image of my top tactical pen

I haven’t had to use a tactical pen, yet, but I have tested dozens of them. I’ve reviewed all the technical specs then distilled it all into this guide.

In a hurry? This is my personal favorite, the Columbia River Knife TPENWK Williams because it has a tapered-body & made precision-machined aluminum.

Remember: if you need protection in a dangerous situation where other weapons aren’t allowed, defense pens are often your only option for self-defense.

Comparison Chart


Wallet Score

My Rating




Boker Plus 09BO093 Titan






Smith and Wesson SWPENMP2G M and P



Smith and Wesson SWPEN3BK



UZI UZI-TACPEN2-BK (best budget)



Schrade SCPEN4BK



Portable Multifunction Aircraft Aluminum



Research Process

Tactical pens have much stronger pocket clips than standard products. Most regular pens have weak clips that snap off easily. This isn’t the case with tactical items – the entire product is made from durable and strong metal – so you’ll always be able to access it quickly.

There are a number of considerations when choosing a tactical pen. The type of metal is one of the most important, as it determines the overall strength of the pen. Other considerations include the check price, weight, and length. You should also look for a discreet product that doesn’t look like a weapon.

Some tactical pens also come with extra features. These include glass breakers, fire starters and even a tip that can catch DNA. Whether you need these features depends on where you plan on using the pen.

We’ve searched the internet for the top three rated tactical pens and reviewed them below. Each of these pens is strong and could potentially be used for self-defense.


1. Schrade SCPENBK

image of Schrade SCPENBK Tactical

The SCPENBK is an extremely tough pen that’s built with machined aircraft aluminum. If you need a product that can survive the most testing situations, the SCPENBK is a great choice. Other features include a smooth matte black coating, screw cap, and sleek design. The SCPENBK also comes with an extra cartridge.

A downside is that the supplied ink cartridge is relatively low quality. This can make the gerber impromptu pen difficult to write with.

Fortunately, replacing the cartridge with a higher quality alternative solves this problem. Considering the excellent construction, we think the SCPENBK fulfills its role as a defensive weapon – even if the supplied cartridge isn’t up to scratch.

2. Smith and Wesson SWPENMP2G M

image of Smith and Wesson SWPENMP2G M

The Smith and Wesson SWPENMP2G is built with aircraft aluminum and is 5.7 inches long, making it an excellent choice for self-defense. It’s also an attractive pen with a sleek and stylish design.

The SWPENMP2G has a relatively smooth grip. This is fine if your hands are dry, but could potentially make it slippery if your hands are sweating. The grip does have grooves to reduce slipping though, so we feel that it’s still an excellent model that’s great for both writing and self-defense.

3. Schrade SCPEN4BK

image of Schrade SCPEN4BK

This is the upgraded version of the Schrade SCPENBK. The SCPEN4BK is a strong pen that’s built with anodized aluminum. The great thing about the SCPEN4BK is that it’s designed for survival, with extra features such as a whistle, fire starter and glass breaker. If you need a versatile tool that’s suitable for both self-defense and everyday tasks, the SCPEN4BK is a great option.

The SCPEN4BK is designed for survival and self-defense – writing is a secondary function. It can still write reasonably well, but some folks seem to think that the heaviness and bulky construction mean that it’s not suitable for more than the occasional note. In terms of its primary functions, however, the SCPEN4BK is an excellent Gerbers impromptu tactical pen.

History Of The Tactical Pen

A tactical pen (some call it a self-defense pen) is just that, a writing utensil you can use in a tactical situation. It is a weapon you can use in self-defense. While it could be said that any pen could be used in self-defense, these are specifically designed to be one. When you can’t have any other type of weapon with you, Columbia river’s tactical pen will be there for you. These are writing tools, of course, but they can do so much more. They are water-proof, temperature-proof, and you can write upside down with them.

Gerber’s impromptu tactical pen is going to stand up to a lot more than a typical one. They are great for survival situations, and they are much more rugged. Amazingly, you can use one to not only protect yourself but to even break glass if you need to. They are also designed to deliver intense force on pressure points on the human body; the best models are great as a hand-to-hand weapon.

In terms of its history, it is quite difficult to pin down exactly when they first emerged. Throughout the Cold War, many were designed to be more than writing utensils, providing self-defense and surveillance in certain situations. The public’s purchasing of these is a recent phenomenon, emerging first in the 1990s but increasing greatly with the availability of the Internet.

The Cool Features

When you are looking for a tactical pen, you are getting one that has a lot of extra features. It just doesn’t write; it does so much more. Naturally, this means that it is going to cost more than a typical one, but you are getting a lot for it.

The biggest advantage and the biggest selling feature of this is the fact that it is a weapon that is discreet. No one will know that what you carry doubles as a weapon that you can use in a self-defense situation. It gives you an advantage.  You will and that gives you greater confidence in a situation, as well as an element of surprise if someone were ever to attack you.

There are other great features of the self-defense pen, which are unique to various ones and won’t be found on all of them. There are some that include a DNA catch tip, which allows you to capture DNA from someone without them even knowing.

In addition, there are some that work as glass-breakers, and others that provide a handcuff key that you can use to get out of handcuffs. Not surprisingly, these are very popular with law enforcement and their use is increasing greatly.

Most out there come with a pocket clip. It is to prevent it from falling out of your pocket and not being there. The pocket clip won’t break, and you won’t have to worry about losing it. If you’re looking for the best one you can buy, make sure it includes a pocket clip.

Lastly, the grip is considered to be very strong and won’t cause it to slip when your hands are sweaty. No matter if your hands are dirty, wet, slimy or anything else, it is not going to slip out of your hand, and that again is very important in a survival situation.

Additional Considerations

If you are going to buy one, you want to make sure you get one for what you need. If you are in need of one for a survival situation, then you need to get one that is water-proof and temperature-proof, while also strong.

If you are looking to get one that can be used in a serious survival situation, then you will need one that has a strong grip. It can be used as a weapon when the time comes (the term “self-defense” pen makes sense).

Lastly, if you are looking for one that can be used in a multitude of situations, find one that can break glass, while also allowing you to capture DNA.

When you are looking at different options you need to make sure you buy it from a reputable source. Two of the best sources are Smith and Wesson and Uzi. When you are buying one, you don’t want to buy one that just has a good grip on it, you want to get a good pen that can serve you in survival situations.

Best Check Price Option

The UZI TACPEN-2-BK Defender is a great choice. It’s made of lightweight aircraft aluminum, so it is strong but highly durable. Coming in a  black finish, so it blends in, and it also features an ultra-durable carbide tip glass breaker. This brand is used by the US Army, Secret Service, and the Special Forces.

The Smith and Wesson’s SWPEN3BK Tactical Pen with a Stylus Tip measures a good size at 5.7 inches and 1.4 ounces. Made of aircraft aluminum, it is highly strong and highly durable. The grip of it is excellent, and it even features a stylus for using a tablet or smartphone. It can write in the rain, and write upside down.

How To Use It


Tactical pens can be a handy “last resort” self-defense weapon if you’re in a location where other weapons aren’t allowed. They are defensive items, but the fact that you need to be close to an attacker means that they aren’t ideal.

Even so, if you’re in a dangerous situation without a proper self-defense weapon, you’ll be glad to have a heavy tactical pen.

Two of the most important attributes of tactical pens are strength and subtle appearance. Look for a strong product that doesn’t stand out as a weapon. Other considerations include the ease of writing and weight. You also need to decide whether you require extra features, such as a glass breaker, before you start looking.

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