Bolt Action Pens – What Are They? And Why Are They So Popular?

Have you ever come across the phrase “bolt pen” or “bolt action pen” and wondered what this means? When I first did it sounded new and exciting. But what are they actually? And why do bolt-action pen users love them so much?

A bolt pen uses a mechanism to lock the pen’s nib in place when the pen is in use, and requires a manual release in order for the nib to be pushed back in. This makes the pen a more useful tool and is usually associated with high-quality brands that use the best materials for their products.

Bolt action pens are great for those who want a hefty, reliable tool to work with, and they are usually well designed and can withstand rough treatment. Fans of the EDC aesthetic tend to really like these pens. – so let’s learn a bit more about them.

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What Are Bolt Action Pens?

What Are Bolt Action Pens?
Zirconium Bolt Action Pen with Titanium Damascus Bolt by Tactile Turn. Source: Tactile Turn

The term “bolt action” simply refers to how the pen’s retractable mechanism functions. It uses a sliding mechanism to ensure the pen’s nib stays in place. However, bolt action pens are a lot more than that. A bolt action pen is usually:

  • Robust
  • Made of lightweight but strong metal
  • Usually machined in North America
  • Nicely designed
  • Comfortable to hold
  • Precise and writes well

Of course, none of these are guaranteed; you can buy cheap bolt action pens that don’t work well and that fall apart. On the whole, however, with the more expensive opening mechanism, they are more likely to be high quality and a good buy in many other ways. In general, a bolt action pen is an example of excellent engineering.

The bolt action is, of course, one of the most important features, and it offers an enormously satisfying motion, whereby you can click the nib back and forth just as you would when loading a gun. It employs the same mechanism and many people find this an attractive feature, because it brings a tactile feel to their writing tool.

Some bolt action pens offer further advantages; because the nib has to be released before it can be retracted, the pen can be used as a weapon for self-defense, or to stab or break things. Some of these pens are designed to be able to break glass, and this makes them dual purpose. One of these could save your life in an emergency.

Who Should Buy A Bolt Action Pen?

These pens are ideal for anyone who loves a good tool and doesn’t mind spending a bit more money on one. The extra care and dedication that goes into creating the pen, with its more complex mechanism, makes it more likely that the pen will be well-designed and crafted using high quality materials.

If you love being prepared for anything and you also have a passion for good stationery, bolt action pens are certainly for you. They go above and beyond the standard and offer the ultimate reliability, with the satisfaction of knowing the nib will never slide back in while you are trying to write with it.

These pens are generally high end and they have an atmosphere of quality about them, even if you choose one of the cheaper models. If you choose a brand such as Tactile Turn, you can guarantee that you’re going to be blown away by the care and dedication that has gone into creating and crafting the pen.

What Are Bolt Action Pens Made Of?

Bolt action pens are almost always made of metal. Because of the movement involved in the pen, it’s important for all the parts to stand up to being locked and unlocked, and this means that lightweight but strong metals tend to be favored. You are unlikely to find one of these pens made from plastic.

Some may incorporate plastic, wood, or rubber, particularly in the grips, but the barrel and bolt mechanism will almost always be metal. Often, they are made from aluminum because it is light, but they may also be made of titanium, copper, bronze, or zirconium. You might also see other metals, but these are the commonest.

They are generally well weighted to ensure that the pen sits comfortably in the owner’s hand, and the bolt action is usually small and light to avoid making the end of the pen too heavy. The clip at the top is likewise unobtrusive.

Their robustness means that the pens can often be used for a secondary purpose, and some are specifically designed for this. This makes them appealing to Every Day Carry people who like their tools to have multiple uses so they can be as prepared as possible for every situation.

Are Bolt Action Pens Good For Everyday Use?

Yes, bolt action pens are ideal for everyday use; they are rugged, lightweight, and tough. Because they tend to be made of metal, they can stand up well to being put in bags and pockets, and while they may get dented, they won’t bend or snap unless put under extreme pressure.

The fact that they don’t have a cap has added to their popularity, as you don’t need to worry about losing any part of the pen. You can just slide the bolt action and the nib will retract neatly into the barrel, removing any risk of it breaking or drying up.

Bolt action pens have become the go-to pen for everyday use, therefore, and the fact that you can purchase them relatively cheaply adds to this. There are some expensive brands out there, such as Tactile Turn, if you want really high quality, but there are also low-budget options available online and in stationery stores.

Most bolt action pens are designed to fit standard refill sizes such as the “parker-style refill.” So you can use popular inks like the Schmidt Easyflow 9000.

If you haven’t ever used a bolt action, you will probably find yourself fascinated by the satisfying click of the mechanism, the way that it locks into place, and the smooth motion of good design. Many people find these pens double nicely as a fidget toy, making them ideal for long and boring meetings.


Bolt pens are simply pens that use a bolt action mechanism to lock the nib in place. They are generally of excellent quality and many people love them for everyday use because of their ruggedness and clever, lightweight design.

Featured Image Source: Tactile Turn

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