Uni Style Fit Multi Pen Review

My opinion of multi-pens has not changed since I reviewed the Lamy multi-pen a little over a year ago. I still think they are good utility pens that fill a niche and frankly, I’m intrigued by the mechanics of them more so than just picking one up because I enjoy writing with it, that designation is usually left for my fountain pens.

What drew me to the Uni Style Fit, that I’m sharing with you today, is the lure of 5 colors in a single pen body, yes 5! The Uni Style takes the approach of building your own multi-pen with the refills you prefer. This initial cafeteria style purchase is unique and in the end may cost you a little more but you end up with no wasted colors or refills you don’t use. You don’t need 5? There are plenty of body styles for 3 and 4 colors as well.

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Length Overall: 5 7/8
  • Weight: 7.85g
  • Street Price: $17.25 with 5 gel refills

Here is a great Uni Style Fit guide that Jet Pens put together and gives a lot of detail on the options available.

The Uni Style uses the excellent Uniball Signo ink and you can get refills in ballpoint, gel or mechanical pencil. You can even mix and match or double up on your favorite blue! The only possible drawback I found was you are locked in to their refill system. They have some excellent choices and at less than $2 a refill I think they are fairly priced. I loaded up a Pink Meister 5 series with 5 colors of .5mm gel refills. Total cost: $17.50.

I’m a deployment guy when it comes to pens. I don’t want to spend a lot of time between when I pick up a pen to the time ink hits the paper. Mainly because at my age I may forget the thought! Pushbutton knock style remains my favorite for random quick notes but with a little thought in the refill placement (See insider tip below) the Uni-Style is pretty good and the typical slotted sliders at the tail end of the pen. They are all clear so you use a clear window in the body of the pen to see which color which slider pushes out the tip. There are four sliders and the clip acts as the fifth refill slider. Ingenious and though not the fastest color chooser here is your insider tip. You can strategically place the refills you use most often and then by memory you know sliding the clip gives you blue, for example. Retraction of the tip is like most others, just partially deploy another color and everything goes back inside safe and sound.

The sliding clip doesn’t instill the most confidence in its robustness if you are hard on traditional clips but it hasn’t broke on me yet so maybe I’m being over critical and just paranoid because the clip moves. Ramp is good and even with the construction it works like a pen clip should.

The only design element I can’t grasp is what looks like a knock pushbutton on the top of the pen. It looks conventional enough but not on a multi-pen. It even pushes down a little bit but doesn’t seem to do anything. Unsolved but unimportant.

(UPDATE:  The pushbutton that I couldn’t figure out is to advance lead when you’re using the mechanical pencil refill. Thanks Kelly!)

(UPDATE 2: Underneath the pushbutton is an eraser. Nice touch. Thanks Notebook Stories for the tip off!)

Conclusion

The Uni Style is a fat pen, coming in at over ½” in diameter. It’s holding 5 pens and when I look at the wall thickness of the body I don’t know how they could make the whole assembly any thinner. I like the girth but I understand it wouldn’t be for everyone. It does slightly taper down smaller near the clip end of the pen and the overall shape gives the pen kind of a torpedo look. The taper down to the nose is gradual and the ink window is a good size.

If you have a need or application for a multi-pen the Lamy 2000 is probably the dressier more dignified sibling with its Makrolon body and black look but at way less than half the price of the Lamy the Uni Style Fit is a better writer with the Signo ink, has 5 colors and you can build it yourself with a huge selection of option al refills and pen bodies.

Read the guide

Pick a Body

Decide your refills

Place your order

Remember: Write something nice……

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Sunderland MK1 Pen Review

I own a lot of machined pens, it’s hard for makers to deliver something really different when you’re dealing with a turned tube of material that has to hold a popular standard size refill. The differences usually come in design, grips and tip retraction. I tried one out recently that pushes a few design limits with good results.  My good friend Matthew over at www.nibandink.com entrusted me with one of his favorites, the Sunderland MK1. If you don’t follow him you should @heymatthew .

