In Issue 22, on sale October 6th, we're launching a new recurring feature called Pocket Preps. This department will feature buyer's guides for various types of pocket-sized every-day carry gear, from multi-tools and carabiners to handkerchiefs and bottle-openers. In our first instance of Pocket Preps, we featured eight tactical pens, including the Benchmade 1100 series aluminum pen.
When we started researching Benchmade's tactical pen offerings, we noticed aluminum, stainless, and titanium models — but there's one pen that stands apart from all of these. The Benchmade 1100 Damasteel tactical pen (model 1100-13) exhibits a distinctive marbled appearance as a result of its special composition.
As those who recognize the name might suspect, the Benchmade 1100 Damasteel is made from the material of the same moniker. Damasteel is a Swedish brand of Damascus steel, a pattern-welded material composed of alternating layers of different metals. Once the layered steel is carefully forge-welded and acid-etched, it creates a beautiful marbled pattern.
Specifically, the Benchmade 1100 Damasteel uses a layering pattern known as Bluetongue. The cross-section features dozens of tiny concentric rings, creating ovals near the tip and tail cap, and a streaked appearance along the sides of the pen.
Aesthetics aside, the 1100 Damasteel is functionally similar to the 1100 aluminum pen we reviewed in print. Its American-machined and -assembled body features the same fluted and knurled texture, and its dimensions and deep carry clip are identical. As we mentioned in the print article, we like the way the clip positions these pens deep in the pocket, but weren't as enthusiastic about how it tightly grips and clings to your pocket hem.
Benchmade includes a Fisher Space Pen ink cartridge in your choice of black or blue. Like the company's stainless and titanium pens, and unlike the aluminum variant, it doesn't include a glass breaker option.
The primary functional differences between the 1100 Damasteel and its aluminum counterpart are appearance, weight, and price. We've already covered the stunning etched finish, so we'll address the other two.
This pen weighs 3.2 ounces, 60% more than the aluminum pen, so it feels very substantial in hand. Writing with the pen is smooth, though it may not be as fast as you'd expect if you're not used to heavy writing instruments.
The Benchmade 1100 Damasteel at an MSRP of $300, although street prices from most online retailers are $255. That's more than many of Benchmade's knives, so this is clearly a premium product for a small pool of buyers.
Most tactical pen shoppers will opt for the $125 aluminum or $185 stainless models, but it's still cool to see Benchmade offering this high-end Damasteel model for those who are looking for a more unique EDC item. And we were pleased to find this pen fulfills its prime directive — it writes effortlessly.
For more info on the Benchmade 1100 Damasteel tactical pen, go to Benchmade.com. For our review of the Presidio II (570) folding knife seen in some of these photos, read our Folding Knife Buyer's Guide from Issue 20.