-Length: 6.5 inches
-Thickness: 0.5 Inches
-Weight: 1.8 oz.
-Material: 6016-T6 Aerospace Grade Aluminum
-Clip: Cold Pressed Spring Steel with non-reflective black oxide finish
-Finish: Proprietary non-reflective / non-marking surface treatment and Hard anodized to Mil-A-8625 "F" specifications
-Fittings: Black oxide stainless steel bolts and chemical welding
I can't say I've ever had a quality pen so I was pleased to get a hold of one of these Tuff Writer pens which are appropriately classified as tactical pens. As you can see on the specs list, it is made of some heavy duty materials. The knurling (grip texture) is done deeper and over more area than similar pens to give a rugged non-slip grip. Coming from a land of chump pens, my first impression was Woa that thing is pretty beefy. Not only is it thicker, but with the top on it is longer as well. These dimension changes and of course the pointy end allow for this pen to also be used as a defensive tool. Besides being an outright mean poke-stick, the shape works well for hand trapping and as a pressure point bar. Despite being quite large for the task, this pen can also be used as a backup stylus for electronics like PDAs. The exterior finish is pretty snazzy and so far has been very scratch resistant. Although the finish isn't super flat matte, it is non-reflective and won't take on fingerprints. I like the main exterior clip a lot in which the shape allows for smooth on / off ability while still keeping a secure grip. Normally clips are the first to break on many pens, but the large bolts and chemical welding look like a winning combination for durability. Nearby is a lanyard hole in the cap to allow your favorite cord to be added if a connection point is desired.
When breaking down the pen it consists of 4 pieces: cap, frontal piece, ink cartridge, and main body. Both the cap and the body pieces screw on for simplicity and security. There aren't any springs or small pieces so this makes the ink cartridge quite easy to access or replace. To use the pen, one unscrews off the top and can jam it on the back side or just lay it down somewhere, then proceed to getting their write on. Since the cartridge is a gas pressurized ball point cartridge refill utilizing waterproof ink the user can use it in all positions including upside down. The cartridge also claims to work in environments ranging from -30F to 250F. For some quick tests I put mister Tuff pen in the oven at around 230 degrees F. It seemed to actually write a little easier after I took it out and chicken scratched with an oven mitt on. For the cold side I put it in the freezer on an ice pack. Not sure the temperature it reached, but consider it around the temp of an average freezer. After extracting, it had trouble writing at first, but after about 5 seconds of trying to write, the ink started to flow again.
As far as usability goes it has been a daily reliable pen. The line thickness is a little smaller than the usual cheapo pens. Sometimes the first couple of letters don't have great ink flow, but it quickly fixes itself. I'm not positive if it would be a fix, but perhaps the addition of an o-ring would help to seal up the cap and keep the ink wet. Since I use it a lot, I wish the cap was easier to take off; It takes about 3-4 arm twists to unscrew. The cap can be placed on the pointy end, but it works only like placing a spike into a pipe. There aren't any snaps or ridges so it is easy to bump into something or lay the pen down and the cap falls off. The thickness is similar to a sharpie, so that isn't so new, however as a personal note I'd like to see a shorter version. The longer a pen is, the less carry options are available on kit. The balance to this decision is that a longer (within reason) pen makes for a better defensive tool.
So although I would make some small changes if I could have my way, I still think the Tuff Writer frontline series is still a solid pen as is. At first the price may seem a bit much, but be sure and note that they are well under the fancy pants pens at an office / supplies store. The Frontline series is currently available in Stealth Black, Sniper Grey, and Desert Brown colors.