Why the $10 Parker Jotter is MY Tactical Pen and Not Buying Into the Hype - ITS Tactical

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Why the $10 Parker Jotter is MY Tactical Pen and Not Buying Into the Hype

By Bryan Black

If you haven’t heard the term “Tactical Pen” yet, you just have. While Tactical Pens have been hitting the mainstream tactical market for a few years now, today I’d like to address some of the myths behind them.

Not only why they can get you into trouble, but why an overpriced writing utensil simply isn’t necessary.

Metal-Bodied Pens

Parker Jotter Tactical Pen 02The most distinguishing feature of any Tactical Pen is its all-metal body, whether that’s stainless steel, aluminum or titanium. Other features often include a blunt end for use as a Kubotan in self-defense situations, sharp pointed end, or even a glass breaker tip.

Why have a pen at all for self defense? You certainly can’t always carry a gun, even if you have a license to carry concealed. You also can’t always carry a knife, which leaves you with what your mother gave you and your level of training. Will having an improvised weapon like a Tactical Pen improve your odds in a self defense situation? It definitely can’t hurt, but what can is carrying an overt Tactical Pen.

Let me pose this question to all those owners of Tactical Pens out there, do you really want everyone to know what you’re carrying? They’ve become too mainstream to not at least get a second look from someone; even if they might not know what it is, they’ll still wonder what that huge pen you’re using is.

Just as you don’t want your concealed carry weapon to print, why would you want to let the clerk (and those around you) know that you carry a tactical pen and “might” know how to use it?

Is a glass breaker handy to have on your pen? Possibly. More so if you’re frequently riding around in vehicles that aren’t yours and don’t have a glass breaker, like you should already have accessible in your vehicle. A metal belt buckle makes a good glass breaker too.

To address the Kubotan usage of a Tactical Pen for self-defense and pain compliance, I’ll argue that cost-effective metal-bodied pens can inflict the same amount of damage. Anyone familiar with Kubotan usage should also know that many everyday items can be improvised to act as a Kubotan, it doesn’t take a $100 Tactical Pen.

Legal Aspects of Tactical Pens

Bryan's EDCSomething you should also take into consideration in carrying a Tactical Pen is the legal aspect. While it might not be illegal to carry a tactical pen, it would sure be harder to prove a case of self-defense when a lawyer is describing exhibit “A” as an impact weapon purpose-built to inflict pain. He’d have a much harder time convincing a jury that your office depot pen was purchased with that intention.

That’s the same way I feel about knives and their use in self-defense situations. You’re going to have a hard time convincing a jury that your aggressive-bladed knife with the skulls is pure utility. On the other hand, a Swiss Army Knife or CRKT folder is more convincible as a utility knife. I’m totally guilty of this one though as I carry an Emerson Commander with a skull clip!

There’s also something to be said about flying with a Tactical Pen. With TSA just looking for a reason, there’s the possibility you may not just get it confiscated (as they’re listed as prohibited), but get issued a criminal summons for carrying a concealed weapon like this guy.

Parker Jotter

Parker Jotter Tactical Pen 03Metal-bodied pens are nothing new in office supplies and I’ve been carrying a Stainless Steel Parker Jotter for the better part of 10 years. Yes, I’ve lost mine a few times, but buying a replacement at most office supply stores for $10.00 makes a hell of a lot more sense than replacing a Tactical Pen costing 5 to 10 times more than that.

Cost and the ability to use the Jotter as an improvised weapon isn’t the only benefit, they’re sturdy, strong and also write exceptionally well! I prefer to use the “fine” refill, as I feel it writes better, but that’s just personal preference. The “medium” cartridge that comes with it writes great as well. The refills are also less than $5.00.

Fisher Space Pens are also something to look into as well for a low-cost “tactical pen.” You can’t beat the ability to write in water, heat, cold, upside down and in 0 gravity environments, since most of you reading this commonly travel into space. I’m joking of course, I really do like Space Pens.

My hang-up with Fisher Space Pens is that they can be more expensive than a Parker Jotter and they’re not as readily available. I have been seeing them more and more in office supply stores, but it’s often the smaller sized Bullet or the Cap-o-Matic. I also feel they don’t write as nicely as the Jotter and often leave breaks in the lines. I’ve tried their “fine” refills too.

One of the things that drew me to the Parker Jotter is the clicker tailcap which I’ve found doesn’t get depressed easily like some others I’ve tried. I also personally like clickers because you don’t have to remove a cap to write with them.

Be careful though, as some clicker pens with weaker mechanisms will leak in your pocket from an accidental press. One last thing that I like about the Jotter is that it weighs half an ounce! Why some prefer a 4 lb. tactical pen weighing them down is beyond me.

What do you like to write with and do you carry a Tactical Pen?

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  • Ha, no doubt! I’ve never understood the purpose of those things (I mean I understood, but never really got why). I think they’re a bit in the “tacti-cool” department.

    I’d say I’m guilty on the whole knife deal too, although my SOG Aegis (my EDC) isn’t super “tactical” it’s not really overly “utility” either.

