen. But those that harbor such old fashioned notions should wake up and smell the coffee because here in 2017 tactical pens not only exist, they could help save your skin one day in no uncertain terms. These are not the 19¢ disposable pens of your youth. The tactical pen today is commonly machined from tough, durable metal and they’re tripped out with features that will let you do everything from write upside down in the rain to fend off a weasel who mistakenly decided you were an easy mark. Some also have LED flashlights so you can check on the weasel after you pull the pen from his throat.
Below we’re going to review what our panel has determined are the 17 best tactical pens on the market today in the hopes that this information will help you make an informed decision about which tactical pen is right for you.
Best Tactical Pen (Our Top Picks)
1. Sminiker Professional Defender
The Sminiker Professional Tactical Pen – technically “the Defender” – is one of those tactical pens we mentioned with an aluminum body. In this case it’s aircraft grade aluminum that makes the pen both light and incredibly tough. But the body isn’t the only thing tough about the Defender. It also features a carbide tip at the high end for shattering glass in an emergency or shattering the temple of an assailant. The Defender is very comfortable to hold for writing and gives you a sure grip if you need it for something more aggressive. The sturdy aluminum clip allows you to carry the Defender in your shirt pocket like you would any other pen. Only you will know it’s a stealthy self-defense tool with few equals for its size. Takes standard refills and is uber affordable to boot. A great gift idea.
- BrandSminiker Professional
- Weight4 oz
2. Gerber Impromptu
Gerber is famous for their world class tactical and survival knives so there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t do a bang up job on a tactical pen. And of course they do. The Impromptu allows you to write in the rain or any other type of conditions because wars, crime and outdoor work don’t only happen on sunny days. If you find yourself trapped in a burning auto just pull out your Impromptu and shatter the window using the integrated glass breaker. The body of the Impromptu is made from high quality steel so anyone who tries to give you a hard time is going to get a very unpleasant surprise when you connect with what they think is a harmless ink pen. The Impromptu has a nice heft to it, though not so much that it’s too heavy for your shirt pocket. And as always this Gerber product is covered by the company’s famous lifetime warranty.
- Weight2.4 oz
3. Schrade SCPENBK
The Schrade SCPENBK is crafted from 6061 aircraft grade aluminum so it not only looks like a bullet, it bites like one too. The pen is 5 5/8 inches long and comes with a handy clip so you can carry it alongside your other writing instruments in your shirt pocket. This tactical pen should pass through airport security without incident so if something goes down on the aircraft you’re not empty handed. The pen uses a ball point to write in most every type of weather and the top screws off to allow for refilling. This survival pen has a formidable profile and a nice size that makes it easy to get a good grip. You’ll pay a little more for it but when you’ve emerged from an assault unharmed because of it you’ll realize it’s worth every penny.
- Weight1.6 oz
4. Smith & Wesson
The Smith and Wesson tactical pen starts with T6061 aircraft grade aluminum that makes it as much writing spike as writing instrument. It will bring the defense from either end and whether the cap is on or off. It’s nice and thick which may alert airport security but will allow you to always get a nice firm grip even if you’re a big guy with big hands. The pen is beautifully balanced with the cap on and large and heavy enough to make an impression if anyone ever begs you to use it on them. The pen features a sturdy pocket clip that will keep this survival pen where you put it. As a tactical self-defense item it’s both blissfully simple and extremely effective. So whether you’re writing an arrest report or fighting off weasels you’ll want Smith and Wesson on your side.
- BrandSmith & Wesson
- Weight2.1 oz
5. Hoffman Richter Stinger
Hoffman Richter have made a survival pen worthy of the name here. The “Stinger” is discrete in appearance but devastating in application. It’s fashioned from a single block of high quality anodized aluminum. That means you can run over this puppy with a car and it will still retain its shape. The surface is coated in titanium to ward off corrosion so you can carry it with you anywhere, anytime in any conditions. The ink cartridges are standard ballpoint refills and the whole thing is guaranteed for life. There’s also a glass breaker that doubles as another point of attack if need be. Whether you’re on the jobsite and need to sign for a delivery in the rain or you’re walking home at night and are accosted you’ll be glad you have the Hoffman Richter tactical pen with you.
