In this article, I’ll explain what a bolt-action pen is, my favorite pens, and where you can buy them.
I go through a lot of pens in my profession. Constantly jotting down notes from clients, writing articles and drafting will burn up normal pens quickly. I was always the guy who had a ton of cheap pens all over the place. I had them in my vehicles, desk, and briefcase and I still couldn’t find a pen I liked. That is until I was gifted my first metal pen or bolt-action pen. It was a 100% stainless steel pen by Bastion and I was hooked the second I lifted it from the packaging. I still use it everywhere I go. Not only is it a great conversation starter, but it’s easy to keep track of due to the weight. I’ve learned to keep a few cheap pens in my bag for when someone asks to borrow one so I don’t lose one of my cherished metal pens.
Choose Your Metal.
Plastic pens are cheap and break easily. They leak and sometimes look unprofessional when meeting with high-net-worth clients. I’m not saying that you should be a pen snob, but a classic metal pen makes a great impression when clients are spending a great deal of money with you. While more expensive than their plastic counterparts, a single metal bolt action pen will outlast thousands of plastic pens as long as you don’t lose it.
You can choose from various metals for your pen such as Titanium, Stainless Steel, Copper, Brass, Aluminum, and even Zirconium. My first metal pen was stainless steel which is shiny, heavy and has plenty of heft. Titanium pens are stranger and lighter than stainless steel which is appealing for many users, but it does cost more. Copper is an interesting choice because it develops a warm patina after use which gives it a unique and attractive appearance. Brass maintains its color and is stronger than copper normally. Many people love brass pens because they look professional and command attention. Lastly, you have aluminum pens which are probably the lightest of all metal pens.
Metal pens or bolt action pens are by far the most durable pens you will ever use. While each metal has different properties and strengths, I can assure you they will last a lifetime. The metal pen I used to write this article is a Bastion Stainless Steel Pen that’s incredibly thick and has a tight bolt action function that’s quite addictive. It has enough heft to easily knock out a window and it can be used in a self-defense situation if it’s all you have access to.
One thing I love about bolt-action pens is their reliability. Most pens break if you tend to click them a lot, but these pens last forever. I write every single day and click the bolt-action lever on this pen thousands of times a day and it hasn’t jammed a single time thanks to the phenomenal craftsmanship that went into building these pens.
Bolt-action pens have a sleek, yet rugged appearance. The classic design is always appealing metal pens are great for not only business professionals, but those who want a nice pen that writes smoothly. Pay attention to what the executives and trend setters write with and I’m sure they use some type of metal pen.
Can be used in emergency situations.
You read that right – metal pens can be used in emergency situations such as knocking out a car window, self-defense, or can even be used as a pry bar if you really needed to. While there are better ways to defend yourself, sometimes all you have on you is a pen. Plus, a metal pen doesn’t look suspicious and you can bring them anywhere.
You can personalize them.
Metal pens can be engraved and personalized. I haven’t done this personally, but would one day like to get some of mine engraved with my business logo. An engraved metal pen makes a great gift for graduation, starting a new business, becoming a professional writer or just to doodle with in your free time. They also make great groomsman gifts that your friends can use for years.
Metal pens feel amazing in your hands and you won’t go back to plastic after you’ve written with one.
My favorite bolt-action pens:
Bastion Stainless Steel Bolt Action Pen
I love a tough metal pen with plenty of heft. The Bastion stainless steel pen is easily my favorite pen in my collection. I use it daily and take it with me everywhere I go. It writes better than any other pen I’ve ever used and it feels great in your hand. It has plenty of weight and solid construction. The bolt action is tight and never fails. You can unscrew the point and refill your ink to use this pen for years. This is the heavy-duty stainless steel pen you’ve been looking for. The metal cartridge keeps your ink secure and prevents spillage. The fact that you can change out the ink with black, red, or blue ink in either gel or standard makes this the perfect everyday carry pen. The stainless steel Bastion metal pen can be used as an emergency tool that you can bring everywhere. I highly recommend this pen for your EDC pen.
What we like:
I use my Bastion pen every single day and love writing with it. I knew it was special the moment I opened the box and felt how well-built it was. It has plenty of heft and the bolt-action clicker is addictive. I’m an attorney and sign documents all day long and love carrying this stainless steel pen around. When others show off their pens, I just let my Bastion clunk on the table and everyone wants to try it out.
What we didn’t like:
I always try to find something negative about a product when I review them, but I can’t find a single issue with Bastion pens. I’ve heard others say they are too heavy to write with for long periods of time, but I actually prefer a heavy-duty metal pen. I guess it depends on your preference, but Bastion also makes incredibly lightweight pens with materials such as Aluminum if you prefer something lighter.
