EDC pens have evolved and their numbers multiplied in recent years as people seek greater functional convergence in just about all of their everyday carry items. Today’s EDC pens are capable of everything from transcendent quill-like mark making to stopping an assailant in their tracks. The bolt action EDC pen is one of the latest to garner attention both for their unique mechanical approach as well as their overall toughness and durability. Below are the best bolt action pens on the market today.
The Best Bolt Action Pens
Columbia River Knife and Tool have created an EDC bolt action pen for the ages. It features a cross culture design that will look as appropriate in the boardroom as it does on the loading dock. It has a wonderfully satisfying feel to it and the Ruger Bolt Action may have you wondering whether you can bag fowl with it on your next hunting trip. While it’s not necessarily a “tactical” pen by any strict interpretation of that EDC category its ruggedness and size, combined with its thumb-friendly flat head means you can certainly whip it out when the chips are down if need be.
The bolt action by Ruger is more than a little addictive simply because it has such a satisfying feel both during its motion and as it locks into place. This EDC pen utilizes the Fisher Space Pen ink cartridge which is fully capable of writing in any position you choose and in zero gravity as well. Perhaps best of all this remarkable EDC bolt action pen is available for only a fraction of what you’ll pay for many of its competitors. For all these reasons and more it’s our Best Choice.
Fisher black ink cartridge included
Secure Ruger bolt action opening/closing
Anodized aluminum finish
Weight 1.12 ounces
- BrandColumbia River Knife & Tool
- Weight1.12 ounces
Said to be TSA safe so you shouldn’t lose it at the airport
Very light yet has a substantial feel to it
Produces a very full, legible line like a pen should
The slick finish
The Karas Kustoms Bolt Pen takes the style of the classic executive pens of the past and melds it with contemporary design ergonomics that focus on creating a more satisfying tactile experience. The result is an EDC bolt action pen that’s as attractive as it is physically engaging. The pen has a very appealing surface that feels great to the touch and allows you to get a nice firm grip without making a lot of noise about it.
The bolt action itself is smooth and dependable and because the mechanism doesn’t protrude a quarter inch from the surface like some others it’s not a threat to break off. Karas Kustoms offer this bolt action EDC pen in brass, stainless steel and aluminum. And while the aluminum version is significantly lighter we have to say we’re partial to the greater heft of the brass pen model. It feels important and the added weight also makes creating full rich script an effortless endeavor.
Compatible with most all Parker refills
Handsome C360 machined brass finish
Hardware fashioned from high quality stainless steel
Weight 2.9 ounces
- BrandKARAS KUSTOMS
A beautifully balanced writing instrument that feels heavier than it is
The machined brass finish provides plenty of visual pizzazz
Also available in aluminum and cooper
The brass pen finish is not impervious to scratches
The GP 1945 Bolt Action Pen is a case study in geometric design that’s easy on the eye but hard on things that stand in your way during a survival situation. It doesn’t overtly say “weapon” when you first regard it, but after a few seconds you’ll start to appreciate the rugged construction, ample girth and subtle but very effective glassbreaker/jawbreaker built into the head. Upon even closer inspection you’ll notice the multi-tone survival whistle that’s revealed by twisting off that glassbreaker.
Built to withstand the rigors of the outdoors this is an ideal pen for hunters and hikers, construction workers, police or anyone who routinely finds themselves in dangerous situations and also happens to need a dependable writing device. The body of the pen is fashioned from TC4 titanium and the glassbreaker from tungsten steel. The spring loaded bolt mechanism never sticks or fights back and the emergency whistle will produce a robust 100 decibels. Be sure to also check out our list of the top tactical pens for more great items like this.
Fashioned from TC4 titanium
Includes tungsten steel glass breaker
Built in multi-tone whistle
Weight 5 ounces
- Weight5 ounces
It’s very easy to get a nice firm grip with the knurled finish
Glass breaker is surprisingly effective
Satisfying and effective bolt action mechanism
When you think about a tactical EDC pen your imagination no doubt goes toward something like this Boker Plus Tactical Pen. And it should. This is an outstanding bolt action pen that should be on the radar of anyone interested in a quality writing instrument that may also help save their bacon one day. In all likelihood you’ll never need to summon the lifesaving capabilities of the Boker Plus but even so you’ll still have a highly effective writing instrument that’s durable, comfortable and extremely attractive.
The pen itself was designed by renowned German industrial designers Rainer Wenning and Thomas Braunagel and that impressive pedigree is obvious the minute you lay eyes on the Boker Plus bolt action pen. In addition, should you ever need it to perform heroically for you you’ll find the integrated glass breaker at the head also doubles as an effective deterrent when introduced to the face of an assailant.