- BrandHoffman Richter
- Weight0.3 oz
6. Smith & Wesson Military
By now we’ve become accustomed to seeing the Smith and Wesson name on all types of tactical gear. The thing about that is that their stuff is usually so good we now have expectations of excellence every time we see the S&W imprimatur. Fortunately, as with the rest of their tactical kit and EDC items the Military and Police Aluminum Tactical Pen delivers on both style and substance. This is not some bulky blunt object. This is a high quality writing implement that also happens to neutralize aggressors with as much aplomb as it writes up your report. Use the handy clip to carry it with the rest of your writing instruments and no one will be the wiser. There’s also a lanyard hole that provides you further carry options. As effective at writing as it is at fighting.
- BrandSmith & Wesson
- Weight2.9 oz
7. Boker Plus 09BO093 Titan
The Boker Titan is what most people think of when they think tactical pen. Not necessarily the name (although they may think that as well) but the hefty, solid, no-nonsense profile. The aluminum body of the Titan is rugged as all get out and it’s larger than average girth assures you that you’ll have a nice solid grip no matter what the task at hand. Remarkably, although the pen looks like it weighs a kilo or two it actually tips the scales at a very modest 1.4 ounces. One more thing: the Titan has a bolt action mechanism for extending and retracting the ball point. Just another militaristic touch that’s right in keeping with the pen’s mission.
- BrandBOKER PLUS
- Weight3.2 oz
8. Columbia River Knife
With their Williams tactical pen Columbia River take a more refined approach to design. This implement is sleek and slick and tastefully neutral, along with a bunch of other adjectives you don’t normally associate with survival gear. But that doesn’t for one second diminish the effectiveness of the thing. 6061 aircraft grade aluminum is used to fashion the body which is coated in matte black finish that won’t create glare. There’s a sturdy integrated pocket clip and the ink cartridges can be easily swapped out. When you grab the Williams you’ll realize just how effective it potentially is as a self-defense item.
- BrandColumbia River Knife & Tool
- Weight6.4 oz
9. Atomic Bear SWAT
With a name like “Atomic Bear” you might think this is just a gimmicky tactical pen knock-off but you’d be sorely mistaken. The body of this survival tool is crafted from 6063 aircraft grade aluminum that is especially lightweight and resistant to corrosion. Striking an assailant with the Atomic Bear SWAT pen will put the fear of God into them and a couple of clean shots will likely be all you need to either send them running or leave them whimpering. The pen is also a first-class writing instrument and will come through for you even in the pouring rain. Contractors, security specialists and private citizens will all be better off carrying the Atomic Bear SWAT tactical pen.
- BrandATOMIC BEAR
- Weight4.8 oz
10. BCBH Waterproof
Whether you need to write up a report, fight off a weasel or extricate yourself or someone else from an overturned vehicle the BCBH Waterproof Tactical Pen will get the job done. A hard as nails exterior will take no prisoners should you find yourself under physical assault. And should you be trapped with a layer of glass or some other hard surface between you and survival the tungsten steel glass breaker on the end will make sure you emerge in one piece. The profile of the BCBH Waterproof may at first glance seem like a collection of random shapes but once you feel it in your hand it will all makes sense. Comes with a lifetime warranty and refills are available from a variety of online sellers.
- Weight1.6 oz
11. Zero Tolerance
The Zero Tolerance tactical pen sports a machined body with clean lines that belie its bulk. The aircraft aluminum at work here is 6061-T6 which is highly corrosion resistant and has a wonderful feel to it when you grasp it firmly. The tip is non-retracting which makes for fewer moving parts and greater focus on the pen’s real purpose: to be a tactical ally in a self-defense situation. The glass breaker is rock solid tungsten carbide and should you need to use the Zero Tolerance to write something you’ll find it’s not only unfazed by foul weather but it’s anti-gravity cartridges mean you can write upside down laying on your back if need be. And the whole thing is fully warrantied.