    Cool article though, and despite just getting a Space Pen for Christmas I’ll have to check out that Parker Jotter. 🙂

  • Minh Nguyen

    I bought the “cheap” S&W M&P tactical pen and the quality is “so-so”. I wasn’t too impressed with it and the size is definitely “large”. I keep it with me in a backpack now and don’t EDC it anymore. For EDC I use Zebra pens for pretty much the same reasons you’ve listed above except that they are even cheaper! Been thinking about the pens at county comm but those seem pretty big too and I have to agree that clickers are WAY better then capped pens!

    • Stephen Douglass

      I have carried Zebra brand pens for work too. I use an ultra fine point. The newer ones use a plastic, pressed, screw insert that will break the pen in half if used in a defensive posture and if you need to block or redirect with it. They will withstand upto about 4 pounds centered pressure.

      You will have a better bet with the Cross pen in stainless steal. This uses a twist open mechignism and they stand by their products. Mind you, a Cross Arrow will cost you, you will also have it for many, many years.

  • You can always buy a Fisher refill for your Jotter. Best of both worlds.

    Personally I like the MOMA Color Dots pen: http://www.momastore.org/museum/moma/ProductDisplay_MoMA%20Color%20Dots%20Pen_10451_10001_34351_-1_11524_11531_null_shop_

    Even has pretty colors on it.

  • andrea

    The first tactical pen I ever owned was an extra metal army pen set my dad gave me. I loved it.

    I still have them in storage, though now I usually travel with a simple BIC, one of the soft white plastic ones and one of the hard plastic ones. Good for keeping an airway open if you ever need to, plus also equally good at self defense, for your average. Female college student.

    • Christopher C.

      I carry a hard Bic pen because a pack costs like $4, you can save somebody’s life with one, (if properly trained) they write really well, and forget the Jason Bourne scene where he was fighting with one; when I was in middle school I saw a kid stab another kid twice with one and the pen held up. Tacticool pens are just that, cool.

  • Phil800101

    I like the Parker Jotter because it can be turned into a grenade!


    Ha ha, I wish…

    Great pen though, and it looks cool. Been using one for years.

  • David Salthouse

    I am a huge fan of the Parker Jotter, I have many and use them daily. The only thing I disagree with is the level of durability. Most “tactical” pens have metal to metal threads to hold them together. The Jotter is metal to plastic. If you tried to use the jotter as a serious impact weapon I believe it would break at that weak point and reduce the power of the impact and be useless for a second attempt. I am willing to bet it would also fail if you tried a finger or wrist grab with any real force.

    That said I do agree that if you ever hurt anyone with a purpose built pen it would quickly turn into a devil, evil killing machine and you would turn into someone looking to kill someone with your death pen.

  • I’ve got one in my pocket right now,, great pens for sure! No way I could justify buying a expensive “tactical” pen.
    Come to think of it, I cant recall seeing anyone at my agency carrying one (guess the lack of pay raises and OT must have something to do with it).


      I actually use Eric S.’ former parker pen, that I stole about 3 years ago. It is a little larger than the jotter and writes great. Plus I stole it from Eric!! I like the way the surefire pens look, but for that much money you could buy a decent knife!

    • I should have stolen my pen back when I dropped off those stickers on your desk!!

  • Christian Bengs

    Das ist komplett richtig. Der Text zeigt ein echtes Problem in der Branche das alles Taktisch sein muss und besonders schwarz und und und. In Deutschland dreht einem der Richter den Hals um wenn man mit so was auf einen Gegner einsticht. Da ist ein Parker Stift oder einen Fenix LD20 viel besser.

    This is completely correct. The text is a real problem in the industry that everything has to be tactical and especially black and and and. In Germany, one of the judges when one turns around the neck with something pierces an opponent. As a Parker pen or a Fenix ​​LD20 is much better.

  • I don’t get the “tactical” pen at all. But a good pen even in this smartphone era is a must have in my every day gear. I too am a fan of the Fisher Space Pen (gotta support the local So. Nevada small business) I put fisher pressurized refills in other pen bodies including the classic Parker. I keep a Fisher Cap-O-Matic in each vehicle glove box and emergency bag. They are impervious to the 160+ degree heat in a parked car here in the SW USA. On a daily basis I really like the Zebra F-301. It’s a simple click pen with a (mostly) steel body, cheap & durable. One gripe is that for my big mitts it is a little thin and short, making it harder to hold.

  • Irishmanlost

    I like Fisher Space Pens but currently use a aluminum bodied Audi pen for EDC. I did have a cool, engraved Fisher Bullet but lost it on the way to school one day….

  • A. Nguyen

    I have been using a Parker Jotter for about 3-4 years now. I own the stainless steel model. I was slightly unimpressed with the ink, so I bought a Fisher Space Pen refill and replaced it. When I went off to college, my parents gave me the Parker Jotter Fountain Pen (discontinued). Now, I carry both the Jotter ballpoint pen (with Space Pen refill) and fountain pen everywhere I go. I enjoy its sleek look and relatively low price. In addition, just incorporating a pen into your EDC is smart. There has been countless times when having a pen was handy.

