What I Love & Hate About the CRKT Williams Tactical Pen 2

As soon as there is a fan club for tactical pens, I will be applying for the position of president and chief cheerleader. I think that tactical pens are great tools and are worthy of being in just about everyone’s pocket. Overall, I love tactical pens (at least the well-executed versions of tactical pens). Granted, it’s hard to go wrong in designing and manufacturing a tactical pen. Simply make the strongest pen body possible within a reasonable cost, and it’s pretty much good to go.

Now that tactical pens are becoming more popular as self-defense tools, the market is showing what features it prefers and what features it can do without. There are things that I love and hate about the Columbia River Knife and Tool Williams Tactical Pen 2. This pen is already on its second version, but I am torn between the two as to which is superior. Just as I love tactical pens in general, I love this one by CRKT. I carry it virtually every day, and given my proclivity toward these tools, I have been able to identify a few of their shortcomings. Here are my rants and raves.

Love: It’s a pen

Is there any tool more innocuous than a pen clipped to a shirt pocket? It’s a pen. And being a pen, it offers these three reasons to love it:

• Low profile. While many sharp-eyed self-defense types can spot my folding knife clipped to my pants pocket, no one really looks twice at the tactical pen in my pocket. It’s a pen, but of course, it’s more than a pen. It’s a low-profile self-defense tool that I can use as a last-ditch strike weapon if need be. Even if I take it out of my pocket and hold it in my hand to make ready for an imminent threat, it’s still just a pen. Tactical pens do not seem to get the attention of TSA agents when I travel; they are usually in my shoulder bag or backpack and make it through the X-ray stations without incident.

• Highly engineered and high quality. Pens can be simple instruments or, in the case of this Williams, a highly-engineered, high-quality tool. This one is made from 6061 aircraft aluminum, what CRKT calls “Type III Anodizing for Durability.” Indeed, it is tough and durable. Retailing for $59.99, this is obviously no supermarket office aisle writing utensil.

• It writes well. Like a good pen, it does its writing duties with excellence. The Fisher Space Pen ink cartridge lays down ink at any angle and in any temperature.

Hate: It’s a pen

I realize I just gave three reasons why I love the fact that the Williams Tactical Pen 2 is a pen, but I am also going to whine a bit about this fact. Because it is a pen and because I like to write with it, it comes out of my pocket and makes an appearance every now and again. Once I start using it, some people notice it and start asking about it. Some smart person will look closely and say, “Hey, is that a tactical pen?” Then, depending on his or her worldview, he or she will either call me Agent 86 or ask me what good a pen is going to do in a difficult situation. That is when I stab him or her in the throat with the pen to make the point (not really). But it is when I have to figure out how much of a self-defense nerd I am going to reveal myself to be.

Hate: Pen cap

This is another minor quibble, actually. The pen cap requires more than just a tug to remove it. This is good for tactical reasons because it keeps the clip attached to the pen, but it is not good for writing because grunting while removing a pen cap can, at times, draw a bit of unwanted attention. Further, when deploying the pen for writing, I remove the pen cap with a grunt and put it on the other end of the pen, but it does not hang on as well as it does when it is covering the ink tip (unless I am really careful). It makes sense to have a removable cap, but I have to take care not to lose it because without the pen cap, the tactical pen has no pocket clip.

Love: Pocket clip

Here is the key to keeping the Williams Tactical Pen 2 at the ready: clipping it to your shirt pocket. The pocket clip on this pen is very strong — and rightly so. It not only keeps the pen attached to your pocket, but it also keeps it attached at the same point on your pocket. I attach it to the far right of the left chest pocket of my dress shirt. My right hand is my strong hand, and I can just reach up and grab it because it is always there. It is always in the same spot. At 1.4 ounces, it is not heavy enough to pull my shirt or feel weird. Instead, it rides with stability and comfort all day. At just short of 6 inches in length, it leaves just shy of an inch of the cap exposed when in pocket; this is what I grasp with my thumb and index finger when deploying. The clip is strong enough to grab a pants pocket as well. I put it in my pants pocket only when there is no shirt pocket available. Then, I carry it on my weak-side front pants pocket, leaving my strong hand free to grab my gun or knife.