The Pen

  • Anodized Aluminum
  • Available in a variety of colors and a nickel finish
  • Standard G2 Size Refills or threaded Montblanc rollerball and fineliner cartridges
  • Length Capped: 5.2”
  • Length Uncapped: 4.9”
  • Length Posted: 5.8”
  • Weight: 23 g with G2 Refill
  • Price: $80

Overall Appearance

The Sunderland is a two piece body and cap style pen with a matching finishing on both pieces. The Clip is from a solid block of stainless steel and the brushed finish is a nice looking contrast to the rest of the pen.

The body has a taper about half way down that turns the barrel to a smaller diameter to allow the cap to post. The look is different, I like the overall aesthetic that this allows where the cap remains the same diameter as most of the body.

Ergonomics

The MK1 has good balance and the aluminum makes it light. The section has some rings around it that work good as reference points for your grip and even after a couple of pages I had no strain. Additionally no exposed threads, but more on that next.

Cap

The coolest part of the pen and the single element that just might make me add one to my collection is the cap threads. They are invisible. Ok maybe not invisible but hidden. At the top of the cap the Sunderland team has figure out how to threads that screw down over the writing tip into the body threads that, you guessed it, are hidden. It looks difficult to manufacturer and it works flawlessly. Impressive.

Clip

Beautifully executed clip and one of those that looks like you would destroy the rest of the pen before the clip fails. Made of a solid block of 17-4 stainless steel. The ramp is good and the grip is tight. The clip attachment is another area that Sunderland raises the bar on fit and finish with small design elements.

Refills

The Sunderland MK1 accepts the widely available G2 style refill or MontBlanc rollerball and fineliner cartridges.  There are internal threads in the section that accept the MontBlanc style threaded cartridges. I’m convinced the Sunderland team are thread geniuses!

Conclusion

This is not an inexpensive entry into the machined pen genre but it’s definitely a step up from many in terms of construction fit and finish. Many people like the minimalist aesthetic that is popular but the Sunderland takes a different approach by adding some panache and design elements that don’t interfere with it being a great writing experience as well.

The black on my loaner was stealthy enough to be mistaken for any number of modern high production cap pens, but the similarities end there. The cap threads are just cool, the clip and it’s attachment will make you say wow and if you like the G2 format, you’re all set.

Thanks again Matthew for the test drive.

Remember: Write something nice……

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My Favorite Disposable Pens

Favorite Disposable PensIn the knife community when you pick up a knife that catches your eye at the checkout register (think gas station or rural convenience store) and admit to it that is enough to get you banned for life on the internet knife forums for buying such presumed junk quality. In the pen community when you make a good score with a gel pen that was on sale or overstocked in a funky color you get high fives across the same internet. Funny, and I enjoy the high fives a hundred times more. Usually these finds come at the checkout of the big box office supply chains. $2 seems to be the price point cap so I bite more times than not and I would say my batting average is probably a .500 with those purchases that I keep. The other approach I take is sometimes on pay day Friday I just want a pen fix so I will shop Jet Pens in sort of a game mode to get as close to $25.01 for the free shipping. This usually includes something that writes from the Whats New area. Jet Pens’ excellent service has them in my mailbox, across the country, on Monday. From both approaches the keepers that I have enjoyed are numerous so I’m sharing them with you here to fuel your ideas in case you haven’t tried any of these. Forgive the short reviews of each pen, they are disposables so my review criteria is slim, they write good, they are not uncomfortable to hold and a simple scale of 1-10 with 10 being my highest rating.

Here is what I started with

All of my disposable pens

And here we go with the top choices in no particular order:

Papermate InkJoy Gel .7

This was a big box office supply store checkout counter find. It looked interesting and I always loved the name PaperMate, those two words together just say PEN to me. I was very impressed with how it wrote and liked it so much I found one of those 14 color pen deal and bought it. The whole body is rubberized which is kind of unique.

  • Writing: 10
  • Grip: 9
  • Aesthetics: 5 plain
  • Deployment: 10 clicky

Pilot Juice .7

A new one for me but I quickly fell in love. The clip is the BEST of the bunch if that is something you use frequently.

  • Writing: 10
  • Grip: 7
  • Aesthetics: 8
  • Deployment: 10 clicky

Pentel EnerGel .7

Another drugstore stumble find and I find myself grabbing it often sitting around the house. I don’t own alot of Pentel product and I’m not sure why not.