German designed machined aluminum casing
Built in glass breaker
Clip integrated design (CID)
Weight 1.3 ounces
- Weight2.9 ounces
Feels great when you grab hold of it with a survival grip
The titanium pen body isn’t going anywhere anytime soon
Creates clear legible lines at any writing angle
The CID is not A-OK
There are plenty of Kickstarter scams out there but happily this is not one of them. It seems as if the makers of the Tactile Turn Glider Pen actually took the money they raised in their crowdfunding effort and put it into the pen rather than into their pocket. And that’s good news for any lover of fine writing instruments. This is a handcrafted EDC bolt action pen that’s designed and built in a small shop in Texas and offered to the world at a surprisingly affordable price. The Tactile Turn EDC bolt action pen (they refer to it using the less militaristic term “glider”) is as beautiful to behold as it is satisfying to hold.
The Glider bolt action pen is 5 ½ inches long and weighs 1.3 ounces. It’s long enough to fit comfortably in all but the largest hands and yet small enough that it will tuck discreetly into your shirt pocket where the titanium clip will hold it securely in place. The gently knurled surface allows you to always achieve a firm grip without trying too hard and the arcing bolt action is smooth as butter under your thumb. Our handy guide to the best mechanical pencils features more great products like this.
Ultra-durable titanium construction
Arcing bolt action mechanism
Made in the USA
Weight 1.3 ounces
- BrandTACTILE TURN
A light and tough titanium pen
Produces a clear thick line with little effort
Pen has a very pleasing feel
Not a great tactical pen but a pretty great pen nonetheless
If you’re looking for a true bolt action tactical pen look no further than this one from Titaner. Both ends of this no-nonsense piece of survival kit, when applied to the right parts of an assailant’s anatomy, will have them on a gurney headed for the hospital in short order. At the same time however the Titaner Titanium Pen is not a one trick pony. It effortlessly produces clear, highly legible script so you can bring it to the office with confidence.
There is a high degree of precision at work in this pen. And that attention to detail serves all of its intended functions well. The low key knurling allows you to get a nice firm grip whether you’re signing a contract or sending a message to a weasel who decided you were an easy mark. The integrated glass breaker is rugged as can be and will make quick work of windows while the bolt action is smooth, effective and more than a little addictive.
Fashioned from CNC titanium
Glass breaker self-defense tool
Effortless and effective bolt action
Weight 1 ounce
- Weight0.8 ounces
The emergency glass breaker is not messing around
Both elegant and, when held in an aggressive way, menacing
The leather carrying pouch is a nice touch
Not the most attractive pen on the market
The Machine Era Field Pen is robust yet sleek with a unique clip-based bolt mechanism and a handsome finish that’s made for the office. It’s light, slides easily into your pocket and, because it’s a relatively short 3.9 inches in length, it won’t protrude from your pocket in an awkward way. As a writing instrument it’s right up there with the best EDC bolt action pens and uses the Schmidt Megaline 4889 pen refill cartridge. A high quality German cartridge that produces beautifully fluid script.
The engineers at Machine Era took a good look at the standard bolt action pen and asked the question “Why so many appendages?” They then combined the bolt with the pocket clip to create a pen with a streamlined profile that is very visually appealing. Love this pen? Check out our writing pens for work review for more great items like this.
Solid stainless steel body
Will accept Pilot G2 ink cartridge
Unique bolt/clip design
Weight 1.12 ounces
- BrandMACHINE ERA
The single piece construction means formidable build quality
Produces a generous old-fashioned type of line
Makes a great gift for birthdays or Christmas
Some will think the size a bit too discrete
The UZI Tactical Bolt Action Pen has an unapologetically aggressive design that’s meant (presumably) to send a clear message to any potential assailant that yours is a pen not to be messed with. At the same time it fulfills its literary duties with aplomb. That’s due in large part to the fact that the aircraft grade aluminum used to produce the body makes for a pen that’s not only tough but light enough to write with all day long.
The UZI bolt action pen is going to make a valuable addition to your everyday carry for years to come. Whether you’re a lawyer taking notes in court or a construction foreman on a busy jobsite the UZI Tactical Pen won’t let you down. The gun metal finish is attractive, the bolt action mechanism is smooth and dependable and anyone foolish enough to test the mettle of your pen is in for a very uncomfortable surprise.
Fabricated from aircraft grade aluminum
Durable and clean bolt action mechanism
Compatible with Fisher Space Pen cartridges
Weight 4 ounces
- Weight4 ounces
UZI quality is apparent throughout
The pocket clip is more useful than most
Not as expensive as some other bolt action pens
Limited tactical capabilities
Tactile Turn make another appearance on our list with their DLC Coated Titanium Slider Pen. This is high end EDC material with a diamond-like carbon coating that’s tough as nails (tougher actually) and visually compelling. The material that DLC coating is applied to is grade 5 titanium which means that, with minimal care, this pen is likely to outlive you, and by a significant margin. This is not a pen that’s going to start rusting if you get caught in the rain with it in your pocket. Nor is it going to scratch if it contacts other items in your pocket, backpack or briefcase.
