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Tactical Pens: They “Ain’t” Just For Writing

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Feature | Different types of tactical pen on wooden table | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

Are tactical pens must-have in your EDC? We do think so. Find out why here!

In this article:

  1. The Tactical Pen Debate: To EDC or Not To
  2. What Exactly Are Tactical Pens?
  3. Definitely, To EDC!
  4. I Prefer Something As Opposed To Nothing!
  5. How I Pack My EDC Travel Backpack
    1. You Can Carry It Internationally
    2. Less Than Lethal Force
    3. It’s Just a Writing Utensil
    4. Can Come Bundled with Extra Features
    5. Relatively Easy to Wield in Self Defense
  6. Bottom Line

Tactical Pens Should Be in Your Everyday Carry!

The Tactical Pen Debate: To EDC or Not To

When the conversation of tactical pens comes up, there tends to be a debate from the onset of the discussion. There are those who see a tactical pen as a valid everyday carry (EDC) and then there are those who laugh at the idea.

The latter will argue they carry blades and pistols as their EDC, and carrying a pen as a self-defense tool is plain stupid, regardless of what cool name you give it.

I won’t go as far to state that I agree with this opinion, but I understand their thought process. I will get into more detail in a bit, but first…

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What Exactly Are Tactical Pens?

Black pen on table | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

A tactical pen is a writing utensil constructed from stronger material than a regular pen. This material is usually aircraft grade aluminum.

Tactical pens these days have many features rolled into one. Some pens contain a tungsten tip as a glass breaker while others may integrate an LED flashlight.


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Tactical pens are becoming the Swiss-Army knife of self-defense, but the idea is to have a valid self-defense tool, disguised as an average writing utensil.

Definitely, To EDC!

Now getting back to my friends who feel that carrying a tactical pen for self-defense is a moot point. My argument is that there is always a proper tool for each job. We can use a wrench to hammer in a nail but there will probably be some undesired side effects.

When we bring a similar analogy to our current conversation about self-defense tools, the repercussions for using the wrong tool for the job can have lifelong consequences.

Are you aware that there are countless gun and knife free zones all over America? We even have states where carrying a pistol or certain knives will land you in jail with some hefty fines.

Bear in mind that we are talking about the U.S.A. For those of us who travel internationally, our choices for EDC dwindle to nearly nothing.

So here’s the question I pose to my buddy’s who laugh at the idea of carrying a tactical pen. Would you rather have something you can wield in a self-defense situation or would you prefer nothing?

I Prefer Something As Opposed To Nothing!

Holding pen | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

I do a decent amount of traveling to teach my NTC Method around the world. Most of these trips are to South America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Some of these flight plans take over 24 hours for me to reach my destination. I may go through as many as six airport checkpoints and that’s just to get there.

Since I have nothing but time during these long-haul flights, I pay attention to the security procedures implemented by various countries and airlines.

I have gotten many personal items confiscated. These items include zippo lighters, corkscrews, and even duct tape. The items that never seem to get a second glance are my tactical pens.

How I Pack My EDC Travel Backpack

I store my tactical pen, with the writing part exposed, in my GORUCK Echo backpack. This Echo ruck is my carry-on and I refer to it as my Airport Go Bag.

After removing my shoes, Macbook, and belt while placing them on the conveyor along with my ruck, I head to the scanner, raise my arms above my head and walk right through.

My backpack, containing my tactical pen, is waiting for me as I head to the end of the carry-on scanner. After years of this process, I have yet to raise questions about any of the tactical pens that I choose to carry with me.

You may say to yourself “big deal, he has a freaking pen, who cares?” Well, to me it is a very big deal. After countless hours of travel in facilities where I feel like I’m watched by hawks…

My tactical pen is a bit of confidence and even comfort when I know my home and “rights” are a whole other world away. I want to share with you a few of the reasons why I carry a tactical pen as part of my self-defense plan.

RELATED: 11 Must Haves For Your EDC Kit

Let’s get right into it…

1. You Can Carry It Internationally

Survival Bag | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

I went into a bit of detail on international travel, and I explained my travel process but the need goes up 10-fold when I actually arrive at my destination. I mentioned the rules and regulations we face from airports and airlines.

When we get to these international locations, we may not even be clear as to what the rules and regulations for EDC even are. Knowing I have a tool I am very well versed in adds a great deal of confidence.

This confidence alleviates a lot of stress, which allows me to work on the mission at hand much more effectively. Keep in mind, this doesn’t just pertain when traveling abroad.

The scenario is very similar when I am home and in places like NYC. NYC has EDC laws that are generally convoluted on purpose.

Making one simple mistake with your EDC choice can put all of your other rights in jeopardy. NYC isn’t alone in this hypocrisy, there are many other similar states that address EDC by its citizens the same way.

Having a tool like a tactical pen, that barely raises an eyebrow, is certainly a practical approach to this form of anti 2A sentiment.