- BrandZero Tolerance
- Weight1.3 oz
12. Sahara Sailor Tungsten
Several of our panel members expressed the opinion that this was their favorite looking tactical pen. The Sahara Sailor LED tactical pen is indeed a beauty but it’s so much more than just good looks. For one thing that attractive shell is hard as rock and durable as the day is long. At the butt end you have a high quality LED flashlight surrounded by a much-welcome bezeled ring that can be thrust into an opponent or used to shatter a window that might be standing between you and survival. Overall the LED Flashlight Survival Pen is about 6 1/4 inches long and weighs in at 1.8 ounces; enough to give it some real gravitas without being too much for your shirt pocket.
- BrandSahara Sailor
- Weight1.8 oz
13. Smith & Wesson SWPEN3BK
This is another high quality tactical pen from the folks at Smith and Wesson. Lightweight, versatile, durable and affordable it’s the type of EDC you shouldn’t leave home without. On the one end you have a stylus tip that produces clear crisp script and on the other a top-shelf glass breaker that will have no problem breakin’ on through to the other side. This tactical pen features a machined shell that provides a no-slip grip regardless of conditions and a tough aluminum clip to hold the device firmly in whatever pocket you choose. The matt black finish on the T6061 aircraft aluminum gives the device an impressive countenance and the affordable price will leave you even more impressed.
- BrandSmith & Wesson
- Weight1.6 oz
14. Sahara Sailor Tactical
Our second Sahara Sailor entry on this list is light years away from their other offering design wise but no less impressive from a tactical standpoint. The tempered steel in the butt end won’t take “no” from glass and the pagoda design makes it easy to get a nice firm hold. With or without the cap in place this is a high quality self-defense tool. The pocket clip is incredibly strong so there’s no chance the Sahara Sailor is coming loose from your pocket and with its light weight it won’t ever be a burden. The entire tactical pen is fashioned from tempered 303 high-polish stainless steel and Sahara Sailor warranties the pen against manufacturing defects. And the best part? It’s less than 20 bucks.
- BrandSahara Sailor
- Weight1 pounds
15. Tomight Impromptu
The Tomight Impromptu is multi-purpose tactical gear that will provide high quality script in any conditions, a sure fire escape mechanism if you ever find yourself trapped in a vehicle and, when the end cap is removed, a high powered LED flashlight for finding your way clear of trouble. The design is blocky to be sure but it’s all the more effective as a tactical pen as a result. Crafted from corrosion resistant aircraft grade aluminum the Impromptu is all business when it comes to helping you defend yourself. We’re always partial to tactical kit that includes an LED light since we need to see to survive in most cases so the Impromptu gets a big thumbs up from everyone here.
- BrandSahara Sailor
- ModelTactical Pen with Flashlight
- Weight3.2 oz
16. Boker Plus 09BO079
The Boker Plus Micarta is a bit of an outlier in the design department looking like a cross between a piece of bamboo and peacock feathers but it’s also one of the most impressive tactical pens on this list. That unusually shaped body is actually incredibly easy to get a good grip on and the bolt action writing component adds easy function without getting in the way. The Micarta is only 4 3/8 inches long and weighs in at a miniscule 1 oz. That said, when you strike someone with the Boker Plus Micarta they’re going to feel every agonizing millisecond of impact and aftermath. With a lifetime warranty on this titanium coated, aircraft aluminum body you’ll have the Micarta for years to come.
- BrandBöker Plus
- Weight0.3 oz
17. Campco UZI Tactical
Finally, pulling up the rear of our list of Best Tactical Pens is another arms manufacturer everyone has heard of and has the highest respect for: Uzi. Just as their automatic weapons set the bar for dependability and the delivery of raw fire power so too the Uzi Bolt Action Tactical Pen sets the standard when it comes to providing the user the ability to rain devastating blows down upon any weasel who dares mess with you. The tapering, gun metal hard as nails body of this tactical pen means that if you strike a solid blow your assailant will be effectively removed from action. Should you need to use the Uzi tactical pen to write up a report or sign for deliveries it does that too and at a very reasonable price.
