Top Five Tactical Pens

Editor’s Note: The following is a post by Mark Kakkuri, a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

Read Mark’s previous articles in this “Top Five” series:

Tactical pens have made it into my other top five lists as additions to everyday carry gear or less-lethal self-defense tools. They are a favorite tool of mine and the one I try to persuade everyone to carry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A tactical pen is, in fact, an indispensable tool for just about everyone, regardless of their interest in carrying other gear such as a gun or a knife.

So, if you’re limited to only the barest minimum when it comes to a self-defense tool, or if you’re averse to more “pointy” tools, then at least have a tactical pen on your person. At worst, you’ll have a great pen and you’ll only write with it. At best, you’ll have a decent tool — something — to thwart an attacker and protect life. With that, here are my top five tactical pens.

1. Gerber Impromptu ($72)

The Gerber Impromptu has tacti-cool written all over it.

Impromptu gets the award for the most tactical-looking tactical pen. Depending on your situation, that might be good or bad. Good if you like to impress people with your writing instruments. Bad if you prefer not to draw attention to yourself.

After you start using the Impromptu, people will notice the ever-present, non-retractable glass breaker that resides right next to the tip. And they’ll notice the grooved surface and might even comment on the Cerakote finish. The pen looks as tough as a nail and, in most respects, it is.

Made from steel and measuring 5.59 inches in length, the Impromptu weighs in at a hefty 2.4 ounces. The instant you see it and hold it, you know it is all business. A Rite in the Rain ink cartridge really does write in the rain, the stainless steel pocket clip is one of the best I’ve used and the push-button mechanism proves to be very robust.

The Impromptu is made in the USA and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. It’s the pen you want if you regularly see extreme environments and situations and want people to know that you and your pen can thrive in them.

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2. CRKT Williams Tactical Pen ($69.99)

Nothing too flashing or overly tactical about the CRKT Wiliams.

Design by James Williams, a former Army officer and martial arts instructor, the Williams Tactical Pen by CRKT features a 6061 aluminum body with a black, non-reflective finish. So it’s strong, lightweight and subtle.

Weighing in at 1.2 ounces — half the weight of the Impromptu — the Williams takes its place in your pocket and draws no attention to itself, not even when it is out. With an overall length of 6 inches, this long-and-slender tool offers a pointed end that is useful for strike or pressure tactics.

As a pen, it’s great too. It feels good in the hand and the cap pops on and off with surety. The pocket clip is robust. Along with the Schrade (See #5), this is the pen you want if you are trying to keep a low profile.

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3. TuffWriter Precision Press Titanium Flamed ($215)

The most expensive on the list but also the most attractive on the list.  The Tuffwriter Precision Press Titanium.

Measuring 6 inches in length, half an inch thick and weighing a solid 2.1 ounces, this TuffWriter is made from Grade 5/6AL4V Titanium, which TuffWriter says is “45 percent lighter than steel, 60 percent heavier than aluminum and more than three times stronger than either of them.”

In this multi-color, flame-anodized design, there is nothing subtle about it whatsoever. This is the first tactical pen I’m designating as much of a work of art as a useful tool. But “useful tool” is an understatement.

Milled from solid titanium bar stock, the pen’s walls are thick and strong. Inside is a Fisher Space Pen pressurized ink cartridge, which is so named because its pressurized ink will flow in zero gravity (not too likely for me) as well as when held upside down (significantly more probable).

The ink is great and the pen feels terrific when writing. The color gets lots of compliments; this is the pen you want if you want to stand out and have a unique conversation piece and an engineering marvel that’ll punch through just about anything.

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4. The 5.11 Double Duty ($59.99)

The 5.11 Double Duty has a very pointy striking tip.

All tactical pens are strike weapons, but some are designed better than others for that particular task. The Double Duty by 5.11 features a flat, rubberized top for your thumb and a very sharp point as its business end.

The pen cap screws on and off of the writing tip and the striking tip, each side sealed with O-rings. The body of the pen separates by unscrewing as well, revealing another O-ring and then access to the Fisher Space Pen PR4 ink cartridge therein. You can only write when the ink cartridge tip is exposed (of course), but you can also strike with the ink cartridge tip if need be.

There’s no push-button mechanism or anything flimsy to break. Knurled grip areas make it easy to manipulate and the high-strength construction proves robust. This is the tactical pen you choose if you want a subtle tool that provides the most leverage as a strike weapon.

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5. Schrade Tactical Pen ($24.95)

Tight budget? The Schrade might be the option for you.

Rounding out the top five tactical pens is this basic model from Schrade. With a low retail price, it won’t be a total heartbreak if you lose it.

