When Ninjas Attack: Tactical Pens

Yes, tactical pens. Against my better judgment.

Now, I’m a self-professed POG. Pogue. However you want to spell it. I never attended the cool school or HAHOed into anything ending in -Stan, but I have done a few things that might be considered MOTO or Hooah light. One thing I never used in any tactical capacity was a pen (unless you count sketching warrant service plans or writing an op order). So I have to say I was more than a little leery of any sort of writing implement that had the word tactical in front of it. That said, I was given a Smith & Wesson tactical pen to try out and I figured I ought to at least give it a whirl…so, I’ve been playing around with it.

Kit Up: Tactical Pen from Smith & Wesson.

Now, in fairness, I have to tell you up front. I haven’t done a Jason Bourne and killed anyone with it yet, and I’ve not had the opportunity to use it to disable a bomb (though the week is still young). It has written well after I heated it up, it worked pretty well after I threw it in the freezer, and it worked perfectly after I took the cap off and hammered it point first into a stump I’ve been meaning to get rid of for about five years.

In the end, I feel pretty foolish reviewing a tactical pen, but, some readers I met at SHOT asked about it and I agreed to do so (they weren’t even mall ninjas; they were serious). So, there it is. The Smith & Wesson pen held up to quite a beating and kept writing. I’d tell you I was using it now, but I’d be lying. I’m actually typing on my laptop.  Is it the end all, be all of tactical gear? No, but it’s certainly on the high end of hunter-killer-scholar implements. My niece is now going to be carrying it in her school kit, as apparently colleges frown on young ladies carting a gunhammer around in their pocket (and it “clashes” with some of her outfits, or so I hear).

So would I actually go out and buy a tactical pen? Probably not, and certainly not before playing with this one, but it has grown on me (and gosh it makes me look cool). I have to admit it, though. I beat the hell out of this thing and I haven’t been able to make it quit writing. Next I’m gonna pick a fight with it:

So anyway, I can definitely see how some people might benefit from having one in certain situations (or anywhere in the People’s Republic of Portland). The following is a video review of some other pens by a new Facebook group called Tactiholics. I’m not sure what other Special Operations Office Tactical Stuff might be coming in the future (SOOTS: I just made that up), but you can bet we’ll keep you up to speed. Sometimes you get a gem (like the M-TAC, which is awesome).

More to follow, but only if you want it.

About the Author

Kilgore & Call
Richard Kilgore and Jake Call have been writing on and off for Military.com for many years now. You can reach them at BreachBangClear.com or follow them on Instagram at @breachbangclear or Tumblr at http://the-mad-duo.tumblr.com/.
  • Farley

    I can just see it now in a Grainger catalog. “The Only Authorized SOOTS Dealer.” Tac. Pens, Battle Copiers designed to be converted into an automated laser cannon, and FOB chairs with tank treads that will keep rolling even after a JDAM drops….

    Jokes aside, good review. Many of us have seen tactical pens around, but wondered the practicality.

  • Rick

    Thank you David for a very enjoyable cup of morning coffee.

  • Out on Mean Street

    Take a look at the “Old cops” around where you live. You might see at least one Cross pen in their pocket. In a pinch, they can use that shiny silver or gold pen as a last available weapon to save their life. Cross never refered to them as “Tactical” though…

  • Back in the 80’s I carried a device which didn’t write but it sure would put a hurt on someone. If did look like a pen and passed casual inspection. It was called the “Guardfather” of all things. The body had a spring loaded spike that ejected with some serious speed when the pocket clip was depressed. A couple of years later the ATF at the time declared it an AOD or whatever they called weapons like this. I still have mine and carry it from time ton time. The spike locks into place when fully extended.
    Botach sent me one of there pens with an order. It’s a steel body that would work with some serious power applied behind it. It writes pretty good to:-)

  • nraddin

    When I was in 5th grade I got into a fight with a kid while sitting at my desk. The kid had struck me from behind while i was sitting at my desk. I picked up my pencil and stuffed it about 2 inches into his gut. (Thankfully everyone saw him attack me) He was out of school for the rest of the year for medical care. While I am not sure I need a tactical pen, a good metal one will slid right into a dude with enough force.

    BTW, all the reviews of SHOT and Zombie posts here and you didn’t review this: http://www.fark.com/vidplayer/6908671

  • HalP

    I’ve punched through drywall with good ‘ole Ticonderoga Pencils before. With softer targets, pencils will get better penetration. Only downside is you have to sharpen it afterwords (if it breaks). I found out that lead will scare lots of people, even it is ‘pencil lead’ – sharp pencils can scare the mess out of some people (especially when in my hands). And with pencils, you can fashion mini-bows, arrows, bolts, etc.

    But I’m biased, as I’ve always preferred pencils over pens.

  • defensor fortissimo

    i tried one of the uzi pens that came with a built in handcuff, only problem is it was to big for the s&w cuffs we use. its still a pretty handy pen, just big as a mofo

  • Darren

    Zebra makes the F-701, it’s not advertised as ‘tactical’ but it does have a stainless steel barrel and cap. It’s also $8, and can be hacked to take a Space Pen refill, in case you have to write in zero-g.

    The Sanford Uniball 0.2mm looks a lot like the dilators I use to put in dialysis catheters. Don’t know how much force the plastic pen barrel can take, but the point can definitely make a hole. With proper motivation I think it could get an internal jugular open in a pinch.