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 10 fat body
  • Aesthetics: 4 Blah
  • Deployment: 10 knock

And now for the Uniball Signo Run

Uniball Signo 207
Probably my favorite grip and always a consistent writer every time I pick it up.

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 10
  • Aesthetics: 9
  • Deployment:10 clicky

Uniball Signo 307

There are reportedly some differences between the 207 and 307 somewhere but I can’t find them except in the looks department. They both write and grip just the same but I would bump up the 307 by 1 point in the aesthetics category as I think it’s a touch nicer looking.

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 10
  • Aesthetics: 10
  • Deployment: 10 clicky

Uniball Signo UM-100-.7

The longest body shortest cap of the lot with a step body that I’m not sure the purpose of but it’s a solid performer.

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 4 all plastic
  • Aesthetics: 4 the cap to body balance is off to me
  • Deployment: 5 cap

Uniball Signo UM-151-.5

Probably my favorite stick style pen with a cap.

  • Writing: 10
  • Grip: 8 rubber is there but firm
  • Aesthetics: 5 plain clear body
  • Deployment: 5 cap

Uniball Signo DX UM-151-.38

The smallest tip size I will go. I am surprised it writes as smooth as it does but I only use this one occasionally when I have a specific need for a really fine line.

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 8 firm rubber again
  • Aesthetics: 5
  • Deployment: 5 cap

Uniball Signo RT1 .5

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 8
  • Aesthetics: 7 kind of sleek for a disposable clicky
  • Deployment: 10 clicky

Plenty of great pens in the $2 price range and if you’re going to have pens in the car, garage and kitchen drawer why not have ones that write good!

What are your favorites?

Remember: Write something nice……

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Atlanta Pen Show Haul Mini Reviews

I had a great show in Atlanta this year and though I didn’t really have a budget to spend going in I did have a well thought out list of things to see. I saw most of them and changed my mind on quite a few. They just didn’t speak to me and I don’t buy stuff for the sake of ownership and checking off a list. In the end I am happy with my haul.

My social acumen was better this year. I know a lot of people talk about this phenomenon, or borderline fear, but I have never had one bad experience interacting with other pen people at shows. Granted not every conversation takes off into an all night gab fast but we’re all different. I’m hoping I continue to mature in this area with the more shows I’m able to attend. This year I met some new friends and connected with others I only get to see in person at pen shows.  I was very fortunate to score a late Saturday spot for nib work by the great Mark Bacas @nibgrinder.  He does incredible work and I have a better writer because of it. Thanks Mark as always.  My only regret from the whole show is missing my good friend @gentlemenstationer. We were even in the same room together, how do we do this GS?. The loss was mine.

Below is my haul from a couple of hours on Friday and a full day on Saturday. I missed Sunday due to travel home but my wallet protested when I tried to delay departure and sneak one more round of the show floor in.  I plan to do full reviews of a some of these new treasures in the future but until then here are my first impressions:

Franklin-Christoph Notebook Covers – Starting at the top left I picked up two fabric notebook holders from Franklin Christoph. Always love their stuff and these are a nice break for me from my usual leather products. I got the pocket notebook cover and an A5 journal cover, both in Linen Brown Fabric. Also got a set of the pocket notebooks and the A5 notebook itself has a nice cover that might be a shame to cover up.

Robert Oster Fire & Ice – This is my first Robert Oster ink and I had a bit of FOMO when I saw a bottle of it. I like the blue hue and with the broad nib on the right paper the ICE portion does pop out.

Akkermann # 28 Green Ink – I have a green ink l really like but Brad and Mike talk about #28 so much that I had to try it.   This does rank as the prettiest ink bottle I have ever seen though. I so much want to put it on display.

Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz – Late last year I sold my one partial bottle of brown ink, Caran D’ Ache Grand Canyon.  I loved the color but the small bottle made it such a pain to refill the larger size pens that I prefer.  I never replaced it so I set out at this show to get another brown ink. The Pelikan Edelstein Smoky Quartz landed in show bag. In hindsight I think I was more enamored with it’s status as ink of the year and there was probably something else that would have worked for less money.  Lesson learned but it’s still a very nice color and well behaved ink.

