Small handguns that look like pens have been around for generations, and there are some highly collectible factory-produced models floating around.
While no one can be sure when the first "pen gun" was created, the first one we can confirm dates almost a century ago. In 1925, inventor Sergio M Biason of the Philippines filed a U.S. patent for a fountain pen that fired a cartridge, describing the object of his device "is to provide, in connection with the barrel of a fountain pen, a tubular element constituting a barrel through which a missile may be fired."
Not to be outdone, two years later a Philadelphia-based inventor, Reginald F. Sedgley-- who also invented a more famous glove gun-- filed a similar patent. Moving past Biason's and Sedgley's concepts, there is at least some evidence that such working devices were floating around during the Prohibition-era.
During World War II, the clandestine special operators of the OSS, whose agents and officers spent most of the war behind enemy lines, supposedly included the Colt T-12 and Stinger pen guns in their arsenal of Bond-level equipment.
Such actual spycraft use didn't go unnoticed by Hollywood, and a pen gun appeared in Agent 007s hands in Never Say Never Again, later coming in very handy for Mr. Bond.
In more recent times, modern pen guns such as the Quicksilver, MAC SSSW (Single Shot Survival Weapon), and the GSL .380 have been in circulation. However, federal regulators have long ago caught up with such traditional in-line pen guns, classifying them as an Any Other Weapon, thus requiring $200 to manufacture on a Form 1 with transfers to individuals on a Form 4 with a $5 tax stamp.
But who wants to blow money on a tax stamp?
NFA-compliant pen guns!
Would-be pen gun owners who don't want to become stamp collectors rejoiced in the 1990s with the work of Robert J. Braverman of Marblehead, Massachusetts. In 1990 and 91, Braverman filed a series of patents on pen guns that, importantly, ditched the NFA-regulated straight-axle design that came before it for one that converted to the profile of a traditional handgun with the single-shot pistol's grip at an angle to the barrel. This could be transferred like any normal pistol.
In 1993, American Derringer of Waco, Texas-- who also later put the exotic secret agent-esque LM-4 Semmerling into production-- began marketing Braverman's "Model 2" Pen Pistol with a 2-inch barrel in .22LR, .25ACP, and .32ACP. The gun allowed the user to pivot its action into a firing position in two seconds and incorporated both firing pin and grip safeties. However, it was a limited run, and few guns were produced before production ended in 1994.
In 1995, the R.J. Braverman Corp of Meredith, New Hampshire began marketing the gun as the Stinger, complete with full stainless-steel construction, a knurled barrel ring, swiveling safety, and pocket clip. Naturally, the pistol was reviewed at the time by the famed Peter G. Kokalis in Soldier of Fortune. There was even an impractical Pen Gun Carbine, complete with a wholly comical scope mount. Like the initial attempt, the Stingers were only in production for a short run, closing down in 1997.
In 2002, the third incantation of the Braverman design, the Stinger Pen Gun made by Stinger Mfg. of Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, was up and running, but they too pulled the plug on production in 2004.
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