  • jake

    I know nothing about this except i bet those in prison would do a world of hurting on ya if they had one.

  • bbb

    When you absolute, positively have to write down the names of every *********** in the room, TACTICAL PEN.

    But a space pen seems like an equally good investment…

    This is clearly heading into the Gucci dog tag (yes, they exist) realm of gear though… just like the Rolex dive watches from before.

  • GeR

    The problem with tactical pens is that they look like tactical pens. Try going through airport security with ones of those in your pocket and see how many red flags that raises. You would I think, be much better served by carrying a Cross or Waterman other such sturdy metal pen.

    • Darren

      A guy was arrested at Palm Beach International Airport for carrying a S&W Tactical Pen in his carry-on luggage. His lawyer pointed out that this was in fact *a pen* and the prosecutor dropped the charges.

      I like lower-profile things for carry-on that don’t say “Smith & Wesson” on them, because there’s no sense giving the TSA a loose edge. The Zebra is pretty tough, the Tuff Writer is tougher still, albeit 11x more expensive. Neither has the name of a gun company on it.

  • Lance

    I guess Poison pen letter are out stabbing pen letters are in. (Joke) LOL

  • MarkM

    Sharpy. Executive. If it looks tacticool, it’s obviously getting confiscated.

    Of course, the real problem is that all these impact tools are oversized and take two hands to get out of the pen slot on a shirt. You have to spec your uniforms with V.2 tactical pen slots to use them. Unfortunately, most manufacturers are completely unaware of the new specification and aren’t in compliance.

    If you are having difficulty getting your tactical pen into the pocket of your Arrow shirts, it’s going to take ordering custom made one from Hong Kong, fortunately that’s pretty easy these days. Like $79 watch bracelets, there’s plenty of sources on the tactical pen slot business shirt forums, they’re all hooked up on Paypal and ship in ten business days.

    Hill Country Gear is rumored to be coming out with a new line of shirts here in America, the PALS webbing on the pockets is subtly made from the same material and pattern matched so you can’t see them. Works exceptionally well in a nice 100% Egyptian cotton stripe, monogram on the cuff free. With the PALS webbing, I understand that an unnamed maker is toying with some kind of whisperlite fabric pouch and color matched Malice clips for gear, all in the same patterns. They couldn’t wait for the lead time its taking to field Mirrorflage.

    There is at yet no substantiation that a West Coast knifemaking company is supplying tac pens to an unnamed elite forces unit near San Diego, however, an RFQ for wetsuits with V.2 pen slots on the sleeves has surfaced in DOD.

  • SleepyDave

    Don’t forget the Shoulder Mounted Fax Machine.

  • SleepyDave

    My father makes pens at home, turning some on a lathe, including polymers, wood, acrylics, and even metal. He made one a few years ago, that is pretty much cut from solid steel. He calls it The Man Of Steel, and has yet to find a buyer for it. He sells a lot of other products, but I’m pretty sure TMOS is the closest he’ll ever get to doing a “tactical” pen. I’m tempted to buy it off of him.

  • EOD Bombbuster

    The saying, “Taking names and Kicking Butt”, now actually makes sense, but I’m not sure how practical this is. Wouldn’t a good folding knife be better? If you’re worried about losing your knife, you could always carry two. For those who want covert, I would like to draw your attention to the bright anodized gold beacon in the photo’s above.
    While a pen could be used as an improvised weapon in a pinch, I won’t think we need to try to make it a weapon by design.
    Geardo’s be warned, owning one of these does not make you a trained killer. It does make your wallet $10-$30 lighter, so if thats’s your goal, press on.


  • Kenspear

    Holy **********!!!

  • SleepyDave

    From what I understand, this is all about carrying weapons in places you can’t carry weapons. For example, my local courthouse, like many courthouses, kind of gets a little *GRRRRR* when civilians try to pack weapons in. LE is okay, CHL is not, and people don’t understand that from time to time. So, a tactical pen is a weapon you can carry, in a place you’re not allowed to carry weapons.

    Unless you’re like my local courthouse, where the folks running the door know what these things look like, and confiscate them anyway.

  • T-9

    I have 5 exceedingly hot nieces, and arming them with a tactical pen might make for good birthday presents. Thanks Dave.

    • Uncle Willie

      So…uh…about these nieces….

  • EOD Bombbuster

    I’m sure the good folks at the TSA would be happy to relieve your carry on of this item as well. You will see it in the shirt pocket of a screener the next time you go through.
    Tactical does not equal covert in the civillian world; usually the opposite. Case in point; my 5.11 laptop case stands out at JFK.
    The tactical pen is focussed to a specific consumer (LE maybe). The average person would be better off buying a rite-in-the-rain pen; at least it has a practical use. I also think you could use it (or any writing impliment) as a weapon, should plan A, B, C, D, and E, all fail.
    Yes, I said it. Any pen is plan “F”. It stands for, you are Ef’d.


  • Robert

    Now days they have tactical pens that don’t carry any branding.In fact tuff writer sells “clean” versions of their pens.Tsa should have no problems with those.You can also try pens from different companies that don’t looks so tactical.One example is CRKT tactical pen.If you want more information on tactical pens you can check out tacticalpens.org.