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Where Rugged Vintage Style Meets Modern Design. Proudly Made in America.

08 May '15

What is it?

So what is this thing called a Bullet Pencil? How does it work and why do I need it?

The short answer.

The Twist Bullet Pencil is a modern & improved take on a vintage pencil holder. A portable, pocket-friendly pencil holder that protects your pencil and your pocket. Now say that 3 times fast!

Now for a little more detail.

Essentially, a bullet pencil is a fancy pencil holder, designed to keep your pencil point safe when not in use. It’s really that simple. Bullet pencils first emerged in Britain in the the late 1890‘s using spent .303 rifle cartridges to house a small pencil. During the holiday season of 1914, Princess Mary gifted British soldiers a care package containing a pencil made from a spent .303 cartridge case along with other essentials like cigarettes and pipe tobacco. With thousands of British soldiers now familiar with this novel idea of a pencil housed in a bullet casing it was just a matter of time before the concept was given a commercial application as advertising and promotional pieces. Between the 1930 and 1950 hundreds of thousands of bullet pencils were made (though now with “bullets” that weren’t really spent bullet casings.) In fact they were so common they were handed out as freely as business cards are handed out today. The American version of the bullet pencil was typically a plastic or wood tube with a small aluminum molded or drawn “bullet” that held the pencil in. A quick Ebay search of vintage bullet pencils will bring up pages of results for some really cool examples of these items.

Original Bullet Pencils Housed in Spent Rifle Cartridges


Mid 1900's Vintage Advertising Bullet Pencils


Why did we re-make it?

When I first learned about the vintage Bullet Pencils, I picked up a few and really took a liking to them. I thought the vintage bullet pencils were fun and a simple way to always have something to write plus they are a great conversation starter. Metal Shop's focus is finding cool vintage products and putting a modern touch on them. So, with the vintage bullet pencil being cool, unique and conversation pieces, we found a perfect product to "modernize" and add to our selection of products.

What makes the modern version different?

Instead of plastic or wood tubes we use machined aluminum turned on a CNC router. Instead of a simple drawn aluminum bullet we offer two machined versions in your choice of brass or aluminum. The next improvement is what makes it the “Twist”. The traditional bullet pencil had a friction fit, the Twist (hence the name) uses a series of threads to both insert the pencil nub into the bullet as well as the bullet into the tube. The best part is the Twist Bullet Pencil is 100% made in America!

The Modern Improved Twist Bullet Pencil (Photo by TJ Gosgrove)

How does it work?

Simply unscrew the bullet from the tube, turn it around and insert the non-pencil into in the tube, screw tight and write. It’s that easy.

Why do I need it?

You don’t need to be a pencil fanatic to own a Twist Bullet Pencil. If you are a fan of well crafted products made in America; if you are always looking for something to write with or if you need a truly unique gift for someone special, the Twist Bullet Pencil is for you.

Alternate answer from one of our loyal customers, "you don't need it, but you want it!"