If you have ever served in a branch of the armed forces in the U.S., or have worked for an American government agency such as the US Postal Service, you are most likely quite familiar with Skilcraft pens. But if you have not these are typically the black retractable ballpoint pens that have the wording ‘U.S. Government’ stamped along its side.
However, Skilcraft pens are not only used in America by the American government and carry the American government name, they are also proudly made in America by a team of blind workers. The name Skilcraft actually represents a conglomerate of non-profit agencies throughout America that employ physically challenged and blind workers to assemble and produce a wide variety of products specifically for the U.S. Government, such as Skilcraft pens. In fact, there are actually seven different associations for the blind in multiple cities across the U.S.A. where Skilcraft pens are made.
The black ballpoint Skilcraft pens are assembled by members of the Industries of the Blind in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; as well as by the Industries for the Blind in Greensboro, North Carolina. As a matter of fact, the Industries of the Blind have been in charge of assembling and producing these types of Skilcraft pens for over 40 years. The American government initially provided the Industries of the Blind with approximately 16 pages of military specifications with which to create the Skilcraft pens. In addition to these specs, the U.S. military wanted the pens to write no matter what the temperature was and they wanted the pen to write for one linear mile as well.
Some of the other interesting military facts about the Skilcraft pens are that the end of the pen’s barrel can be used as an emergency tracheotomy tube; they measure exactly 150 nautical miles from top to bottom when laid out on flight maps; the barrel bottoms are also the exact length of a two minute fuse; and the metal tips are the same length that female military personnel are allowed to grow out their fingernails. However, one of the more universally endearing elements of the Skilcraft pens are that they are designed to fit into any military uniform pocket without being noticed.
It is estimated that the Industries of the Blind manufactures roughly 2.8 million Skilcraft pens every single year. It takes 30 workers to assemble one Skilcraft pen. However, these days there are many other varieties of Skilcraft pens that are available for purchase by the civilian population, both in America and abroad. There are even rubberized ballpoint pens and black gel ink pens as well. Generally speaking, a dozen of the black retractable ballpoint Skilcraft pens cost about $75. Knowing where to buy Skilcraft pens is as easy as paying a visit to your local Army surplus supply store as they often have quite a few of them in stock. Alternatively you can purchase Skilcraft pens online through one of the many Internet retailers of stationary and army surplus supplies.