Diamine Cocoa Shimmer – I have a lot of Diamine ink and the brand has never disappointed me so I had to get their version of the glittery en-sparkled ink.  Andersons Pens had a good selection and I landed on the Cocoa Shimmer. It needs the right paper to really see it’s shimmer but when you do it’s really something. I have read different reports on what this glittery stuff will do to your pen but I will watch it closely and flush soon just in case.

Col-O-Ring – I have tracked my ink samples on index cards for several years now. I always knew the big box stores’ index cards would not perfectly depict the ink color but it has worked for comparing two similar shades.  The Col-O-Ring is a bunch of small very fountain pen friendly cards held together with a ring. I’ve only been back from Atlanta for a couple of days and I have had a lot of fun opening up all my inks and spilling big blotches on Ana’s creation. Ana Reichert of Well Appointed Desk may not have invented the idea but she did perfect it with her version.

Story Supply Pocket Notebooks – I love love love what Vito and Gabe are doing with their company, giving back to kids. Read about their goals here.  I’m always on the hunt for new pocket notebooks with fountain pen friendly paper. My quick test filling up a page says these are a home run.

Nock Co Dot Dash cards – I originally bought some of the Dot Dash index size cards to really support Nock. With the pack sitting on my desk I found myself using them for more and more little tasks until now I’m hooked on them.  I got a refill of the 3 x 5 size and picked up the new business card petite size.  I plan to use the business card size for making notes to put in the boxes of stuff I buy that shows when, where and how much for the item.

Ryan Krusac Legend #16 Fountain Pen – I wanted an all wood pen and I got a beautiful all wood pen. Ryan’s a cool guy, a talented artist and was a joy to talk with and deal with. He has several models in a variety of wood species. I liked the 16 mm diameter version of his new Legend series.  He has a slightly smaller 14 mm diameter model as well.

Kanilea Pen Company – In a short couple of years Hugh and Carol have really made an impact on the custom pen market and our community.  Their designs, company focus, packaging, conversational exchanges and everything about them carries a Hawaiian vibe.  This was a purchase I was on the fence on, for me the price of entry was stiff for an unknown brand, again, unknown to me. I read many positive reviews on their product and everyone said go see it in person.  I went to see them as my first stop when I got to the show on Friday. Hoping for the best  selection.  I can confirm the best photography cannot prepare you for what you experience in person. Within 30 seconds I fell off the aforementioned fence and knew I was going home with one. The harder part was picking which one.  Especially as they sold two others while I was standing there!  The model that took me awhile to decide on was the Kilauea.  It’s a stunning orange, grey and red swirls. Everyone I have show in to loves it and by mid Saturday all the Kilaueas they brought had been sold. I scored!

Carolina Pen Company – The now famous Jonathon Brooks @brooks_803 creates some of the most beautiful and creative use of color in resin pen blanks available today. So much so that several other custom pen manufacturers use the blank resins that Jonathon makes. He is also a very accomplished pen maker himself. I got a Charleston model fountain pen in a beautiful off-white color with some grey swirls and gold specks that you can see when you spin the pen. A very interesting finish. Jonathon also gets credit for the best line at the whole show “I own lots of women’s makeup”.  It brought the house down at the live Pen Addict podcasts.  He was referring to how he gets much of the color into his pen blank creations but you can imagine the context of the comment.

Wrap up

I brought home more than I expected to. I will need a better plan for DC or restrict my visit to fly in grab what I can in 15 minutes, hug Brad and leave.  I already look forward to next year and I might even do the weekend trader pass!  If you have a show in your area or have the means to get to one I encourage you to make all efforts to go. If you’re not a big social person that’s ok, you WILL still enjoy the show. If you like chatting with other pen nerds, count on learning something and gaining new friends in this wonderful community.

The links above are for reference only. I tried to link to the product and dealer that I bought from at the show. I would purchase from all of them again but there is no affiliation other than that. Pricing should not be assumed the lowest available.

