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.

If you are prevented from using or owning a gun or lack ammunition, you can create a pen gun. It is handy for self-defense and can be one of the things to have around when surviving that can save your life. Below you will find instructions and explanations for making a pen gun. But first, let’s see how it’s done!

How do pen guns work?

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

You can use darts or anything else that crosses your mind. However, 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 power you will be able to transfer to the ammo you are using and the more significant damage will the target receives.

Pengun_sizes Infographic

Maybe the best choice would be to use a pen made of steel, so you could use flaming darts and variations of smoke bombs, although plastic pens would also do a great job – don’t use heated ammo for plastic ones. Now, regardless of the type of pen you choose, we will teach you how to make a pen gun that uses a spring in its mechanism. See this article on this vital topic for tips and guidelines on using a tactical pen.

Pen gun spring mechanism

Either spring or rubber band mechanisms are great for making a pen gun that can help you in a challenging 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 do you need?

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

  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Pliers
  • Three pens with retractable mechanism
  • Keyring 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 hollow: are the push button and the area around it.

Retractable pen gun

This will make your drilling easier than with drilling pens which parts are more solid.


Paper clips should be large enough to suit the pen’s length and strong enough to hold the spring mechanism solidly. When choosing your paperclips, try to buy the ones you know could keep three springs and still have some space left to spear.

Step 1: deconstructing pens

It would be best if you took 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. So next, take the second and the third pen and take the springs out.

Step 2: paperclips

You need to stretch paper clips and make a straight piece of wire. First, the paperclip is stretched, so it should be long enough to suit the spring you will use for the pen gun and still have some space left. Next, place one spring beside the paperclip, lining it up so that both ends of the paperclip are sticking out, making the 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. Next, 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 assists, so you can 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.

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

Make a Mini Pen Launcher

For pulling the paperclip through the white part quickly, you will use 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 to pull that pen/object through your barrel and push the paperclip out to the other end of the pencil, where the white push button part is placed. The springs and the white part will remain inside the barrel, while the paperclip end will stick out. The white part is 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 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 because you need to watch for the spring to be loose for the gun to be functional. You might need to try working on this part a bit longer until you get the springs loose.

Step 10: remove the pencil

Whether using a pencil or another similar object, when you are sure 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 in the future by the mechanism you are making – the push button should also move 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 several times to transfer the entire force to the push button.

Step 11: push button – remaining holes

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

Step 12: BBs

You surely know that BBs are 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 load the pen gun with BBs by placing them on the top of the spring. However, if you are using darts, you need to put them on top of the spring, so they fit without falling before you shoot them 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 aim at the target. That is all!

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

Rubber band pen gun

The rubber pen gun provides you with the same result as it has the exact 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?

  • One pen
  • One 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 to use the ammo of your choice.

Step 2: drilling

Just a little below the cutoff tip, you will drill a hole through the end of the pen (the remaining part) so that you have two holes on each side of the information. So 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 to make a straight wire. You will need this 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, ensuring you attach the rubber band to the theme so you can 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 to 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 hold and stretch the rubber band as you aim for the target. The ammo is released when the band is released.

This version of the pen gun is easier to make, but unlike the spring-based pen gun, the rubber band pen gun is unsuitable for using BB. However, this is an excellent version for shooting darts, so a spring-based pen gun might be a better choice, as you can shoot both BBs and darts out of it quickly.

Simple pen gun

With a bit of practice and will to experiment, you can improve both designs by making them easier to use. For example, you can add a holder to your pen gun, so it resembles more of a weapon – 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 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 pen – as a survivalist, you can never be completely prepared, but you can try!

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

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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 30,000 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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