Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rick Hinderer Aluminum Investigator Pen Review

Click on any photo to view the large version
Pens are an every day item in many professions and law enforcement is no exception. I have used just about every type of pen imaginable over the past 20 years. I have broke many of them, ruined many a pocket with leaking ink and pretty much considered them a disposable item. Recently however, I became interested in quality writing instruments and being in the profession that I am, I thought one with a self defense twist to it might not be a bad idea. At first I purchased two different pens; a Smith and Wesson M&P Tactical Pen and a (Tom Anderson Style but Chinese made) Elite Tactical Pen with a Glass Breaker. Well, I couldn't get rid of the Elite Tactical pen fast enough and the while the S&W is a very nice pen for the price, it was a bit big for my tastes. Then I found out that my favorite knife maker; Rick Hinderer made pens as well. I figured if his pens where half as good as his knives, they would be a winner. He sells two sizes; a smaller "Investigator pen" and a larger "Extreme Duty Pen". Being that my only complaint with the S&W was it's size, I decided to go with Hinderer's smaller Investigator pen.


Well, I can happily report that just like my Hinderer XM-18 knife, the investigator pen's fit and finish was first class. No rattles, nice, precisely cut threads and a good green color. While he sells an Investigator pen made of more expensive Titanium, I went with the aluminum model due to my tenancy to loose pens. The aluminum, is Aircraft Grade 6061-T6 Aluminum with a Mil Spec Type 3 Hard Coat Anodize. Roughly translated, this means it's much stronger than your average aluminum, much like the popular Mag lights and stinger flashlights. The groves cut into the body of the pen aid in grip retention. I have to admit, I would have liked the longitudinal groves the whole length of the pen. I've seen several people that put rubber rings between the circular grooves for comfort and I may eventually do the same.


The ink cartridge that comes in the Investigator Pen is a full sized Fisher Space Pen. It fits snugly into the pen with no springs or other parts to fail. People either love or hate fisher pen cartridges. They write in just about any environment and even upside down. They do this by creating pressure within the cartridge "pushing the ink" towards the tip. Unfortunately, this often causes what some people dislike about fisher cartridges; a slight ink blob. Some people find that when using fisher cartridges after long periods of non-use, the first contact with the paper is sometimes is marred with a little extra ink. I do not find this a big issue as (for me at least) it hasn't happened except on a couple of occasions. The pros for me outweigh the cons, mainly because it always works when I need it to. You can also buy these cartridges in a fine tip. I've read that the fine tip hardly ever has this issue.


When I saw the photos of the Investigator pens tactical end, I thought it wouldn't provide much deterrence as it didn't look as "aggressive" as the other aforementioned pens.  In person however, the bullet tip is well executed and would suit it's purpose very well. It threads into the end of the pen making it modular (interchangeable). It also holds the ink cartridge in place. Hinderer plans on offering different tips in the near future.


The pocket clip on the Investigator pen is just about perfect in my book. The main thing I hated about the Elite Tactical pen was that the pocket clip was immovable and just about worthless. The clip on the S&W is just a bit too flexible but not bad. The Hinderer Investigator pen's clip is strong, flexible, not too long, not too short and is as close to perfect as one could expect on a pen. It is threaded into the cap with (what appears to me) a smaller version of the lock bar stabilizer used on his knives; it's not going anywhere. The cap threads on to either end of the pen with three threads. So you don't have to spend forever un-threading your cap but there is enough threads that it won't come undone and lose the cap. To me, this is just another example that Rick actually uses his products and perfects them before selling them to the public.


Like I said before, the S&W tactical pen is just a tad big for my tastes and I'm 6'1", 230. The Elite Tactical was even bigger and clunky. The Investigator Pen is much smaller than either one. The size in a defensive grip allows just enough room for the defensive tip to extend beyond my fist and my thumb over the other end. For writing, it's just about perfect. For defensive purposes, I may have preferred an inch +/- longer, but that might have made it more awkward to write with, who knows?


Price for this aluminum version is around $60.00 on various websites or off of the Hinderer website. It's about twice that of the Smith and Wesson but the Smith and Wesson is Chinese made and doesn't have near the Fit and Finish of the Hinderer. It's cheaper than the Benchmade Tac. Pen but again, the fit and finish of the Hinderer is a winner for me. The Hinderer pen is made right here in the United States by Rick Hinderer and the cool factor has to count for something :)


Like all Hinderer products that I have handled, this pen is overbuilt and the fit and finish is top notch. I love the threaded ends and the fact the cap can thread on to either side. I like the ink cartridge and the fact that I NEVER have to shake the pen to make it work. I like the longitudinal grooves in the body of the pen. I may like the circular grooves more when I put some comfort rings (O-rings) on them. For a last ditch defensive purpose, I think this pen would work. I know I wouldn't want to get thumped on the grape with it. It's small enough to fit comfortably in any pocket and fits snugly in a uniform pocket with the confidence that your $60 pen isn't going to fall out. Everyone that has seen it, wants one. I've had it now for over a month and I've really grown to like this pen and I'm constantly messing with it either sitting at the desk or while stationary in my patrol vehicle. If you like a smaller, comfortable tactical pen, I think you will find the Hinderer Investigator Pen a VERY nice choice. If you like a larger tactical pen, maybe the Hinderer Extreme Duty pen will fit the bill. I don't own one yet but when I get one, rest assured, I'll review it.

COLORS: The investigator pen comes in Green, Black or Blue. I chose green to match the uniform.
Hinderer also makes a Stainless Steel and a Brass Investigator Pen for the same price.

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