8 Best Tactical Pens That Help You Prepare for Emergency Situations

By Nathan Thomas
Updated on
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The Rundown

There’s nothing wrong with protecting yourself against attackers or life-threatening situations. For some people, carrying an obvious weapon like a gun or a blade is not practical or comfortable enough for everyday carry (EDC). Tactical pens, however, are perfect concealed carry defense weapons, whether you keep them on your body, in your briefcase, or within your tactical backpack.

Tactical pens have ink cartridges for writing as well as features for self-preservation. They have life-saving abilities and offer convenience because of their superior durability, high-quality materials, and varying designs.

Finding the right EDC tactical pen can be a challenge, especially if you’ve never purchased one. We took the time to find the best tactical pens on the market and created a comprehensive list featuring the top option for multiple categories. Here are the best tactical pens for 2021.

Best Overall
Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen
The Impromptu features high-quality materials with a stylish design and incredible durability with comfortable use.
What we like
  • Exposed glass breaker tip
  • Durability
  • Balanced weight
  • Pocket clip
What we don’t like
  • Weight can be problematic
  • Exposed tactical tip can get in the way of writing

Material

This tactical pen has a stainless steel body with a Cerakote ceramic coating, giving it exceptional durability. It can withstand everyday use, whether you toss it in your bag before work or keep it in your shirt pocket for quick accessibility. For extra security, the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen has a stainless steel pocket clip.

This USA-made tactical pen will last for years, regardless of any abuse you toss its way.

Features

As the number one tactical pen on this list, the Gerber Impromptu does it all. Despite its arsenal of tools, it still only takes one click to get the pen ready for writing.

Its tactical features include a permanently exposed tempered steel glass breaker tip above the writing tip. It’s always ready for defensive measures against attackers, and it’s capable of breaking car windows in an emergency.

The Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen is built for the field. It can write in any weather condition, including rain and snow, because it uses the all-weather Rite-in-the-Rain ink.

Style

The Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen looks like it means business with a sleek, modern design and all-black matte finish. It resembles something designed for military use instead of EDC for civilians, so it will blend seamlessly with your go-bag or other tactical items.

Convenience

Though it isn’t a standard writing tool, this tactical pen offers smooth writing and accepts replaceable ink cartridges after its original one dries out.

It has a considerable weight at about 2.17 ounces, so it feels comfortable in hand, though it may be too bulky for some people. Because of its materials and construction, the pen can withstand incredible amounts of force. Well-known YouTube reviewer Kenji Brian Kitagawa remarks on the Gerber Impromptu’s weight as a preference because he “prefers something heavy if he has to bust through a window.”

Runner-Up Best Overall
Smith and Wesson Military and Police Tactical Pen Black
Smith & Wesson Military and Police Tactical Pen
Sleek, easy-to-use defense tool and writing instrument by a well-known weapons manufacturer.
What we like
  • Durable
  • Pocket clip
  • Excellent writing tool
  • Replaceable ink cartridges
What we don’t like
  • Heavier than other pens

Materials

Smith and Wesson seldom misses the mark with their defensive tools, which is why they are the runner-up for the best overall tactical pen. The pen and its cap consist of olive drab anodized aluminum, giving it a durable, rust-resistant coating. With an anodized aluminum body, the tool will never chip, peel, fade, or flake.

Features

This Smith and Wesson tactical pen is about 6.10-inches long with a diameter of .51-inches. It is a capped pen with tapered ends for both writing and defense. The cap fits on both ends with a snap, making it user-friendly and secure.

Keep this pen easily accessible for EDC by using its 6061 aircraft aluminum pocket clip to attach to your shirt, belt, or bag.

Style

In addition to a stylish olive-green color, this Smith and Wesson tactical pen has a sleek design discreet enough to carry on planes and trains. It looks like a pen with a contemporary design that drew inspiration from the US military.

Convenience

Thanks to its tapered ends and considerable length, you can easily use this tactical pen for self-defense. It’s strong enough to give an attacker pause when you strike a nerve point or bone, and it can withstand powerful blows.

As a writing tool, the Smith and Wesson Military and Police Tactical Pen does not cut corners. The medium point pen writes smoothly on paper without skipping, and its body has ridges so users can write comfortably for long periods. This tactical pen takes Hauser pen refills for prolonged use.

