Best tactical pens for EDC and survival in 2017

best tactical pens

Whether you are going to your workplace in the urban jungle or exploring the wilderness, most of the times you would carry some sort of pen to write down your thoughts or make lists.

So why not unleash the James Bond in yourself and carry a Tactical Pen that can function both as a pen and as a defensive multi-tool?

A typical tactical pen consists of an all-weather pen with an unbreakable body and a couple of tactical self-defense features such as glass breakers. In this article, we look at some of the best tactical pens available in the market. We will also list out some of the factors to consider while picking the best one for your needs. Rest assured, none of the options we list can act as a Laser cutter or an explosive device, but they still pack a punch!

Best tactical pens list

Some of the best tactical pens available in the market are listed below:
PictureProductLength
Weight
Features 

Schrade SCPENBK Tactical PenL: 5.7"
Wt.: 1.4 oz.
- Budget tactical pen featuring a T6 aircraft-grade aluminum body with a matte black finish.
- Comes with a black Schmidt P600M ball-point ink cartridge.
- Comes with a standard glass-breaker/self-defense tip with the flat-cap surface providing a solid support.
- Comes with a secure on-and-off pen flat cap that provides a comfortable grip.
- The second-generation version is also available that has a cap that can work as a survival whistle and also comes with a magnesium fire-starter.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty.

Gerber Impromptu Tactical PenL: 5.0"
Wt.: 2.02 oz.
- Made in the US, a rugged tactical pen made with high-quality, machined steel with a tempered window-shattering tip design.
- Works like a normal push-button ball-pen and comes with a black Rite in the Rain all-weather refill.
- Features an integrated glass-breaker with a tempered steel glass breaker tip.
- Comes with a reliable stainless steel deep pocket clip.
- Default body color is black. Also comes in costlier Grey and Earth tactical colors.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty.

Zero Tolerance #0010BLK Tactical PenL: 5.3"
Wt.: 1.3 oz.
- High-end, made in the US tactical pen featuring a 6061- Titanium coated-aircraft aluminum body and a black finish.
- Comes with a Rite in the Rain, all-weather ink cartridge that works in all weathers and elevations.
- Has a smartly machined glass breaker tip that can handle the toughest glass panes and surfaces.
- Features a non-retracting tip and an O-ring sealed snap cap. The cap has a smartly fitted, non-breakable clip.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
TACRAY Tactical PenL: 4.8"
Wt.: 0.7 oz.
- Discreetly designed, ultralight tactical pen made with Titanium alloy and Carbon fiber. Weighs and looks very much like a regular writing pen.
- Features a German-made Schmidt P900M refill.
- Comes with two different types of glass breaker tips- Tungsten steel and Ceramic Carbide.
- Comes with a high-quality Nylon zipper bag.
Rick Hinderer Knives Investigator PenL: 4.25"
Wt.: 1.6 oz.
- Made in the US, small-sized tactical pen with a bead blasted, brass body. Aluminum and Titanium options are also available.
- Features a black Fisher Space Pen ink cartridge, which works flawlessly in all weathers and elevations.
- Has a grooved design for better grip for tactical defense even with its small size.
- Features a sturdy clip that works seamlessly with even the toughest fabric such as jeans and backpacks.
- Can be shipped to selected countries outside the US.
Hoffman Richter Stinger Tactical PenL: 6.0"
Wt.: 1.75 oz.
- Smartly designed and competitively priced tactical pen made with aircraft-grade, titanium coated aluminum with a flat cap. The cap clips securely on the back.
- Comes with a standard, Franklin Covey all-weather black ink cartridge, and can be replaced with standard Fisher Pen or Rite-in-the-Rain refill.
- Features a beveled edge that doubles up as a glass breaker and defense tool.
- Backed by an Ironclad lifetime warranty.
Smith & Wesson SWPENMPBK Tactical PenL: 6.1"
Wt.: 1.4 oz.
- Ergonomically designed and competitively priced tactical pen made of aircraft-grade aluminum with a clip on/off cap.
- Comes with a standard Parker and Hauser ink cartridge, but can be replaced with standard Fisher Pen or Rite-in-the-Rain refill.
- Features a pointer bevel that can act as a glass breaker and self-defense tool.
- Backed by a lifetime warranty.
CKRT TPENWK Williams Tactical PenL: 6.0"
Wt.: 1.2 oz.
- Sleek and stylish tactical pen with a 6061 aluminum body with a non-reflective black finish. Has a tapered body for easy grip while writing.
- Features Fisher SP4 black ink cartridge that works in all-weathers and elevations.
- Features a high-quality glass breaker tip concealed in the flat-shaped pen cap.
- Comes with a nice, Nylon zipper case.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
UZI Functional Tactical Defender PenL: 5.9"
Wt.: 1.5 oz.
- Standard tactical pen made with aircraft grade aluminum.
- Features a standard black refill which can be substituted with Rite-in-the-Rain or Fisher pen refills.
- Features a pointed bevel on one side to work as a glass breaker.
- The pen has a set of holes on the back side for tactical carry in a keyring.
- The cap does not screw on the pen, but can fit snuggly. Still, need to secure it in the field.
Benchmade Tactical PenL: 5.1"
Wt.: 1.3 oz.
- Rugged-looking US-made tactical pens that are made from anodized aluminum, Titanium, Damascus Steel or Stainless Steel. Comes in a variety of color combinations.
- Features an all-weather Fisher Space Pen ink cartridge.
- Comes with different types of glass breaker tips- Tungsten steel or Ceramic Carbide.
- Also, feature an O-Ring pressure fit snap-on/off cap with a sturdy pocket clip.
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty.