Remember: Write something nice……

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Michael’s Pens FAT BOY Pen Review

A pen is a pretty straightforward design, a long slender tube, a stick if you will. Some are prettier than others with companies being creative by using variations on round, varying the thickness, accoutrements and of course what raw material they use. Sometimes those variations can move a pen closer to a piece of art or depending on your tastes and perspective they could venture into a novelty. Hopefully any execution of art or novelty does not impair the practicality of a pen as a writing instrument. Recently I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with a maker’s pens that jump out a little farther with the design aesthetics than what you typically see on this blog. I’ve had fun with these.

Michael Hochstetler of Michael’s Pens is a creative type when it comes to writing instruments. Since 2003 he has been building quite a design collection of his signature Fat Boy pen right here in the US. Impressive longevity when the industry of small production custom pen manufacturing is still relatively young.

Over the years, he has innovated using the basic design of a robust aircraft billet aluminum pen body, Parker size refills and German Schmidt internals. All quality parts and when you see the pen you will see the name fits, and it’s not just a pretty moniker, they are fat for a reason and I found that trait pleasant for me over my time with three models:

Red Wire High Voltage Tesla Coil

By far my favorite is the black body with 2 strands of red wire tightly wound around the body attached with stainless steel screws. The effect looks like the windings of an electric motor. The black clip is hinged where it attaches to the pen body. This is a numbered special edition model that sells for $219

Red Comet

The Comet starts with the red billet aluminum body then Michael diamond cuts four streaking comets into the barrel. The comets retain the raw aluminum look for a striking contrast. Clip is a stamped steel version that pressure clamps across the top of the pen. The Comet series comes in 4 different colors and sells for $85

Red Chopper

Laser engraved flames set the Chopper Collection collection apart and against the red I think I even feel tougher writing with it. Clip is a stamped steel version that pressure clamps across the top of the pen. The Chopper series comes in 4 different colors and sells for $85.

All of the Fat Boy pens are available in a Pencil with Eraser configuration as well.

The major outlet to find the most versions of Michael’s Fat Boy is at Fountain Pen Hospital where search results on the Fat Boy returns 84 pages! Names like Archangelo, New York, Civil War Cannons, it’s fun to browse through how many unique variations Michael has designed over the years. The Fat Boy could easily be a collector model like some people collect say Lamy Safaris or Kaweco Sports.

Michael also sent over a really cool pen stand made from a ring of ball bearings specifically for the Fat Boy. If you’re considering the Fat Boy for a gift, or your desk pen, this stand would put it over the top. These sell for $45 with 6 variations to choose from Fountain Pen Hospital.

The Pen

Material: Aircraft Grade Billet Aluminum

  • Refills: Parker Style (Comes with a Monteverde Soft Roll P15
  • Length: 5 1/8”
  • Body Diameter: 5/8″
  • Weight: 1.94 oz. (Comet Model)
  • Street Price: From $85

Packaging

Michael does a nice job on the packaging from a shipping protection standpoint and also to support his major retail outlet Fountain Pen Hospital. The shiny black box and protective outer box depicts the quality that resides inside whether being opened up across a sales counter or a customer receiving it as a shipped package.  Michael has also taken the time to design some short documentation on the pen which may not affect the writing but accurately portrays that thought and details were not spared in his design.

Overall Appearance

The Fat Boy is a big fat pen. It’s like a 300 pound linebacker vs a more conventional pen as a 300 pound 7 foot tall NBA center. The proportions are different. Not bad or unattractive, quite the opposite for my tastes. At just over 5” I would not call this a pocket pen but it’s a good length for every day writing. The big rubber treads where you grip the pen also give a big beefy look. At the tip and tail there is a large turn down in the diameter to mate up with the tip cone and the knock. A unique look.

Construction Fit & Finish

The red finish that I tried out were striking with a smooth finish and no machine marks or assembly scratches anywhere. Threads were smooth and it includes an o-ring in the tip to help with squeaks, rattles and keeping the tip tight. The wire wrapping on the Tesla Coil edition is wrapped perfectly. I catch myself starring at it wondering how he did that so precise. A well put together pen with attention to detail obvious in the design and construction

Ergonomics

Did I mention the Fat Boy is a big fat pen?. The aluminum makes it a comfortable weight for me and I happen to like big fat pens. At 5/8″ diameter It fills your hand. You feel the extra hardware on the Tesla Coil edition but there were no harsh edges that really bothered me. The weight differences between it, the Comet and the Chopper didn’t make any difference to me. The knock works splendid like most Schmidts do and the three rubber rings at the gripping section work wonderfully for a grip. I would almost call them tires more than rubber rings.