Best Premium Quality
Nitecore Titanium Pen Tactical w/ Tungsten Tip NTP10
Nitecore NTP10 Tactical Pen
This pen uses some of the most premium materials and doesn’t sacrifice style over quality.
What we like
  • Pocket clip
  • Superior durability
  • Discreet
  • Glass breaking abilities
What we don’t like
  • The unusual design may get flagged by TSA
  • Could be small for large hands

Material

The Nitecore NTP10 is one of the few tactical pens made of titanium instead of aircraft aluminum. Its body and pocket clip consist of 1.88 mm thick CNC-milled titanium alloy, making it exceptionally lightweight, durable, and almost indestructible. Each pen comes with an aluminum tube carrying case with a screw cap and O-ring, perfect for attaching to a tactical backpack.

Features

This 4.25-inch long titanium pen has a tungsten-steel glass breaking tip with high fracture resistance. For added discretion, the pen cap covers the glass breaking tool while writing. The pointed endcap is sharp enough to bust a car window or deliver a defensive punch. Like other tactical pens, this model also features a pocket clip for keeping it secure to your clothing if you prefer EDC.

Style

This exceptional tactical pen is gray with a satin finish for a glossy texture that speaks more of style and elegance. It is a contrast from the rugged appearance of many other tactical pens. It has a hollow body with curved carvings so the user can see the interior ink cartridge. It’s modern enough for the boardroom but strong enough for the field.

Convenience

This self-defense pen has carvings that make it easy for users to hold, whether they are writing or defending themselves. It comes with Schneider gel ink, but the pen also takes Fisher Space pen refills and has an adjustable inner barrel to accommodate refills of varying sizes. Thanks to the titanium build and hollow core, this tactical pen is lightweight and portable.

Best Lightweight
CRKT TPENWK Williams Tactical Pen Black
CRKT Williams Tactical Pen
Created by a former Recon Marine, James Williams, this lightweight tactical pen is ideal for writing and self-defense.
What we like
  • Robust construction
  • Discreet
  • Lightweight
What we don’t like
  • The clip is a bit weak

Material

This self-defense tactical pen has a precision-machined aluminum body with an anodized aluminum coating. With a 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum frame, you can expect it to hold up over the years. Aluminum is already a lightweight metal, and at about 1.20 ounces, the CRKT Williams Tactical Pen is one of the lightest tactical pens you could buy, so it won’t weigh down your pockets.

Features

This tactical pen includes a cap cover with a snug pocket clip and a sharp tactical end for self-defense. The cap easily snaps on and off to expose the pen tip. The pen has exceptional balance from tip to tip, and the tactical end is sharp enough to pierce a can.

The pen was built for more than just writing, so you can expect both comfort and functionality no matter which ends you hold.

Style

This tactical pen is made to look like a standard pen with a non-reflective matte black finish. It has a clean appearance at 6-inches long with a .63-inch diameter. Despite its superior tactical tip for self-defense, it does not look imposing.

Both the pen tip and tactical end are tapered to a point, providing you aesthetic and functional balance.

Convenience

Unlike some bulkier pens, this one can be used for prolonged writing. It has a smooth feel with slight grooves on either end to ensure a firm, steady grip.

When it comes to defense, the pen’s long reach and sharp points make it easy to quickly and aggressively respond to situations.

Best Minimalist
Schrade SCPENBK 5.7in Black Aluminum
Schrade SCPENBK Tactical Pen
The best tactical pen to pack a punch without additional bells and whistles.
What we like
  • Minimal design
  • Pocket clip
  • Robust strike tip and glass breaker
What we don’t like
  • Inconvenient screw cap

Material

This self-defense tool consists of CNC-machined aerospace aluminum. It’s durable enough for everyday carry without the user having to worry about its black matte finish peeling or rubbing off. This tactical pen is also sturdy enough to perform a defensive strike without bending or snapping.

Features

Unlike other tactical pens on this list, the Schrade Aluminum Pen and Tactical Defense Tool has a screw cap instead of one that pops on and off. This piece also doubles as a cap whistle for emergencies.

The pen’s striker/glass breaker tip blends almost seamlessly into the structure, so you can be confident it won’t snap off. Like most other options, the pen has a pocket clip with a firm grip.

Style

This survival tool flies under the radar. It is highly discreet, mimicking the aesthetic of a plain ballpoint pen with a little extra weight and thickness. At 5.9-inches long and a weight of 1.4 ounces, this pen has a conservative design appropriate for any business environment. Nonetheless, it still offers users optimal protection against attackers or other emergencies.

Convenience

The Schrade Aluminum pen comes in a variety of colors and is suitable for any gender. Combined with its innocent design, you can use this tactical pen anywhere.