Do you carry a tactical pen? Why or why not? What do you love and hate about it?

For more information on the CRKT Tactical Pen 2 click here.

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: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

About the author: Mark Kakkuri is 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.

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  • Jerry July 21, 2018, 8:30 am

    Just one suggestion: remove the CRKT ligo from the pocket clip–anyone that know a little sbout knife manufacturers will pick up on that–(maybe pay royalties so it says BIC or STAPLES–LOL

  • F. Brian Smith July 20, 2018, 3:04 pm

    I am look forward to the introduction of the tactical fountain pen.

    • ejharb August 27, 2018, 11:53 pm

      But the tactical quill is the only way to go for old school tactical hipsters! It goes well with your 5/11 tricorn hat in acu

  • Johnny Raygun July 20, 2018, 10:05 am

    Nice article, but you just told the entire world, one can walk on a commercial aircraft and the TSA will not know. You most likely created a new ruling from the Feds. Also, who will risk walking an airline with a $200.+ tac-pen when it could get confiscated. Finally there are better choices for a tac-pen, hope you review some of them.

    • Cyrus July 20, 2018, 11:32 am

      I agree – how about STFU

    • Neil Foster July 20, 2018, 11:22 pm

      Unfortunately, some overzealous TSA agents are already confiscating these… I had one in my briefcase and on in the sleeve pocket of my flight jacket. TSA took BOTH of them!

  • Tom July 20, 2018, 9:26 am

    And your point is???

    I like ones that twist, no detachable cap and a glass breaker tip.

  • Sean Carberry July 20, 2018, 7:04 am

    I have a tactical crayon😀 jk. The pen is a practical tool but spending too much on it seems silly. Any steel body pen will stab somebody. And if you’re really depending on that inch-inch and a half of pen poking out of your fist…just use your fist. Here’s hoping you never have to use your tactical pen in a tactical situation.

  • Joe July 20, 2018, 6:41 am

    Finally! a defense for all that rape going on by the copy machine!

  • Edward July 20, 2018, 5:10 am

    I carry a Gerber tactical pen. The best part about it is that it’s a clicker, not a capped one, so I don’t have to pull the cap off to write with it. I’ve been carrying a tactical pen for years now. I started with a Benchmade. It did have a cap, and after years of use, the cap started to get loose, that’s why I went with the Gerber when I replaced it. During all these years of carrying one, I’ve only had one person notice it was tactical. Being a pen, they just seem innocent. I’ve carried it through many security screens where I’ve even been turned away and told to take my pocket knife back to my car. Anybody serious about having a covert, last ditch weapon should have one of these things.

  • Penrod July 17, 2018, 7:38 pm

    I bought a tactical pen at the NRA convention in Indianapolis several years ago and like it a lot. Unfortunately, as it has no label, and I discarded the packaging at the booth, I don’t know who made it. That’s a shame as it is a good one.

    Features I like: crenelllated butt ‘DNA catcher’, twist to open and close, heavy duty clip, takes Parker ink cartridges. Sturdy as all get out.

    Feature I dislike: anodized black. I dislike the black for two reasons: it shouts ‘tactical’ instead of just ‘sturdy pen’. Since I usually wear either polo shirts or t-shirts, I wear it clipped in the collar, and sweat rapidly removed all the anodizing on that side. So now I have a silver and black palomino tactical pen. Anodized silver would be a lot better as the palomino effect would be much less noticeable.

    For those who normally wear shirts with pockets, other colors would still be nice: silver, blue, red, whatever. Just so it is a little less obviously ‘tactical’, especially for office workers who cannot wear a gun or knife to work.

    About that clip: forty years ago I bought expensive pens, and they never lasted much more than a year because I’d manage to bend or break the clip. Yeah, I’m klutzy that way. I eventually wised up and used nothing but cheapos for decades. Then I came across this thing and have never come close to damaging the clip. It’s massive.

    I like sturdy stuff which won’t let me down by breaking. If I never need a tactical pen as a weapon, it has been well worth having purely as a reliable tool.

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