Big Idea Design Mini Bolt Action Pen (Zirconium)
You’ve likely heard of Big Idea Design metal pens; they make some of the most reliable pens in the world. The mini bolt action pen comes in zirconium, brass, copper, and variations of titanium such as raw, DLC black, and stonewashed. The reversible deep carry pocket clip makes it easy to carry which is important for an EDC pen. It uses D1-type refills which gives you plenty of options when it’s time to buy more ink. We chose the zirconium pen because it’s highly resistant to corrosion and is quite unique in appearance. At the time of posting, the zirconium model comes with a free Titanium Damascus Bolt pen with your order. You get two pens for the price of one!
What we like:
This is the first metal pen made from Zirconium that I’ve ever tested and I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised by how well it was designed. It writes perfectly and is easy to use. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I first held it but immediately wanted to write a few paragraphs with it. I think it’s really great that Big Idea Design gives you a FREE Titanium Damascus Bolt with your purchase of the Zirconium pen (at the time of writing this article at least).
What we didn’t like:
The price was a little high, but then again, that’s relative to how much you have to spend on your pens. The fact that it comes with an additional pen that’s incredibly high-quality made this purchase a little easier.
Nitecore Bolt Action Tactical Pen
Nitecore makes great products and their NCNTP30 bolt action tactical pen is built to last. The design is simple and the pen is lightweight. We like this metal pen because it’s looks like a regular pen with a classy design. The bolt-action mechanism one of the best in the business and the body of this pen is CNC machined with TC4 titanium alloy which is known to last forever. Not only is this pen tough, but it’s resistant to corrosion. The tungsten steel tip can be used in an emergency situation such as breaking a window or defending yourself against an attacker. The Nitecore NCNTP30 bolt action pen is a great writing pen that’s classy and makes a great gift.
What we like:
I like the fact that this pen is made with TC4 titanium alloy which is stronger than stainless steel and lighter. Personally, I like heavy pens that you have to grip, but some people prefer a lighter pen. I also enjoyed playing with the tungsten steel tip which is perfect for emergencies. Thankfully, I have yet to use a pen to break a window or defend myself but it’s good to have it just in case.
What we didn’t like:
This pen is a little pricey for what you get. Granted, it’s a nice pen with a classy look, it’s just a little more than I wanted to spend.
The Ridge Bolt Action Ballpoint Pen
The Ridge is a perfectly balanced metal pen that expertly distributes weight which allows you to write longer without fatigue. No doubt you’ve heard of The Ridge metal wallet and their bolt action pens are made to the same high-quality standards. An interesting feature of this metal ballpoint pen is that it uses an internally pressurized refill that allows you to write at any angle including upside down because it doesn’t rely on gravity to feed ink. It’s great for taking notes and makes a wonderful EDC pen that you can carry with you daily. You can get The Ridge bolt action pen in Titanium, Aluminum, and Carbon Fiber. One feature that is worthy of note is the CNC lathe knurled grip that provides additional texture for a sturdy grip.
What we like:
I’ve been a fan of The Ridge metal wallet ever since I first saw it so I had to get this pen. At first glance, you can tell it’s built sturdy and fun to write with. The first thing I noticed when I started writing with it is that it is perfectly balanced and you can write with it for a long time. I like it as an EDC pen that you carry with you everywhere you go due to its size and weight. I got the alloy steel version and enjoy writing with it.
What we don’t like:
I’ve noticed that some of the parts feel loose, but it could be my imagination. I do play with the bolt action on my pens a lot more than most people do as it soothes me while I work, but I may have been too rough on it. Also, the ink flow could be improved, but it’s not a deal-ender.
Tactile Turn Bolt Action Pen
The Tactile Turn bolt action pen comes in various finishes and sizes such as the mini 4.4”, short 5.1”, and standard 5.6”. The mini is perfect for an EDC pen while the larger sizes fit neatly into your padfolio or briefcase. This bolt action pen is available in titanium, bronze, copper and zirconium. You can add engraving and the Titanium Damascus Bolt pen to your order for an additional price. These pens are highly resistant to the elements including corrosion and they’re lightweight. The zirconium model is expensive due to the difficulty of machining the materials, but it’s one of the best out there.
What we like:
I absolutely love the bolt-action on this pen! It’s smooth and writes great. One of my favorite options is that you can choose between the mini, short, and standard sizes depending on what you are using it for. I personally like short metal pens for EDC and larger sizes for the office.
Jerome is an avid outdoorsman who moonlights as an attorney when he’s not creating the world’s greatest online content.