Clip

All of the clips worked well. The stamped steel wrap around clamped version of the Chopper and Comet has good tension and performs it’s intended role just fine. Here again the Tesla Coil is my favorite with the hinged and tapered clip definitely being a step up. It’s emblazoned with M I C H A E L S and the hinge adds a little bit more mechanical panache to the pen.

Refill

Great choice by Michael on the Parker style refill. He includes a Monteverde branded refill with every pen which is a really good writer but it’s simple to unscrew the writing tip end and slip in your favorite Easy Flow, 9000M or whatever you fancy. On the Tesla Coil edition he throws in an extra refill, nice touch.

Conclusion

A Fat Boy will get noticed in a room full of more ordinary pens. The aesthetic style may not be for everyone but I loved them. The large diameter and the grip was a joy to write with and the build quality was top notch so it’s a winning combination for me.

Thanks again to Michael for sending these over to try out.

You can find Michael’s pens at michaelspens.com and Fountain Pen Hospital.

Remember: Write something nice……

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The Fastest Pen in the World – Porsche Shake Pen

I’m a car guy. I don’t own a lot of cars and the most I ever owned at one time was 3 old cars with a combined Blue Book value of a new small economy sedan. Growing up it was a dream of mine to get up in the morning and be able to choose what car I wanted to drive to work from a fleet of cars I enjoy driving. Do I want to drive the Jeep, or the sedan or the sports car?

I did that for a while but the upkeep, insurance and tags became more money than the sum of enjoyment I derived from it. During those short periods I never owned a German car due to the unfounded fear that maintenance and repairs are expensive so as a side benefit of this pen hobby I now own a Porsche. Ok it’s a pen and technically a Porsche Design pen that has been billed as the fastest pen in the world. Read on to see why that marketing hype may not be that big of a stretch. Either way I can now get up in the morning and ask myself what am I going to write with today, the Edison, The Bentley, or maybe that’s Bexley, or the Porsche?

Recently my friends at The Pen Company sent me over the Porsche Design Shake Ballpoint in white resin to give it a try. I wonder about the Porsche moniker being used for anything outside of the automobile realm but here is an excerpt from the Porsche Design website.

Porsche Design is a luxury brand with a particular focus on technically inspired products. The brand was founded in 1972 by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, whose products have stood for functional, timeless and purist design ever since. The products are designed in the Porsche Design Studio in Zell am See, Austria and sold around the world in the company’s own stores, shop-in-shops, high end de- partment stores, exclusive specialist retailers as well as the official online shop.

The Pen

  • Material: White Resin
  • Length Overall: 4 1/16”
  • Barrel Diameter: 25/64”
  • Weight: 1 oz
  • Street Price: $103 USD
  • Germany is stamped on the side of the tail piece but the website says designed in Austria

Packaging
Packaging is well done and what you would expect with a Porsche licensing. My usual disclaimer applies: I’m a box saver and this one stacks easy, but if you’re not a saver this one doesn’t give you any pause as being unusual. Enough about that.

The pen is in the box with the refill loaded and ready to write.

Construction Fit & Finish

This is a pocket size pen at just over 4” with no cap or clip. Three major parts that you see, the body made of thick resin, and two metal chrome ends. Looks like it could take a good pocket beating and stay nice looking. The White resin appears to be white all the way through so I suspect that would help with scratches. I would need a little more mileage on the pen though to positively confirm that.

Overall Appearance

This is a short attractive pen with gentle curves and a beefy mid-section. With the proportions and the curves of the chrome end pieces I can use a little imagination and see a little Porsche 911 in it, or maybe that’s just me not being able to let go of the car associations. I don’t know how they do that with some of the other products selling under the Porsche Design line but I think they played decent aesthetic homage to the brand with the pen entry.


Porsche design calls the barrel special edition white pearlized resin. It contrasts better than I thought it would as white on chrome.