2. Less Than Lethal Force

Gun, knife, flashlight and pen on the table | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

Liability is something overlooked when addressing EDC choices. Many opt for carrying tools that will deploy lethal force when used in a self-defense situation.

I can understand this logic of thinking. After all, if someone wants to cause bodily harm to me or my family members than they are getting what they deserve.

However, we may have to pay and pay dearly for making this decision. Wielding a pen in a self-defense scenario will be looked upon much more favorably than a pistol or edged weapon.

Your attacker may be on bad medication. They may be suffering from some form of PTSD or they may just have had too much to drink.

In any case, the tool you choose to combat the situation with will reflect on how a jury of your peers sees the situation. You will also have to deal with the consequences for many years to come.

Whether you are right or wrong, your conscience will have to battle your actions for the rest of your life. I too believe I would rather have twelve judge me than have six carry me.

I also realize I am the one who will have to deal with the outcome of my actions. Plan accordingly.

3. It’s Just a Writing Utensil

Person writing in sticky note | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

Luckily, I have never had questions about my tactical pens, yet. Whether it is in my pack or carried in my pocket like a folder, no issues have ever arisen.

What makes me comfortable is if I were to get questioned, it’s just a pen! It writes very well, has a cap, and even a pocket clip.

It may look a bit more sturdy than other pens but so do those expensive luxury pens I see people writing within their First Class seats. 😉

Getting back to liability for a moment… if I were to get attacked and needed to use my tactical pen for self-defense, my justification would be I was attacked, panicked, reached in my pocket, had a pen and I… stuck it in his eye!

4. Can Come Bundled with Extra Features

Holding pen | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

As I referenced earlier, the tactical pen is becoming the Swiss Army knife of self-defense tools. This can be an asset but can also jeopardize the integrity of the tactical pen.

Some pens may look cool and feature 10 gadgets-in-one, but the overall construction of the pen usually suffers. My main purpose for the pen is self-defense.

As long as the main purpose for my pen remains viable, adding a feature or two is usually a good benefit.

 Focus on Tactical Pen Point | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

I have tactical pens I can use to break a glass and I have others that contain a Ferro rod for fire starting. Those are a couple of features that can come in handy in a pinch.

The fact that they just come along for the ride because of being bundled with the pen, keeps these extras always with me.

5. Relatively Easy to Wield in Self Defense

Punch bag and a pen | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

Using a tactical pen in self-defense is similar to the movements used with a blade or knife. We basically use two grips or positions when it comes to holding the tactical pen.

There is the forward grip, where the business end of the tactical pen points in the same direction as your thumb. Then there is the reverse-grip in which the business endpoints in the opposite direction as your thumb.

The preferred grip for deploying a tactical pen in self-defense is the reverse-grip position.

Punchbag using write something using pens | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

Holding the pen in a reverse grip position and just using a natural hammer fist motion makes the tactical pen one hell of an effective tool, whether you are able to strike your attacker in the face with the pen or even just the tip of their finger.

The tactical pen can certainly go a long way in helping you survive an encounter. Just like any other skill, the more you practice with your tactical pen, the better you will bode in a life-threatening situation.

Practice drawing your tactical pen from wherever you decide to carry it. If you wear gloves sometimes, practice with gloves on.

Practice in low as well as bright light conditions. The more diverse your training is, the better prepared you will be if you are ever called upon to use the tactical pen to save your life.

Bottom Line

Pen inside pants pocket | Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing

When I have the possibility of using my pistol or blade for EDC, then I would certainly prefer those options over my tactical pens — but at times where standard EDC options are limited or even non-existent.

A well-built tactical pen makes a great companion. The tactical pen also makes a great supplement to your primary EDC.

If you plan to carry your pen sometimes for self-defense, then you should carry it all the time. Remember, perfect practice makes perfect.

Don’t wait for that international trip to start carrying your pen.

 

Follow this video from Coach Helder for the Atomic Bear SWAT Tactical Pen Review:

Now you know why tactical pens are essential in your everyday carry. At any rate, it’s always best to have something than nothing.

You wouldn’t want to be caught in a situation without a fighting chance!

Do you think tactical pens are a must-have in your EDC? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Up Next: Tactical Pen Roundup: The 7 Best Tactical Pens For Your Dollar

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Tactical Pens: They “Ain't” Just For Writing | https://survivallife.com/tactical-pens/

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 9, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Last update on 2021-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API




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41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. InklingBooks

    July 9, 2017 at 7:24 AM

    Coach Helder, you’re a strong and fit dude. For you a tactical pen makes sense. You can close with a bad guy and use that pen to do some real hurt. But others should keep in mind that, if they cannot at least break even fighting the other guy with their bare hands, that pen isn’t going to give them enough of an edge to win. They’d be better of focusing on putting a bit of distance in-between.

    I travel little and live in a safe college town, so my most pressing danger is probably a rabid raccoon in the woods next to me. One of my neighbors trapped and killed one that weighed close to 40 pounds a couple of years ago. For that, a collapsible defense baton makes more sense. That creature isn’t going to be intimidated by a tiny pen, but knows the hurt a stick can inflict—and even more important from my perspective do so from a little difference. And around town, no one is going to see much less be bothered by that collapsed baton.

