Field Notes and a Bullet Pencil

Field Notes and a Bullet Pencil

Internet sensation Field Notes probably need no introduction. Seen here with another agrarian rooted stationery supply – the bullet pencil – the notebooks are quirky, fun, and useful.

What they don’t tell you is that these alternate versions like “Just Below Zero” don’t just have different colour covers – they have different colour rulings!

Field Notes and a Bullet Pencil

To all those celebrating, have a great Christmas!

16 Replies to “Field Notes and a Bullet Pencil”

  1. @Jason. You can buy a variant here ( ). I have never used this company and so _cannot_ vouch for them. They use a lathe to turn the pencils using kits from Penn State Industries. I have however used the same kit with buffalo horn to make a bullet pencil that is one of my favorites. You should decide whether you would like the profile to be flat like the image above or rounded like at the external website. Rounded looks nicer IMO but the flat should give better balance.

  2. This Just Below Zero line seems entirley suitable to you northern hemisphere types. Don’t think it would sell down under :-)

    Rite In The Rain probably more suitable for me :-)

  3. Kiwi-d, I agree! I’ve never used (and I’m ashamed to say, nor even heard of)Field Notes, but I’m a geology major, and I’m a physical scientist by trade, so needless to say, I’m constantly searching for new durable notebooks to try out. I do adore these type that don’t use the dreaded spiral. (Shudders.) I find in my field, and in my climate, rite-in-the-rain paper is the most suitable. We get 52 inches of precipitation annually, and that makes it very difficult to take notes, unless you have the write paper. I must admit, the past few years, my field writing implement has been a mechanical skilcraft pencil, but I’m making the switch to woodcase, as they were always my first love. Now to just get a good quality sharpener that is small enough to fit in my field clipboard!

  4. That’s interesting. On the Bagwell Promotions page, they suggest that the origin was from American Civil War soldier’s using bullet casings as a pencil protector. Penn State Industries ( suggests that the “Buffalo Bullet” pencil was introduced at the 1901 Buffalo World’s Fair. However, the giveaway pencil from that World’s Fair ( is not at all similar. Thanks for the links.

  5. For anyone interested in Bullet pencils, eBay always has vitage specimens for reasonable prices. I have a few and the original pencils can be replaced.

  6. I just got my first bullet pencil from attending a gun show here in the U.S (of all things). My wife and I were at another show at the same complex, and thought what the heck?
    The one I purchased is definitely a near mint advertising pencil with different things on all 4 square sides. It is still round the next “bullet” end and at the eraser. The advertising is:

    The pencil inside looks to be the original and is definitely red cedar, which was in common use before it got too expensive. Still some fragrance now, even with the passage of the years.

    It appears that the pencil dates from prior to the Pearl Harbor attack (December 1941), as the term was changed from “Defense Bonds” to “War Bonds” after it happened according to a Cornell College website.

  7. I was messing around tonight with various searches after seeing that bullet pencil I referenced above on my desk, and discovered that it is quite easy to buy new ones if you do a google search on “bullet pencil referee”. They are commonly used by baseball umpires and other sports referees.
    I’m still rooting around for something without an outrageous shipping fee. The pencils themselves are around $1.25 U.S. If you just buy one, the shipping is around 8 times more, which isn’t going to work.

  8. For a final word, I went ahead and bought a group of four older bullet pencils (all farm related from before 1950) on ebay. They ended up being less than $2 each U.S. and shipping was $3 U.S. – a much better deal than the umpire/referee website route for a new one. Only one of them had an eraser that had completely dried out.
    Sometimes ebay sellers include shipping in the cost, as in the U.S. it is only ~ $2 postage to send a handful of them in the mail.

    One of the bullet pencils has an interesting little pencil inside that appears to be all graphite with a painted surface, as it also makes a mark from the angled sharpened area. I need to take a closer look at it. I’d not seen something like that before.

  9. I can give it a shot. I’ve got a Photobucket account where I could simply include a link in this thread.

  10. Looks like the site is working OK now (it was a little slow earlier). Here is an image of the bullet pencils. The nicest one is the one to the left, which dates to before WWII. I inserted the pencil as you’d use it to show the red cedar wood, which became too expensive to use.
    To the far right, you can see how I made an eraser for one of them using a Pink Pearl eraser and one of my Swiss Army pocket knives:

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