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Thread: Tactical Pens -- What do you like, and why?

  1. #1

    Tactical Pens -- What do you like, and why?

    Subject came up in another thread, and I got to wondering what other folks have.

    I first used a Maxpedition Acantha, which I liked because it was rather sleek, even artsy, in appearance, and certainly did not scream "Usable as a weapon!" It comes with two heads, one flat one and one "spear". I used the flat. One day I fumble fingered it and it hit the floor head first, and broke it off, with the threaded section inside the barrel. Not repairable that I could figure out.

    I am currently using a Gerber Impromptu. It is rather industrial in appearance, with grooves which can provide a better grip. No DNA collector. Retractable, unlike most tactical pens. Has a rod which protrudes slightly by the hole for the pen tip, intended as a glass breaker.

    I have fumbled this a few times, with the result that the "space pen" cartridges get messed up; they usually stop working for a day or three.

    I have also done the Zebra F-701/402 "hack", described here among other places.

    I have flown with all three of these at one time or another. (Since the TSA was brought up in this context.)

    I'm curious what others carry. What do you like about it? What not? I've noticed that many of these seem to be very bulky, and many of them are downright fugly. Would rpefer not to use something that looks like it should be a prop in the next Mad Max movie.
    Plus, I'm a cheapskate.
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  2. #2
    I have looked at and tried several, but for me they are just to dam big, heavy/clunky to actually be used as a pen. I am not sure I want to try to figure out if they are really considered a weapon, if so was it concealed?... TSA... government building access, State, Federal, courts....???

    Knife laws are confusing enough. Cross and Parker make some solid pens that may or may not hold up, but it's probably better than nothing, not as strong/durable as a "Tactical Pen for sure but they are 100% marketed and sold as writing instruments, what/how I end up using it for is my decision.

    Bottom line, Tac Pens just don't work for me.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2012
    I'm a big fan of the Zebra Pens and they're a lot cheaper than the other options. I also carry a few extras in my bag and when I fly with the family, I make sure the wife has one too.

    I used to carry a Surefire pen, but lost it. A lot of my buddies asked about the pen which is an indicator; if they are in the know, so is the badguy.

    No one asks about my Zebra pen and if I loose it...I'm not out $40-$120.

    If price is not an option a search on Amazon will show several other great options:

    I like your Maxpedition, and the CRKT pen looks very slick too, but all of them also appear a bit bulky.

  4. #4
    I've used the Gerber Impromptu for some time on the job, posted about it on my site. It's a pretty serious pen with a lot of good stuff associated with it. I've used the glass breaker on it a few times, the last time it broke the write in rain insert (jumped the spring) so i'll have to replace that. Good pen though.
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  5. #5
    Don't Waco Me Bro StraitR's Avatar
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    Jun 2012
    Central Florida
    I too tried a Surefire pen at one time, the now discontinued EWP-01. I liked it, in the standard manly kind of way, but it was big and bulky, so much so that random people noticed and asked about it within the first week of ownership. I work in an office environment with mostly MS/PHD scientists who carry a $700 MonteBlanc or $3 Pilot, so I prefer a pen that can perform as "Mr. Screwdriver" in the play Monkey with a Screwdriver without drawing unwanted attention the other 99.9999% of the time. Anyway, I returned the SF pen and bought the Zebra set, 701 pen and M-701 mechanical pencil. They work well, never draw attention, and I've flown with them quite a bit without issue.

    I shop pens about once a year just to look for something new but never see anything I think would work better than the 701 while remaining as unnoticeable as the 701. The Zebra 701 was not designed as a tactical pen, so nobody ever mistakes it for one, which is it's most redeeming quality IMO.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2014

    I like a Pilot G2 with a Monte Blanc refill. I like the regular G2 gel ink, but it tends to smear on a lot of the forms we have at work.

  7. #7

  8. #8
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    Aug 2012
    Central Front Range, CO
    My favorites are from Surefire. The SF II is a great shape, and not too big to carry in a pants pocket or a shirt pocket. I love the flattened sides. The thing is, I have wide palms, so the point would only protrude maybe 1/2" if held in a fist as an ice pick-type impact weapon. So I moved to the SF III. It's bigger all around, making it easier to get out of a shirt pocket in a hurry, and easier to strike with. As a bonus, I found that I really enjoy writing with the triangular cross-section and finger grips. It's become my overall favorite pen. So much so wife got me a SF IV (same size/shape, different styling details) as a gift, and I use it at home and keep the III with my work stuff. I use all of them with Fisher Space Pen cartridges.
    Oh, and I literally fly for a living. Never had an issue going through security with it. They give more attention to my TSA-approved Leatherman Style PS pocket tool.

    SLG- I seriously considered the Tuffwriter. Very cool looking and looks like a great tool. I found it to be a little "too" big (long) to carry in a shirt chest pocket without looking too ungainly. But definately a good design for use as an improvised weapon.

    Last edited by GyroF-16; 03-27-2016 at 11:09 AM. Reason: Added comments re: Toughwriter

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by StraitR View Post
    I shop pens about once a year just to look for something new but never see anything I think would work better than the 701 while remaining as unnoticeable as the 701. The Zebra 701 was not designed as a tactical pen, so nobody ever mistakes it for one, which is it's most redeeming quality IMO.
    They truly are unnoticeable. Problem is, they aren't actually good at writing IMO. And the tube is way skinny, which makes it hard to get a solid grip around if you're gonna draw out of the pocket and use for combatitives.

    I think these are a good compromise:

    They are not as strong as the Zebra because they unscrew in the middle. But they are still metal. And no one is expecting to fend off multiple opponents with a pen, I hope. So if it gets bent in a confrontation, so be it.

    On the plus side, writes smoother than anything else I've tried.
    Last edited by Hot Sauce; 03-27-2016 at 11:34 AM.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Sauce View Post
    Problem is, they aren't actually good at writing IMO.
    Interesting as I actually started using the Zebra because it's so good at writing.

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