What is a tactical pen and how you can use one?

A tactical pen is what Jason Statham is to movies. Tough, unbreakable and reliable. In simple terms, a tactical pen is a normal, high-quality writing pen that is designed in a way that it can double up as a glass breaker or deployed in a self-defense situation.

Generally, tactical pens have a hard plastic or metal body, an all-weather refill with a medium point, a glass-breaker tip made of Steel, Tungsten or Ceramic and a cap that can act as support for the thumb. The pen has a sturdy, almost unbreakable clip that works well with all fabrics – even jeans.

The following image describes the main parts of a typical tactical pen.

tactical pen parts

99% of the time, you would use your tactical pen for writing. So it needs to have a reliable refill or ink cartridge that can work in all weather conditions and situations. In 1% of the time when you face a survival situation – self-defense, chipping some wood or breaking a glass window, there is a strong metal tip.

If you ever need to use your tactical pen for self-defense purposes, target the pressure points such as neck or inner arm/armpit or sensitive areas such as throat, ears, eyes or groin. For more information on how you can use a tactical pen for self-defense check out the following video.

NOTE: Now, before we move further, a word of advice. With heightened security checks, avoid taking tactical pens with you on the plane. It is best to check it in. While there may be times when people have been able to carry some of the inconspicuous models, it is not worth risking your investment at the security check. For more information, check the TSA guidelines.

How to pick the best tactical pen for your needs?

With so many options available in the market, ranging from less than 10 bucks to as high as 150 bucks, picking the best tactical pens can often be a challenge. If you are picking something for more than just tough looks, always opt for the US or German made pens or from some established tactical gear manufacturers. Avoid options that ship from China or Hong Kong as you may not get the desired quality.
In addition, you can consider the following factors while picking the best pen for your needs:

  • Building material of the pen
  • Design and Looks of the pen
  • Length and weight of the pen
  • Additional features and considerations

Building material of the pen

The reason you see such variations in the prices of tactical pens can be primarily attributed to the manufacturing material of the body of the pen and the glass-breaker tip. So it is an important criterion to consider while picking the best option.
The body of a tactical pen is primarily made of one of the three materials. The only exception to these materials is the Rick Hinderer Knives Investigator Pen which features a bead-blasted brass body:

  • Hard Plastic: Many budget tactical pens are made from high-quality plastic. They are advertised to be pretty tough and lightweight, but not as tough as metal tactical pens.
  • Aircraft grade aluminum: Aircraft grade aluminum is one of the most popular building materials employed for the body of tactical pens. It is extremely tough and is reasonably lightweight. And with Tungsten coating, the durability increases manifold.
  • Stainless Steel: Some heavy-duty tactical pens use stainless or Damascus steel (similar to that used in some knives) for the body. Steel is tougher than aluminum, but it is also heavier. So you should keep that in mind while picking an option with a steel body.
  • The tip of the glass-breaker/self-defense end of the tactical pen is generally made from tungsten steel or carbide. Both of them are reasonably effective. In fact, the TACRAY Tactical Pen comes with both of these options and you can choose to affix one of them to your pen.

    Unless you have a budget constraint, you should opt for one of the metal body options for your tactical pen.

    Design and looks of the pen

    The design and looks of the pen are also important.
    In terms of design, you should look at the scaling/grooves on the pen and the design of the cap among other things. Tactical pens provide grooves or knuckled scales that help in creating a better grip on the pen. However, you have to careful while working with these scales as they can sometimes injure your fingers.
    The pen type and design of the cap are also a closely related factor. A screw-able cap with a flat base can provide a superior grip to the thumb in self-defense/tactical situations. All of the options we listed except the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen have a screw on/off cap. The Gerber Impromptu has a unique push-button design.
    The looks of the pen govern the level of concealment your tactical pen would provide. A rugged look would mean a less than subtle indication about the tactical nature of the pen, while a discreet look such as the one of can act as an element of surprise for many.
    Consider the design considerations and looks to determine which option you want to go with.