  • D. Kirk

    I use relatively cheap plastic pens: Pentel RSVP. They are pretty solid, write well and would work as a pressure point tool in a pinch. I take them all over the world with me and never have issues (other than colleagues stealing them!). On the knife front, my prefered EDC is also an Emerson Commander (no skulls…) however, in some places I switch it out for a blue handled, plain edge Spyderco Delica. It’s small and looks more like a “working knife” than a tactical one… “no, it is not a weapon, your Honor, I only use it for opening boxes at work and cutting my apple at lunch.”

  • JD

    The most I have spent on a pen is $20. I lost it a week later and haven’t bought an expensive one since. I am currently using a skilcraft since I lost my good one. Going to have to take a look at Parker now.

  • Paul S.

    I own a Schrade Gen 2 tactical pen, it has a glass breaker style tip. the MSRP is $40 but i found it online for $20 with free shipping so i said WHY NOT!? First off i’ll say the pen writes awesome which i didnt expect, it is larger than your average pen but nothing you can’t handle. the size of the pen throws you off at first but after you start using it you begin to see that using a “tac pen” and a normal metal pen is the difference between a skull crushing knockout blow and just scraping the persons head. i took a piece of plywood and used the tac pen and an everyday metal pen and smashed down to see what the effects would be, i found the tac pen held firm in my hand and there was a definite feel of the energy transfer, the small metal pen was harder to establish a positive grip on and slid up into my thumb upon impact (which did not feel good) and lost some momentum although it most certainly did damage. When using the pens in manipulation of the arms and grappling i found the tac pen was sturdier and felt like a pry bar, where as the normal metal pen being shorter and thinner didnt have the same effect. Overall i prefer to have my “tac pen” withe me but you have to use common sense with them, i’d never try to take it on an airplane or carry it into a courthouse, in those situations ill make do with a regular metal men. but throughout my work week and daily affairs i have my tac pen in my shirt pocket. Self defense laws are a total crap shoot and nothing is for sure, once you put an object in your hand and stike somebody with it you are using a weapon, it doesnt matter if that weapon is called the “T1000 tactical spinebuster writing utencil” or the “Papermate breeze” if you attempt to drive it through somebodies skull it all looks the same in court so your actions had better be justified. So through my personal experience with a “tac pen” i can say i like it a lot. it’s certainly not an end all be all solution and you shoud be aware of the places you might not want to carry it. though as much as i like it i feel $40 is too much. though for $20 and $2.00 refills i can’t complain. everybody differs but pick one up and do some side by side comparisons yourself, you never know it might just be the next tool in your EDC.

  • Kyle N.

    I carry a United Cutlery Tactical Pen almost daily. I chose it because it doesnt look like a weapon. Its all metal, but has no jagged strike faces like the Uzi pen. It has a low-profile clip and textured body. So for $18 I figured it cant be a bad idea to get one.

  • D Word

    Never dropped money on an actual pen that was marketed as tactical but I have carried several Zebra Z-402s over the years and if they can survive my pockets when working in a factory I suspect they would hold up quite well when used as a weapon, and they are available in stores all over the place so I doubt they would raise half the concern as something you have to order online.

  • Foxbatt

    i carry a rite in the rain black clicker. on the site they call it a tactical pen….but….works for everything i need it to in my job and everyday life

  • Marty Black

    Amen! Honorable mention to the Zebra 701 all stainless steel pen. It looks the part without the price. I have two Parkers for dress uniform purposes but rarely EDC them.

  • Most tactical pens sucks at being pens! I mean come on, does anyone actually like writing with those globby, nasty old Fisher Space pen (SPR-4) refills anyway? I once got into a heated argument with a TSA “officer” as I was going through security because they removed my P-38 from my keyring but allow the person in front of me to walk through with a Parker ballpoint pen in his shirt pocket! I’m pretty sure I could defend myself against a terrorist on plane coming at me with a P-38 can opener, but TSA had to go by what was on their “list” and ballpoint pens were fine apparently – well they’re not paid to think are they.

    If the Parker pen can take a Pilot G-2 gel refill or the Uniball-207 refill then it’s a total win in my book. I just don’t have a Parket pen handy to try. Why spend $$$ on a tactical pen that sucks to write with? Just to be cool?

  • Brandon B

    Great post and uncanny timing for me as I just read an entry on a popular mainstream type gear blog about “10 Badass Tactical Pens.” So no the “tactical” pen is not a secret and yes everyone who would matter would know that it is an actual tool or weapon. It doesn’t help that many are made by knife or gun manufacturers.
    The Parker Jotter is a great substitute. I personally carry Sharpies with extra fine point (needed for work). They are very solid and very cheap and even though I don’t exactly train with one, I feel like I could use it to bash someone on the head, hand or other body part with it if needed. For regular writing I just started to use Uni Ball Signo RT Gel pens with a .38 extra fine tip. It gives writing feedback like a sharp pencil and the tip is so sharp that I KNOW I could put that bad boy through some soft targets.

