Do It Yourself

Survivalist’s DIY: How to Make A Pen Gun

DIY pen gun

Guns are by far the best choice for self-defense in any SHTF scenario, but have you thought about this: what if there are no guns or ammo available to use when you most need it? Sure, knives and self-defense fight tactics can be of help, but not in all scenarios.

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In case you are prevented from using or owning a gun, or you have a lack of ammunition, you can create a pen gun. It is handy for self-defense purposes and can be one of the things to have around when surviving that can save your life. Below you will find instructions and explanation on how to make a pen gun. Let’s see how it’s done!

How pen guns work?

Pen guns use a simple mechanism made out of rubber bands or out of springs, so when the band or the spring are pulled, the mechanism triggers and projectiles any sort of “ammunition” you are using.

You can use darts for example or anything else that crosses your mind. If you are using plastic pens for making your pen gun, make sure you don’t use anything that heats quickly to be your ammo. When it comes to firing your ammo, it is everything about physics, so the more force you put on the bend/spring, the greater force you will be able to transfer to the ammo you are using and the bigger damage will the target receive.

Pengun_sizes Infographic

Maybe the best choice would be to use a pen made of steel, so you would be able to use flaming darts and variations of smoke bombs, although plastic pens would also do a great job – just don’t use heated ammo for plastic ones.  Now, regardless of the type of pen you decide to go for, we are going to teach you how to make a pen gun that uses spring in its mechanism. For tips and guidelines on how to use a tactical pen, see this article on this important topic.

Pen gun spring mechanism

Either, spring or rubber band mechanisms are great for making a pen gun that can help you in a tough situation where there is no other option but to defend yourself with what you have although you could use a gun and some ammo.

Pen gun spring mechanism

Let’s see how you can make a functional pen gun with a spring mechanism.

What you need?

For this DIY project, you will need to have the following things:

  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Pliers
  • 3 pens with retractable mechanism
  • Key ring or a piece of yarn
  • 1 or 2 paperclips

Retractable pens

Retractable pens are just the perfect choice for this project as the parts on the pen you need to drill are hollow: the push button and the area around it.

Retractable pen gun

This will make your drilling a lot easier than it would be with drilling pens which parts are more solid.


Paperclips should be large enough to suit the length of the pen and it should be strong enough to hold the spring mechanism solidly. When choosing your paperclips, try and buy the ones that you know could hold 3 springs and still have some space left to spear.

Step 1: deconstructing pens

You need to take the pens apart – you will also need to keep everything from the first pen except for the ink cartridge as you will need to use everything for the project.  Next, take the second and the third pen and take the springs out.

Step 2: paperclips

You need to stretch paperclips and make a straight piece of wire out of it. The paperclip, stretched like so, should be long enough to suit the spring you will use for the pen gun and still have some space left. Place one spring beside the paperclip, lining it up so that both ends of the paperclip are sticking out, making paperclip longer than the spring.

Step 3: securing paperclip

You will need to take the paperclip and one spring and put the paperclip through the spring so one part is sticking out. The other part should be secured and attached to the tip of the clipper. Add another spring, placing it through the paperclip by the secured spring.

Step 4: drilling

The next step would be drilling two holes on each side of the push button part you have taken from one of your pens.

Step 5: push button assist

Cut the white part of the push button – the push button assist, so you could remove the narrow part of the part you are cutting.

Step 6: assembling parts

Now you should have two pieces of the white part of the push button – the push button assist.

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You will take one of the parts (the thicker one) and place it on the top of the spring you’ve placed the last, pulling the remaining part (the one sticking) of the paperclip through the white thick push button part.

Make a Mini Pen Launcher

For pulling the paperclip through the white part easily, you will sue the side of the white part that slides effortlessly – allowing you to secure the end of your construction. The narrow part of the white part of the button push assembly should be facing the spring it is attached to.

Step 7: barrel

Now when you have the inner construction of your pen gun, made from a paperclip, two springs and the push button thicker white part of the mechanism, you need to take the barrel of a pen and place your construction inside of the pen in a way that the secured spring (the one without the white part attached to it) is placed at the end of the pen (the one with the hole) so that the secured spring is sticking out from the barrel.

Step 8: push it

Now you should take another pen or another similar object in order to pull that pen/object through your barrel and push the paperclip out to the other end of the pencil: the one where the white push button part is placed. The springs and the white part ill remain inside of the barrel while the paperclip end will be sticking out. The white part is actually the thing preventing the springs from being pushed out.

