Karas Pen Co. has become quite the pen powerhouse over the years. Beginning several years ago with a Kickstarter Campaign to launch a pen compatible with the Hi-Tec-C refill, they slowly built their reputation and their lineup — never remaining stagnant and always introducing new products. Eventually, they moved away from the Kickstarter model and started launching new products in-house. And "launch" is completely and punderfully appropriate for the first two pens in their newest line (Reaktor) — the Starliner XL Fountain Pen and the Galaxie XL Rollerball Pen.
I've spent a few weeks testing these guys out and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed overall. They offer the same incredible build quality we've all come to know and expect from Karas — utilizing high quality materials and components and doing the manufacturing and assembly in-house in Mesa, Arizona. But they had a few tricks up their sleeves with these newest pens. Let's explore them a little more below.
The Galaxie XL
I'm going to start with the Galaxie XL because it's my favorite of the bunch. Using the Pilot G2 (or similar) refill, it's a versatile pen that is useful for a variety of tasks where a fountain pen would be out of place. I've actually been using rollerballs almost exclusively at work lately as I find them to be more forgiving for general office tasks and the Galaxie XL answered the call of duty without hesitation.
The GXL comes in four variants — Black, Tumbled Aluminum (personal fave) and polished aluminum with either a red or blue grip section. They all sport the easily-recognizable Karas Pen Co. bolt-on clip for shirt or pocket carry and they're made from sturdy, lightweight aluminum.
So what sets this apart from any other Karas Pen Co. pen? It's a snap cap. Yep, that's right. The cap snaps on with a satisfying 'snick' and pops off with ease. This makes for an extremely fast deployment whether you find yourself in the office, classroom or field and they post extremely securely with just a little push from the back. You do have to give them a little push as I found that sometimes the cap would unpost when I was writing with it. Not a deal-breaker, but something to mention. It's all friction so giving a little extra bump is easy.
The lack of threads and a step down from body to section makes for an almost seamless grip section which should be comfortable for all writers. And speaking of the section, it's nicely flared at the front which looks great and provides a decent bumper for wandering fingers.
But my favorite feature of the pen doesn't have anything to with the grip or threads or cap or colors... It's the finial. It looks like the hose connectors on a space suit (and Dan confirmed that there was definitely some space-themed inspiration for this lineup) and it's just awesome. The only way this could have been better is if the finial itself was colored to match the grip section. That being said, I think the Galaxie XL is a nice addition to the lineup. Especially if you're living that #GottaPost and #NoThreads life.
The Starliner XL
As if the Galaxie XL wasn't enough to get your boosters firing, Karas Pen Co. dropped a fountain pen version right alongside it. Utilizing the easily-replaceable and reliable Bock nibs used on their other pens and with that fancy new snap-cap, postable design, they take all the great new features of the Galaxie XL and roll them into a fountain pen version.
These pens accept a standard Schmidt converter or a short or long international cartridge for a variety of ink options and the Bock nibs are user-replaceable with a simple screw-in design.
So what else? Design, that's what else. If you look at the cap of the Starliner XL, you'll notice it doesn't have a fancy finial like it's rollerball sibling. Instead, it has a slightly peaked finial with three concentric rings. The bottom of the cap features two concentric rings. And the base of the pen features just one concentric ring (when posted, you still get the three up top, two at the base of the cap and one where the section and body meet). Figured it out yet?
3... 2... 1... Liftoff! HOW FREAKIN' NERDY COOL IS IT THAT THEY INCORPORATED A LAUNCH COUNTDOWN IN THE PEN DESIGN!? I'll wait while you wig out...
I found the Galaxie XL and Starliner XL to be great additions to the Karas Pen Co. lineup. For folks who struggle with threads and step-downs getting in the way of their grip, these pens will offer up a pleasant alternative. I'd go so far as to say they're almost Lamy 2000-like with the smooth, gentle taper from body to grip to tip, only with a subtle flare to keep your fingers from traveling too far south.
My only quibbles with these pens are with the clip — which is bolted onto the side of the pen so too much of the cap sticks up out of my pocket or pen slot when they're clipped onto them — and with the nature of a snap cap, the cap tends to rattle a little bit. It's not so bad when the pen is tucked down in a jeans pocket, but if you're a fiddler or a pen shaker (you shouldn't do that with fountain pens anyway), you might notice it.
All-in-all, though, I think these pens are great and they offer a fun retro-cool space-themed design that is completely fun and adds a little extra flare to the whole experience. Click here to check out everything in the Reaktor line (including fun new notebooks) or visit KarasKustoms.com for the rest of the brand's lineup.
Thank you to Karas Kustoms and the Pen Co. team for sending these out for review. I appreciate it and look forward to taking a look at the other eight pens coming out soon — the smaller, more pocketable Galaxie and Starliner (notice no XL on these!). Stay tuned for those and a giveaway or two in the coming weeks!
Thanks for reading,