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A common ballpoint pen knife with a concealed blade (top), and an unsheathed blade (bottom).

A ballpoint pen knife is a multi-tool pocket knife consisting of a blade concealed inside an ordinary-looking ballpoint pen. The blade, typically 51 to 127 millimetres (2.0 to 5.0 in) in length, is usually hidden. They first appeared as custom-made pens from various custom knife makers before being mass-produced by production companies.


Pen knives such as these are designed for self-defense due to their ease of concealment. Their small size renders them impractical as weapons in elaborate combat, but their slim profile allows them to cause great harm in close-range combat with an element of surprise.[citation needed]

A knife of this type can be used as a standard letter or package opener. The knife can also be used for cleaning fingernails, peeling fruit and vegetables, cutting meat, and carving or shaping wood. They come in many versions, including variants with special purpose razors for shaving.[citation needed]

Kinds of blades

All ballpoint pen knives come with straight blades, which are easier to conceal than curved blades. These 51-to-127-millimetre (2.0 to 5.0 in) blades are fixed to the topmost part of the pen, hidden inside a hollow cap, serving as both the pen's end and the knife's sheath. Common blades may be the single-edged thrusting type or the double-edged dagger type, or even an unsharpened stiletto type point that can only thrust, not cut. Blades can be razor-sharp or deeply serrated for use in a range of situations. Swiss Army Spectrum Series released their S.A.S.S. Ballpoints, which look and function like regular ballpoint pens. They come with an array of foldaway blades and tools including knife, scissors, file, opener, screwdriver and battery-powered light.


Ballpoint pen knives, because they allow a knife to be disguised as an innocuous object, are subject to restrictions or prohibitions in some jurisdictions. For example, in North America they are not available for sale in California or Canada.