Smith & Wesson SWPEN3BK Tactical Pen with Stylus

So, a tactical pen eh? Hmm, let’s think about this shall we? Firstly, what do we mean by tactical? The Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary has this to say:

Definition of tactical

1 : of or relating to combat tactics: such as a (1) : of or occurring at the battlefront a tactical defense a tactical first strike (2) : using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront tactical missiles
b of an air force : of, relating to, or designed for air attack in close support of friendly ground forces

Merriam Webster Online Dictionary: Tactical

This gives us a pen that could be employed as a tactical defense or first strike… keep a straight face please, no sniggering at the back. This is serious money we’re talking here… sorry, this is a serious subject.

Just do a web search for tactical pens, and all the very serious macho types out there that want to show you videos of using them, and you’ll soon realize how much money is to be made with these things. Er, I mean how seriously this topic should be taken.  Let’s take a look at this pen first shall we…

Here it is, leaning casually against my 6-cell Maglite, and one of my old Eskrima sticks; both of which will offer you better tactical options than a pen any day, but I digress. The first thing you notice about this pen is its beauty and elegance, and how it is completely devoid of either. This pen says weapon or tactical, and says it loudly enough so that customs officials can hear it from inside your pencil case, and confiscate it as you go through security checkpoints.

This is a tough pen, and a heavyweight too, at about 53.4g (1.8oz); heavier than the Jinhao 605 (38g) or the Lamy Aion (33g)—both sturdy metal pens. So, if you can’t hit somebody with it, throw it at them and run.

But you’d expect it to be tough, the pen is made from what is known as 6061-T6 aluminium. This a relatively lightweight alloy often found in firearms manufacture; and it looks like it.

Did I mention how ugly this pen is? Good, just checking.

The clip is held on with two, entirely unattractive little bolts, just below the conical point of the glass-breaking tip. Yes, I said glass-breaking tip…

And that clip, those bolts, and those AK-47-wannabe ridges aren’t just incredibly ugly you know. Oh no, they’re also incredibly uncomfortable when you write with the thing, and you’d better have tough hands if you hit anything with it, because all that metal will do a pretty good job of tearing up your hands too. It’s probably best if you try and get yourself mugged whilst wearing protective gloves.

The stylus end, is also the cap. This unscrews to reveal the entirely uninspiring Schmidt P900M Parker-style ballpoint refill. I replaced mine with a Fisher Space Pen refill, but even that failed to ignite anything more than disdain for this pen.

Here’s the stylus… note the threads just below the latex cap. As far as I can tell, these serve no purpose whatsoever. But they do contribute to the overall lack of aesthetic appeal.

The latex cap on the stylus can fall off on a pretty regular basis, helpfully making it easy to replace. Which is good, because you’ll probably have to… a lot. Also, you’ll notice it’s hollow, which makes it easy to split the latex. If you’re going to use this pen, cut the end off of a cotton bud and jam it under the stylus’ cap. This reinforces the cap, and even helps it stay on a little better.

Here’s that glass-breaking tip. Note the threads just below it… these let you screw the cap on so that it can be posted. This is a great idea if you like ridiculously long, badly balanced, heavy and uncomfortable pens.


It’s heavy, it’s badly balanced, it’s covered in unnecessary metal ridges, and screams WEAPON!! So that, if you’re carrying it to be subtle, you’ve missed the whole idea, and just to make sure everybody else gets it, it’s branded by a famous gun manufacturer, just to be sure.

Manufacturer Smith & Wesson
Model SWPEN3BK Tactical Pen with Stylus
Colour Black
Nib Size M
Supplied with Schmidt P900M Parker Style Ballpoint Refill
Length Unposted (mm): 122.00
Length Capped (mm): 137.00
Diameter (mm): 13.00
Circumference (mm): 40.84
Length Posted (mm): 164.00
Weight (g): 53.43
Cartridge (ml): N/A
Converter (ml): N/A
Length Unposted (inches): 4.80
Length Capped (inches): 5.39
Diameter (inches): 0.51
Circumference (inches): 1.61
Length Posted (inches): 6.46
Weight (oz): 1.81


So what does it write fight like?

