WON Landing Page March 2022

Gear Court: UZI Tactical Pen Not Clear and Convincing

There is no shortage of products marketed to police officers.  There are so many, that there is an old adage within Law Enforcement that if companies ‘paint it black (we can now include OD green, camouflage, coyote tan, or sand brown) and call it tactical’ police officers will buy it.  That adage bears a lot of truth.  Many are marketed as lifesaving tools, which is pretty strategic.   Police work is dangerous and we all want to come home in the same condition as when we left it.

In the course of my career, I, too, have spent a great deal of money on products.  Some of these products have not delivered as I had hoped.  I have actually discovered that many of them have been proven to be impractical.  The up side to these experiences is that at this point, I can generally identify which products are worth the investment, and which ones are not.

I recently tested the UZI Tactical Pen from CampCo.  Right out of the box I was enamored with it.  It looks cool, it feels solid, and it looks intimidating. It seemed gimmicky, but I kept an open mind after my initial assessment of it.

CampCo describes the UZI as a pen that is also “a potential lifesaving tool…” It has a sharpened crown on the end, which CampCo states will “not only cause extreme pain, but it will also collect the aggressor’s DNA for future identification.”

I have some discomfort with this claim.  It’s not a false claim, but I think it is slightly misleading.  The claim omits obvious facts, such as the fact that a ballpoint pen can also be reasonably considered a ‘lifesaving and DNA collection tool.’  A regular, nontactical pen would capture DNA on the exterior of the barrel.  The amount of DNA collected may vary.  Also, considering fingernail scrapings collect DNA on a regular basis, this amount is typically enough to identify suspects. Therefore, the amount of DNA collected probably doesn’t matter that much.  I showed the UZI to a co-worker who has been assigned to our ID or crime scene unit for almost a decade.  He’s a bit of a comedian, and when I explained the idea behind the UZI, he snickered.  He agreed with my conclusion regarding the claims.

I should point out as a police trainer, that the main difference between a ballpoint pen and the UZI is that a ballpoint pen would be more likely considered an edged weapon due to its potential to deeply penetrate flesh.  Because of the design, the UZI would only puncture the epidermis.  I am not a doctor, but it would take a great deal of force to do debilitating/life-threatening damage, unless targeted at sensitive body areas.  This may put the pen and the UZI at different levels of force, depending on the officers’ deployment.  The effectiveness of any tool or technique is based on target area selection, the amount of force used to deploy it, training, and mindset.  Whenever an officer uses force, it must be reasonable and necessary.

There were two features of the UZI that didn’t appeal to me personally. The first feature was the size of the pen.  I found the barrel length of the UZI pen is too long to fit in the pocket of my uniform shirt; the sharp end protruded about 2 inches.  I also found that the girth of the barrel is so large, that it barely fits into the pen slot on my uniform shirt.  Its design would require me to carry an additional pen for the suspect, since I wouldn’t be giving him a weapon.  I wouldn’t have any room to carry another pen on my person.

The second feature of the UZI that I found mildly irritating was the manner in which the pen tip emerges and retracts into the barrel.  Non-police personnel wouldn’t even think this feature would be irritating, but it takes about eight 180° rotations to fully emerge and retract the tip.  I kept twisting, and twisting, and twisting, and twisting the barrel.  I thought I might reach retirement before that tip emerged!  Unfortunately for me, I still have seven years left.  Darn it!

There are some good features of the UZI.  As was aforementioned, it has the cool factor, it feels good in your hand, and it looks intimidating.  The up side of this UZI is that it writes nicely.  Maybe it is better suited for civilians as a self-defense tool.  Critical to anyone’s success with a self-defense tool is his or her accessibility it.  For that reason, many self-defense tools are on key chains.  A pen may pose an accessibility issue for the general public.

Although this product didn’t personally appeal to me, I sincerely appreciate that CampCo is focusing on the development of equipment to ensure officers’ safety.   With all of the recent and future reductions in police staffing, officer involved deaths, shootings, and serious injuries will inevitably increase.  I have nothing but praise and respect for any company, which attempts to protect police officers through the products they offer.  I would be interested in reviewing products before they are put on the market.  A few minor modifications to enhance the product would probably make me a consumer of the product.~Sara Ahrens

This pen was provided to me for free by the company.

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