I've always been a big fan of Fred Perrin. Not just an accomplished custom knife-maker, Mr. Perrin has come up with some innovative ideas for self-defense tools in a world where many of the best such items are illegal for decent citizens to carry, especially in Europe and England.
The F. Perrin Concepts ballpoint pen is one such item that is legal to carry anywhere. After all, it's a pen. Unlike, for example, the Hinderer pen; the Perrin pen is not a custom piece made by a skilled knife-maker. The Perrin pen is a design that Fred Perrin found, and decided would make for a good defensive pen.
It's not really marketed as a tough-as-nails tactical pen. It's a defense pen that can be used to strike an attacker so that one can get away from danger. Alternatively, one can place the cap so that it protrudes from one's fist. Now you can use the "DNA Sampler" for more effective punches.
Having owned and carried one for awhile, I can honestly say that while the concept behind this pen is a good one; the execution is poor.
The pen is Made in China. Unlike something such as a Fenix or Quark light, this pen is one of the cheaper Made in China products out there. Both in terms of price and quality. Having once worked as a pen salesman, I can spot quality very quickly. I can also spot when it's lacking. Despite being a ballpoint, the design of the Perrin pen is that of a traditional two-piece rollerball. With this design, there are three ways to attach the cap to the body of the pen. It can either snap into place, fit onto place with a tight friction fit thanks to a plastic liner inside the cap, or (best of all) be threaded onto the body of the pen. The Perrin pen is available with either a blue or green, plastic cap.
The Perrin pen's cap snaps into place. But instead of a solid snap, you get more of a weak click. The cap stays on, but there is a tiny bit of wobble. The so-called DNA Sampler seems to have a pragmatic purpose. It keeps the cap from rotating around the pen, since it fits into a corresponding notch on the body of the pen. The main weakness of the Perrin pen is the weak way the cap stays on the pen. I carried my sample of the pen in my right rear pants pocket. One day, I was running a bit late to work. Pulled in, got to the security gate, grabbed my pen to sign in, and only the cap came out of my pocket.
On previous occasions I had taken my time pulling the pen out. This time, I was in a hurry and grabbed it quickly. I can just imagine what would have happened had I really needed to grab the pen and pull it out quickly to deal with an attacker. (This is the very reason why most tactical pens have threads for screwing the cap onto the pen. With threads, there's no need to worry if the cap will accidentally pop off.)
If you bear down on the pen while holding it in your fist as a hammer-fist enhancer, you can pop the cap off the pen by accident. While having one tapered end makes for a good striking surface, having another one at the other end isn't such a good idea. As a hammer-fist enhancer, you can get best results from a pen by placing your thumb on top of the cap before striking. A cap with a flat top or wide, rounded, top is best. With a tapered top, your thumb is going to feel it when you make contact. Besides not being ideal as a hammer-fist enhancer, the issue with the cap also makes it quite poor for use as a kubaton.
There is also the very basic issue that any everyday item advertised as a self-defense tool will look bad if a person has to use it as such, and then faces legal issues.
The Perrin pen actually works well as a pen. It's comfortable to hold. The design is stylish. Refills are easy to find as the pen takes Parker-style refills that are common as dirt. The pen itself is not too heavy to use for something that would take more time than just jotting down your signature on a check. You can place the cap on the other end of the pen when writing with it. (Something you can't do with many tactical pens.) Mr. Perrin found a nice design, but the execution is poor. Taking the basic concept of the Perrin pen, I was able to find something similar (for half the price) at a national office supply store. (Perrin pens sell for $20 each.) Best part is, my new pen isn't advertised as being useful for fighting off a mugger.
I'm still a fan of Fred Perrin, but not every idea is going to be a winner.
EDIT ~ Feb. 22nd, 2010
I really liked this design, as just an EDC pen. However, I've been carrying it for the last handful of days. And, the top refuses to stay on the pen. This is an issue that did not pop up until just a few days ago. I keep finding my pen lying horizontally at the bottom of my pocket, with the clip still attached to the top of my pocket.
Sadly, I can no longer recommend the Perrin pen as even a good EDC pen for normal writing.