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
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
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.
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!
Author: Jeremy Pollack
Jeremy Pollack is a self-defense and security expert. He has been teaching martial arts since 2001, with high-level rankings in several disciplines. Jeremy is also former reserve military for the state of California, where he was a member of the Military Police unit, as well as a California licensed private security and firearms operator. He holds several security certifications, including the Military Emergency Management badge from FEMA, the US Army’s Anti-Terrorism Level 1 certificate, California’s PC832 Firearms & Arrest certifications for Law Enforcement, and the California Military Department’s Security Force certification, among others. Read more about Jeremy at www.CoachJeremyPollack.com.