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We've often seen the word “tactical” used as a marketing buzzword. You'll see the term applied to everything from belt buckles to hammocks — through the magic of the Internet, you can even order a tactical assault rock. But the word does have a proper definition beyond its overuse. A tactical item is one that's specifically designed for combat tactics.
Tactical pens are writing instruments that are purpose-built to double as what some self-defense instructors would call force multipliers.
These implements are usually machined from a solid billet of impact-resistant metal, with textured elements to improve grip for repeated hammer-fist strikes. Some also include sharpened tips to amplify the damage dealt, or glass-breakers to aid in escape or rescue scenarios. Tactical pens are especially useful in nonpermissive environments — they can provide a last-ditch defensive tool in places where more conventional weapons like firearms or knives aren't allowed.
Above all else, a tactical pen must reliably write. For survivalists, a writing instrument can be an invaluable tool for certain tasks, from marking where you foraged for food and mapping a path to your bug-out cabin to leaving a note behind at basecamp or writing instructions for your survival group. And, of course, it's just handy to be able to jot down a grocery list or the number of that hot mountain climber you just asked out.
Whether you're looking for a durable pen to add to your everyday-carry (EDC) gear, a powerful defensive weapon that won't draw the wrong kind of attention, or both, read through our reviews of these eight tactical pens. They may not be literally mightier than a sword, but they're certainly mightier than an empty fist.