Tactical Pen vs. Knife: Pros and Cons for Self-Defense

Tactical Pen vs. Knife: Pros and Cons for Self-Defense

When it comes to using a weapon for self-defense, I strongly suggest everyone get regular training with the weapon of their choice. Two potentially effective weapons, which are generally of similar size and weight, are the folding knife and the tactical pen. While both can typically be carried in the pocket and wielded effectively with a single hand, each has particular advantages over the other for self-protection purposes. The following are some pros and cons of the tactical pen versus the tactical knife for self- defense.


Advantages of the Tactical Pen Over the Knife

Less Conspicuous

In situations of heightened alertness or potential danger (i.e. an empty parking lot at night), it’s always advisable to carry your weapon of choice in hand, so as to deploy it at a moment’s notice if necessary. Now, a deployed blade carried openly in hand looks like…well, a blade. And it’s generally illegal to carry an open unsheathed or extended blade in most places.

A tactical pen, on the other hand, looks…well, like a pen. In fact, it’s often difficult to tell what it is in your hand unless someone is up close to you. So, aside from the legal benefits of carrying the tactical pen inconspicuously, it also does not draw the attention of would-be attackers as might a blade in your hand. If they’re not focused on it, they won’t target it, which means it should be easier for you to use if you need to. A surprise attack is always better than an expected one.

Less Training Required

Although I highly recommend getting trained with any weapon you carry, the tactical pen—in my opinion—requires far less training to use effectively than a knife. To use a knife effectively and safely, much practice must go into accuracy, speed, and power with the blade. Otherwise, you’re bound to cut or puncture places you didn’t plan, creating life-threatening wounds when unintended, and maybe even cutting yourself.

Plus, many knife grips—especially on folding knives, which don’t have full tangs—can be slightly imbalanced and tough to hang onto when used at full force. That means a knife can more easily be taken away and used against its owner. The tactical pen, on the other hand, is pretty simple to engage with a solid grip: just make a fist, squeeze, and stab, and it’s unlikely to be ejected from your hand. A natural downward motion with your hands, like exaggerated jogging, can be an effective technique for the tactical pen.

Pretty simple. Further, there are no real laws that I know about (though I might be mistaken) that govern the carry of tactical pens; there are, however, knife laws in each state. So, part of your training must be to understand what weapon is legal and how it can be legally possessed.

Less Than Lethal

A tactical pen used correctly can certainly be damaging, but it can also be used very effectively for creating only pain and gaining the momentary advantage needed to overcome the attack or escape. The tactical pen can be considered a less-than-lethal weapon, because striking someone is unlikely to permanently injure or kill someone in most cases.

Walking away without maiming or killing is always preferred, for legal, psychological, and even moral reasons. A knife on the other hand can be lethal with a single slash or stab, even if unintended. That’s why a knife requires more training and has specific laws governing its possession.

Advantages of the Knife Over the Tactical Pen

More Frightening

Circling back to first advantage of the pen, if you find yourself in a life-or-death situation against a would-be attacker, drawing a blade is certainly more intimidating than flashing a pen. If an attacker knows you’re ready to use a knife against him, he might be far less motivated to go through with the attack. So, while the conspicuousness of holding a blade is disadvantageous in some situations, in other situations, it could save your life and even stop an attack from occurring before it begins. 

More Lethal

Once again, circling back to the third advantage of the tactical pen, should you be faced with a life-or-death self-defense scenario, a knife used effectively can possess more stopping power than a pen. In many instances, a tactical pen may just create pain; it can also be used against soft targets like the eyes and throat, which can certainly stop an attack, but using it effectively to absolutely stop an attacker may be more difficult than with a knife.

A knife, especially when wielded by someone who has trained with a blade, can be deadly with ease. A few cuts in the wrong places can end a fight in seconds. This is why so much more training is recommended for effective knife use, and why the laws are very clear when it comes to knife possession. A deadlier weapon has greater consequences, but it might more easily save your life if used correctly in an absolute survival situation.

Whichever weapon you choose for personal protection, remember that training is key! You want to be able to deploy the weapon quickly, use it effectively and safely, and escape. Get yourself into a self-defense training program ASAP. Also, you can view some of my knife training instructional videos online, and purchase your tactical knife or pen from The Home Security Superstore. Good luck and stay safe!

