With the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen in my hand, I sorely want to put to test the famous phrase ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Gerber states that they intended to make a tactical pen that would do duty as both a writing device and a back up weapon; and it looks like they hit the mark. While I wouldn’t want this as a primary weapon, the best weapon to use is the one in your hand, and this pen sure feels like it would work. For a weapon, mass is important for grip and delivery of force. This flat black beauty has an overall length of about 5 inches closed, and the solid steel construction makes for a hefty 1 ounce in mass. To put this into perspective, a well made plastic disposable pen weighs in at a measly 3/8 of an ounce! Unfortunately, this means that a standard shirt pocket isn’t a good place to carry the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen, since the extra weight will drag down the pocket. When I was carrying it around in the office, I found that my front pants pocket worked the best, and an interior jacket pocket was the best place while in the field.
The machined steel construction is enhanced by a flat black coating, with ample grooves cut into the body. These groves proved a good friction surface to maintain grip, even in poor conditions. A Cerakote™ Stainless steel pocket clip at the base holds the pen snugly, and a hardened steel glass breaker at the tip makes for easyuse. The pocket clip attachment comes set up for right handed use, but can be adjusted for lefties like me. I did find it interesting that the glass breaker was left bare metal, as opposed to also being blackened, and occasionally I would think that the pen was out and scrape my paper rather then write on it. On the plus side, the glass breaker isn’t as sharp as on some other tactical pens, and I never had an issue with it putting a rip in my pockets.
Most other tactical pen designs rely on a cap cover for the pen itself. This can become tedious, as in reality you will be using the device as a pen far more than as a weapon, and a removable cap can easily be lost. However, the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen has taken this into account and is a push button design, with the mechanism made of the same steel as the pen barrel. The only bit of plastic is the small head on the end of the refill. All of the fittings have gaskets to allow for easy removal and replacement of the ink cartridge.
I’m the kind of guy who needs to tear apart darn near everything he touches, and this pen was no exception. I was very pleased to see the inner mechanism and appreciated the precision that went into its construction. And like any other precision instrument, care must be taken when you’re working on the device. This isn’t a $1.00 throwaway pen, and should not be treated as such. For example, it is easy to miss-align the mechanism when reassembling the pen after replacing the refill. I found that the best way to put this pen back together was to place the spring on the refill, then put refill into the mechanism and seat the mechanism into the button base fully retracted. This allows you to view the workings, and properly align the base and mechanism. Then slide the barrel assembly over the refill and screw in the base. One thing I did to mine was to place a dab of silicone plumber’s grease in the mechanism grooves to improve the action a bit. However, if you are going to use this in sandy or dusty environments, I would not recommend this as the grease will just collect grit.
When putting this pen through its paces, I first wanted to evaluate it as a writing device, and how well it would perform in the office as well as in the field. The application of force and its use as a weapon, I thought, would come later. As luck would have it, I received it right before leaving for a convention with friends, one of whom I have been doing martial arts with since we were both children. So of course, the first thing I did after collecting it back from my friends (all of whom loved the design and the heft) was to immediately use it as a yawara or kubotan on each other. The gripping surface worked very well, and the natural taper of the pen tip lends itself well to pressure point applications. It’s also pretty comical to see your ‘assailant’ marked up with pen when you ‘accidentally’ hit the button (Sorry pal; that should come out in the wash). Seriously, it was an excellent force multiplier, and the mass and construction provided great confidence that I was using a weapon, and not an improvised one that I would expect to break in use.
Eventually, I did take it into the office and out in the field, and it performed well. As stated earlier, its mass is something to consider when you’re walking to a meeting, but it’s nothing that would detract from using it. In the field is where it really comes into its own. The ink cartridge is supplied by “Rite in the Rain”, and it does what is advertised. I used the pen while taking notes for an outdoors project I was working on, and the ink flowed well and never got light or gloppy. Even when covered in grime and sawdust, I was still able to grip easily and keep working.
My only concern when carrying around the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen is what organization will I make uptight. In the world we live in, force multiplier weapons are a grey area, and care must be taken when you have this pen in your pocket. Air travel security and most public government buildings will consider this an offensive weapon, as will some public schools. Personally, I would be pretty upset to have to hand this over to a security guard, so I would caution you to be aware of your itinerary and act according to the local laws. With and MSRP of $62 (you can find it online for around $35), it’s not something you want to casually part with.
In conclusion, I’m very pleased with the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen, and chances are, it will be in my pocket. You better bet that I’m far more aware of those guys who tend to walk off with the pen they asked to use – yeah, I’m taking that one back buddy.