When Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote his now famous adage “the pen is mightier than the sword” for his play “Richelieu” in 1839, he had no idea that his words would literally become part of the American lexicon with the advent of the tactical pen approximately 175 years later.
So what is a tactical pen exactly? Tactical pens are instruments designed for the dual purpose of everyday writing tasks, but also have an alter ego as a last-resort defensive weapon.
They are generally machined from high-quality metal such as anodized aluminum and are combined with pressurized ink cartridges originally designed for the weightlessness of space.
A tactical pen has the potential to become a defensive weapon in several ways. It can be used as an impact weapon, a last resort piercing weapon, or as a sort of Kubotan. A Kubotan is a 5” cylindrical weapon known for being extremely effective in breaking the will of uncooperative subjects through the use of painful locks and pressure point strikes. As a result they became known as “attitude adjustment instruments.” Due to their popularity, tactical pens have been dubbed the Kubotans of the 21st century.
A tactical pen is generally less obvious and more useful than a Kubotan, since in addition to its tactical capabilities, has a more mundane function as well. Smith & Wesson has entered the tactical pen market with its own version, the SWPENBK. As author Scott W. Wagner describes in his article “Tactical Ink Pens: Low-Profile Defensive Tools” at USConcealedCarry.com, the pen can be a formidable weapon:
“If you found yourself the victim of a close range attack—one in which you were in danger of serious physical harm (including sexual assault) — and were justified in using your firearm, but did not have it available, then the Smith & Wesson Tactical pen might be a good potential option for defending your life.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
The Smith & Wesson SWPENBK tactical pen is 6.1 inches long and weighs a mere 1.6 ounces. It is crafted from T6061 aircraft grade aluminum with a tapered and fluted main shaft that could serve as a makeshift Kubotan when used properly.
The cap end screws on and off or with the M&P model, clicks on and off. The pen itself uses a Schmidt P900M Parker Style Black Ball Point Ink Cartridge, but you may want to consider upgrading to a pressurized “write anywhere” cartridge for about ten bucks. A nice feature is the heavy-duty pocket clip which is securely attached with two bolts.
Smith & Wesson’s SWPENBK is an excellent alternative weapon to carry in areas where guns are banned or defensive devices such as knives or Kubotans are not considered kosher. While the SWPENBK looks like a normal pen, do not attempt to take it through airport security. Many TSA personnel are aware of tactical pens and will confiscate them as weapons.
As with all Smith & Wesson products, the SWPENBK comes with a lifetime warranty for manufacturing defects. It can be found online for about $23.