    For TSA-intruded traveling, I do wish some bag maker or after-market modifier of such bags would create legitimate bag stiffeners that, not accidentally, are easily removed and used like a defense baton. Someone could impose a world of hurt with the 18-inch-long, heavy steel ones in my long-term travel pack. But they’re built-in and impossible to remove quickly. Even better might be stiffeners built out of the high-strength plastics like those used in more many guns. They wouldn’t appear to metal detectors and wouldn’t stand out on x-rays machines. And yet in a pinch, they’d give you a reach much greater than your arms and inflict far more pain than a tactical pen.

    There might even be market for someone with an industrial sewing machine and the right skills to add baton-like stiffeners to existing bags (making them look like they shipped that way from the factory) and perhaps to do much the same with the collapsible handles on rolling luggage.

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  3. mash

    July 14, 2017 at 5:42 AM

    My Titanium pen was just confiscated when I went through security on the Airport last sunday July 9
    So: you can not carry it anywhere and always

    • arte vespule

      July 22, 2017 at 11:47 AM

      On what grounds? It is a PEN! They cannot confiscate a pen!!!

      • mash

        July 24, 2017 at 6:48 AM

        They did and said it could be used as a weapon.

        • Glenn Van Acker

          February 7, 2019 at 9:49 AM

          Hell, a shoe lace or handkerchief can be a weapon. The TSA inspectors think they are on a path to be FBI.

    • Drew Dupont

      January 14, 2018 at 9:09 AM

      Just had my trusty pen nabbed at an airport a week ago. Had to go out and ship it back home and stand in an even longer line to get back through security. The guy said it was a tactical pen and could be a weapon. Most TSA have no clue. I flew from ATL to TUC with no issues (yes, ATL is the busiest and most stringent security). The guy in TUC said “it is like breaking the law but never getting caught until you do”. Some of these idiots just want to make a big deal about nothing to seem important and to get some free swag. Pissed me off and I have written TSA about this crap.

  4. arte vespule

    July 22, 2017 at 11:45 AM

    Great article. I recently acquired a tactical pen. I have simply added it to my EDC as another option. I always carry a gun and a knife anyway. But the pen can go places the other two can’t which is why I want one!!!

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  6. Anonymous

    September 11, 2017 at 1:01 AM

    TSA is checking for tac pens .they are on Wepons list out of phx.

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  11. OldProf

    January 14, 2018 at 9:46 AM

    If your grammar, syntax, spelling, punctuation and general writing were better, I could take the content of your article more seriously. Learn to write better than a third grader or hire a proofreader. And, yes, tactical pens ARE on TSA watch lists.

    • James Gemmer

      January 14, 2018 at 9:08 PM

      Your a ass hole you left wing ass holes is what is wrong with this country .i now iam a veteran that’s not politicaty correct for for you ass holes. Just remember don’t trust a old man with a dd214 form.

  12. Curry

    January 14, 2018 at 10:50 AM

    Wow. Having worked for the TSA some 15 years back, I have this to say. An African woman came through the security checkpoint and laughed in my face at our entire security apparatus and our process. She called it a “joke”. She said, “You have no idea what real security is. Where I come from soldiers at the airport with guns can shoot you for no reason at all.” Meaning, I am more than a bit stupefied that Helder would advocate attempting to pass through any international security apparatus with an object which would get one thrown in jail for a very long time; in many places no rights, no trial, no communication with the outside, confiscation of passport and all possessions, and a very long jail sentence which, most likely, one would not survive.
    Do these “tactical” pens have a secondary purpose? If you are going anywhere near harm’s way, which unless it is required of you you should strenuously avoid, first rule of self defense, and you cannot carry something whose only purpose is to be lethal, then, yes. But this is a secondary line of defense. Your first line of defense is your mind – your vigilance. In other words, do not put yourself at risk by claiming to be carrying an “innocent” object which any cop can see through. The cop will see it as a threat to him- or herself and you are now in trouble. Especially these days when war has been declared on our police. This is why I do not own, nor will I own, one of these “innocent looking” devices.
    Wow! The risk you advocate people take!

  13. Duane Crandall

    January 14, 2018 at 2:13 PM

    I carry a Tac Pen. It is the most used of all my EDC items. A good one costs less than a fine writing utensil and it is of better quality and holds up to the abuse of being in my pocket.

  14. Caelo

    January 14, 2018 at 7:47 PM

    You guys need to learn from John Wick and just carry a f**king pencil. Learn how to effectively use it. Nobody cares about a pencil.

  15. Sheldon Fingerman

    January 21, 2018 at 3:18 PM

    While I love my tactical pen, use it a lot as a pen, when you think about it a Bic pen would probably make a great weapon in a pinch. Some of you might remember those old Bic commercials showing how indestructible the pen is, or was.

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