- Weight4 oz
What Is A Tactical Pen?
Depending on who you are, it’s a survival weapon that only the cunning can properly utilize to escape a hairy situation. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s basically just a really cool-looking pen. Whether it’s shattering glass in a submerging car, defending yourself and catching your attacker by surprise, or just having the knowledge that your EDC is ready for anything, everyone can benefit from a tactical pen.
Things To Consider When Buying A Tactical Pen
While it sounds like a simple purchase since we’re dealing with such a small item here and not a 3d Pen, it couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a lot of things to consider when going for a tactical pen. After all, in the right situation, this could be the difference between being mugged and having the upper hand on an assailant.
Body Material - Look, if you want to go back to the inception of the tactical pen, it was made out of straight iron. That being said, the materials are going to cover a whole mess of ranges. Most commonly, you’ll see different aluminums and stainless steel materials. In some cases, for extra durability, they’ll be made out of titanium.
Self-Defense Features - It wouldn’t be very tactical if it didn’t have some specifications that made self-defense easier. These are the main things to look for in terms of self-defense features. If it’s difficult to use, it’s going to be difficult to defend yourself with—remember that.
Size and Weight - As discussed previously, the material is going to play into the weight, but picture the size of most tactical pens being no larger than your average Bic pen. Tactical pens aren’t supposed to be conspicuous. If you have a pen popping out of your dress shirt pocket, you don’t want a potential assailant to see that and prepare to catch you off-guard despite your preparedness. Your pen needs to be lightweight enough to move quickly, and heavy enough to leave an impact.
Ink Cartridge - Say you need a pen to write something down—yeah, it still functions as a pen. Check to see how much the ink cartridge can hold. Nothing’s weirder than carrying around a pen that has absolutely no ink in it.
Point of the Pen - For both the writing purpose and the lasting impact in a potential scuffle, you want the tip of the pen to be sharp and ready to perform. Whether you’re signing your name on the dotted line or clutching the chassis of your pen on your way to your car late at night in the parking garage, you want it to be ready.
Grip - How useful is a potential stabbing/slashing emergency weapon if you slip-up and drop it? If you can’t keep a good grip on it, then you’re going to see pretty quickly where all your preparation went: on the floor.
Price - Price is always going to be a determining factor, even in self-defense items. It isn’t until something happens that we usually get proactive and actually help ourselves out by getting the right EDC and self-defense items. Don’t let cost play a huge factor into your decision if you can avoid it. This is about safety—you’re not buying a flat screen, you’re buying a self-defense item.
Tactical Pen Uses
There are more uses than you’d think (the last one on this short list is going to surprise you). Tactical pens are only as excellent and innovative as the person wielding one, so think about all the ways you could use it to benefit you, and take a peek at our list here.
Okay, you probably guessed this one right off the bat, right? Even though we’re in a digital age where you can e-sign your name on everything, and nobody actually writes down notes anymore, it’s still useful to have a pen handy. It’s just a benefit when it doubles as a self-defense item.
This can take a bit of strength and some persistence, but in a bind, your tactical pen can be used to shatter panes of glass. It’s best to have a gloved hand (though it’s obviously not always an option) to dispel most of the injuries that you can from broken glass.
Grasp the pen firmly in your hand, and aim for the corner of the window pane. You’ll be able to inflict more of a shock and shatter the window, as opposed to going straight for the middle, where there’s a less likely chance that it will shatter on the first strike. Every second counts.
This is what usually blows people away. Collecting DNA from an attacker is probably the coolest thing you can do with a tactical pen, and it can help get someone off the street if they’re going to try and attack someone else. Bring this to the authorities or to the emergency room if you sustain injuries, and they’ll be able to use the jagged bezel to remove blood and/or skin to build a DNA kit.
When All Is Said and Done
Your safety comes first and foremost above all else. Don’t cheap out and avoid getting a good tactical pen—it’s about far more than the cost. Aim for lightweight and durable, and above all else, inconspicuous.