A very quick look at an interesting special edition illuminated 'Scribe Light' pen from 5.11 Tactical. Standing alongside the XBT lights, the XBT Pen has an aluminium body similar in design to the battery tubes of the bigger lights, and near the tip has an illuminated ring to light up the area a user is writing on.
Unlike other illuminated pens, the XBT runs on a single AAA, so no exotic power cells are required.
Operating just like any other click ballpoint pen, there is also a ring around the button which you can rotate to set the light on or off for when the pen is deployed. The light only comes on when the pen is deployed, so the button, as well as pushing out the ballpoint, turns to light on and off.
With only enough light to write by, the XBT removes the requirement to shine any other light onto the pad you are writing on. Output is estimated to be around 1lm, but this has not been verified.
The current run is the 'First Production Run' which makes this a limited edition.
Chunky and unusual, this illuminated pen is something a bit different.
A few more details
Breaking the pen down, the front cone unscrews to give you enough grip to pull out the refill. The button unscrews to allow the battery to be changed.
Here the XBT pen is shown with the refill and battery removed.
The refill is a reasonably common 67mm long, open ended metal tube, and is a simple push fit.
Overall length of the XBT pen is 16cm with a chunky diameter of 15mm and total weight (including AAA cell) of 61g.
Using a NiMh AAA, the output of the XBT dims noticeably after 2 hours, but is still running. The result is the same with an alkaline cell. After allowing the XBT to 'rest' for a few minutes with the same test cell, the output recovers to a normal level, but only for brief usage.
What is it really like to use…
As with any pen+, it is not the optimum writing instrument, but the illumination is useful. Every single pen of the type that might be classed 'tactical' or with added features is always heavier than ideal for everyday writing. I would see this type of pen as something to take occasional notes when its + feature is useful.
It is not as heavy as the 'kubotan' types of tactical pen and is better balanced. The body is chunky at 15mm in diameter, so might be fatiguing to use for a long time, but is still comfortable to hold.
There is what I would term 'better than average play' at the tip for a retractable ball-point pen. The writing action of the supplied medium refill is smooth with no scratchiness.
The clip is quite strong and the edges crisp, so this will not be particularly pocket friendly as lighter fabrics may start to suffer damage quite quickly (such as suit pockets).
The light itself is of no use during daylight hours as the amount of light is very low, however, surprisingly this has proven to be much more useful than for just writing. In completed darkness there actually is enough light to see a reasonable amount (like a torch's moonlight mode), so the XBT pen can be used as a moon-mode light. The action of the pen's button is of a forward-clicky, so you have momentary control and can flash the XBT pen's light.
Being a click-pen, unlike other 'tactical' pens that either have a removable cap, or twist screw action, the XBT pen is quick and easy to use. The option to disable the light means you only use power when needed. Compared to a BIC, the XBT is of course large and heavy, but for a self-illuminated pen is perfectly reasonable.
Thanks to the size of the pen, it carries very nicely in PALS webbing.
Test sample provided by 5.11 Tactical EU for review.
(Moderators, if this illuminated pen is too tenuous a link to flashlights be in the flashlight reviews section, please move it to a more appropriate place. Thanks)