James Brand Stilwell pen review – A small EDC pen that turns into a full-sized pen

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REVIEW – When it comes to creating your personal EDC set up, you will want a knife, a wallet, maybe a multi-tool, and you definitely don’t want to forget a pen. Today I’m going to talk about the James Brand Stilwell pen. Is it perfect for your EDC? Let’s find out.

What is it?

The James Brand Stilwell is a ballpoint pen that is designed for EDC because it’s pocket-sized.

Hardware specs


Design and features

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Most people compare any EDC pen with the OG of EDC pens, the Fisher Space Pen. As you can see above, the James Brand Stilwell is actually slightly smaller/shorter than the Fisher Space Pen when it’s in the closed configuration.

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And the Stilwell is slightly longer when it’s in the writing configuration.

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The James Brand Stilwell is available in 4 colors. It’s available in the Purple/Silver version which I have here, there’s an all black version, an all silver version, and a titanium version.

The pen is made of aluminum with two parts with a fine brushed finish. There’s the cap/handle and the pen itself. The Stilwell has a cylindrical shape which has a tendency to roll away from you if you set it down on a flat surface.

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The pen section has 3 rubber O-rings on the end along with a small lanyard cord which knot has been dipped in rubber to keep it secure.

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The sections of the James Brand Stilwell pen are held together by the friction from the 3 O-rings. To remove the pen from the cap, you just twist and pull. Then you can post the cap on the back of the pen to create a full-sized pen.

I’m slightly concerned about the wear and tear on the O-rings because the fit in the Stilwell pen’s cap is pretty tight. If for some reason that all 3 O-rings would snap at the same time, the cap couldn’t be secured until you replace the rings (and extras are not included).

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The back of the pen section unscrews to reveal the refill. Note that it’s easy to accidentally unscrew the cap when you twist the pen barrel to remove it from the larger “cap”. It takes some time to get muscle memory to turn the pen in the correct direction so you won’t loosen it.

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The James Brand Stilwell pen uses standard D1 style ink refills which are easy to find on Amazon. That’s the positive. The negative side of D1 style refills is that they tend to be pretty meh when it comes to writing quality compared to fine-tipped gel pens which I prefer. They don’t last all that long if you write a lot. However, the James Brand Stilwell isn’t a pen that you’re going to be using for ALL of your writing tasks. It’s an EDC pen that you will use when you’re out and about and need a pen to jot down a quick note.

See it in action

What I like

  • Quality construction
  • Uses easy to find/order D1 refills
  • Quickly goes from a mini to a full-sized pen

What I’d change

  • Include some extra refills and O-rings with the pen purchase
  • Twisting the pen the “wrong” way to remove it from the cap will loosen the cap on the barrel that gives you access to the refill

Final thoughts

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When it comes to mini-sized EDC pens, there are quite a few options out there. The James Brand Stilwell, is a great looking pen that is designed to last for years and years (as long as you keep some extra O-rings around). If the look speaks to you and the price fits your budget, this pen should serve you well.

Price: $49.00 – $89.00
Where to buy: James Brand
Source: The sample for this review was provided by James Brand.

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