The bolt action is one of the smoothest you’ll find and the modest knurling on the surface provides a soft satin-like glow while also enabling a nice firm grip. Like many of the bolt action pens on this list this one is not intended to be a self-defense tool.
Titanium pen shell
Easy Flow 9000 ink cartridge from Schmidt
Handcrafted in the USA
Weight 2 ounces
- BrandTACTILE TURN
Love the handcrafted quality at work here
The pocket clip won’t shred the lip of your shirt pocket
Has a no-nonsense big business feel to it
While we found ourselves at first questioning some of the design choices here we ultimately had to admit that somehow, against all odds, the disparate elements come together to produce a bolt action pen that’s as visually compelling as it is rugged and functional. The 6061T looks like a heavy pen but it’s not. It tips the scales at a modest 1.3 ounces, which means you can write with it all day if you need to and it won’t turn your shirt pocket into a sagging, embarrassing mess either.
While we found the inclusion of the Punisher logo here more than a bit unnecessary those who wish to retain their dignity can order it sans logo. That aside this warrants inclusion on our best bolt action pen list because it’s not only solidly built and undoubtedly ready to protect your flank, it also has a very pleasing bolt action mechanism and produces beautifully clear script. And it does so at an extremely attractive price point. As such it’s our somewhat surprising choice for Best Value. Make sure you also check our guide to the best calligraphy pens.
Fashioned from aircraft grade aluminum
Compatible with an array of standard cartridges
Aggressive tapered point for self defense
Weight 3.2 ounces
- BrandCool Hand
- Weight3.2 ounces
A very engaging quasi-retro look
Available with or without the (somewhat silly) “Punisher” logo
As good for work as it is for self defense
The aforementioned Punisher logo
The final item on our list is a bit of a design outlier as it eschews the typical bolt action mechanism for one where the movement is confined to the upper half of the shell. That is, that portion of the shell moves around the bolt, which stays motionless. The result is a motion that resembles that of the helix, hence the name of the Tin Mill Helic Bolt Action Pen. There is no doubt this is a prestige item not intended to be sullied by the tissue of would be assailants. And that’s fine with us. In terms of visual panache it ranks right up there with anything you’ll get from Cross or even Mont Blanc.
The Helic is crafted from 304 stainless steel and sports a thick copper plate that’s not going to scratch through every time it encounter a paper clip in your briefcase. It accepts a variety of different cartridges including the Pilot G2 Gel pen refill. The icing on the cake with this extraordinary pen is the price point, that isn’t going to require you choose between the pen or eating this week.
Crafted from durable 304 stainless steel
Unique twist deployment mechanism
Sleek and effective pocket clip
Weight 2.2 ounces
- BrandTHE TIN MILL
A very attractive and stylish writing instrument
The copper plating provides an elegant air
Twisting deployment of the bolt is efficient and effective
Strictly for literary, not self-defense, purposes
Bolt Action Pen Buyer’s Guide
How We Chose Our Selection of Bolt Action Pens
Quality – All of the bolt action pens on our list are high quality items. In this case the quality we’re looking for is expressed by durable materials, exacting tolerances, effective mechanical action and likely durability.
Performance – If a bolt action pen embodies the above listed qualities it’s more or less a given that it will perform to expectations. That means the bolt won’t stick on you, the line won’t be dodgy and inconsistent, the survival mechanisms (if any) won’t let you down when you need them and the pen isn’t going to fall apart after a few months of regular use.
Brand – When it comes to bolt action pens we’re operating outside the boundaries of the known high-end writing instrument universe. So brand recognition is not going to be what it is for standard high-end fountain pens. In fact, many of the companies producing the best bolt action pen products are small to mid-sized firms that have not been around long enough to achieve deep market penetration.
Price – EDC pens are, by definition, just that: pens you carry with you on a regular basis whether you work in an office or you’re a digital nomad or you’re just an outdoor lover who likes to write about your adventures. As such while a Mont Blanc Meisterstück Le Petit Prince Solitaire LeGrand Fountain Pen will set you back nearly $1,700 you won’t find many EDC bolt action pens that will cost even 1/10 that amount.
Features To Look For In Bolt Action Pens
Size and Weight – Whether you’re writing or defending yourself it’s important that you’re able to get a good, solid grip on your pen. Therefore you’ll need to take into account the size of your hands and then make sure you buy a pen that won’t be a challenge to get a comfortable grip on. At the same time if you plan on using your pen to write with on a regular basis it can’t be so heavy that it tires you out. Typically one to two ounces is a good weight for a bolt action EDC pen.
