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DIY and Mods: User Friendly Chamber Flags

Chamber flags are useful safety items and even when not required due to range rules, I’ll use them just as a courtesy to other shooters.  However, some of them are not the most user friendly of devices, often they require a ‘bit of fiddling’ to get them in and out of the chamber.  With that in mind, here’s how I modify chamber flags.  [as usual, click images to enlarge]

Just knock off two corners and shave the sides of the stick.

Before and After.

All those right angles and nibs sticking out make for plenty to snag on.  I trim the outside corner and trim the sides to make it easier to insert and remove.  Trimming the inside corner of the flag provides a ‘finger hook’ that makes removal as easy as swiping a finger alongside the receiver.

Also while the standard flag will fit in a .22 rimfire bore, you can make your own by using a piece of string trimmer line and adding a wire crimp butt connector.  (I resisted the impulse of sophomoric humor; the link is safe)

A piece of weed whacker line and a crimped wire connector makes for a fine rimfire chamber flag

A piece of weed whacker line and a crimped wire connector makes a fine rimfire chamber flag

While the crimp connector isn’t absolutely necessary, I like it there for the peace of mind knowing the trimmer line can’t slip all the way into the bore.

For shotguns, the flags themselves aren’t really unwieldy but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be improved.  I recommend simply drilling a hole and adding a key chain of your choice.

Chamber flags for shotguns don't seem as unwieldy, but can still be improved

“Because I like it” is enough reason for me.

I realize that these aren’t revolutionary, life-changing mods but they make life a little bit easier on the range.  I hope you find them useful too.

Zebra F-701 Tactical Pen? Still mostly plastic.

After reading about the “$10 Tactical Pen” (here, here and here) I decided to build one yesterday.  Since I already carry a Fisher Bullet Pen [UNPAID testimonial: Purchased in the early ’90’s, I lost it for about fifteen years, when I found it again it still wrote, having survived all that time of temperature extremes in the attic] and already had a Zebra F-402 in my desk I had most of the parts to assemble the ‘poor man’s tactical space pen’.  On the way home I stopped at Office Max and purchased a Zebra F-701 for a tad over $7 after tax.

Steve’s photo might unintentionally lead one to think that the barrel wall thickness of the pen is about 1/16 ” thick.  It isn’t.  While completing the project, I noticed that at both ends of the barrel the threads where the tip and the button attach were plastic.  With further inspection and a little more effort I was able to separate the stainless outer tube from the plastic ‘core’ of the pen [I was able to do the same with the F-402 and the ‘cores’ are the same].  The thickness illusion is due to a right angle flange at the end where the writing tip attaches.  The actual wall thickness is closer to that of a .45 Colt case mouth; I might get my calipers and get a true measurement later.  The tube is still stainless though and sturdy enough that when I tried to crush the end of the tube between my thumb and forefinger I couldn’t.

From L to R: Zebra F-701 shell, Common plastic core, F-402 shell

So now you may be thinking, “So what? It’s a composite construction, the stainless body reinforces the plastic and besides what do you want for $7-10 bucks?”  Good point, I agree; except that before I end this I would like to point out something else.  Looking down the stainless sleeve I also noticed a seam at the junction between the knurling and the smooth portion of the barrel. With a little flexing the two pieces popped apart.  The knurling is a separate piece that is press fit into the main tube.

Zebra F-701 with 2 part outer sleeve removed

“OK, so the body isn’t a single piece of stainless, it’s still more rugged than a typical pen, has cool knurling on it and besides what do you want for $7-10?”  Nothing, except it’s not $7-10.  I was able to finish this project cheaply because I already had most of the parts.  [I will still have to buy a replacement Fisher cartridge for my Bullet Pen if I decided to keep it in the 701].  If you were to start this endeavor from scratch you’d spend about $20.  [(1) 2pack of Zebra  F-402 @ $6, (1) Zebra F-701 @ $7, (1) Fisher Space Pen Cartridge @$5, plus tax and/or shipping depending on where you purchase.]  Of course, you would also have 3 whole pens, one of them being a “DIY tactical”.  For my money I’d just as soon order a $18.49 S&W Tactical Pen, add on something else (spare refill?) to bring the order to $25 and get it shipped for free.

DIY Tactical Space Pen with SS Maratac AAA Light

So, now what?  Well, I have a neat looking, more rugged-than-most corrosion resistant stainless office pen with a good heft that writes well and has no external markings (nice feature) with knurling similar to my EDC flashlight.  Should it be the only last ditch item I can grab to save my life (due to very poor planning on my part should this occur) I will use it to strike down upon my assailant with great vengeance and furious anger, hoping it won’t break as I do so.  Mostly though, I’ll write with it.