Are Tactical Pens Allowed On Planes? (TSA Rules)

Last Updated on March 13, 2021

Supposedly the great thing about tactical pens is that you can carry them everywhere but nobody will realize you have a self-defense weapon in your pocket.

Great marketing! But can you carry a tactical pen on a plane? Is there such a thing as a TSA approved tactical pen?

TSA Tactical Pen Rule & Regulations

Whether you’ll be able to bring your tactical pen onto an airplane will depend on the Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA agent at the airport security checkpoint has a decision to make.

Is your pen a normal writing pen which is permitted to travel in hand luggage.

Or is your pen a tactical pen that is not permitted in hand luggage.

Bringing A Tactical Pen In Carry-On Luggage

You are not permitted by the TSA to bring a tactical pen in your hand luggage. While you may think of your pen as a self-defense tool the TSA rightly considers you to be the potential attacker.

Many travelers take the risk and hope that their tactical pen won’t be spotted at the security checkpoint.

But if the TSA does realize that you are not carrying a regular pen then you won’t be able to bring it on to the plane.

Tactical pens have an extra-sharp ball point that can be used to puncture soft tissues such as the neck.

They have either a machined steel or aircraft-grade aluminum body making them sturdier and heavier an unlikely to break when you strike an opponent.

A glass breaker jabbed in someone’s eye is going to hurt too!

There is no such thing as a TSA-approved tactical pen. You will be given the choice to check your bag (if you have time), to mail your pen (if the airport has a post office), or to surrender your tactical pen to the TSA.

Bringing A Tactical Pen In Checked Luggage

If you want to fly with a tactical pen then you really need to pack it in checked luggage and pay the fees for checked luggage.

The only problem when packing expensive tactical pens in checked bags is that it might be stolen.

If your pen is valuable and you don’t want to lose it you might be better off just leaving it at home.

How To Ask The TSA About Your Pen

You can use the @AskTSA service on Twitter by showing them a photo of your pen. They will get back to you.

Any mention of the word “tactical” and they’ll tell you it’s prohibited from hand luggage.

Korine had her tactical pen confiscated at the airport.

Since that exchange the TSA have updated their website to inform the public that tactical pens are prohibited from carry-on luggage.

Any sharp object that could cause harm isn’t allowed in the cabin.

But CJ asks a very valid question because knitting needles are allowed on planes.

The TSA didn’t reply, but I’d say that while knitting needles could be used as a weapon they are not designed to be weapons.

Tactical pens are weapons. they are designed to be able to inflict damage, and the type of person that carries a tactical pen has considered using it as a weapon and potentially bought it for that very purpose.

You also can’t bring a kubotan on a plane for the same reason.

If you want to bring a self-defense pen onto a plane then don’t buy one branded Smith and Wesson. Don’t buy a pen made to look menacing, and marketed as a tool to inflict damage.

If your “tactical” pen looks like a normal pen then you should be able to bring it on a plane. The best way to do this is to just bring a normal writing pen.

This brass fountain pen was given the all clear by the TSA.

I’m sure Jason Bourne could cause a bit of damage with it!

The Verdict

You can’t bring a tactical pen on a plane in carry-on luggage. These common everyday carry items shouldn’t be carried when you are flying.

Because these are designed to be used for self-defense they are considered to be weapons by the TSA.

This means that if you really want to fly with a tactical pen you should pack it in your checked baggage.

If you pack a tactical pen in your hand luggage then be prepared to surrender it to the TSA at the security checkpoint if they discover it.

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