What is this thing?
Many folks who carry a pocket knife or a pocket tool like to add a bead hanging on a section of cord to their item. This makes it easier to retrieve the item from your pocket or bag. Plus, some think it just looks cool. The Ray Gun bead has a 1/4" hole through the center, which is perfectly sized to allow two full strands of 550 paracord to pass through.
The Ray Gun bead is 1" long and is the perfect size to use as a zipper pull on your pack, jacket or bag. Zipper pulls with a bead make it easier to operate the zipper with gloved hands or if you're fumbling around in low-light conditions, and the finned design of the Ray Gun bead lends itself very very well to this role. The Ray Gun bead has a 1/4" hole through the center, which is perfectly sized to allow two full strands of 550 paracord to pass through. It will work equally well with gutted cord if that's your preference.
OK, not officially, but there's no question - the Ray Gun bead is anything you want it to be! The bead is machined on a precision swiss screw machine and the machining quality is top-notch. Some would argue that "jewelry" is a stretch, but I've seen them used on a cord or chain as a pendant and woven into a paracord bracelet. True story. They are fun and cool!
The Ray Gun bead is a beefy little thing. For those familiar with the beautiful silver beads from Starlingear, the Ray Gun beads are about the size of one of their beads. I usually tell people "about 1" long" and "about 5/8" in diameter" with a 1/4" hole through the center. For those who like more specific info:
Overall Length: 1.016" / 25.8 mm
Outer Diameter: 0.620" / 15.7 mm (At the last fin)
Center Hole: 0.250" / 6.4 mm
The diameter makes it sound a little larger than it actually is, since it's the outer diameter of the largest cooling fin. The base of the bead (where the dots, grooves or axial fins are) is a shade under 13 mm and the skinny necked-down section is 10 mm.
I was visiting my buddy Michael (Burchtree Bladeworks) to work on a project where we were trying to design a folding knife with a vintage SciFi aesthetic. Something inspired by Buck Rogers, Tom Swift, or Fallout style retrofuturism. Things like sweeping deco-style rockets and elaborate ray guns. We ended up evolving the knife to take on an early 60's car design, which was also early aerospace inspired, but worked on a couple side projects. One was what became the very popular Burchtree Bottle Rocket bottle opener. Ray guns were a topic as well and I turned a number of beads on Michael's lathe with ray gun style features. One of those came out particularly cool and after some additional development work, became the Ray Gun bead you see today. I still have the original prototype, it is the lanyard bead on (not surprisingly) a Burchtree knife in my pocket.
Yes, I care too! The Ray Gun bead is made in the USA. The raw materials are surplus from the US aerospace industry and the machining is done here in the US on a swiss screw machine at a friend's shop. All finish work, tumbling, polishing, anodizing, etc. are done by me, in a small shop at my home in Michigan. The design was originally prototyped on a manual lathe, but the beads today are machined on a much more capable machine that can add details and features (like Atomic holes/ports, fins, dimples, flutes, etc.) that would not be viable to produce in volume by hand. I appreciate when people ask this question as I am proud that the Ray Gun bead is a US-made product.
I decided the Ray Gun bead was enough fun that it deserved a real "brand." The concept is that Desmobot Directed Energy Systems is a fictional retrofuturistic armament manufacturer and military contractor, a little like Cyberdyne Systems from the Terminator series. The Ray Gun Division is one branch of the company, focused on "portable directed-energy disintegration solutions" like hand-held ray guns. The logo, branding, and even the product card are all designed to this concept. Why? Because it's fun, and it made me laugh.
No worries, it's not for everyone.
How can I get one?
The Ray Gun bead has become incredibly popular and since I'm a one-man operation, the number of beads dropped or released at any given time is usually pretty small. That means that the beads tend to sell out within minutes. When I write up a release, it is posted here first and should appear as the first post on the entrance to the site. That post will include a PayPal link. Just hit the link to buy, but move quick if the drop contains a style or color you like!
I post the drops and link to actually purchase here first, but immediately follow by posting a heads-up on my Instagram feed @mstheiner and sometimes in a couple of the EDC-related Facebook groups. Unless you're subscribed to this site for new posts, Instagram is the first public place the drops are posted.
Yes! (Sometimes!) I have worked with Arizona Custom Knives, Fort Henry Custom Knives and Monkey Edge to occasionally make beads available via their websites. All are good, reputable sellers that I consider friends. Do not hesitate to deal with them if you like a knife, gadget, or Ray Gun bead that they have available. Like my direct sales, they tend to sell out very quickly, so I recommend moving fast if you see something you like.
Sorry, no. This is a fun project for me and there is no "order book" or "list" for the Ray Gun bead. I tend to experiment a lot with different finishes and colors. This keeps it fun for me and sometimes I come up with a cool result that is pretty hard to replicate at a later date.
Again - Sorry, no. This is not a business model I am interested in and is a recipe for disaster, as proven time and time again in this industry. I appreciate your enthusiasm and hope to have you as a customer at some point, but not interested in pre-sales or order books.
What is the "Atomic" Ray Gun?
There is a variant of my bead designs called the Atomic Ray Gun. These have been and will be available in a variety of finishes and have been a big hit with the Ray Gun fanbase. These beads have a series of holes, which coincidentally will allow for installation of up to 12 "trit vials." The vials are not included with the bead as they are regulated and I am not appropriately licensed to handle them. These are the same type of light sources used in night sights on firearms, as permanent illumination on watch faces and hands and in emergency exit signs that operate without power. You can learn more about this type of illumination here.
The design accepts 1.5mm x 6mm tritium vials. These are commonly available and a very popular size with the keychain, gadget and flashlight folks.
I discuss this a bit and suggest a source who has generously offered to provide free adhesive to Ray Gun buyers in this blog post.
It's actually pretty straightforward. The trits are held in place by an optically clear adhesive and the installation is about a 30 minute process (plus curing time) if you are taking your time. I wrote a blog post on this topic, including a link to a YouTube video of the very same type of installation. You can find the blog post HERE. Gather the tritium vials and adhesive (and an Atomic bead!) and follow along with the video.
Sorry, this is not an available option for the reasons stated above. The installation is easy and anyone can do it with a little time and patience. There are many Atomic Ray Gun buyers who simply enjoy the look of the perforated muzzle as it almost looks like a muzzle brake.