Tactical Pens and Airport Security: Everything You Need to Know

  • Aaron Kelly
Tactical Pens and Airport Security: Everything You Need to Know

Tactical pens are a popular self-defense tool carried discreetly by people around the world. Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about the legality of tactical pens – including whether or not you can take them through airport security checkpoints.

Tactical Pens Are Legal, Non-Lethal Weapons

Obviously, laws vary around the world. However, tactical pens aren’t typically popular enough to have their own weapon classification. In general, a tactical pen is considered a legal, non-lethal weapon.

Yes, a tactical pen is considered a weapon. No, they’re not illegal.

“Non-lethal” can be a bit of a misleading term. It doesn’t mean that the tactical pen can’t kill – it just means that the pens are not designed to kill.

No, You Cannot Legally Take Any Tactical Pen Onto an Airplane

A tactical pen is a weapon. You cannot take weapons onto an airplane.

If you get caught carrying a tactical pen into an airport – or through any security checkpoint – then you could be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime. You could be arrested. 


Of course, there’s an obvious loophole here: it’s not illegal to carry an ordinary pen onto an airplane.

Sometimes, airport security officials will confiscate your tactical pen because it looks like a weapon: it’s a heavy-duty piece of metal with good weight and a tip that can cause damage. However, if your tactical pen looks like an ordinary pen, then it may get through airport security without attracting attention. How many times have you gone through airport security with an ordinary pen in your bag without issue?

Obviously, we don’t recommend attempting to bring your tactical pen onto an airplane. We don’t recommend attempting to sneak it through airport security. Your tactical pen is a weapon – just like a knife or a firearm is a weapon. Treat it like a weapon.

The TSA Specifically Forbids Tactical Pens

Tactical pens are weapons, and the TSA will confiscate a tactical pen from you as if it were a weapon.

The TSA blog routinely posts pictures of tactical pens confiscated from passengers. Many of the pens look like ordinary writing utensils. You can see some examples here.

Meanwhile, you don’t have to look far online to find people who have had their tactical pens confiscated from them at airport security checkpoints. You can find hundreds of stories on everyday carry (EDC) forums and survivalist forums where people have had their pens confiscated.

Simply put: if you’re traveling with a tactical pen, you shouldn’t get too attached to it. It could be confiscated.

You Can Always Bring Ordinary Pens Onto an Airplane

Pens can be brought onto airplanes. They’ve always been allowed on airplanes. At the moment, there’s nothing preventing you from carrying an ordinary pen onto an airplane.

Pens are not officially considered weapons. They’re considered writing utensils. However, even an ordinary pen can be used as a weapon by the right person. A heavy pen – like an expensive pen made from metal alloys – can do as much damage as a tactical pen.

That’s where the line gets blurred. Ultimately, the TSA has confiscated even ordinary pens from individuals in the past. Your tactical pen could look, for all intents and purposes, like an ordinary pen – but still be confiscated. On the flip side, airport security might miss a tactical pen even when it looks like a weapon – like when it has grooved edges, DNA collection features, and stainless steel construction.

Ultimately, your experience will vary with tactical pens and airport security. They’re absolutely illegal to carry on airplanes and into other secure environments (remember, they’re considered weapons). However, that doesn’t mean your tactical pen will be confiscated or detected 100% of the time. 

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