Alright y'all, it's finally here. The review of the Twist Bullet Pencil, which is what convinced me that pencils could work for me. I've been using this bullet pencil ever since the DC Pen Show, but I waited this long for the review because I wanted to review my own bullet pencil and the colors I wanted were out of stock until just recently.
If you are unfamiliar with what a bullet pencil is, the basic concept is that it is both a pencil extender and protector, and they used to be made out of actual bullet casings, hence the name. In order for it to do both jobs (extending and protecting), a bullet pencil is made up of two parts - a short nub that grips the pencil itself, and a longer tube that the nub fits into with the pencil either sticking out or inserted within. The tube can also hold an eraser or clip at the other end, if desired.
What makes the Twist Bullet Pencil (from now on I'm going to abbreviate it as the TBP) unique is that it dispenses with the tradition friction-fit system of holding the pencil into the nub and the nub into the tube, and instead employs threads in these areas. What you are left with is a bullet pencil that is very secure regardless of whether it is retracted or deployed, as well as a really solid grip on the pencil within the nub.
The TBP is a machined item, with options for either brass or aluminum parts. As is the case with all machined writing instruments, you run the risk of the final product being too much - too heavy, too large, etc. I can happily report that the TBP does not cross that line, and instead remains substantial without getting cumbersome.
When closed, the TBP is approximately the same size as as a Kaweco Sport, with a similar weight as well. This makes it a great size for carrying in a pocket or purse, and the heavier weight (opposed to something made of plastic) ensures that if it is misplaced you will notice quickly.
Another area where machined writing instruments can fail is in the finishing. If care is not taken, even anodized pens/pencils can feel rough and irritate the hand. On all three of the TBP I have handled, I found the anodized finish to be smooth and pleasant to hold while not being too slippery.
As I mentioned, the TBP can be bought with either aluminum or brass barrels and nubs, and these can be mixed and matched as desired. When reading some reviews written by other people, I found some complaints that the all aluminum version was quite back-heavy and made writing difficult. Having never used this configuration, I cannot confirm or deny that, but I am not surprised. I find that the heavy brass nub balances out the weight of the barrel and shifts the balance towards the tip, making writing quite pleasant. Plus, the brass with form a really great patina, so there's that.
You might have noticed that in the first picture, one of my pencils has a clip and the other does not. The clip is an add-on feature that must be purchased separately and again can be customized with options for still holding an eraser and material. I find that adding the clip is a double-edged sword. I chose a brass clip to complement the brass bullet, but this does make the pencil back heavy again. However, for me the added utility of the clip (which is very beefy and strong, reminiscent of the clip on my Tactile Turn) is more than worth it, especially since I tend to use this pencil for jotting down brief notes.
I suppose that I already covered the balance issues in my previous section, so I won't rehash that here. Otherwise, the writing experience is completely determined by the type of pencil you use. While the TBP can accept pretty much any size pencil stub (they even have videos on the website that show to how use thicker or thinner pencils), it comes with three Palomino Blackwing 602 stubs so that you can be writing right away. I appreciate this touch and the 602, with its harder lead and good point retention, is definitely a smart choice to pair with a bullet pencil. The TBP also comes with two erasers, in your choice of pink or white, but I cannot comment on the performance of them because I don't use them.
Hmm, I covered this in the previous section, didn't I? Well then, moving right along...
Obviously I really like the TBP. Besides being a really well made product, it has a simple purpose and fulfills it really well. For me, it was exactly the thing I needed to show me that pencils can be a part of my daily carry while not being fragile. You could probably roll a TBP across a freeway of heavy traffic and still have a nice sharp point on your pencil when it reaches the other side.
On the other hand, if you don't need something quite so beefy and prefer the lightweight feel of a bare pencil, I don't think this is for you. A couple packs of point protectors is probably easier and far more economical if that's your jam.
Giveaway Time! -> THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS!
If you made it this far, yay! When I was ordering my TBP, I could not decide whether I wanted the silver or black version and I had some extra funds in my PayPal from selling a pen, so I bought both. However, I don't need two of these bullet pencils and I want to share some pencil love with you, my readers. Thus, I am giving away the silver bullet pencil in the pictures above, which has never been used except to take the pictures here. (I fell for the black one when I saw how well it matched my Al-Sport, can you blame me?) If you win, you will get the silver bullet pencil with brass nub, the two pink erasers, and three 602 stubs. And maybe some other goodies, who knows. :-)
All you need to do to enter is fill out the form below and make sure to put in your email address so that I can contact you if you win. I'll run this until the end of the month and draw a winner on October 1st. Feel free to enter regardless of where you live, but bear in mind that if you are international I will chose the most economical shipping method available so it might take a while to get there.