Weighing only 1.4 ounces and measuring 5.9 inches in length, the Schrade is lightweight, but because it is made from aluminum, it is still very strong. A screw-down cap hides a writing tip and the pen takes Hauser-brand ink cartridges.

The business end is a dull-but-strong tip, which is my preference for a tactical pen as it will apply the hurt but likely won’t break any skin. Aside from the TuffWriter in its flamed color scheme, the Schrade is the pen that looks the least tactical of all them.

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Besides the price and look of each pen, your main decision to make is whether to get a pen that is a clicker or one that has an unmoving ink cartridge covered by a cap. It’s six one way, half a dozen the other on this matter. The more important decision is which one would serve you best as an impact weapon should the need arise.

Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms:

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

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  • Steve January 27, 2018, 8:44 am

    I had a decent one I got off amazon a couple years ago. It was stainless steel and had nice weight to it. I travel a lot for work and even took it on flights to San Jose, Dallas, Albuquerque, and even to Costa Rica. One pesky TSA agent got shitty with me once and confiscated it after he told me I knew exactly what it was. I told him it was a pen. He didn’t budge, I told him to keep it, it’s a $20 pen, “I’ll buy another”.

  • Paul Ruffle January 26, 2018, 2:28 pm

    I was going to buy the Gerber Impromptu pen until I read the customer reviews.
    1. Hugo wrote, “Pen was great until the clicking mechanism stopped working.. I used lubrication/grease to see if it will loosen up but it just failed to the point where the pen tip won’t retract back into the pen.. and the metal clip broke off.”
    2. Luke Wellington wrote, “Love the weight and shape. But there are two problems: the clicking mechanism does NOT work
    and if it did work the glass breaker tip is to close to the pen’s tip.
    3. Shawn wrote, “Had this pen as I am a mechanic… did great till the button mechanism failed and can’t get it repaired or replaced… I love the weight and design but sadly very upset that this is the outcome of the money spent.”
    4. Marc wrote, “Bought the pen for its durability, but it failed on the first day. The clicking mechanism is useless. Great for poking something but fails as an actual writing pen.”
    5. Jason wrote,”I loved this pen until the click mechanism began to fail all the time. I bought this pen because I like click pens and wanted a high quality pen but it only took 6 months before it turned out to be junk. I have had a $6 pen last longer then this! I am very unhappy with this product!”
    6. Sid wrote, “This pen really great except for the fact that the clicker only works when it wants to. It often gets stuck in the down position and has to be disassembled it to fix the issue.”

  • Penrod January 26, 2018, 2:20 pm

    I dislike the pens with a removable cap: they get loose and disappear, and are a nuisance when they don’t.

    Best pen I’ve ever had is a tactical pen I bought at the Indianapolis NRA convention several years ago. It has a twist barrel to expose the Parker pen point, and a crenellated butt ‘DNA collector’. It also has a massive clip, which I appreciate because I have a history of bending clips in short order. This one has held up incredibly well compared to others, including some very expensive sterling silver Parkers. I stopped buying those decades ago because I destroyed them waaaaay too quickly.

    I think this one was special show priced as advertising, and if so, poorly thought out as there is no name on the pen. I can’t tell you who made it, but it is built like a brick. Shame they goofed that up as I’d buy more.

    My only gripe with it -and any of the anodized aluminum pens- comes because I usually wear pocketless polo shirts and t-shirts. I have to wear a pen in my collar, against my skin. That takes off the black anodizing on that side, so I now have a palomino tacpen. Silver anodizing would minimize that. It would still come off, but be a lot less obvious.

  • Steve January 26, 2018, 11:22 am

    I would not let them get that close. BANG!

  • David McMahon January 26, 2018, 8:49 am

    All you need is a stainless steel bodied pen, like a Zebra F-402, and you can buy them on Amazon for $6.47/pair.

  • John Wick January 26, 2018, 7:59 am

    I just use pencils….

    • Jack Miller January 26, 2018, 8:51 pm

      Awesome comment. You’re definitely back.

  • Bill Cleveland January 26, 2018, 7:37 am

    Buy a Pentel Mechanical Pencil, # 26190. $3 cost, has better mechanical rigidity for function, sharper pointy end and will not be considered a “weapon by design”, by a LEO or a Court, if you have to use it. And you can write with it. I’m an engineer by trade and spent 10 years wandering around Ft. Bragg ect ect. I kinda know what works and have tested the Pentel on drywall & std. wall paneling. Works as good as any of the of the more expensive “tactical pens” for far less money.

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