Bullet Pencil ST

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I won’t beat around the bush – this bullet pencil is not for me. Is it well made? Undeniably yes. Will I ever use it? No. There are two aspects (one significant, one less so) that make the Bullet Pencil ST a no-go for me. Before I get to those issues, let’s talk about the Kickstarter campaign and the build quality.

The Bullet Pencil ST was a Kickstarter project started by Jeff Grant. Taking a look at Mr. Grant’s website, it’s clear that this guy knows how to machine some unique products (combs, key fobs, wallets, etc.) that will last centuries. The Bullet Pencil ST appears to be his most recent Kickstarter project and while it was ultimately successful, things were a bit tight in the last week of the campaign. I even did my best to make sure it reached its funding goal.

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The build quality of this bullet pencil is amazing. If the pencil is typical of Mr. Grant’s products, then I would have no problem purchasing other items made by him. The body of the bullet pencil is solid, the clip has more than adequate tension and appears built to last and the tip of the “bullet” has some cool looking grooves. The best part of the design is the ball bearing retention mechanism that keeps the bullet in place while also making it fairly easy to extract from the body. Build quality…A+

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Now to my issues. First, and of less importance, is the capacitive rubber stylus. Here’s the deal with tablet styli – they need to work as well as an actual finger or they’re worthless. My typical finger success rate when tapping and swiping on my iPhone and iPad is likely to be over 90%. With the stylus on the Bullet Pencil ST, I was getting ~50-60% success rate with typical pressure. The success rate improved to ~75% when applying more than natural pressure, but then what’s the point of the stylus? The stylus is not the main feature of this product so I won’t condemn the BP ST for this inadequate side feature. Still, I’ll never grab the BP ST to interact with my touch screen devices, ever. (Stylus aside…The best stylus I found is the Friendly Swede which uses a metal mesh tip. It’s every bit as effective as a finger – maybe more so.)

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Now for the real problem with the BP ST – Balance. The balance is tilted too far to the eraser end to make writing with it comfortable or controllable. To quantify this issue, I measured the full lengths of a few writing implements along with the locations of their centers of mass. The numbers below indicate how far from the writing tip the center of mass is located. A number closer to zero means the implement is weighted toward the writing point. A number closer to 1 means the weight is, in pencil terms, closer to the eraser.

New Palomino 602, freshly sharpened…0.61 (so more than halfway between tip to eraser)
Midori Bullet Pencil with largest 602 stub that would fit…0.61
New Tombow Mono F, freshly sharpened…0.51 (lack of eraser makes this a more evenly balanced pencil)
New Dixon Ticonderoga HB, freshly sharpened…0.57 (has a smaller eraser than the 602 so it makes sense that its balance is between a 602 and the non-tipped Tombow Mono)
New Pentel Energel-X 0.7 mm…0.52 (grabbed a pen I use a lot for comparison)

Bullet Pencil ST with a new stub…0.66!!!

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The weight of the BP ST is, compared to wood-cased pencils and another common bullet pencil, noticeably towards the eraser end. I don’t know about you, but I find writing with a fresh wood-cased pencil to be a bit awkward. The length of a new pencil is 1-2 inches too long to be perfectly comfortable. As the pencil gets down to around 6 inches long, it feels much better as the center of mass is located within my hand while writing and not a half-inch or so above it. Unfortunately, with the Bullet Pencil ST, the center of mass will always be above my hand…awkward city!

To understand what I’m getting at, try this little experiment. Get one of your favorite writing implements and hold it on a piece of paper as if you’re writing. Now, open your fingers and let go of the pen/pencil. I bet you’ll see the pen/pencil stay put or slide down towards the paper. Even a new, full-length wood-cased pencil will stay put or slide towards the paper when you let it go. These observations suggest that the center of mass of the pen/pencil is somewhere within the space of your hand. When I do the same experiment with the Bullet Pencil ST, I don’t see a sliding down. Instead, the BP ST does a backflip away from the paper and out of my hand. In short, the balance is way off for me. Folks with noticeably larger hands than mine may not get the backflip, but men with average hands and typical grips will see what I saw as will the vast majority of women. Again, awkward city!

To conclude, the Bullet Pencil ST is an incredibly well made writing implement that I will never use.

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