The self-reliant community in the United States has become “EDC” or Every Day Carry centric. Rare is the day that we don’t see a pocket dump on social media or a conversation about the plethora of things that people carry for personal defense. One such item you may see is a tactical or self-defense pen like the Benchmade Longhand.
The Benefits of Carrying a Pen for Self-Defense
There are certain areas around the country where people simply aren’t allowed to carry a firearm. Let alone much of a defensive knife. In these cases, many of the personal defense-centric people add a very special item to their pocket dump. An item that, at first glance, looks benign.
To the trained eye, though, you realize they’re carrying one of the best hand-to-hand weapons ever made—a tactical pen. While these pens have many flavors, one of my favorites is the Longhand by Benchmade.
Control & Pressure
The Longhand is a good-looking 303 stainless steel pen that writes as good as it looks. Its bolt-action locking mechanism and checking and cuts provide a solid grip.
The tactical pen is a favorite of those in the personal protection industry. It is lightweight and does not look like a weapon to the untrained eye. Used on fleshy and nerve-sensitive areas, the tactical pen serves as an exceptional self-defense weapon.
The tactical pen provides the perfect alternative for those who do not wish to carry a lethal weapon or even pepper spray. With simple training, the pen can be wielded by the smallest person, helping them level the playing field.
The tactical pen makes an excellent striking tool. However, it shines when used as a control or pressure point weapon. There are countless techniques that can be used for an equal number of attacks.
To give you a taste of what the tactical pen is capable of, let’s look at a few techniques to help you appreciate the versatility of this small tool. As a worst-case scenario weapon, we will look at attacks where an assailant is either already grabbing you or is in the process of doing so.
Using a Pen to Escape a Wrist Grab
The wrist grab is a classic attempted control or abduction attack. The assailant has grabbed your wrist, and you do not have the physical strength or leverage to escape.
Grasp the pen with your free hand. Leave as much of the pen exposed as you can while still maintaining control. Place the pen against the wrist bone of the assailant and press hard and deep.
If possible, twist your grabbed hand to get a hold of the pen as well. Once again, press hard and deep into the attacker’s wrist as you twist your hand away. The area around the wrist bone is very sensitive, and the hard pressure from the pen causes pain and physical dysfunction.
One quick point on this as well as any defense technique. When we stab or press our weapon into any part of the attacker’s body, we need to do it with serious intent and power. This is what allows the tactical pen to be such an effective tool for anyone, regardless of size.
Even if a person has a small build, it doesn’t matter because it is not a contest of strength. A person weighing 120 pounds can leverage significant pressure into a small, pointed area with the hard pen. It is this fact that allows us to succeed.
When you press, strive to go beyond just damaging the superficial layer of skin. We should try to reach the bone and soft tissue deep inside the target to get the most out of our technique.
There is a principle taught in martial arts regarding striking, and it applies here. We always “strike through.”
This means a strike should go beyond just hitting the surface of the target and instead should penetrate as deep inside as possible. Use this principle, and your techniques will be powerful.
Escaping a Lapel Grab with a Self-Defense Pen
If the assailant grabs you by the shirt or lapel, grasp the pen with your strong side hand. As before, leave as much of the pen exposed as possible. This time we will take the exposed end of the pen and stab hard into the back of the assailant’s hand.
The best results will come if we can leverage the sharpest portion of our weapon into the area between the tendons on the back of the hand. As a pain amplifier, you can also rake up and down as you dig into the back of the hand. This should be done violently and with intent.
As an expansion of our earlier discussion, I encourage you to act swiftly and with extreme violence against an attacker. Easing into a defense will allow an attacker the chance to bear the pain and overcome it. A sharp, fast pain causes a psychological distraction as well, which we can use to our benefit.
Escaping a Two-Handed Front Choke
Now let’s look at the choke. From the standpoint of being an effective attack, the two-hand front choke is pretty low on the scale of effectiveness. An attacker must dedicate both their hands to the attack. This leaves us with two free hands and two free feet with which to mount a defense.
The danger in this attack, though, is psychological. People have an aversion to having hands around their neck, and it can cause an almost paralyzing panic. With that in mind, the first thing we need to do is get our wits about us.
The amount of time we have to defend ourselves will not be long. But we are also able to use both hands. While we could use an earlier technique, we will add another one to the mix.
Grab the pen with your strong side hand. This time we are going to choke up on the weapon so only the tip is exposed. You should be able to rest your thumb on the top.
Now we will reach to the backside of the attacker’s arm. The area we are specifically looking for is high on the back of the triceps muscle. At this point, we are going to pinch the top layer of skin between our thumb and the pen.
Understand that this is not a joking pinch we would use with friends. Our goal is to crush the tissue and, as we do so, tear it away from the body.
As before, our defense is swift and with the intent of causing as much pain as possible in a short amount of time. The most common response is a howl from the attacker as they retract their arms and bunch them up in front of their body.
The Eye Gouge
There is no one technique that works on every person in the world. This is true with every martial art and even firearms. While a 9mm round to center mass will discourage most people from continuing their attack, others may barely acknowledge that they have been shot.
Because of this, you must be ready to follow up. We could discuss a thousand other options. But I would like to close the technique section with something that works well on a large percentage of people—the eye gouge.
Regardless of the grab, get a hand on your weapon and grasp it firmly. Now with the same ferocity we discussed earlier, drive the tactical pen into the eye of the attacker. They will likely close their eyes, but we will continue our counterattack.
The goal here is obvious and effective. We can get two responses from this technique—pain and physical dysfunction. Even if the subject feels no pain, the destruction of their eye will limit their ability to continue the attack.
If they persist, defend by attacking the other eye, eliminating their ability to see you altogether. Gruesome, no doubt, but effective, and that is what we need to stay focused on.
The Pen Is a Force Multiplier In Self-Defense Applications
Self-defense is a dangerous endeavor but a must if we expect to survive an encounter. While a handgun gives us serious power and ability to level the playing field, they are not always an option.
The unassuming tactical pen can serve you well, requiring little training and almost zero maintenance. If used with intent and ferocity, it can help you break free from an attacker and escape.
Many people believe that size is the determining factor in self-defense. I would remind them that a full-grown female leopard weighs around 65 pounds. Yet nobody will even question its ability to defend itself.
As I mentioned, the tactical pen has become popular, and you will have many to choose from for self-defense. I suggest you consider the Longhand from Benchmade for two reasons. It is exceptionally well made and carries the legacy of quality we find with all Benchmade products.
For more information, please visit Benchmade.com.
This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World April/May 2022 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.