    Length and weight of the pen

    Your carrying options and tactical requirements would determine your preference of a specific tactical pen.
    Most tactical pens are designed to have a length of around 5-6 inches, though some options such as the Rick Hinderer Investigator Pen are smaller. Generally the longer the pen, easier it is to use in tactical situations.
    Similarly, the weight of the pen governs the tactical effectiveness – a heavier pen tends to be more effective in survival situations but you have to bear its extra weight at all times. So based on your requirements you can go with a lighter or a beefy tactical pen.

    Additional features and miscellaneous considerations

    In addition to the major criteria discussed above, there are some other miscellaneous considerations that can make a particular purchase more suitable for your needs.
    One such factor is the type of refill used in the pen. The best tactical pens use all-weather medium point refills by Fisher Space Pen or Rite in the Rain. These refills allow these pens to be useful even in inclement weather conditions, elevations and orientations – even upside down. If you are someone who prefers a finer point or a different refill, you should first check the compatibility of the refill with the model. Typically G2 type (Parker) ball-point/gel-point refill or cartridge should fit most of the pen (except cheaper models).
    Secondly, you can check out the accessories, if any that come with the pen. Some tactical pens come with a nice Nylon zipper gift bag. This is especially useful if you are going to gift this pen to someone. Similarly, some tactical pens come with additional refills.
    Finally, the service provided by manufacturers is another major additional factor to consider. All the tactical pens we listed above are backed by a limited lifetime warranty and hence are tough enough to withstand years of use. This is especially important considering you do not want to be left stranded with a non-functional pen in the hour of need.
    You can look at all these additional factors to determine if they make a specific tactical a better choice for your needs.

    Which are the best tactical pens and what our picks are?

    Schrade SCPENBK Tactical Pen – Editor’s choice for the best budget tactical pen

    best budget tactical pen
    When it comes to a budget tactical pen, check out the first and second generation of the Schrade Survival Tactical Pens.

    The Schrade SCPENBK Survival Tactical pen is a smartly designed tactical pen that does not scream out as one. This pen features a CNC-Machined precision 6061-T6 aluminum body with a matte black finish. The aircraft grade aluminum provides this pen extreme toughness without adding too much to the weight.

    The Schrade Tactical Pen features a black, German-made Schmidt P900M Parker ballpoint refill. It has an overall length of 5.7 inches and weighs a decent 1.4 oz.

    The best part of the Schrade Tactical Pen is the flat screw on/off cap design. The cap is slightly wider than some other tactical pens, but this means it can provide a very good base for your thumb to apply extra force during tactical situations. The pen has a virtually unbreakable deep-point clip which means you can carry it easily concealed in your pocket. And it has a very unobtrusive and non-threatening look.

    Moreover, if you are looking to get more out of your Tactical Pen, check out the Second Generation Schrade SCPEN4BK Survival Tactical Pen. This pen features a removable Ferro-rod and a concealed striking plate. What’s more, the cap is uniquely designed to function as a survival whistle.

    Like all other Schrade products, the Schrade line of tactical pens is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. So you can use them for recreational and professional purposes without any worries.

    For its great value for money, decent quality, and discreet design the Schrade SCPENBK Tactical Pen is our Editor’s pick for the best budget tactical pen. If you are looking for a competitively priced budget tactical pen, you should pick one of the two models by Schrade. Trust us, you would not be disappointed.
    Pros
    • High-quality tactical pen with an aircraft-grade aluminum body.
    • Comes with a wider flat screw on/off cap which provides a better support to the thumb in tactical situations.
    • Ridged surface with strong grooves and a decent taper for a comfortable grip while writing.
    • Has a version that comes with fire starter and emergency whistle.
    • Competitively priced and backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
    Cons
    • The matte finish degrades with time.
    • Some medium-point G2 refills, such as ones by Fisher may not fit the pen.

    Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen – Editor’s choice for the best mid-range tactical pen

    best mid-range tactical pen
    When it comes to mid-range tactical pens, there are very few that can stand up to the quality and functionality of the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen.

    The Gerber Impromptu Tactical pen is a smartly-designed, proudly made in the US tactical pen. It is one of the very few models that feature a push-button mechanism for the refill. This design makes it look inconspicuous and not much different from a standard ball-point pen. But trust us, it does pack a punch.

    The standard Gerber Impromptu pen features a T6 aircraft-grade aluminum body with a matte black finish. If you can spend a little more, you can get a more elegant-looking Grey or Earth color option.

