Mightier Than the Sword

Dr. Wes Doss PhD drops by to educate us on the value and usefulness of Tactical Pens.

Concealed carry, still today a hotly debated and emotionally charged topic regardless of which side you're on. If you know me, anything about me or my background, I am confident you know which side of this argument I'm firmly on. Having worked in plainclothes both stateside and in foreign countries, I have come accustomed to carrying concealed with whatever tool I could, be it based on the laws and customs of my location or just the practicality of where I was or what I was doing. This could include; a handgun (with lots of ammo), a knife or two (or three), chemical agent, an impact tool and yes, a tactical pen.Wes Knife 1

The word "tactical" is a greatly battered and abused buzzword, often used in clever marketing to help sell everything from shoelaces to weapons, in fact through the far-reaching markets of the internet one can even secure "tactical" bar or BBQ wear in case your family get-together takes place in a non-permissive theater of operation. But when you consider what tactical means, far beyond the fallacious and misguided use of the term. Anything tactical is a tool or plan of action designed as an expedient option when gaining a desired end or temporary advantage, in my world, this is something designed or used for interpersonal conflict resolution, in short combat.

Is the tactical pen a viable option in a combative or self-defense situation? I believe they are. I have carried for many years, all forms of small and portable impact tools, in and out of uniform. These nondescript concealable tools provide options inside and outside of the realm of deadly force. The dedicated application of a little swift pressure to particular nerve pockets of the body is an impressive and viable persuasive technique when convincing someone to move, let go or generally stop what they're doing.

First, let's look at what they are, tactical pens are first and foremost writing instruments, one typically designed to take a high-end ink refill cartridge like a cross, parker or fisher.  Tactical pens are also purpose-built devices, almost over-engineered to increase their strength and viability and by intent perform double duty as a conflict force multiplier.

These instruments can be machined from a solid billet of impact-resistant metal or made from super durable and lightweight injection molded nylon, with texture enhancements to improve retention when they are used…under Wes Knife 2pressure. Some are manufactured with dedicated tips to focus their effects when used as an impact tool, or carbide glass-breakers to get you in or out of those unique situations. Tactical pens are especially useful in demanding environments — providing a viable defensive tool in places where your more typical choice of weapons like firearms or knives aren't allowed or aren't practical. No matter how resolute or dedicated you are about carrying concealed, it's a fact that there are just times and places that you can't. Traveling by air or ship, domestically and internationally, or locations where large crowds are going to gather, such as arenas or sports stadiums, even visiting specific National Landmarks (everyone passes through security and metal detectors to visit the Ground Zero Memorial in New York).

For any tool used or carried covertly or clandestinely it must have an obvious everyday use; otherwise, we run the risk of standing out like a sore befuddling thumb. So, a tactical pen must be a reliable writing instrument. For anyone, a writing instrument can be an invaluable tool for everyday tasks, from writing the next great novel to jotting down a grocery list or quickly capturing the details of that dispatched call for service. The more middle-of-the-road vanilla a covert tool appears, the better it goes unnoticed, so the less tactical a tactical pen appears the better, so if you've opted to carry one that looks a mid-evil mace or battle axe, you may want reconsider.

Whether you're looking for a robust and reliable pen to add to your everyday-carry, or a viable defensive weapon that can be easily carried without drawing unwanted attention, or both, a tactical pen is a significant option, but buyer beware. Your typical tactical pen is only about 5 inches in length, oddly enough the size of an ordinary pen. This is an extreme close quarters tool and one that shouldn't be used for anything more than writing before the intended user seeks out training from a reliable and reputable source and gains some level of mastery over the tool so that unintended injury isn't inflicted, or the tool doesn't get used against its owner. Several well-known defensiveWes Knife 3 tactics instructors and martial arts systems have techniques that are either directly designed for the use of a like device or are adaptable to the use of a tactical pen.

I would undoubtedly prefer the option of a handgun or edged weapon for EDC over a tactical pen. But at times where conventional choices aren't an option… A well-built tactical pen makes a viable companion. The tactical pen also makes an excellent supplement to what or how you currently carry. But just like any other tool if you plan to carry your pen occasionally, you should consider carrying it all the time. My message, as always, Train hard, Train right, Train to win! ~ Wes

Dr. Wes Doss PhD
Wes is an internationally recognized firearms, tactics, and use of force instructor with over 30 years of military and civilian criminal justice experience, as well as significant operational time with both military and law enforcement tactical and protective service organizations. Wes holds specialized instructor certifications from the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, Arizona POST, the Smith & Wesson Academy, the Sigarms Academy, the NRA LEAD, and FEMA.

Wes is the founder, President, and General Operating Manager of Khyber Interactive Associates, LLC and the Annual 1 Inch to 100 Yards Warrior Conference. Wes holds a Masters degree in Criminal Justice Administration and a PhD in Psychology. Wes is a member of a number of professional associations, including: The International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI), The International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), The National Rifle Association (NRA), The National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA), The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) The Military Police Regimental Association (MPRA), and the International Association of Counter Terrorism and Security Professionals (IACTSP). 

Wes is also a published author, with numerous articles in various publications, such as; SWAT magazine, ASLET “The Trainer”, and The NTOA “Tactical Edge”. Wes is also the author of the bestselling books “Train to Win”, and “Condition to Win” both training psychology/philosophy books focused on law enforcement and military trainers and professionals.