'Round here, we love Karas Kustoms. They're an American manufacturer of high quality stuff and they're super cool guys to boot. Cool enough, in fact, to send me a new pen they're dropping exclusively through Massdrop in just a couple of days (Monday, October 26, to be exact).
Reader, meet the Karas Kustoms EDK (Every Day Karry). This little retractable powerhouse just might be the be-all and end-all of pocketable carry pens. They sent me an EDK in stealthy matte black (perfect for stealthily marking off your grocery list) accented with their standard silver clip and Schmidt nock (the clicky bit at the back of the pen).
Now, you know that KK makes the Retrakt, which takes the wonderful Pilot G2 cartridge. And the Bolt, which takes a Parker G2-Sized Refill (not the same as the Pilot G2) and then there's the ReBolt, which is a rather clever blend of the Retrakt and Bolt (drummed up by the awesome Jeffrey Bruckwicki over at Nock Co./H.L. Human), that accepts the same. But Dan Bishop, lead designer over at Karas decided to mold this pen around the Schmidt P8126, which I think was a fantastic idea as the 8126 is one of my very favorite non-gel refills available.
If you've ever used a Retro 51 Tornado, you'll be familiar with the 812X-series of refills. The 8127 comes in at 0.7mm and the 8126 comes in at 0.6mm which doesn't seem like a big difference, but it's a huge difference on paper and Karas thoughtfully tossed in an 8126 for me so I could get to writing right away. That's new for them as they used to not include a refill, but according to the guys at the shop, they'll start including one with each pen they sell. BONUS! The 8126 puts down a rich, dark line with no skipping, hard starts or blobs. It's smooth, but offers some tactile feedback. All-in-all, it's an excellent refill. Thankfully, you can make the EDK work with most Parker G2-Sized refills like the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 (my favorite ballpoint refill) or the Fisher Space Pen Refill with the G2 adapter. Being that this is designed as an everyday (k)arry pen, you may opt for something like the Fisher refill as it's a bit more versatile in sub-par writing situations. Personally, I'm a pretty low-key guy and won't be writing upside down, in space, under water, or through oil, dirt and mud so I'll stick with the 8126 because I just super love it. I do wish the refill stuck out from the pen just a tiny bit more, but it's not a deal-breaker at all. It's more of an aesthetic thing for me than a usability issue so I can't really knock 'em for it. I just prefer that the tip of my pens stick out at least to the "shoulders" of the tip of the refill and this one's just a fraction of a millimeter off for me. Tiny quibbles.
They maintained the same reliable, user-replaceable Schmidt nock on this pen. This nock is smooth, quiet and maintenance-free. It's pretty much my favorite nock and if I were to design my own pen, it'd be the one I would go with as well. I like the fact that the nock is user replaceable so that in the unlikely event that it breaks, you can swap in a new one and not have to replace the whole pen, etc.
So back to this EDK and the overall design. In a word, it's fantastic. In addition to the black finish that I received, Karas Kustoms (via Massdrop) will be releasing the pen in tumbled aluminum, brass and copper as well as combinations of all of them. Like, if you wanted, you could get a brass front section with a black back section. Or a copper front section with an aluminum back section (which is what I'll probably end up with when I buy mine via the 'drop.
The matte finish gives the pen a really durable feel and it seems like it will be good at fending off scuffs and scratches during everyday use and carry. If you're hardcore about your EDC gear, you probably won't care about some scuffs and scratches, but for us light-duty guys, it's nice to know the finish will hold up well over time.
Something super new for this pen is the addition of 6 concentric rings which travel up the front section of the pen. Normally, I don't like any sort of defined grip section as they tend to dictate where one should hold a pen and, while it may be ideal for the designer of the pen to hold said pen in a certain area, that may not work for the end user. However, these rings are subtle, shallow and lightly chamfered (more of a "dip" than a "groove" really) which makes for a lightly tactile experience that doesn't bite at your fingers. I wrote with this pen for a while and it didn't get uncomfortable at all.
All-in-all, this pen is a big win for me. The unofficial ReBolt was kind of my go-to, carry-all retractable ballpoint pen, but this EDK has taken its place rather quickly. The use of the Schmidt P812X refills, slightly tactile grip with a non-tapered front section and durable matte finish paired with all of the other great design cues from previous Karas Kustoms pens like the Retrakt and Bolt make this pen a winner. I'm sure some will find it too small, but it fits my hand well and I can already tell this will be in the daily rotation for the foreseeable future.
Head over to Massdrop on the 26th to get in on the exclusive release of this fantastic new pen. Some voting took place to pick the colors and it looks like the tumbled aluminum came out on top with matte black in second and copper/aluminum bringing up the rear. I don't know exactly which combos will be available, but we'll see Monday morning what Massdrop and Karas decide to send our way. Regardless of color options, get excited. This one's a doozy.
Thanks for reading,
Disclaimer: Karas Kustoms sent me this pen free of charge for the purposes of a first look/review. They didn't pay me or influence my review in any way.