    The Gerber Impromptu pen is a comfortable 5 inches long and weighs a sturdy 2 ounces.

    The pen comes with a Rite in the Rain ink cartridge, which means that it can be used in all weather conditions and elevations. Heck, you can even use it seamlessly lying upside down. It has a stainless steel pocket clip to carry the pen around in your pocket, Molle-slot or bag.

    The pen features an integrated, tempered steel glass breaker tip that can work in almost all situations. The location of the tip, however, has a downside. The tip can sometimes rip through your trousers or scratch your leg while moving, so you have to be a wee-bit careful.

    What’s more, the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen is backed by a limited lifetime manufacturer warranty supported by an excellent customer care service.

    For its competitive price, superior quality and inconspicuous design, the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen is our Editor’s pick for the best mid-range tactical pen.
    Pros
    • Discreet, yet effective pen with an aircraft-grade aluminum body.
    • Lighter yet equally effective when compared to other tactical pens.
    • Reliable push-button refill operation means quicker deployment in tactical situations.
    • Features an all-weather Rite in the Rain refill that works in all conditions and elevations.
    • Backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
    Cons
    • The integrated glass-breaker tip can scratch the leg when carried in trousers or jeans.
    • The push-button spring may wear down over time.

    Zero Tolerance #0010BLK Tactical Pen – Editor’s pick for the best high-end tactical pen

    best high-end tactical pen
    If money is not a limitation and you are looking for a tactical pen which is functional and elegant and rugged looking at the same time, then check out the Zero Tolerance series of tactical pens. These pens do not have names. In the true spirit of 007, they have numerical series and the Zero Tolerance #0010BLK Tactical Pen is one of the most popular ones of the collection.

    The Zero Tolerance #0010BLK Tactical Pen is a generous 5.3 inches long and weighs a decent 1.3 ounces. The pen body is made with aircraft-grade, Titanium coated 6061 aluminum. The pen has a non-reflective black finish which gives it an inconspicuous look.

    Like the Gerber Impromptu pen, the Zero Tolerance Tactical pen comes with a black Rite in the Rain all-weather pressurized ink cartridge that works in all weather conditions, rain and elevations. The pen is versatile enough to take other G2 Refill types such as Fisher, Schmidt, and Parker.

    The pen has a non-retracting tip and O-ring sealed snap cap. This design of the cap means that when closed, the pen is virtually sealed and there is very little chance of moisture seeping in. The cap has a smartly riveted, non-breakable clip which can be used with the toughest fabrics.
    The glass-breaker tip in the pen is built like a tank. When properly used it can break the toughest of the glasses, puncture hardest of the surfaces and inflict maximum damage on your adversary.

    The Zero Tolerance Tactical Pen is backed by a limited lifetime warranty, so you can carry it for years without worrying about its durability.

    The Zero Tolerance #0010BLK Tactical Pen is our Editor’s pick for the best high-end tactical pen. If you have money to spend and love to carry an elegant, yet functional tactical pen, then you should definitely consider getting one of these for yourself. You truly deserve it!
    Pros
    • Superior, titanium coated aluminum body with a non-reflective black finish.
    • Smartly designed O-ring sealed snap on/off cap that keeps moisture away.
    • Comes with high-quality, all-weather Rite in the Rain Ink refill.
    • Features one of the sturdiest glass breaker/tactical tip in the market.
    • Backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
    Cons
    • Costlier than most other options, but you get what you pay for.
    • The cap of the pen may sometimes be slightly difficult to take off.

    Replacement refills

    As discussed above, 99% of the time, tactical pens are simple writing instruments. So you would like to have a reliable refill that can work in all weather conditions, different elevations and even when writing upside down.
    The type of refills used in the pens is one of the reasons why the options that we listed are not under 10 bucks. Most cheap tactical pens are neither tactical weapons nor decent pens.
    If you ever need to replace the refill of your tactical pen (they do run out!), the best option to pick one from the same model. In case you are looking for some options, you can check out the following (most pens have G2 type refill):

    Final thoughts on the best tactical pens to buy

    Tactical pens are discreet, yet effective self-defense tools that can function as writing pens for 99% of the time and for that 1%, act as an emergency self-defense or survival tactical gear. They are a perfect item to carry in cases where carrying or deploying a knife may not be an option.
    In this article, we looked at some of the best tactical pens available in the market. We focused primarily on options that are high-quality and work in even the most difficult weather conditions. We specifically avoided cheap options which do not work well either as a pen or a tactical gear. We also looked at some of the factors to consider while picking the best ones for your needs and also shared our top picks.

    We hope you found this article useful. Do let us know your feedback and if you would want us to consider anything else by commenting below. Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!

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    Image credits:Amazon.com

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