Saturday, August 25, 2012

W.A. Stark 30 Cal Bolt Action Pen (Cocobolo and Gun Metal)

W.A. Stark is a new company based in my home state of Minnesota. I am in no way affiliated with the company, but one of the staff is an old childhood friend, so he generously sent me out a pen for review. The price of this model, when it was sent, was $49.99, but they currently have a number of pre-configured options available at a discount.

You can select a number of exotic wood types for the barrel, and I also chose to go with gunmetal for the rest of the pen hardware. As you can see, the pen as a small rifle for the clip, a bolt-action retracting mechanism, and the tip of the pen meant to look like a bullet.

The target market for this pen is for gun enthusiasts, hunters, and soldiers, and though I am really none of these, I think the design is very clever and attractive.

The pen comes with a Parker ballpoint refill, but you can also use the Schmidt P 900 refill or a Parker gel refill. The Schmidt P 900 and Parker ballpoint refills were quite similar in their performance (adequate, but not like the super smooth ballpoints of Japan), but I liked the Parker gel refill the best, which I have never used before.

Tip rattle/movement was a slight issue with this pen, but the overall writing experience is pretty decent. Some people are more particular about this than others (I fall into the former category), but it is not a deal breaker.

As the name of the pen implies, the pen is 'bolt action', meaning that you slide the bolt down and lock it into the notch lower down the barrel to engage the pen, mimicking the mechanism of bolt-action rifles. 

The materials, movement, and heft of the pen all indicate that this is long-lasting, quality product - a pen that could be passed down to the next generation as the years pass.

As I noted before, the clip itself is a little rifle, which might be 'cool', 'cute', or 'menacing', depending on your perspective of firearms. Minnesota is a state where many residents grow up learning how to hunt and fish, but I realize that not everyone shares this background.

The clip feels well constructed and didn't snag on my shirt pocket as some clips do, but it also doesn't move very much, so don't expect much flex in the clip.

Both the top of the pen and tip of the pen are meant to look like a bullet. The top of the pen resembles a centerfire cartridge. I am not familiar with the 'PSI CP 8000' designation, but I may ask about it as I am curious.

The rich, tropical Cocobolo wood of Central America segues nicely into the metallic hardware. This is a pretty heavy pen, and it is easy to hold without fatigue. 

I'd say that if you have smaller hands, the pen might be a little substantial, but to me the weight and balance feel quite nice. I think this is a good option for longer writing sessions given that thinner barrels tend to cramp my hands. 

I was not familiar with Cocobolo wood before seeing it in this pen, but it is warm and chocolately, and I wish my writing desk had a darker tone like this. Try to ignore my deck railing beneath it, which is in dire need of sanding and repainting.  :)

What's not to like with this color and patterns? Well, if you don't like it, there are numerous other wood  types available through W.A. Stark, and additional designs, materials, and formats are sure to come, including the computer drawing of the 5.6 mm Sketch Pencil (I want one) seen below.

Head over to W.A. Stark to see what they have available right now, and feel free to e-mail the company if you have any questions or requests.


  1. PSI = Penn State Industries (The hardware manufacturer)

    CP = Cartridge Pen

    8000 = Part Number

  2. Awesome pen. I have had it over a year, daily use. Would buy another in a heartbeat!!!!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I know a craftsman in Pella, Iowa that does tremendous work.

  3. hey im doing a yr 11 metal work project and i thought making one of the bolt action pens would be a great idea, so if you could reply to this with a plan drawing or atleast a parts list that would be awesome