You might laugh at the idea of a pen being anything more than a weapon of utter desperation, but if you were on the receiving end of several inches of hardened metal being driven into your sternum you’d probably change your tune. Tactical pens have been popular products for years now, offering preppers, protectors and everyday people another defensive tool in the toolbox, and this one has some special advantages.
But using a tactical pen effectively relies on a few things. The first one, I’ll give you a clue, is in the name: tactics! You need to know what you are going to do when confronted by an attacker and you are relying on a tactical pen as your defensive measure.
The second is knowing where to strike with it. Driving a piece of metal into someone will always result in an “ouch!” but pens lack the inherent destructiveness of knives or bullets, so targeting matters even more when you need results.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the good and bad of tactical pens, as well as giving you some tips on how best to employ them- were to strike and when- so you can stuff an attacker and give them plenty to think about while you make a safe escape.
Why are Tactical Pens a Good Defensive Option?
A tactical pen’s biggest advantage is its ability to enter nearly any environment imaginable. Secured and sensitive areas that screen for weapons? No problem.
Restrictive laws governing weapons in the area you are traveling to? Sure. Airplane? You might risk having it confiscated, so probably not, though there may be exceptions.
Tactical pens go where other weapons cannot because they are tools first, they just so happen to be tools designed in such a way that they are easily employed to good effect in a fight. Even pepper spray cannot go to all the places that tactical pens can.
A tactical pen can always, always be with you, and that means you can always have an option that is at least better than harsh words, fists and feet. Tactical pens are another option that is usually, depending on how you employ it, considered less than lethal force.
Especially for civilians, having an option you can employ when more force than fisticuffs is warranted but bullet or blades are not is vital to obtaining a positive outcome should you be subjected to a legal battle on the backside.
A tactical pen’s portability, concealability (often in plain sight!) and surprising power when used well can quickly turn the tide on a fight by shocking your attacker.
A bad guy who is now more concerned with what you just did to him and what else you might do to him will often not be persecuting his attack with clear eyes and a full heart, so to speak.
They aren’t a cure-all fix for every potential fight, but these special pens are an excellent, low profile option that goes anywhere and one with which you can always have cover for your circumstances: when does a pen ever draw suspicion?
Targeting: Where you Should Strike with Your Tactical Pen
If you have the opportunity to strike an assailant in the hand with your pen, you should. This opportunity might arise after someone grabs a fistful of your shirt, or you deflect or trap their arm that is wielding a weapon.
Driving the point of the pen into the soft tissues and thin, vulnerable bones of the hand from the top will inflict severe pain and likely damage the hand, reducing their ability to grip with it. An opponent clutching a weapon is likely to drop it after such a strike.
Just imagine that cold, hard metal tip being jammed between the frail, thin bones of your hand. Ouch! If someone grabs you or you manage to deflect and trap an arm this is the perfect time to employ one of these strikes.
While not a patently debilitating blow, reducing an opponent’s ability to harm you is always a value-added proposition, and striking them in this way should not be considered lethal force in most jurisdictions.
A big hammer blow with the tactical pen held in an icepick grip that is directed behind the collar bone will cause immense pain, and may stun an attacker by deadening their arm.
The collarbone is vulnerable, highly sensitive and easily broken. A hammer blow delivered with a tactical pen is likely to inflict major pain and disrupt use of the arm on the side that was hit. Even if you miss far, driving the point of the pen into the pocket of soft tissue immediately behind the collarbone will be seriously painful.
A big strike like this will leave you vulnerable compared to a short jab, but if you time it to follow up on the backside of a palm to the face or another attack that disrupts and blinds your attacker you should have ample time to connect.
From a clinch you can use a stabbing motion assisted by your other hand to drive the pen in deep with no windup required. Such a maneuver will quickly get the attackers mind off of you and on getting off of you!
Base of Deltoid
If you turn an opponent or get a line on their back, overhand strikes to the deltoid is a great way to deaden that arm. The nerve cluster at the base of the deltoid is in particular easily hit.
An attack delivered backhand with the pen held in the traditional ice pick grip, or as a thrust with the pen held point up. Driving the pen into the base of the deltoid is an attack on the nerves and soft tissues anchoring the prominent muscle there.
The deltoid is largely responsible for lifting the arm, so disabling it or hampering it is a good way to reduce an attacker’s effectiveness.
To locate this target, take your finger from the top of your armpit where it meets the torso straight up a few inches to the much softer notch just above. That’s the ticket. With practice, this is a blow that can be delivered very quickly.
Strikes to the neck with a tactical pen are always effective if delivered with force. The entirety of the neck is vulnerable: the windpipe to the front, made from soft cartilage; the masses of major veins and vessels on either side; and the spine at the rear.
A solid blow here will always cause considerable pain and depending on the anatomical structure hit can result in difficulty breathing, a knockout or even a broken vertebra. The back of the neck where the spine is located is another high-payoff location.
Use good judgment: blows to the neck administered with a tool may very well cross the threshold into lethal force as far as the law is concerned, especially if damage to throat, vessels or spine is probable.
Nonetheless, striking here is a great fight ender, and even if it does not will seriously harm an assailant and may give you an opportunity to escape safely. Overhand and underhand blows are entirely feasible and effective.
Strikes to the face with a tactical pen will inflict serious and often grisly injuries. While pens are not designed to cut and lacerate, the flesh of the human face is soft, pliable and highly vulnerable to damage from speeding chunks of metal as it turns out. Bleeding, if it occurs, will be profuse.
The face is a prime target in all hand to hand combat, no change here. The pointy end of a tactical pen will rip and tear soft flesh, easily destroy an eye, and fracture the comparatively vulnerable bones of the face.
Take care that you do not strike the eyes or orbits unless you fully intend a lethal blow; a pen is more than capable of shiskebab’ing an eye and piercing the thin bone at the back of the socket, possibly damaging the brain.
This is often an immediate showstopper, as you might be imagining, so don’t hold back if the situation calls for it. Bleeding will be significant. If you have a shot here and the situation warrants it, go for it!
Tactical pens are your all-weather, all-season and all-places defensive tool. The last thing someone expects is to see trouble from a pen, and the last thing an assailant will expect is to get drilled so hard by one his ancestors scream for mercy.
Take the time to select a good tactical pen that will hold up to repeated blows, and practice your response by using the anatomical targets presented in this guide.
last updated by Charles Yor 07/19/2019
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.