Double Duty


Tactical Pens, an Offspring of Knife Company Designs, Fills the Role For Tactical Situations

tactical pens

(Left to right) MilTac, Surefire EWP-01, Surefire EWP-02, CRKTs titanium, CRKT James Williams design, the Tao by Allen Elishewitz, Browning’s Black Label and Benchmade’s 1100 series in black.

Maybe the pen is mightier than the sword.

In the world of self-defense, it can be a political and legal tightrope to find a tool to defend oneself from attackers while making sure we have legal rights to do so. One of the answers is the tactical pen.

This origin of the tactical pen lies squarely within the knife community—and almost all such pens are produced by knife companies.


Back in the ’80s and ’90s, there was a wave of self-defense classes for women and a common outcome was that women would go out and buy kubatons.

Kubatons are small batons that are attached to a keychains,to be used as a close-quarters striking and pressure point device. Al Mar, founder of Al Mar Knives, was one of the first to popularize these, in the form of a miniature police baton.

By the turn of the millennium, carrying a kubaton became illegal in many places, not to mention they became very obvious to would-be offenders. Also the kubaton has been targeted as a security check point item to be confiscated. So comes the mighty tactical pen.

The answer to being able to overcome the restrictions of carrying an item for self-defense is to simply take an everyday item and build it tough enough to be used for self-defense.

I have picked a small sample of what’s available. My list includesBenchmade, Browning, Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT), MilTac and Surefire.

Although we are talking about something as simple as a pen, as with knives, each company and designer takes their own approach and offersdifferent features to the pens. We’ll start with Benchmade.

Benchmade offers a number of different tactical pen models. The one reviewedhere is the 1100 series pen, available with black or blue ink and in either an aluminum or stainless steel body. The aluminum bodies come in a variety of colors: charcoal, red, pink and gold. For those who really like a decked-out pen,there’s even a Damascus steel version, model 1100-13. It’s a cap design pen and the cap and barrel both have a scalloped ring contour with gently checked risers. Out of all the pens I reviewed, Benchmade pens features the most aggressive-shaped tip at the butt of the pen.

Parts Of A Tactical Pen

Derby or Tassie: Flat or rounded top of the cap

Cap: The part of the pen that covers the point when not in a writing position

Barrel: The overall body of the pen, often grooved aluminum

Point: The writing point of the pen


Text and Photos by Abe Elias