Ease Of Use – Whether a bolt action pen is easy to use depends in large part what you want to use if for. Certainly if you’re looking for a bolt action pen with survival capabilities you can take on patrol with you in the Hindu Kush or on your next deer hunt then you won’t want a pen with a slick surface that may be hard to grip in the rain or if you’re wearing gloves. But regardless of whether you plan on using your pen in your office or on the high trail the bolt action needs to be smooth and worry free and the line must be dependable and easily legible.
Materials/Durability – The bolt action is by definition an insistent action that requires the bolt mechanism itself to be made of durable materials. Sure, you can make a bolt from plastic but when it breaks after 100 uses you shouldn’t be surprised. Any bolt action pen worthy of the name is made from high quality aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, brass or other materials that are going to stand up to the stresses created by the bolt action and last for many years to come. In addition, should your bolt action pen have survival aspirations it’s going to need to be tough as nails or it’s not going to deter anyone.
Design – Whether a particular design appeals to you or not is a completely subjective thing. So saying one design is “better” than another is a questionable proposition. However, there are some objective ergonomic considerations that can be applied to the design of this type of pen such as: Does the design allow easy access to the bolt? Is one able to get a firm grip on the pen without having to struggle? Is the pen long enough to be practical for sustained use?
Features – While not intended specifically to be self-defense or survival tools many bolt action pens nonetheless boast a number of tactical features including glassbreakers, grooves intended to capture tissue for later DNA analysis, emergency whistles and more. Make sure the bolt action pen you purchase has the range of features you’re looking for. Not all of them will.
Refill – These are pens designed to last for years. As such there is no way around the fact that you’re going to have to refill them from time to time. The more types of pen refill cartridges a bolt action pen is compatible with the better since you’ll have a better chance of finding a useable refill no matter where you are.
Bolt Action Pen FAQs
Q: What Is A Bolt Action Pen?
A: A bolt action pen is a writing instrument/survival device that takes its mechanical inspiration from the bolt action rifle. The bolt action pen does not provide any type of revolutionary capability but what it does is provide a compelling, effective way to ensure your writing tip is always securely deployed whether to make a journal entry or fight off an aggressor. Bolt action pens feature more robust construction than most other pens which makes them excellent discrete, unexpected self-defense devices.
Q: Why Do I Need A Bolt Action Pen?
A: Frankly, you don’t. But you don’t need a TV or potato chips or heated seats in your car either, yet they’re all nice to have. Same with the bolt action pen. The bolt action pen is for those who are tired of the standard retractable pen sticking and failing after only a short time. They’re also for those who would like to get more functionality from their pen. Functionality that is often impossible when the head of the pen is tied up by the trusting device.
Q: How Do I Use A Bolt Action Pen?
A: Using a bolt action pen is not like using a flux capacitor though it might take a bit of practice to get the motion down. The good thing is that fiddling with these types of bolt action mechanisms can become somewhat addictive so you’re sure to get plenty of practice whether you intended to or not. With the vast majority of such pens the bolt mechanism will be readily available to your thumb and should not require the participation of any other fingers to engage.
Q: How Do I Maintain My Bolt Action Pen?
A: Exactly what will be entailed in maintaining your particular bolt action pen will depend on the feature set it came with. In most cases the only thing the different bolt action pens will have in common is the bolt mechanism and that can and should be cleaned on a fairly regular basis. Doing so is typically a straightforward affair where you disassemble the pen and simply clean the various bolt components with a clean dry cloth. How to best maintain additional features should be covered in the owner’s manual (if your pen came with one) or can be determined by communicating with the manufacturer.
Q: What Is The Best Ink Refill For Bolt Action Pens?
A: Not every bolt action pen will be compatible with the same refill cartridges so the question does not have a simple answer. The manufacturer should suggest which refills their pen is compatible with and, as we said a bit earlier, the more the better. Some bolt action pens will only accommodate one or two different types of refill cartridges so you should be aware of that lest you find yourself one day unable to use your pen because you can’t find the right pen refill.
Q: How Do I Refill My Bolt Action Pen?
A: Refilling a bolt action pen is typically done by simply unscrewing the lower portion of the pen (sometimes the very tip itself), sliding out the old cartridge and sliding in a new one. The tip is then replaced and you’re good to go.
Q: Can I Use My Bolt Action Penfor Self-Defense and How?
A: You can use your bolt action pen to defend yourself if necessary but not all are designed for that purpose. That said, when using a bolt action pen for self-defense the most important thing is the grip because you don’t want your self-defense device slipping out of your hand while you’re trying to fight off an aggressor. In most cases you’ll want to use a firm overhand grip that will allow for both thrusting and stabbing motions. Sounds ominous, but it’s necessary to get the most from your tool.