Seriously, nobody’s buying this thing to write with it. And besides it’s a ballpoint that takes Parker-style refills… you’d have masses of choice. No, the people that buy this pen, envisage themselves fending off muggers, or plane hijackers with it—if you can get it past airport security.

There are plenty of videos out there that give some excellent combat guides for using this pen. Simply do a Google search for YouTube and using a tactical pen for self-defense.

And therein lies the problem. Sure, if you’re desperate, a pen is better than nothing. But really, not by a whole lot.

Amongst a bucket-load of skills I’ve rarely had to call upon, I’m also a pretty experienced martial artist; with quite a few years of Kung-Fu, Karate, Escrima and other weapons training in my past. On one memorable occasion, a guest Sensei held a course at my club for using everyday items as weapons. The guy who taught us was ex-British special forces and a close protection professional (read bodyguard). He showed us how to use pens, keys, rolled-up newspapers, and the like as weapons. One of the first things he said to our class was this, “If somebody pulls a knife on you, and all you can produce is a f@({!ng pen or a bunch of keys… f@({!ng run.” And there the conversation should end really. But what the Hell.

The picture below illustrates one of the most effective ways of holding a pen as a weapon.

This is good for jabbing eyes, neck, face, even ribs if your opponent isn’t wearing anything too heavy or protective. But also bear in mind, accidents happen, and metal can cut and tear: both your hands and their throat.

The next picture shows how to grasp the pen, folding a thumb over the stylus cap. This is where stuffing a cotton bud under the latex cap would also help your grip.

Then fold your index finger over the top of your thumb to kind of lock everything in place. The pen can then be used to stab down or even sideways.

Now watch your videos and practice. Because if you have no experience of physical violence, much less using weapons, then you will need all the practice you can get. These pens cost about $40 CAD (including taxes) from Amazon Canada, and frankly, if you’re interested in self-defense, your money would be better spent on taking some classes. At the very least, you might get a bit fitter, so that you can outrun the mugger instead of trying to fend off their knife with a pen. Do I need to tell you what a bad idea that would be?


Don’t waste your money. Buy a Lamy Aion; uncapping that and jabbing with a steel nib (especially some of Lamy’s range), would do just as much damage to an attacker as this thing would. And the Lamy would be a pleasure to write with. I fully accept that—if you’re desperate—then something is better than nothing, but without training, carrying a tactical pen could give you more confidence than you should have. Really, don’t bother, take some Karate classes. And I leave you with a little professional advice, “If somebody pulls a knife on you, and all you can produce is a f@({!ng pen or a bunch of keys… f@({!ng run.”

10 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson SWPEN3BK Tactical Pen with Stylus

    1. The phrase “contradiction in terms” is floating around my mind, rather like a plastic nail attached to a giant paperclip. Still a Safari in each hand? I wouldn’t mess with you!


  1. My teenaged son got a tactical pen as a gift this holiday season. He’s using it every day, so I guess he enjoys it. He’s tended to prefer a 0.9 mm mechanical pencil up until now, so I’m just happy to read schoolwork done in any ink over graphite.

    No pen will solve his handwriting issues, tactical or otherwise. It’s not his best thing.

    I mentioned your review and he thought your points (as remembered by me a few days later) apt and funny. He’d be pleased if his had your “Smith & Wesson” branding. I think he’s the target demographic for this stuff.

    He did agree that, if need arises, he will try to *bleeping* run rather than relying upon his tactical pen or judo skills to save him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marvelous! Here’s hoping your son never has cause for fight or flight.

    And I sympathize with his handwriting, mine’s awful too. I keep hearing people telling me not to be ashamed of it, that I should just go with the flow… but then I remember my old teachers giving me a hard time over it, and I wince. Mrs. Drakeford (Grade 6; we used to call her Mrs. Dracula), would be ashamed of me.

    But it sounds like he’s got the right idea, running will definitely work better than the pen.

    Liked by 1 person

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