In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an ongoing theme to our Pocket Preps column: It’s helpful to carry the right tools for the job. If you’re trying to work loose a screw, a multi-tool with a built-in screwdriver will make it easy. Trying to use the blade of your knife, a coin, or your fingernail will not. If you need to see in the dark, you want a dedicated flashlight, not a BIC lighter or the tiny LED on your expensive and fragile smartphone.

When it comes to self-defense, your mind may automatically jump to a gun or knife as “the right tool.” While we’ve often emphasized the value of carrying each of these items, they’re not the ideal solution to every scenario. There are plenty of cases where carrying a gun or knife is impractical, or even illegal — but that doesn’t mean you have to face your attacker bare-handed, either.

In a broader sense, impact tools can also include pens and flashlights. (Photo via Tiga Tactics)

Handheld impact tools serve as a less-lethal force-multiplier, amplifying the power of punches, hammer-fist strikes, and submission holds. These are commonly referred to as pocket sticks or self-defense keychains, and can be made from wood, metal, or hard polymer. Purpose-built tools such as the Kubotan (or genericized kubaton), yawara, and koppo stick also fit the theme. They can be used lightly to inflict pain and deter a threat, or slammed hard against flesh and bone to deal more lasting damage.

Although flashlights and tactical pens can serve as impact weapons, that purpose is secondary. So, today we’ll take a look at some pocket-sized tools that are more specifically oriented toward self-defense. Many of them contribute other helpful functions to your EDC loadout, and each offers an effective way to put the hurt on a bad guy. As always, check your local laws to make sure these are legal in your area before purchasing.

Boker Plus SO4PRO-K Titanium

OAL: 5.1 inches
Weight: 2.8 ounces
MSRP: $62

This impact tool was designed by Rainer Wenning as a modernized variant of the Japanese koppo stick, traditionally a wooden rod with a retention loop around the middle and ring fingers. Wenning’s version is constructed from lightweight Grade 4 titanium, with dual cord loops for the fingers and thumb. These help the user hold onto the tool, even when repeatedly striking adversaries with the round tip. However, this isn’t solely intended as a weapon — Boker says it was also developed as a massage tool for relieving muscle spasms and encouraging lymph drainage.


  • Smooth, rounded tip is ideal for blunt impacts without cutting or piercing.
  • Although we don’t plan to use it for massages, we can see how it could be effective for that purpose


  • Retention loops are excessively loose, and can’t be cinched down easily.

DUUTY Self Defense Keychain Kubaton Weapon

OAL: 5.5 inches
Weight: 1.1 ounces
MSRP: $8 for 6 / $1.33 each

Hilariously described as an “aluminum anti wolf tool keyring for women teens man” on Amazon, this generic kubaton proudly proclaims its ability to “reject and resist hurts of life.” We purchased a six-pack for just $8, including free one-day shipping. The following afternoon, we received a plastic bag with the individually wrapped aluminum impact tools, each with a different anodized finish. Four finger grooves and a flat end offer a comfortable and secure grip, and the tapered tip is more than sufficient to inflict pain on an attacker. Key rings are included.


  • While calling it an “anti wolf tool” is a stretch, it’s certainly sufficient for defense against humans.
  • Despite obvious quality-control issues, it serves the intended purpose at a throwaway price.


  • Shoddy build quality — anodizing had bare spots, and one tool arrived with leftover machining scraps in the bag

Krudo Knives Krubaton

OAL: 5.9 inches
Weight: 2.1 ounces
MSRP: $125

The Krubaton serves three functions. First, as indicated by the name, it’s a blunt impact weapon — or as designer Louis Krudo calls it, a “pain compliance tool.” At just under 6 inches long, the titanium body offers more than enough length to hammer an attacker’s weak points. Unscrew the cap on one end to reveal a tungsten carbide glass breaker; unscrew the other end to access a pen that accepts standard Parker ink refills. These caps are conveniently reversible, and one features a slim, removable pocket clip. Three finishes are available: brushed, matte blue, and matte gold.


  • Intricately machined titanium construction looks cool and provides a secure grip.
  • Reversible caps allow it to be carried with either the glass breaker or pen at the ready.


  • Cutaways in the caps and body are magnets for dirt and pocket lint.

LionSteel Eskaper ES-1

OAL: 4.2 inches
Weight: 1.6 ounces
MSRP: $36

Italian knifemaker LionSteel created the Eskaper as a multi-function keychain tool with an emphasis on elegant aesthetics. The 303 stainless steel body is machined with a spiral pattern and bears a satin finish. At the top of the tool, there’s an included keyring and a bottle opener cutout. The tip is finished with a threaded tungsten carbide glass-breaker insert, which is removable and replaceable. As a dedicated self-defense impact tool, it’s on the small end of the spectrum, but would be sufficient in a pinch.


  • Compact, understated design doesn’t look like a weapon
  • Glass-breaker tip can be removed with a ¼-inch socket, turning the tool into a blunt instrument.


  • Although its small size fits comfortably on a keychain, it’s at least ½-inch shorter than we’d like for an impact tool.

RaidOps Jared Wihongi Kubo Aro

OAL: 5.6 inches
Weight: 2.2 ounces
MSRP: $155 + $28 for tungsten tip

Contributing writer Jared Wihongi has spent decades studying the Filipino martial arts system of Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, which emphasizes edged and impact weapons. He teaches these skills to military and law enforcement organizations around the world. While working in South Korea, he collaborated with local gear maker RaidOps to create his signature edition Kubo Aro. It’s composed of solid Grade 5 titanium alloy, which is double heat-treated and finished in a subtle dark brown. The ¾-inch diameter is reminiscent of a flashlight, but its one-piece construction is far more durable. Recessed threads in the crenelated end accept an optional carbide tip.


  • Exceptionally comfortable thanks to its large diameter and textured grip
  • Weight feels just right — heavy enough to deliver hard impacts, but light enough to remain maneuverable.


  • Lacks a clip for pocket carry, though a Kydex neck sheath is available for $35

RMJ Tactical Tusk

OAL: 6 inches

Weight: 3.3 ounces

MSRP: $180


Made in America from a single piece of CPM-3V steel, the Tusk delivers the high-end build quality we’ve come to expect from RMJ Tactical. It features a chisel-like prybar tip on one end and a cord/line cutter on the other, as well as a removable titanium pocket clip. However, we have mixed feelings about the circular blade, which is surface-mounted atop a hook-shaped guide. There’s not much to protect its edge, especially if you’re tightly pressing it against your skin while using the tool.


  • Chisel tip will generate immediate pain when jammed into a pressure point.
  • Blade cuts cord, strips wires, and opens letters with ease.


  • The flush-mounted blade is too exposed for our liking. Its ramped hook guides objects onto the razor-sharp edge — good for cordage, bad for a pocket hem or the side of a finger.

Scorpion 6 Pingvin

OAL: 4.6 inches
Weight: 2.6 ounces
MSRP: $250

Pingvin is the Norwegian word for penguin, and this tool resembles the side profile of that strange bird. The body is machined from a piece of super-durable O1 tool steel, and the “wing” is a Grade 5 titanium pocket clip — a variety of color and surface texture options are available for each. A large index finger ring enables the user to draw it quickly from a pocket and strike with two “attitude adjuster” knuckle spikes (they also function as glass-breakers). The base of the tool incorporates a bottle/package opener and prybar/scraper.


  • A punch with the spiked ring is sure to ruin a bad guy’s day.
  • Designed to fit into MOLLE-compatible webbing with the index finger ring exposed for quick access


  • We could do without the top spike — it’s not as easy to hit with, and restricts thumb placement for hammer-fist strikes.

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