    I’d love to have a sweet Ti bead blasted pen with the Strider flaming on it but not only would it scream tactical but I guarantee that I’d lose it within days of buying it. For me, Pens are similar to sunglasses in that the more money I pay for them, the quicker they are lost, stolen or broken.

  • Jasper Pettit

    I’ve got a nice metal pen from work that fills my ‘tactical pen’ role, if you can call it that. Realistically, if I need to use a pen to defend myself, I’ll take anything I can get and press it home.

  • awc

    I have been carrying a “tactical pen” of one form or another for 2 years now. The most I get when people see my pen is a “what is that” or “gee that’s awfully large.” To be completely honest I have no idea how to use a tactical pen or a kubaton for that matter, but that’s not why I use it. I simply prefer the weight of a heavy pen. YMMV

  • aaroneous

    I never leave home without a Red Pilot G2. But I also carry a black stainless CountyComm Embassy pen. I really like the CountyComm pen for several reasons. Having to remove a cap is not much of an inconvenience for me and the pen doesn’t scream “tactical” either. The Parker is on the list. Good article. Reminds me to not get too wrapped up in the hype of anything trendy.

  • Wayne K.

    I have a multitude of pens including the Jotter and County Comm tactical pen (their basic one). I like both of these and the tactical pen is substantial but not overly so, in my opinion. Some other makers tactical pens have pointy ends and look menacing but the County Comm pen ends are completely round–it is somewhat heavier though. Knife wise, I usually carry the serrated Spyderco Delica. To the uninitiated, it looks pretty aggressive which is why I no longer carry the Endura.

  • Jim O.

    I’ve been carrying the Zebra F-402 for something like 9 years now. I began carrying it when I became a deputy sheriff and was instructed to carry a decent metal body pen as a last resort close combat weapon. It may not be the strongest pen but I think it will serve its purpose long enough to potentially get me out of trouble. If it breaks and I have to replace it that is fine as it is only five dollars for two of them at Walmart. They also write really nice and look professional in my own opinion. I’m in college now and they have served me well in this world too. That’s just my two cents worth on the subject. Thanks for the fine article.

  • robert herbert

    i have had a parker for a decade. i use parker’s gel refill and people try to swipe it because it writes so nicely. impact not so much but in a pinch as a stabbing weapon into soft facial tissue i have about 1.5 inches of metal in a semi- cunnythumb reverse grip thrust. better than a poke with a finger.

  • Daniel

    At the end of the day, you want to have a pen that works as a pen. Looking at all these “tactical” pens, has become a marketing poly for companies to make some extra cash. Any sharp pointy object will due if you need to defend yourself. One of the best pens I have used in brief existence on this earth is Bic steel pen. Bic steel pen had a solid steel body with nice clicker mechanism. Modified the pen with a fine Parker refill was one of the best pens I have used as EDC. Currently using County Comm Embassy Pen v2 as EDC pen for not having a clicker, nice looks, solid construction, and good clip to hold onto my Field Notes notebook.

  • MuayThai

    I carry a tactical pen but I got several free at the NRA Convention last year. As far as carrying items for self defense I don’t base that on what an attorney might say in court. I would rather be judged by 12 than lowered by six. The end result is I want to be the one going home after a conflict.

  • The Jotter is also a spectacularly good pen and has been for over 50 years. And it takes ISO standard refills, which are generally better quality than most other types and commonly available. Parker also know how to make good ink.


  • Ryan

    I love my Parker Jotter and have been using it for a few years now. It’s the only pen that I’ll lose and then find again a few weeks later and be happy about finding. I thought about buying one of those beast pens once, until I realized that’s way too much money for a friggin writing instrument.

  • Reddog

    Zebra F-701 is a thick walled stainless steel tube with a pointy end (especially with the fine tip exposed) and an almost silent click mechanism, helping the element of surprise. It is a pen that writes well and doubles as a pointy stick. I almost always have it with me. The schrade “Tacticool” stays in my bug-out bag, and the S&W police model resides in my inside jacket pocket, as I quickly got tired of 2 hand operation on each. They are handy weapons that write.

  • I carried a Jotter all the way through school & university. A few years back I switched to the Parker Sonnet, which is a little more expensive but a bit nicer. It works fine as an impact tool, and being all metal is quite robust.

  • Mongo

    I won a surefire “tacticool pen” at a event / industry day…put it in my bag, went to the airport to fly home, it got ganked. So yeah never have seen the value, but I’m a big dumb animal that relies on Brute Force and Ignorance.

  • Phlogiston

    Another option is carrying a stainless steel cased “Sharpie” marker as a Kubaton. It will only cost you $3 or $4 at Office Max or Staples, so in the (unlikely) event that TSA confiscates it or its lost or stolen, you aren’t out much. And being a “Sharpie” marker, it doesn’t scream “tactical.”