The tail piece has a slight bump that works perfectly as an anti-roll device and it holds a vertical branding of PORSCHE DESIGN engraved in it. Tasteful and discrete.

Ergonomics

The girth of the pen fits my larger than average hand well, even with the short length and there is no sharp edges on the tail where it rests in the web of skin between my index finger and thumb. The length is probably at the length limit for me to call a pocket pen without a clip. A 1 ounce weight and a little bigger grip section near the tip of the pen makes this a comfortable pocket writer for me.

By far the most interesting feature of this pen is the tip retract and extend mechanism. It’s done with just a shake of the pen, or maybe I would call it a flick of the wrist. I’m a big fan of EDC pens being quick to deploy because if I’m going to carry it in my pocket it’s for quick notes on the run, emphasis on quick, while waiting in line, checking out or some other task that usually has people waiting behind me to do the same thing so I like to get done and out of the way.

The Shake Pen is unique and one handed it worked for me every time. This is where I would give props to the claim of fastest pen in the world. Even with a conventional one-handed click pen there is some finger re-positioning after deploying the tip with your thumb and then moving to a writing grip. With the Porsche Shake Pen you just flick your wrist in the direction of the pen’s writing tip and your writing tip appears. Sign your receipt, flick it again and tip is gone. Done, clean, slick. Here is a short video I did showing the shake in action.

Clip

No clip, proceed to next section.

Refill

The Shake Pen uses the venerable and widely available D1 format. There are a lot of good choices on D1 refills if you don’t like the Pelikan branded unit that came with the pen. It worked fine for me as a ballpoint.

Porsche Shake Pen ApartConclusion

My first Porsche is attractive, doesn’t need to be insured and the shake function is fun and practical. Deploy and retract worked every time that I flicked it correctly. If you’re a fan of the brand this pen could support that in a small way and would probably look good in the center console of your 911, Boxster or Buick. I liked the pen and have not rotated it out of my pocket carry yet. Thanks again to The Pen Company for sending this one over to try out.

Any connection you have with pens and cars?

Remember: Write something nice……

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TiScribe-Bolt Pen Review

The fidget factor in pens can be alluring if you write and wait or write and think a lot. Whether it’s a cheap swag click pen, a magnetic cap, those fancy Visconti cap threads or other methods, moving parts on writing instruments get our fingers’ attention. Who hasn’t been annoyed in a meeting while the person across the table incessantly plays with a loud clicker. To compete with the colleague with the click Bic there is probably no greater fidget factor than a bolt action pen. I don’t know who did it first but there are several out there and the designs are similar. I’m not overly dexterous so the form factor is not my absolute favorite but I cannot deny the fun and rarely can I resist a good bolt action pen.

The latest offering to hit the pen scene is a Kickstarter from Kelvin over at Urban Survival Gear, called the TiScribe-Bolt. Kelvin has released several good writers and based on the review sample I received the TiScribe-Bolt will fall right in line with the quality we’ve come to expect from him. The design element that sets the TiScribe Bolt apart from the rest is the the whole clip moves the slide action to extend and retract the writing tip. I wouldn’t call it a revolutionary design but we’re talking about the company that was brave enough and cool enough to make a machined pen highlight. Kelvin’s creativity is inspiring, and it’s a great pen.

The Pen

  • Material: Available in brass, copper and titanium
  • Finish: All three are available in stonewashed or polished
  • Length: 5.5”
  • Diameter Body: .375 ”
  • Weight: 27.4g
  • Price:   Early Bird pledges start at $49 (Brass) up to $74 for Titanium.

Packaging

Urban Survival Gear takes a minimal approach to the packaging. I like the thinking behind more money and effort put into the product. Kelvin uses the popular clear twist tube that serves the pen community well. This style packaging ships a lot of pens around the world safely and inexpensively. If you’re short on room or just not a box saver no big worry dropping this one in the recycle bin.

