The GB or “Gun Barrel” click pen is a design collaboration between Matthew Martin and Larry Connelly of Knife Art. It is a large pen with a .42” diameter and an overall length of 5 1/8th”. The name of the pen was inspired by the four flutes machined length wise on the tube that resemble those found on some firearms. While primarily a writing instrument, it is billed to have been designed with a tough build quality so it can be used as a back-up defense tool. It’s available exclusively through Knife Art of which Connelly is an owner. The maker, Matthew Martin is known for his lineup of quality pens and is the son of renown custom knife designer/maker, RJ Martin.
The GB comes in either titanium or zirconium. While both of these materials are often used in jewelry, the medical field and knives, they are quite different. Titanium has a much higher strength to weight ratio and is lighter. Zirconium is more ductile and heavy. The overall weight of the Ti model is 1.1 oz and the Zr is 1.6 oz. While a .4 oz difference doesn’t seem like much, it is noticeable. For people who write for long periods of time or like a light pen it may be a consideration. For me personally, I like the heavier feel and as a higher end pen material, prefer the zirconium. The zirconium pen also has a slightly nicer finish and the dark graphite, flamed color is uniquely attractive. While these pens are a little weightier than some people might be use to, they feel light in comparison to their visual presence. This is due to the material removed by the pen barrel fluting.
The pen’s grip is a shallow hourglass shape that your hand conforms to well, when writing. There are a series of slots cut around the diameter on the front slope that can take supplied O-rings for added grip and padding. I haven’t really used the pen long enough to decide if I prefer it with or without the rings. One thing I noticed however, is that on the thinner area of the grip’s diameter the rubber is a bit slack. Since the upper ring-slots are deeper, they seat a bit better there.
The click button on the end is an all metal, German (Schmidt I believe) made component. It uses bearings that travel through a track to hold position, rather than the typical cam style found in cheaper mass produced click pens. The result is a very smooth, solid feeling (and sounding) action. Cinched in between the clicker and the body, there’s a small unobtrusive pocket clip. It allows the pen to slide in and out of your pocket easily while still providing good retention. I prefer this attachment method over some of the other pen clips that are held with fasteners. I think that having less components makes for a more elegant design.
For refills the pen uses the Fisher Space Pen cartridge. This was originally tailored for use in, you guessed it, outer space. Its versatility comes in the fact that it uses a semi-solid ink that liquifies when sheared by the roller ball’s mechanical action (thixotropic). The ink itself is pressurized in the tube using nitrogen, negating the need for gravity to work. The combination of properties allows the pen to write in a variety of orientations like upside down and in low temperatures. Its qualities lead to its first use in space (in the original Space Pen body) on Apollo 7 in 1968. While sounding quite techie, the Fisher insert is both affordable and easily accessible. As far as performance, I’ve never had any problem with this refill. I have it in many pens and it’s always served me well.
Overall I quite like the GB. While I’ve never been keen on calling a pen tactical, I will say that this category often equates to a durable product. The GB is no exception to this, having an unusually robust last-a-lifetime build quality. While sizable, I don’t feel like the pen is loutish when writing. It is very suitable as part of a practical EDC (Everyday Carry) and will fill the role with style and function. For more information on Matthew Martin, you can visit his site here.