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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.