I don't remember when I first heard about Ian Schon, but for those of you unfamiliar with his work, he makes super-minimalist everyday carry pocket pens in a variety of materials including Aluminum, Brass, Bronze, Copper and Titanium. I will admit that I initially overlooked his pens because they are only compatible with the Fisher Space Pen Refill and I don't normally like the Fisher refills.
That being said, I do find that the Fine Blue Fisher Refill is more than tolerable for jotting notes and everyday writing tasks. In fact, it's leaps and bounds better than the medium version and it's in another universe entirely than the globby, disgusting broad version. Gross.
Would the Fisher refill be my first choice? For a pen like the Schon DSGN Classic? Actually, yes. I'll elaborate on that in a moment. But, if you're absolutely adamant about using anything other than a Fisher Space Pen refill, you're in luck because Ian Schon — designer of stuff — has created a D1 adapter for his pens, allowing you to use any D1-Sized refill in his pens. This is actually pretty slick and I'm a big, big fan of the adapter, which I had a chance to check out a while back and I use one in one of my Schon DSGN pens to give me a gel refill option.
All that being said, I think the Fisher Space Pen refill is actually the perfect refill for a pen like this. Why? Because these pens are specifically designed to be carried in your pocket every single day. It's a slim, clipless design with no steps or protrusions so it slips easily in your pocket. And because it's made of high quality materials like Aluminum, Brass and Titanium (among others), it'll hold up to rubbing against keys and coins and knives. A pen like this needs to be ready to write in any situation and the Fisher Space Pen refill gives us just that — a reliable writing experience in all sorts of situations ranging from extreme temperatures and dirty environments to strange angles and less-than-desirable surfaces.
I leave one of my Schon DSGN pens in my truck almost all the time as a reliable, grab-and-go writer that will perform regardless of the circumstances. I have yet to find a situation where I uncapped the pen to find that it didn't write.
These pens are well made and you can see that Ian pays attention to details. They're beautifully finished and the threads are extremely smooth. I also find that this pen doesn't unscrew in my pocket the way some other pocket pens do (like the Mini K from Karas Kustoms). The cap and barrel are flush when capped as well as when posted and there are only three parts to the standard pen without the D1 adapter: Cap, Barrel and Set Screw.
The body and section are one single piece with a machined brass set screw holding the refill in place. I initially thought the set screw might be an issue for swapping refills, but the Fisher refills last forever and, in a pinch a key gets this in and out with ease.
Despite it's small stature, the pen sits comfortably in the hand when posted and is nicely balanced. I found the brass version that I had was a bit too back heavy when posted and ended up selling it as it was just too heavy for me, but the aluminum versions are quite nice. This isn't a pen you want to use unposted for more than just a second or two as it's just too short.
There's only one issue I have with this pen and it's kind of a big one for me... One of my criteria for an ultimate EDC pen is that it's quick to deploy and this pen just isn't all that quick to deploy because the cap has to be unscrewed and then screwed onto the back of the pen. It takes over 1.5 turns to uncap and recap the pen and it takes almost 1.25 turns to post and unpost the pen. This sounds a little more dramatic than it really is, and all said and done, the pen can be made "write ready" in probably a second, but that's slower than using, say, a Retrakt or Maxmadco bolt-action pen with a retractable mechanism. And it also requires two hands, which means you can't really use it if you're holding a notebook or camera or something in one hand and deploying your pen with the other the way you could with a retractable pen.
I think if you go into it knowing that it's not exactly the fastest pen to use, you'll be fine. In my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons. These pens are well made and made in America by a great guy. He's using premium materials and the finishing on these pens is absolutely beautiful. The Fisher refill is the perfect choice for a pen that's meant to be carried everywhere and the D1 adapter is a nice addition to the lineup to allow for use of various gel and ballpoint refill options in the D1 spectrum.
I do find the heavier metal versions a bit too heavy for me personally, but the Aluminum one is a joy to use and I'm glad to have a couple.
Ian just launched a brand new Kickstarter campaign with a clipped version of this pen, which I think is really a neat design. You can check that out here. One neat aspect of that pen is that the flare on the end of the clip can be used to unscrew the set screw in the back of the pen. Well done Ian!
In addition to pens, Ian is working on putting out a small batch of watches (I doubt I'd ever be able to afford one, but man what I wouldn't give to have one!) and he's collaborated on several other absolutely beautiful projects. Check out Ian and all of his amazing work at IanSchon.com.
If you want to pick up a Schon DSGN pen of your own, hit his Kickstarter above (for the clipped version) or visit SchonDSGN.com.