The Essential Tactical Gear: Don’t Forget the Basics

The Essential Tactical Gear: Don’t Forget the Basics

We military and police officers love our tactical gear—I know I’ve spent a small fortune on police gear over the years.  What we’re allowed to carry on duty, of course, comes down to departmental policy, but that doesn’t stop us from buying the latest and greatest, high-tech and new-tech tactical wear. Still, none of the cool new gadgets, weapons, or accessories matter much if we don’t have the basics. So for the newbies just starting out, or for the civilians who want to prepare for all possible emergency situations, here are a few of the essential elements you cannot do without if you’re going to begin stockpiling tactical gear.

Tactical Jacket

Tactical Gear
Image: Master Sgt. Kevin Gruenwald, Wikipedia Commons

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but there’s no point in hoarding a bag full of tactical gear if you’ve got no way to tactically carry it. Tactical means—or at least ought to mean—strategic and ready to be utilized; so if you’ve got a bag of gear through which you need to go searching for the flashlight or the handcuffs, that gear is no longer very tactical. Make sure your gear is ready to go and strategically placed by donning a robust, well-made tactical jacket that can house all the gear you think you’ll need to deploy quickly. That means weapons, of course, along with cuffs or restraints, ammunition packs, first aid kits, emergency water, tactical knives, and flashlights. The gear that you don’t need to reach so quickly, you can leave in the bag for now.

Tactical Belt

Once again, the same rule applies: there’s little point in buying tactical gear unless it can be tactically placed on your body for ready use. Whether it’s your private tactical belt or your standard duty belt, be sure to have a sturdy, well-made belt with all the essential pouches. Aside from your gun holster, some essentials that should go on your tactical belt include: a compartment for handcuffs or other restraints, a place for a tactical flashlight, an ammunitions case, and in most security or law enforcement capacities, a place for pepper spray, a Taser, a baton, and a radio.

Tactical Packs

Police and military are usually required to have their go-bags at the ready, and both civilian and law enforcement should also have a bugout bag. Either way, this essential element to any tactical stockpile will require a hefty tactical pack, with multiple compartments for a variety of uses. Make sure it’s well made by a brand you trust, so the pack won’t start falling apart when you load it full of heavy gear, or so that small things like the zippers won’t bust or stop working properly after a week (I’ve had this happen when I’ve tried to go cheap with tactical packs). Tactical packs are imperative for carrying all tactical or survival elements you won’t need immediately, or for storing the backups or replacement gear for the elements stored in your tactical jacket or belt. Most military and police will know what they need in their go-bags, as per their agency’s direction; and for a complete list of suggested components of a bug out bag, see my article on that subject.


All security and law enforcement officers carry handcuffs—typically two pairs—and often other types of restraints, such as zip ties. Restraints come in handy in almost any situation, and civilians should have a way of restraining a perpetrator should they need to defend against a home invasion or an aggressive individual on the street. Once the fight is done—and hopefully a fight won’t be necessary—you’ll need a way to control the individually without having to harm them, if possible. That’s why handcuffs or restraints are an absolutely essential part of any tactical gear.


As security, law enforcement, or military personnel, which weapons you are allowed to carry on duty will of course depend on your agency’s policies. For civilians, the weapons you store or carry depend on the legalities of your state, your intended use, and your capabilities. I’ve said it many times: don’t carry or attempt to use weapons with which you are not well-trained. Assuming for a moment that you are trained on the weapons you carry, your tactical gear should include only what you may need for the intended use. For example, if you’re preparing for home defense or building a bug out bag for societal breakdown, no need for pepper spray or Tasers—just carry lethal weapons, as you’ll only need to use them in the defense of life. If the gear is for self-defense purposes, then Tasers and pepper spray are certainly recommended.

Whatever tactical gear you buy, make sure you at least have the basics to get the job done. You’ll need a weapon to initiate defense, a way to restrain and control after defense, and ways to properly carry your gear. You can find everything you need at The Home Security Superstore. Good luck and stay safe!