Users can swap out empty ink cartridges with either Hauser brand cartridges or P900 Parker Style Black Ballpoint Cartridges. The pen provides a decent flow of ink through its .25-inch fine tip, and it has grooves up and down its body for a secure grip.

Whether you take it hiking or to the office, you can be sure you have a reliable writing instrument and defense tool at your disposal.

Best Multifunction
Take Flight Tactical Pen Stainless Steel
Take Flight Tactical Pen
A defensive tool that’s convenient and offers additional gadgets for your survival gear or bug-out bag.
What we like
  • Exceptional multipurpose tool
  • Bonus batteries and ink refills
  • Bright flashlight
What we don’t like
  • Heavy
  • The snap-on cap may not be secure

Material

The primary material of this tactical pen is CNC-machined aircraft grade aluminum, so it’s exceptionally durable and will last for years, even with regular use. Its quality material makes this pen a favorite among military personnel and first responders who need a reliable pen and defense tool on the job. Still, it is good enough for civilian use as well.

Features

The Take Flight Tactical Pen is more than meets the eye. At 6-inches long, this tool operates as an everyday carry pen with a pocket clip to attach it to your carry gear, laptop bag, purse, or belt. This 4-in-1 emergency tool has a durable glass breaker tip, an LED tactical flashlight, a pen, and a bottle opener.

Style

With all the features within this tactical pen, it’s no surprise that it has a rugged appearance. Though it works well as a daily pen in some settings, its design is primarily for outdoor use. Some people won’t know all the purposes of this tactical pen by looking at it, but they will see that it’s not a typical pen you can buy at any store.

Convenience

Due to its loaded toolkit, the pen might be too heavy for EDC in your office, but it should always be in your bag.

The pen comes with two extra ink cartridges and an extra flashlight battery that is easy to replace. Having the ability to write, defend yourself, break auto glass in an emergency, and shine a light in a dark place makes the Take Flight Tactical Pen one of the best tactical pens you can purchase.

Best Budget
The Atomic Bear Tactical Pen Black
The Atomic Bear Tactical Pen
Excellent writing and solid construction for a military-inspired tactical pen at a fraction of cost.
What we like
  • Affordable
  • Breaker tip can pierce glass, metal, and ceramic
What we don’t like
  • Ink cartridge runs out quickly
  • Cap can be really loose

Material

As one of the best tactical pens on this list, the SWAT tactical pen by Atomic Bear doesn’t skimp on construction material quality. Its body consists of precision-machined aerospace aluminum alloy. This non-lethal self-defense weapon is built to last and won’t rust.

It even has a heavy-duty nylon sheath to clip onto your belt for EDC.

Features

The Atomic Bear Tactical Pen comes with a firm cap to cover the ultra-tough tungsten-steel glass breaker tip. The cap provides an audible click on either end of the pen to assure the user that it’s secure to the tool. Its stainless steel clip easily attaches to nearly any material, whether it’s a pants pocket or a tactical bag loop.

If you’re not busting windows and glass with this tool, you can use the tapered tip to deliver a devastating blow if attackers confront you. You can also position your finger on the anti-slip thumb rest on the cap to add more force to your swing.

Style

This tactical pen has a relatively simple design that does not attract attention. That said, the style is more fitting for those working in tactical professions. The design is a successful blend of contemporary composition with an older military aesthetic, so it will blend in with a vest, backpack, or other items in your kit.

Convenience

The tactical pen is well-balanced and feels good to hold no matter if you’re writing or defending yourself. It has anti-slip ridges going all around the pen for a superior grip.

The pen portion of this tool provides users with continuous ink transfer. Once the initial ink runs out, you don’t have to stick with Atomic Bear cartridges. The pen accepts Rite-in-the-Rain ink cartridges and Fisher Space pen refills.

Runner-Up Best Budget
Uzi Tactical Pen UZI-TACPEN2-BK Aircraft Aluminum Black
Uzi Defender UZI-TACPEN2-BK
Even with a lower price tag, this tactical pen offers quality in all its features.
What we like
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Good writing abilities
What we don’t like
  • Tip does not retract
  • May be uncomfortable for extended writing periods

Material

This tactical pen uses high-quality materials to ensure durability when it counts. It features an aircraft-grade aluminum body, which is of higher quality than the aluminum you may find around the house. Despite its reasonable price, it can take a beating and will last for years.