  • Blade Stalker

    This is late but I thought it was funny after only a few days of reading this, I was given an UZI Tactical Pen as a “thank you” gift
    from a “patron” for recovering stolen handbag from a snatcher. She sent it to my Sgt. to pass on and of course I was told I couldn’t wear it on duty. 🙂
    Writes well but heavy and stands out.

  • Zipsil

    I will look at the parker sounds like a great pen. I have the county com pen and the uzi and they are totally impractical for anything. With the CC pen its the cap having no were to go, with the uzi its too dam fat to fit the pocket on my Chef jacket.

    I have a zebra F701 and theres a mod that lets you put in a fisher refill, its awesome.


  • Phenome

    Well i have some tactical pens, some would probably say that i have too much of them, but most of the time these reside in the safety of my house, car or a custom-made forearm sleeve (which initially was only meant to protect my blood vessels against cuts and slashes). Naturally this would be in my checked luggage together with the more ‘problematic’ thingies when travelling. Never had a problem with these. EDC-wise i always carry a Kaweco Liliput set of fountain pen and ballpoint pen, a Countycomm titanium embassy pen (a present given to me by someone special) and a fountain pen which was made by a friend from the remains of a broken Caran d’Ache-Fountain Pen. This has since become my ‘most cherished’ writing utensil (and one quite usable defense tool if necessary). With its cap closed, its so strong it could be used to punch a hole through a Strider blade with the use of a hammer. Its quite sleek and slender and fits my rather small hands fine. It never even gave a reason to do more than rising an eyebrow or the occasional question about the price by those intimidating TSA-Agents *g*.
    But probably this has more to do with me being a female…and all that….*g*

  • James

    I tend to carry a couple of low cost Lamy fountain pens, tactical? no, and when i say low cost i admit that it is only comparative to other fountain pens (about $30) If I were to look at what I would consider ideal for that kind of situation it would be something like a Porsche fountain pen. Heavy, and all metal. also big enough to do some serious damage… only downside is the $200 – $400 price range. (so no tactical pens aren’t in the top end of pen cost). It would also never look like something that you bought for the purpose of hurting someone.

    Then again I don’t own a porsche pen, and probably never will.

  • Justin

    I carry the Zebra F-701 everyday They are extremely strong considering their made out of Stainless Steel. If you haven’t used one check them out. And their only $4.25 @ Walmart.

  • kelly koski

    I fell in love with the Parker Jotter when I got my first job and found capped pens were too cumbersome to take down quick notes in the real world (constantly moving, not at a desk) but I never liked the way the finish on the stainless version felt in my fingers so I stuck with the plastic barrels. Recently I discovered the Jotter Premium and found it is perfect for me. It is a little more expensive than the standard Jotter (stainless Jotter $7.99, Jotter Premium $19.99 @ Office Max) but it uses a metal barrel with a black resin coating on the lower half giving the feel I like with the weight and strength of an all metal pen. From a distance it looks like a standard $5.00 Jotter with a black plastic body making it seem even more inocuous if I am ever in a situation where I need an improvised weapon.

  • blake g

    I have honestly never looked at the Parker Jotter as I routinely carry the Zebra 701 and have for years. I have yet to wear one out or break one, however I have also never had to stab anyone with one nor yunnel my way out of captivity, so who knows???


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  • Shawn

    As far as tactical Pens go I don’t buy into the hype of using them or justifying to myself the outrageous prices. Now for the same price as the $10 Parker I buy 2 of the zebra 701? Pens they have everything that ” tactical” pens have but the body is thicker and of course all the pens by zebra write like a dream and the refills are cheap too. Just my $.02 .

  • IM Fletcher

    A co-worker has a “tacti-cool” tactical pen. Its blatantly obvious and he carries it right next to the other 3 or 4 pens he carries every day, which is asinine. It looks nothing like his regular pens and it has checkered gripping and a pointed “glass breaker tip” for the price of about $65 bucks.

    I have a Rite In The Rain pen, and its the only pen I carry. Its black and made of metal, so its tough. And it is just a regular click style pen with refillable ink. Also runs about 10 bucks where I buy them. Writes in any weather on almost anything.

  • I’ve sadly used and broken most of the pens out there on the market. I’m rough on things, and forgetful as well. I’ve had pens blow up on me on a regular basis. Be it in my pocket, in the laundry, in a backpack, in my leather business messenger bag, or just while using it. I’ve had the skillcraft ones break on me regularly, gone through 10 x 10 packs of bic white pens (everyone walked away with them in the Bn S3 shop.)

    In the end I’ve finally settled with the CRKT Tao. Yes it’s heavy and obvious. I like that for my situations and uses. Each of us have different requirements and lifestyles. It takes effort to open it, so it’s not coming undone in my pocket. It’s a very obvious pen, not one that is easily forgotten and taken home by random borrowers accidentally. On purpose, at least it’s an obvious item, harder to steal. It’s not going to leak or break. I’m tired of wasting $100 because a pen found it’s way into the laundry… Not to mention having to hear it from my wife later. I can use it to knock things around and bang on things and not worry about it holding up. As to writing, I like the bigger feel of the pen. Oh and I paid maybe 30 for mine.

