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Sadly, there are plenty of places you can’t legally go with your carry gun or an EDC knife. It’s come to this…even something as seemingly innocuous as a cute little cat-shaped “self defense keychain” can land you in jail in Texas.

Perhaps especially in those ultra-safe, protected places, you may want to carry some other method of self-defense besides your bare hands. I generally carry this tactical pen (above) I got courtesy of FN USA a couple years ago. It’s solid, pointy, takes standard refills and better than harsh language or keys between the fingers if push comes to something more than shove.

It’s also managed to clear TSA scrutiny a dozen or so times.

Do you carry one? Something similar? Anything at all when a gun is out of the question?

Ultra-Dangerous Self-Defense Cat and Dog Keychains (via Walmart)


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  1. A firearm is never out of the question for me anyway. I carry concealed everywhere I go and always have. For longer than most of the people who will comment next.

    • Always have one of these in my carry-on. Never been a problem. Also has a magnet at the other end. Get it at any hardware store, tool supply or home center.

      I also carry two S&W tactical pens with a Fisher Space Pen refills every day. I’m a writer by profession and, even though I hardly ever use anything but a keyboard anymore, I wouldn’t be caught dead without a pen in my pocket.

      • A is singular, refills is plural. You have a period where you should have used a semicolon and you placed a comma following the word and. You don’t need a comma at all with the word and, they serve the same purpose when used as a break. Notice the difference in my last sentence as compared to yours?
        You asked for that, so, don’t attack me or the auto correct.

      • A is singular, refills is plural. You have a period where you should have used a semicolon and you placed a comma following the word and. You don’t need a comma at all with the word and, they serve the same purpose when used as a break. Notice the difference in my last sentence as compared to yours?
        You asked for that, so, don’t attack me or the auto correct. Good luck.

  2. Yes, but not primarily as a weapon. First, because they make sturdy, long lasting pens. Second, because they make a good strong bar for use with an impromptu tourniquet.

    • That’s a genius idea, the tourniquet part. I carry a tourniquet everyday, but another use item isn’t a bad idea.

  3. Mike Snody KA-BAR neck knife , nothing stops an attacker like lead to the head. For $8.99 on Amazon the tactical pen is on its way. Thanks Dan Zimmerman.

    • CRKT minimalist for neck knives. Super lightweight. I went to carrying it on the belt instead of the neck. Just got too annoying for me. Don’t even notice it’s there.

  4. I don’t carry a tac pen. At work just a cheap clicky pen to write stuff down. I recently picked up one of the cheap S&W 12” batons. It’s surprisingly well made, fairly easily deployed, and for being all steel, easy to carry. Been smacking it on whatever I can find and hasn’t had any issues yet. $25 at Bladehq. If it breaks, I lose it, or whatever else, no big deal.

  5. I carry a tactical field note, tactical pen, tactical Sig P320, tactical flashlight, tactical knife, tactical car and house keys, tactical smartphone, and a tactical wallet.

    • I carry a Kyocera Duraforce Pro Milspec smartphone so I guess I carry a tactical smartphone. Shock resistant, water resistant, scratch proof screen and it’s EMP hardened as well all for half the price of an equivalent Apple or Samsung gen 8 phone.

  6. No, I do not carry a tactical pen. Once every two or three years when I am in a security zone, I will rely on speed to escape or improvised melee weapons if any exist.

    • A small child makes an effective and simple bludgeoning instrument, plus they are almost always available no matter what country you’re in.

      • But only if it is a tactical child, one with rails that takes Glock mags. Even better if its in FDE, (has not washed in a week)

  7. Geez I carry a knife,Sabre Red pepper gel thingy and sometimes a gat…no plans for TSA or high security situations. And no TP.

      • Yes, I have on occasion carried spare toilet paper disguised as the little traveler packs of Kleenex tissues. Public restrooms when I’m in the Philippines generally have no toilet paper available. I would assume that would be true in most 3rd world nations. That’s my international traveler tip for the day.

  8. The late Mel Tappan, author of “Survival Guns”, (still available, used). The book that put survival on the map, favored the Mount Blanc fountain pen. Good enough for him, good enough for me. -30-

  9. I have in the past, but find them to be a bit awkward as a pen, and among all the other crap I carry, I stopped carrying a pen at all. Prior to that, though, I settled on the Zebra F701 as a compromise. Much better looking, doesn’t at all attract unwanted attention (though people do tend to comment on it if you find yourself loaning out regularly), cheap and readily available. Most important, it writes well. I understand that it’s probably not as sturdy, and would be much more difficult to get leverage on it, but if I’m resorting to using a pen in a defensive situation, it’s already a really bad day and I don’t think there slight advantage afforded by a tactical pen would mitigate that in the slightest.

