We can call anything tactical, but what does it really mean to be tactical? What makes tactical boot laces any better than regular boot laces? Is it because they are black, FDE, or even olive drab? What makes a pen tactical, and why the hell would you ever want a tactical pen anyway?

Well, if those are questions you’ve asked before, we are going to answer them today. Let me start by saying Tactical Pens are one of the most discrete, low profile pieces of gear on the market and can be an invaluable piece of equipment.

It Goes Everywhere I Go

I keep a classic Crate Club tactical pen on me everywhere I legally can, which is everywhere.

That means I can carry it in places where I can’t take a gun, or a knife, or any other weapon. It goes with me on a plane, in a courthouse, and every other non-permissive environment. Most tactical pens are good to go anywhere; however, don’t be stupid. If it has a knife built into it, it’s not going on a plane.

Tactical pens are also invisible. What I mean by that is that no one notices a pen in your hand or in your pocket. If you perceive a threat, you can put the pen in your hand, ready it to attack, and no one is the wiser. You, most of the time, can’t do the same thing with a gun or even a knife.

Tactical Pens as Improvised Weapons

The fact that you can take it anywhere and use it as a kubaton or stabbing implement in a pinch makes it damn handy for travelers. The tactical pen isn’t a weapon, and it’s not intended to be. However, when your back is to a wall, everything can be a weapon, and some things are better at it than others.

Mine, in particular, with its tungsten tip, allows you to strike out and strike hard. I can use this thing to break faces, gouge out eyes, deliver severe pain to any lousy guy with bad breath, and guess what? It’s still just a freaking pen. It may have a tungsten tip that’s perfect for breaking down a bad guy, but it’s still a pen.

When you compare it to a knife or a gun, yes, the tactical pen seems pitiful. Even so, it’s much better to have it than have nothing. The thing with hand to hand fighting is that even a slight advantage makes a huge difference:

You can attack someone’s face and head without worrying about breaking those tiny little fingers in your hand. You can strike at the ribs, into the neck, and downward into the shoulder, and use it to apply pressure into painful, sensitive areas to control your attacker. Tactical pens aren’t perfect but are a welcome alternative to bare-knuckle boxing.

Improvise a Tourniquet

Listen, I’m not the type to claim my belt is a good tourniquet. I’m a CAT man myself, and that’s the tourniquet I carry. However, I only carry one. If there was a situation in which one tourniquet isn’t enough, I wouldn’t just hang my head and give up. I’d jump into getting to work with what I had.

If I have a tactical pen, I have a windless. A windless is the rod that’s used to tighten a tourniquet. A normal plastic pen is going to break under pressure. A tactical pen is most commonly made from aluminum, and it’s much stronger. This allows it to withstand considerable strain, so it will allow you to crank down on the pressure and stop the blood flow.

It’s not perfect and doesn’t in any way replace a real tourniquet, but when you are in a pinch, it’s better than thoughts and prayers. Yet, never neglect: making a tourniquet is a skill you need to practice; just having this pen doesn’t solve your problem.

Tactical Pen SMASH

When you are barehanded and facing a glass window, what are your options? Kick it? Search and find something to smash it? Automotive glass, in particular, can be tricky if you are trapped in a car. Well, if you have a good tactical pen, a glass breaker is part of its job description. Its tungsten tip allows you to drive the pen through glass and escape as necessary.

A tactical pen isn’t perfect, and a hammer, fire extinguisher, or anything bigger is better — but I don’t carry a hammer daily.

Oh, and it can take notes.

Well, duh, it is a pen and I can take notes with it. Taking notes and making lists has made me superbly efficient. It’s a tool everyone should have on them — plus being disciplined enough to carry a pen is a lot easier when it can break glass, faces, stop blood flow, and then take notes.

The Life of a Tactical Pen

A tactical pen can be an amazing tool to have. It won’t replace a weapon, a tourniquet, or a dedicated glass breaking tool, but in a pinch, it can be a lifesaver. A tactical pen is a lightweight, low profile tool that takes up hardly any space in your pocket, so it seems silly not to carry one. They are affordable, easy to find, and a perfect addition to your EDC.

This goes back to our first question, what makes a pen tactical? I’d say it is the ability to help you complete multiple objectives. I hope I never have to do anything other than taking notes with my pen, but if I have to use it in another role, I’ll be more than happy to have it handy.