    There’s a good argument out there for every combination of pen and lifestyle out there. Good article since it’s giving us a good alternative and various things to think about when we do select another important yet underrated item. But make sure to remember to figure out what works for you.

  • Christopher

    I cam attest to this pen. It’s the pen I carry every day at work. I can vouch for it working in the extreme cold and on wet ticket books.

  • Johny C

    Great text!
    How about putting these pens to test? See if it takes a Rambo pen to do the job, or if a simple Bic can do it as well.

  • mike

    I want something made in the U.S. …I’d like to protect my job and YOURS.
    Anyway, I don’t want to spend over $70 for a Cuma Ram. But I do want something that I can access easily, like from around my neck.
    Any suggestions?

  • To think I’ve been carrying around a Parker Jotter all these years and I didn’t realise I could use it to defend myself. Will never look at it quite the same way – but it’s so sturdy and pointy I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.

  • Rob

    Funny. My full aluminum tac pen costs less then your metal pens you buy. Ever hear of the 16& kershaw tack pack? super bright pocket flashlight a nice flipper knife and a tac pen that actually wrights amazingly. all for 16$

  • Rob Martindale

    I have had 2 ‘tactical’ pens in the past. I had the ‘uzi tactical’ pen, and found it awful, the screws were bad and it didnt work well. Lately i tried the Smith and Wesson M&P. I would reccomend it, but the problem is the other end from the nib is a cone shape, so the point digs into your leg. Have to look at the Parker now, thanks ITS!

  • Tom I

    Good article. I’ve carried the jotter as my LEO pen of choice for years. Something my training officer showed me in training is you can take the space pen refills and put them into the jotter so you can write in the rain. Best of both worlds! This article also underlines the point that ANYTHING can be used as a weapon when your life depends upon it. The important thing is that you come out alive. So grab your pen or your belt and don’t let the fear of your pants falling down prevent you from flinging your belt buckle at someone’s face like indiana jones with a bull whip.

  • Paul

    I carry a Zebra F-701 pen, it writes well and has a stainless steel body, and cost 5 bucks. i want a heavier body pen for grins and giggles but it serves well, only complaint is the pocket clip bends a little to easy.

  • DTDyer

    Rocking the Zebra F-301. Great writing action even on Rite-In-The-Rain paper.

  • Lloyd

    And don’t forget the trusty old No. 2 wooden pencil.  Keep it sharp, and it’ll do serious damage!  And, if you carry a small pencil sharpener, it’ll double as a kindling-maker, as well as being used to sharpen your pencil.


      @Lloyd Interesting tid-bit. The only fatality we have had in the schools in my area is with a #2 Pencil.


  • Steve

    “…flying with a tactical pen…TSA…as they’re listed as prohibited”. I just looked at the TSA website and it doesn’t list “pen” or “tactical pen” anywhere on the list of prohibited items???

    • David Sharpe

      Not sure if you’ve found this out in the 2 years since you posted this, but..

      “Looking at TSA’s prohibited list; they have a “catchall” for tactical pens. Under the heading “Martial Arts & Self Defense Items” it simply says “Martial Arts Weapons.” That’s a catchall term since the very purpose of the tactical pen is martial use. It’s plenty ambiguous to leave interpretation open to any given TSA agent. How convenient for them.”

    • Anonymous

      You can take it on the plane legally. But just make sure you put the tactical pen in the checked luggage. If you have it on carry-on and carrying it with you to the plane, that’s where the trouble can brew in.

    • David Sharpe

      Yes, but I think we are all talking about carry on.

  • Cliff

    Looking at TSA’s prohibited list; they have a “catchall” for tactical pens. Under the heading “Martial Arts & Self Defense Items” it simply says “Martial Arts Weapons.” That’s a catchall term since the very purpose of the tactical pen is martial use. It’s plenty ambiguous to leave interpretation open to any given TSA agent. How convenient for them.

  • Cliff

    Looking at TSA’s prohibited list; they have a “catchall” for tactical pens. Under the heading “Martial Arts & Self Defense Items” it simply says “Martial Arts Weapons.” That’s a catchall term since the very purpose of the tactical pen is martial use. It’s plenty ambiguous to leave interpretation open to any given TSA agent. How convenient for them. 

    I also find it interesting that while the tactical pen can potentially be confiscated and you charged with a crime; you are allowed to carry a screw driver as long as it is less than seven inches long. Specifically it says that “Wrenches/Pliers/Screwdrivers (seven inches or less in length)” can be carried on.

    • ominousbanshee

      Someone trained in the use of knives is trained to use similar items. Pens, screwdrivers, letter openers, nail files, etc. The list goes on. The ones who write laws have little combat experience and would make stupid loopholes like that.

  • Anonymous

    Heya. I also wondered about those ridiculous overpriced pens.

    So I took my regular plastic Pilot G2 and stabbed some paper. Then I stabbed some boxes. I made lots of holes with the tip extruded. I reckon even if the tip broke off the plastic’s housing’s thick enough for poking things.

