I first noticed “tactical” pens around 5 years ago. With every item you can imagine becoming tactical somehow the pens stood out to me as an item that would actually benefit from the concept. Tougher pen = good!
So what are they?.
The tactical pens generally share two components in common which sets them apart from an average pen/biro.
1. They are rugged.
2. They could be used in self defence situations much like a Kubotan.
For me the idea of a rugged pen seemed a good one. I have lost count of the ammount of nice pens I have gone through in the past that ended up in pieces on the floor. If I could get a pen that could tolerate me standing on it then I figured it would be a winner..
The self defence angle is interesting but carries legal connotations here in the UK. If I were to say in a court of law that I carry any article for use as a weapon I would have a legal issue. We do have readers from other countries who may well carry such pens as a self defence option so we will discuss that aspect.
Uzi Tactical Pens.
I don’t know who came up with the idea of Tactical pens but Uzi must be in the running for being one of the first manufactures of them. Uzi have several models in their range. I bought the Uzi Tacpen#2 about three years ago. It has been in my pocket and in use every day since purchase. Since then I have acquired a couple more – a spare #2 (which I keep for Sunday best!) and a Tacpen#12 which is a different design from the original but retains the same cosmetics and benefits.
The design consists of two main sections made of aircraft grade aluminium. The section simply screw together enclosing the pen refill within. To use as a pen simply turn one section until the refill tip protrudes. After that simply turn a section in the opposite direction to retract the tip. It does take a while to get used to this (you might find yourself trying to click the top!) but it quickly become second nature.
The rear section of the #2 houses a very strurdy pocket clip which is one of the pens best features. I always attach the pen to the inside of a trouser pocket and the clip has never let me down. Right at the rear end you have the “glassbreaker”, a pointed section designed for shattering toughened glass.
The front section of the pen tapers down to the hole which the pen refill protrudes from when engaged.
The entire outer design has ridges and knurls to aid grip and make the pen look pretty badass. One point to note is that the knurls and ridges can tear delicate fabrics so do not clip this pen to the inside of your silk lines italian suit trousers..
The pen weighs in at 42.5g which is pleasingly heavy. You need a bit of weight if you want it to be sturdy.
I have tested the #2 on wooden planks, logs and cardboard in terms of its ruggidity. It will happily impact these surfaces with no issues to its writing abilities. If you were trapped in a room with closed windows or a car then the #2 is definitely not going to have any problems being used to smash in/out. A point worth noting is that car windows and many commercial windows have a specified weak point to aim for. This is usually in a corner and is often where the manufacturer has etched their details. I was able to retain my grip throughout impact testing with bare sweaty hands and gloved.
Other than a few scratches the pen has remained solid after 3 years of being dropped, stood on, knelt on and hit against objects in testing. They are virtually impossible to damage or break.
Writing wise the #2 works fine. It does accept standard and space pen refills. Obviously the quality of the refill will dictate how smoothly the pen writes.
The #12 is Uzi’s newest Tacpen. It is made up of three main parts. A cap which screws on and off exposing the nib of the pen and the front and back sections which screw together and enclose the pen refill within. All sections are made of the same lightweight aircraft grade Aluminium.
The cap houses a sturdy clip and a glassbreaker made of carbide steel which is incredibly hard. When fully screwed in place the cap is secure and easily able to take any stress caused by striking on objects without coming loose or breaking. The only slight negative to a screw cap is when using in dusty/gritty environments. If particles become trapped in the threads they could eventually cause wear and damage or just make it awkward to screw on or off. I have taken to giving the cap a quickly hard blow to clear any grit when I use it out on the range.
The rear section of the pen narrows to an end with three horizontal holes and a sharp point. This makes it particuarly fearsome in terms of self defence application but again I would urge great caution dependant on the country you live in. The police or courts may take a dim view of any slender sharp objects on your person.
The slender aspect is also apparent at the front end where you would traditionally hold a pen when writing. The #2 is quite bulky in this area and takes getting used to. The #12 is a lot slimmer and feels about the same as holding any other regular pen when you write with it. Be aware that when you are writing the slender sharp end is pointing upward toward you. Falling forward or having your head pushed down could lead to a rather unpleasant accident.
Although the pens look cosmetically similar the agressive knurling has been ditched in favour of a large checkered pattern. I actually prefer this as it does not seem to rip delicate fabrics but still provides ample grip.
Again I ran the same tests and the #12 had no issues. It will happily strike glass, wood and so on. Like the #2 it seems almost unbreakable and will not let you down if it gets trodden on or dropped.
Writing wise it is excellent and benefits from the slimmer design which feels a little more elegant in the hand.
Notes on use as a self defence product.
Both of these items mimick the Kubotan in design. The Kubotan is a piece of wood or metal usually about the length of your hand from wrist to fingertips. The concept is simple – you are decreasing the striking area. The impact of a blow will be concentrated rather than spread out (over a fist for example – quite a large striking area.) The smaller your striking area the more painful/damaging a strike is likely to be. It also increases the chance of penetration which may or may not be beneficial dependant on situation.
Self defence is a life/death situation. It is not something to invoke when some drunken idiot swears at you or humiliates you. Real self defence is when your life is SERIOUSLY at risk. In that scenario a rugged object with a pointy end will be a benefit. The chances of a situation like that occurring are luckily very low in this part of the world but in many others it could be something you need to give thought to. If you are interested in martial application of products like these then the first thing to do is recieve relevant training from an experienced instructor (not some urban krav maga douche on youtube who proclaims expertise after his intensive 6 week instructors course). I have been practicing various martial arts for several years and I am knowhere near “expert”. Research your instructor and when you find a good one train consistently. Just posessing a tactical pen is not going to turn you into Steven Seagal. In fact the item is likely to be taken from you and probably used against you if you lack skill/confidence/required aggression within that situation.
Again I must emphasize that carrying any object for use as a weapon in the U.K. is illegal, objects with weapon like design features even more so. Know the law before you rush out and buy things to carry in your pockets or handbag. Even a rolled up newspaper is an offensive weapon if you admit that you carry it for use as a weapon.. If you just roll it up for convenient carriage absolutely fine.. Yes the laws are silly but we are not about to enter into a whole lets change the law debate here..
Both of these products are in my opinion fantastic. They are inexpensive (around £20-£30) and will last a lifetime. I have paid 3-4 times that for fancy pens before and they lasted months. Uzi are one of the most reasonably priced Tacpen manufacturers but they did not scrimp on materials or innovation. I shall continue to use my pens at work and on field trips/range outings knowing they will not let me down. The only thing I have to do is replace the refill every so often just as one would with any normal pen.
Read more or purchase from Uzi’s main site here
For self defence training in the UK with a real expert who understands UK law.