Features

This model is one of the few top-tier tactical pens that is a writing instrument, a defense tool, and a glass breaker for the carbide tip. Imagine with just a dozen bucks, this little thing can help you escape in critical situations.

The pen is about 6.65-inches long and weighs only 0.35 ounces. If you use it for EDC, the aluminum pocket clip can keep your pen secure over all types of obstacles.

The Uzi pen takes standard Fisher Space pen refill cartridges, so you never have to worry about it running out of ink. The pen moves over papers with ease and leaves a smooth line of ink.

Style

The Uzi Defender is one of the more stylish tactical pens. It has a gunmetal gray finish, but buyers can also purchase a black model if they prefer. It doesn’t look like a standard ballpoint pen, but it doesn’t have an overly militant style. It simply appears to be a thick ink pen with grooves for grip.

Convenience

The Uzi Defender Tactical Pen is definitely one of the most lightweight tactical pen for comfortability. The only drawback is that this pen does not have a half-twist retraction mechanism, meaning you can’t actually retract the pen without taking it apart.

The Ultimate Tactical Pen Buying Guide

Tactical pen with gloves, rifle and compass on black fabric
Photo by Nesterenko Maxym

Unfortunately, life-threatening situations can occur at any time, but buying a tactical pen and keeping it within reach will protect you from life’s occasional curveball. Though these survival and self-defense tools are a favorite among military personnel and law enforcement, they are skyrocketing in popularity for civilian use because of their discreet protection.

If you’re thinking about buying one of these unique pens for the first time, searching through all the available options may be daunting at first. Below is a brief guide to help you find the right tool for your specific needs.

Why Should You Carry a Tactical Pen?

One of the primary reasons you should consider a tactical pen for everyday carry is because it isn’t illegal, unlike other weapons.

Most survival pen designs are inconspicuous enough not to appear dangerous, and they usually get past airport screeners, making them ideal travel protection instruments. The pens are lightweight and easy to clip onto bags, belts, and shirt pockets with their steel pocket clips.

Concealment

Because the pen is supposed to be a discreet weapon and survival tool, you might want to select one with an inconspicuous design. If you intend to travel by plane often or use the pen in a school or professional setting, you need one that looks as close to a regular pen as possible. If you plan to use it in the field or keep it in your car for emergencies, a more rugged design is acceptable. 

Ink Cartridge

Most tactical pens can take replacement cartridges, so if you want to get the most use out of your tool, find one that accommodates your ideal ink cartridge type and size. Fisher Space pen refills are a popular option. Items like the rain ink cartridge are pressurized to ensure the pen tip writes on almost any surface and in all weather conditions.

Cost

Tactical pens have a broad price range, and though purchasing one at a low price may be tempting, it’s not always the right step to take. You don’t want to sacrifice quality over cost when it comes to survival. You also don’t want to purchase an expensive pen you won’t use to its full capacity. Always choose a model that fits your lifestyle best.

Quality

These pens often consist of military-grade materials such as aircraft aluminum and steel, so most can withstand the force of striking an opponent. The pen’s grips should be comfortable enough to use the pen for writing and prominent enough to ensure good control during a fight. If you plan to use it for daily writing, make sure the bolt action mechanism won’t fail after repeated use. On top of these, make sure the pen will not wear and rust when in the field.

Self-Defense and Survival Features

With its sharp, durable point, a pen can be used to punch into hard surfaces. If your car is submerged in water, you will need a blunt tool to break your window to escape. A tactical pen with an integrated glass breaker is perfect for this task.

Likewise, pens can help you fend off attackers with their tapered edges. However, you need to make sure your pen has a sturdy build that can withstand multiple blows.

Usability

During your search for a practical tactical pen, you will likely come across some models that do more than act as an EDC tool. Some pens function well enough to be a multi-tool for any bug-out bag for emergencies. They may have additional features like flashlights and bottle openers. Your best tactical pen will give you the tools you need for daily life.

Size and Weight

As with any weapon or tool, you must have the ability to hold the tactical pen comfortably. It can’t be too small or large for your hand or too heavy to carry. Materials like aerospace grade aluminum and titanium will affect the weight. Pens can be compact and lightweight or long and heavy. Both fit a specific body type and purpose, so make sure your pen gives you the control you need.

Pen Tip

The tip is the most crucial part of this self defense weapon. Because most tactical pen tips can cause bodily damage, you need to ensure that your pen selection has a way to secure the tip. A self-defense pen may have a screw-on cap with a steel pocket clip or push-button mechanism to cover the tip. You can even find a bolt action tactical pen.