    I mean, hell I’d rather just draw my knife but still. Do yourself a favor and buy 50 G2s for the price of one tactical pen. You’ll probably benefit a lot more from the extra productivity not staring at a useless product all day.

  • Is this a joke?! Do people seriously need that much defence oh my gosh where do you people live :/

    • Meareistalking

      We live on earth with other humans. Humans who aren’t all on the same page…some who are desperate, some who are just crazy. You can never 100% predict what is going to happen when you run to your local Walmart (solid example). You don’t know if you are going to get hit by another vehicle…be stuck in the car….doors won’t budge and the engine is on fire…the tactical pen will break the window with ease…don’t believe me? Go on YouTube…or buy one yourself. Second. In any situation in which someone is intrusive and you are in fear for your life…I personally feel much more comfortable seeing as I have a tool that I could increase my chances of protecting myself than just my god given resources…hands and legs. Most of the time…like most of the time it will be for you if you buy one…I use the pen for…wait for it…wait for it…WRITING. The pen writes well…and I personally like the weighted writing! So if you like to be prepared for situations that include…writing…breaking a window in emergency situations…..or protecting yourself and possibly others around you against an imminent threat…the tactical pen is for your unless you would rather take your chances with your fists and you are terminator. Or you can use your rights here in America…get a gun….but good luck writing with a gun ….and good luck shooting with a pen. -Michael…owner of a tactical pen. It was only 8 dollars…stop crying about money

    • Michaelaina325

      Meareistalking Hmm. Never happen. In a ” Defense ” situation about 90% of  untrained persons would fail miserably. You would drop your pen, and it would be over. These pens are another money making racket aimed at today’s scared society. You can’t live forever, and these pens won’t save your life. Prolong it maybe, but not save it. Just embrace death. Don’t fight it. Go with the flow. )

    • Surly Old Dude

      Michaelaina325 Meareistalking Or someone could just jam that pen in the side of your skull and spare us your whingeing.

    • Christopher Trafnik

      Joe Pesci used a Parker pen as a weapon in Casino

  • bill ryan

    @Paul +1 on the 701. The bezel happens to be sharpened to add to its effectiveness.

  • Outpost75

    For years I have carried a flat contractor’s marking pencil from Lowes or Home Depot.  These are much stronger than a plain 5/16″ round or octagonal wooden pencil.  IFyou impregnate the pencil with shellac, varnish or urethane and let it harden, it will become sturdier still, AND if you also carry the hand twist-type sharpener intended for them, you can quickly make mounds of great, long-burning tinder shavings which ignite easily with your ferro rod and ignite even when wet, thanks to the absorbed varnish.  A pencil writes better than most pens when wet, and when tucked in a tool pocket with your less than 7-inch pliers, screwdriver, adjustable wrench, penlight and ferro rod, you have a pretty good low profile EDC kit which won’t look threatening or out of place.

  • J1mm13

    I carry a SS Parker. It was a gift from an employer and is engraved – so I feel I can carry it anywhere without arousing suspicion…

  • tjestice26

    Buuut, can it bust a window?

  • tjestice26

    Buuut, can it bust a window? I know that sounds dumb but it’s another reason I carry a “tactical” pen.
    I’m using a CRKT pen right now, it was 40 bucks. It’s not a clicker (which would be nice) but it’s not as obvious as most “tactical” pens… I’m really starting to hate that word. I’m a nurse, so don’t need or want “high-speed operator”, just a good patient compliance tool lol j/k U0001f60f (I’m ER) and a windom punch.

    • SmurfK

      tjestice26 How many windows have you shattered until now? And just to be clear, it won’t break any kind of secure glass, so your mission might be interrupted by one of these glasses. Also, if you want to break a window, and you should know this as a nurse, it’s better to just grab a chair, a rock, something that might put you at a higher distance from the shattered glass. Otherwise, you might leave your hand behind, with your “tactical pen”. 
      And don’t get me wrong, i’m a sucker for multi-tools or tactical knives, but these pens are just way too useless in real life. I love those stuff like “DNA catcher”, yea, like that’s gonna help someone… 
      And another thing. These tools can be useful as long as you remember that you have them. It’s a pen, you will use it as a pen. You will write with it every day, you will forget that it can be something else after a while.