Step 9: remember that drilling?

Remember that drilling you did a couple of minutes ago? You need that part as you are now going to make that sticking spring as straight as possible as you need to pull it through the narrow part of the push button assembly you’ve drilled.

While you are doing so, first you should try to use as little paperclip as possible for being pulled through and attached to the narrow push button part with holes in it. This is the case because you need to watch for the spring to be loose in order for the gun to be made as functional. You might need to try working on this part a bit longer until you manage to get the springs loose.

Step 10: remove the pencil

Whether you were using a pencil or another similar object, when you are certain you have done the previous step right, secure the push button narrow part with holes and use pliers to secure it to the tip of the paperclip sticking out.

Remove the pencil carefully, taking care that springs snap, going forward in accordance with the mechanism you are making – the push button should move as well if the mechanism is working, stopping thanks to the white part of the pencil. You might need to wear the spring construction off by pulling it a couple of times so that the full force is transferred to the push button.

Step 11: push button – remaining holes

There is another pair of holes you’ve drilled in the push button part. You will use these holes to let a key ring or a piece of yarn through both holes. You will use this part for pulling the gun when aiming, just before you shoot.

Step 12: BBs

You surely know that BBs are a type of ammunition – you can buy them almost anywhere and of course, you can find them and purchase a box online. Alternatively, you can use darts instead as your ammunition.

How to use the pen gun?

You will simply load the pen gun with BBs by placing them on the top of the spring. If you are using darts, you need to place it on the top of the spring so it fits without falling before you shoot it out.

BB gun out of a pen

Now you only need to aim with the gun by holding the push button and letting it go as you are aiming at the target. That is all!

Now, if you would rather make a rubber band pen gun, here is how you can do that.

Rubber band pen gun

Rubber pen gun provides you with the same result as it has the same mechanism as the previous pen gun we have been working on.

Rubber band pen gun

As the construction is a bit different, let’s see how we can make one.

What do you need?

  • 1 pen
  • 1 rubber bend
  • paperclip

Step 1: removing parts

All the parts from the pen should be removed. The tip of the pen should be cut out and the hole should be wide enough for you to use ammo of your choice.

Step 2: drilling

Just a little bellow the cutoff tip, you will drill a hole through the tip of the pen (the remaining part), in a way that you have two holes on each side of the tip. Now you should have three holes: one large on the top and two small on each side of the remaining part of the tip of the pen.

Step 3: paperclip

You should again take a paperclip and unroll it in order to make a straight wire out of it. You will need this in order to be able to pull the rubber band through the holes you have previously drilled.

Step 4: rubber band

Pull the paperclip wire through the drilled holes and make a hook on one side, making sure you attach the rubber band to the hook so you could pull it through the holes of the barrel.

You can use more than one rubber band, making your catapult stronger.

Step 5: finish up

Remove the paperclip hook and tie a knot on the rubber so you could secure it. Now you have your projectile.

How to use it?

Just aim at the target with the tip of your pen gun. The barrel should be in one of your hands while the other should be holding and stretching the rubber band as you are aiming for the target. The ammo is released when the band is released.

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This version of pen gun is easier to make, but unlike the spring based pen gun, rubber band pen gun is not actually suitable for using BB. This is a great version for shooting darts, so spring based pen gun might be a better choice as you can shoot, both, BBs and darts out of it easily.

Simple pen gun

You can, with a bit of practice and will to experiment, improve both designs by making them easier to use. You can add a holder to your pen gun so it resembles more of a gun – as a huge plus it will also be made easier to use with a holder on. If you want to use the rubber band pen gun and still want to try shooting BBs out of it, you can experiment and make a platform that can help you use other types of round ammo such as BB. See our article on the best self-defense weapons you need to survive.

Either way, having an additional option, which may also be your only option when SHTF occurs and you need to defend yourself, a pen gun can and will be of great help – you can use it for shooting out poison or flaming darts or just using it as a fine distraction by shooting BBs out. That is why I recommend you practice making your own pen – as a survivalist you can never be completely prepared, but you can try!

For further reading, take a look at our article on the best DIY self-defence projects to protect you and your loved ones.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you.

About the author

Ellie Thomas

Survival-Mastery reflects my love of the outdoors and having the skills to take care of myself in the wilderness and in worst-case scenarios. I grew up in the southeast backpacking, camping, and fishing, and I have hiked and backpacked over 15,000 miles in the US. My background and career for the past 30 years has been in operations and construction and I enjoy learning and DIY projects.


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