  10. If I can’t take a handgun, and I have to go, I’ll either take a nice sturdy cane,
    or an acrylic contact juggling ball in a crown royal bag.

    A couple of rolls of quarters in a bandanna work well, too.

  11. The best tactical pen has been on the market since long before “tactical” became an essential word in name of everything marketed today. Of course it isn’t tacticool for all the mall ninjas because it isn’t painted black, but the best tactical pen available is still the Parker Jotter stainless steel pen and pencil set.

    Perhaps not quite as strong as the best of the new mall ninja toys, but more than strong enough for the job, aided by the fact that it is a lot sharper for penetrating skin or breaking glass (or heads). And since it OBVIOUSLY isn’t any sort of “weapon” it easily goes anywhere — it not only breezes through the TSA lines without a glance but it also gets into those court houses and other ‘secure’ government facilities that will argue over your fifty year old P38 can opener.

  12. The problem, in the first place, is the cops who would arrest you and throw you in jail for having a fucking keychain. If it weren’t for scum, like NJ gestapo agents illegally enforcing their overlords laws and arresting people for engaging in a Constitutional absolute right, then we wouldn’t be in this mess. Politicians can pass whatever illegal laws they want. It’s up to the cops to choose whether to enforce it or not. They are as much to blame as the regressive statists, otherwise known as Democrats. Things need to change, and change now. Every cop who enforces these laws and send an innocent person to jail for keeping and bearing arms of any kind should be publicly shamed and ostracized.

  13. The closest I get to tactical pens are those black skilcraft pens I acquired from an unguarded supply sergeant’s supply room. Kinda regret hoarding them since now I can just swipe new ones from work.

  14. No. I’m an ordinary nerd, I carry a Fisher Space Pen AG7 Original Astronaut model and a single action Ruger in .45 Colt.

  15. I own one but now just keep it in the car. Overly cumbersome for its primary purpose I would use it for- as a pen- and it pales in comparison to the other implements I would use for its secondary purpose- a weapon.

    That said, if it was the pen or nothing, I guess I’d take it? It’s REALLY hard for me to come up with a scenario where it would be particularly useful, though- compared to running or just using my hands. I guess maybe if someone’s got me on the ground.

  16. OK. Take the little solid bic pen and your attack pen. Take a water melon or cantelope and stab with the pen and the metal pen. OK do that 10 times, both will go to the hilt. Now if you place denim over it the sharp pen is better. The moral of this story is, a bic pen will work if you will apply it to the neck or temple. Now, regardless of which one you use, you only get one stab and the bad guys grabs you and then it is a wrestling match. Since a body shot will not stop him for a while anyway, the bic to the head or neck fast and hard is just about as effective. I spent many years in law enforcement and while ice picks and screw drivers were often carried as weapons, I never heard of anyone arrested for carrying a concealed bic. Just saying….and if you run out of ammo, maybe just carry a backup bic.

  17. My Schrader tactical pen as a fire starter on the inside and whistle on the outside. When I had to go to court last year to support a friend I was glad I had at least a pen strong enough to penetrate someone’s skull if necessary.

    it was better than nothing. I’ve seen fights break out in courtrooms before.

    I’m currently looking for a non metal knife for EDC.

    • Watch out for the non metal knives. A lot of them now have metal filings in them so they can be detected. If you find a good one I would love to know where to get it.

  18. I’ve carried a Tuff Writer Precision Press pen for years. It’s a pit pricey, but it’s a fantastic pen. Haven’t had a need to use it defensively, thankfully.

  19. I picked up a generic no name “tactical” pen a couple years ago and carry it everyday. I didn’t know if I would really use it, but I actually use it all the time. It’s pretty handy to have and writes well.

  20. The only time I carry a pen is at work, and at work I’ve got two glocks and a knife to use before I’m down to pen stabby panic. Besides, with the rate that pens seem to walk off on me, keeping a tactical pen on me would get expensive quick.

  21. Both my daughters carry one, reluctant at first but they bring it running or walking, also at college campus it is 100% legal to carry on the grounds.

  22. Stainless Steel Papermate ballpoint pen and pencil set — much more effective than any of the so-called “tactical” pens on the market and no one every gives them a second look, no problems with TSA, no problems with sheriff’s deputies at the court house, just drop them in the basket as you go through the metal detector and pick them up on the other side.

    Unlike all the mall ninja tacticool crap, they are a legitimate pen or pen and mechanical pencil set from a known pen company. But the body is just as strong as any of the “tactical” pens, the tip is actually sharper than any of the tactical pens, sharp enough to penetrate deeply and comparatively easily.


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