  • Anonymous

    You are very correct, I agree 100% with what you said. I was once attracted to tactical pens and some good tactical pens, like UZI are actually very cheap. There is one UZI tactical pen that has a crown with a cap cover and the crown is called a “DNA catcher” it also has Fisher space pen cartridges in it so it can write in space and underwater. However, with all that you just said, I did not want to take chances with the law, even though I was planning to mark off all the “tactical” labels on the UZI pens to make them look more innocent. With that being said, I now carry a steel pen that says “Western Union” on the barrel. If anyone asks, I say that I carry it if I need to sign things or write stuff or notes and I carry a mini notepad too with it. That story would not be too convincable if the pen you are carrying says “tactical” or “combative” or has spikes and crowny tips like those UZI tactical pens. I would want my EDC pen to write underwater since I go snorkel diving and I need to write underwater to communicate underwater and I am studying Marine Biology. As I said, the UZI pens have Fisher cartridges in them. But like I said I did not want to chance trouble with an UZI pen, so I was going to look at pens made directly by Fisher Space Pen company particularly at the X-750. But it was too expensive. So instead, since my “Western Union” steel pen is refillable, I am planning to buy a Fisher Space Universal pressurized cartridge, which is very cheap BTW, so that my “Western Union” steel pen can write underwater. So that “Western Union” steel pen is my EDC pen.
    As far as the legal aspects, on top of pens and knives which you mentioned, the thing about anything that says or looks “tactical” or “combative” will get you busted with the law also applies to flashlights. Believe it or not, they sell flashlights that looks tactical and has spikes on them and those that are very long like those big Maglites, which even some cops think they look like good baton sticks. For that, I would carry a strong-built scuba diving flashlight, which BTW can be much brighter than most TACTICAL flashlights that is of modest reasonable length and can fit in a mini messenger bag for my self-defense carry flashlight.

  • shortymac83

    I write damn near exclusively with fountain pens. As much as I love the Parker Jotter as a BP or gel pen, I struggle to write with anything but a fountain pen. I bought a Schrade tactical FP to try out, and while I love the writing, and don’t mind the weight (and appreciate the shape and such), it seems to be a bit…much…

    Anyway, I’d love to find a fountain pen that would apply, but it wouldn’t work well I think, as the ink would leak and blorp around inside the cap…

    • ScottWorswick

      shortymac83 You should check out a KARAS Kustom Fountain Pen Company.  They have all metal pen the can withstand anything.   

      You can but the pen direct from Karas  or Goulet Pens both online and both are great.

      Good luck 


    • Dave H

      I’ve also used the Schrade Fountain Pen. A big reason I don’t use it everyday is I tend to use Rite in the Rain notebooks for work, and fountain pens do not apply. I will check out Karas out of interest.

  • Bannef

    Thank you for this. I was also thinking about how tactical pens are often marketed as something used by law enforcement. I have lots of respect for the men and women who put themselves in danger to protect the public, and I understand how useful a tactical pen could be, as often situations turn violent unexpectedly, and they usually have a pen in their hand, since the job involves a lot of paperwork.

    But based on what I have been told by people in law enforcement I respect, de-escallation is the most powerful weapon they have, most of the time. (Clearly, not all of the time.) Purposefully showing that you are not holding a weapon can be very useful tool, and it is ruined if your pen looks like a (forgive me) stormtrooper’s sex toy. And a normal but sturdy looking pen means that your assailant is taken unaware, if things go south.

    I know the counter argument against de-escallation is that weapons can intimidate a potential combatant, and convince them to not attack. I could see that being relevant with guns – even a drunk and belligerant person might sober up enough to back off if they see a gun. But I have trouble seeing a tactical pen inspiring the same response. Sure, they are a dangerous and powerful tool if used by a trained person, but the average person doesn’t know that, and they just aren’t as scary as a firearm.

    Essentially, I could see tactical pens inspiring aggression (‘oh, he thinks he’s such a tough guy, I’ll show him’), but not intimidation. If a normal looking pen can be used similarly then I think they would be a better choice for officers of the law, as well as the rest of us.

    All that said, is the Parker Jotter easy to hold onto, if it is used as a weapon? I understand not wanting a pen that’s as large as the ones being sold as tactical pens, but I can’t help but wonder if a slightly larger pen might work better. I have never used a Parker Jotter though, and it’s hard to tell through images.

  • Ky

    I use a Zebra F-701 and two Sharpie Steel Grip Pens as my daily choices—the felt tip pens to mark cups at work (I’m as barista), and the pen to have customers sign receipts, as well for when I need to write stuff. Refills for everything are economical, I can buy pens for dirt cheap if I lose mine. Won’t bust windows or whatever…but my utility knife has a window buster (and seatbelt cutter!) for that purpose.

  • Darius

    Any pen that does not have many parts and is sturdy can be a good “tactical” pen. A few examples are the sharpie permanent markers, and especially the super sized sharpies. I also have a metal souvenir pen that has quite a pointy end, which is the same end where I write on. That pen can strike on only one end though, because it has a little plastic, ancient Egyptian tomb on the top of the pen. However, I also consider that a good “tactical” pen. However, since I got this self-defense key-chain, called the Sharpshooter Key-chain, I no longer carry a pen or a marker since it’s a longer ranged weapon and has a steel tube that can be used as a kubotan. I carry my Sharpshooter key-chain everywhere. But when it comes to flying, I would put my Sharpshooter key-chain in checked luggage to play it safe with the TSA.

  • Marcus

    I agree with your philosophy of a ‘covert’ tactical pen, but not with the pen you chose to be one. The problem is the centre screw thread of that Parker Jotter is a weak point. Manufacturers need to be making more unassuming, but strong (tactical) pens.

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