I take absolutely no pleasure in giving a product a negative review. Especially on this blog. And especially about pens. The stationery community is a small, tightly knit one and we kind of all know each other. In an increasingly digital world, we stationers are fighting for a spot in the, well, spotlight. So writing a negative review is not something I take lightly, nor does it come easily.
I have a passion for pens, and it's rare that I find a pen that I just absolutely do not like. Unfortunately, it does happen and, in the case of the original Everyman Grafton Pen, which I reviewed here, it was one of the worst reviews I've given a product.
A few weeks ago, though, the Everyman team reached out to me. My review of the Grafton had struck a nerve and they wanted the opportunity for a rematch. They offered to send me a revised Grafton on their dime for a re-review. I'm a sucker for a comeback story and their promised list of changes piqued my interest so I agreed.
We exchanged several emails where they explained the changes they made to the pen including a reinforced nock mechanism, a more sturdy 6061 aluminum, shorter clip screws to deal with an issue of them protruding into the barrel of the pen and scratching the nock mechanism, tighter tolerances and a buy-it-for-life guarantee which means Everyman will replace your pen, for life, if it ever fails for any reason.
When I unboxed the Grafton 2.0 (as I'm calling it), I noticed immediately that it had heft. In a good way. MUCH more sturdy and robust-feeling than it's predecessor. That's that 6061 aluminum versus the material the original was made from. I'm not a machinist and I don't know squat about metal, but I know this feels good.
The black anodizing looks nice with a soft matte texture. The clip and its screws seem to be painted maybe and are already starting to patina. I don't mind patina on a pocket pen, but I would have rather seen the same soft, satin finish on those. It doesn't look bad and it's only noticeable up close, but it's a small quibble. Overall, though, the finish is VERY nice.
They strengthened the back of the barrel (made it thicker) to protect the nock mechanism which is still, unfortunately, plastic. I noticed that my nock mechanism is very slightly gritty. Not as much as before when it was rubbing on the clip screws internally, but it still doesn't feel smooth and I think it's because, once again, my nock mechanism is crooked. I asked the Everyman team why they continued to use a plastic mechanism and they said that they sampled many different mechanisms and found this one to be reliable and functional. I don't buy that. Looking at the plastic mechanism, mine is warped. THIS IS THE PROBLEM WITH PLASTICS THAT ARE MASS MANUFACTURED, PEOPLE! Quality control is tough enough without having something like a crooked plastic internal part throwing off the alignment of your system, causing it to rub and feel gritty. I really, really, really wish Everyman would address this issue with a machined nock mechanism. Or, at the very least, design their own nock mechanism that they can control. As it is now, it's still unacceptable.
There's an old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," and it's a load of crap. Just because something is "working fine," it doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. And I'm frustrated here because Everyman fixed almost all of the issues I had with the original pen, but the most-used mechanical part of the pen (the ONLY moving part) was left "good enough."
One thing this experience has taught me, though, is that Everyman is listening to their users and they're willing to own their choices and I feel like they were honest with me through this process. They answered all of my questions thoroughly and explained the reasons why they chose certain materials, etc.
I think that's all we can ask for in a company is that they give us what they're selling us and that they're willing to own their product choices and that they're willing to listen to us when we have concerns about the product.
Some things I'd like to see Everyman do differently in a future version:
- Anodize the clip and screws to match the body of the pen.
- Give me a better nock mechanism that isn't plastic, or that is a sturdier design with no warp.
- Give me an actual Pilot G2 Refill — Not your cheap, Chinese variation on it. This is a $35 pen, step it up just a little bit here.
- Get rid of the "Buy it for Life" marketing speak. We don't buy things for life anymore. It's rare that anyone goes into a store and buys the last "something" they'll ever buy. That's just not how our economy or our society works. Even the best products fail from time-to-time. Just tell me you've made a great pen and then tell me you'll warranty it against defect for a certain amount of time (one year, two years, 10 years, life, etc.). You don't have to try and convince me that this is the last pen I'm ever going to buy because, well, because it's not. This is coming from my communications and marketing experience, not my pen world experience.
I think Everyman has stepped it up 100% on this revised version. I'm a little sad that there are still some flaws, because this could have been a really great pen. As it is now, it's good. But I really wanted to see great. It's close, though, and they've changed my mind about their company as a whole and I'd be willing to give their other products a shot in the future. For now, I think this pen nestles in nicely at the $35 mark, but there's still room for improvement and it hasn't clinched the title for my favorite retractable, Pilot G2 pen. That one's still held by the Karas Kustoms Retrakt.
Thanks to the Everyman crew for sending this over. For taking a chance. Good work, guys. I'm looking forward to future products and would love to see where the Grafton goes from here.
Thanks for reading,