What You Get

  • TiScribe-Bolt Pen
  • Pilot G2 Refill

Construction Fit & Finish

Anything I have with the TiScribe name is high quality. The finish is good with no obvious machining marks, threads start easy and they are quiet. I love that attribute and the attention to detail. The cone is about ¾” long and it took me a minute to get a good enough grip to unscrew the pen. It’s tight and probably helped by the O-Ring. I didn’t need pliers or anything like that but this thing won’t be rattling loose. The J channel for the bolt action accommodates the clip assembly well with the machining tolerances giving a smooth action with no looseness or sloppiness. Impressive

Overall Appearance

Kelvin is offering a polished or stonewashed finish of titanium, copper or brass. The review sample I received is the polished copper and out of the package it’s beautiful. Patina sets in quickly so depending on how you feel about that order accordingly, you know it’s coming.

True to the TiScribe line of pens the Bolt has a clean utility look that is simple and attractive. Five machined grooves near the business end of the pen offer a visual breakup of the smooth body and also offer a good grip. The clip on all the pens is titanium.  The clip is stout looking but rounded enough to work with the aesthetics of the curved tapered nose cone of the pen. A nice depiction of the Urban Survival Gear’s logo is engraved in the tail end of the cap. A nice touch and if I had one nit pick of the pen I would like the angular lines of the logo to align with the clip. That’s probably more to blame on my brain wiring than a real design element.

You will recognize this as Kelvin’s work and that’s a good thing. Unique enough from other machined pens but not straying too far from convention.

Ergonomics

The TiScribe-Bolt is a comfortable writer, diameter is good and the 5 grooves give your fingers a nice resting place without any sharp edges. The copper is the heaviest of the three metals available but I found the weight and balance to be fine. Writing tip engagement and retract is an easy one handed thumb affair. Isn’t that what a bolt action pen is all about?.  Maybe not quite as fast as a boring pushbutton knock but fidget toy factor:  A+.  I found it easier than some of it’s competitors I’ve used and I think it’s because the clip is a bigger handle for my thumb to run the bolt through the J groove. A benefit I didn’t see in the pen initially but one I experienced as I spent more time with it.

Clip

Kelvin is making all the clips from titanium. I’m sure copper and brass make lousy clip material and making one clip for all models is a more efficient production model. The clip on the TiScribe-Bolt moves. That’s ok, the metal is stiff and you get a slight gap between the pen body and the end of the clip. That helps put a stiff clipped pen in your pocket or clip it into a pen loop. If you’re looking for a super strong hold on a file folder or something that’s super thin then you may want to test that fit first. In my play time I could not detect any marring of the pen body from the clip movement and I suspect there has to be some movement to get the smoothness in the bolt action.

Refill

The TiScribe-Bolt is Pilot G2 size. For an extra $10 you can get an adaptor for the Parker size. I’m fine with the G2, the Uniball Jetstream, Pilot Juice or V5. A wide choice of refills fit this size pen. Standard stuff for machined pens and thanks Kelvin for sticking with a popular standard.

Conclusion

I like the TiScribe-Bolt and Kelvin’s innovative design. Not groundbreaking writing instrument stuff but a creative twist on what is relatively new pen mechanicals, the bolt action. I applaud that in a maker. Thank you Kelvin for letting me go along for the ride.

Here is what my friend Mike Dudek had to say over at the Clicky Post on the TiScribe-Bolt

Here is the Kickstarter Campaign

Here is the Kickstarter video

Remember: Write something nice……

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TiScribe-HL Highlighter Review

Urban Survival Gear. I think that is what I am, an urban survivor that consumes a lot of gear, ok HAS a lot of gear that is rarely needed for actual survival. A company called Urban Survival Gear has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the TiScribe-HL .

Kelvin, from USG, recently offered to send one over for me to try out and warned me there was nothing else like it in the world. I might be coloring that a little bit but I love a maker that is passionate and excited about their product. Having reviewed the TiScribe fountain pen about a year ago I remember being impressed with Kelvin’s work and attention to detail so I welcomed the chance.

What came in the mail call was a bit of a surprise. The refill was a Mont Blanc Document Marker. Until I popped the cap off the refill I had no idea that “HL” in the name of the pen and Document Marker are synonymous with highlighter. It was a What The Heck! moment. In Kelvin’s defense, and with a smile on my face, I agreed there wasn’t another one like it the world.

The Pen

fullbfull2b

  • Material: Available in brass, copper and titanium my review sample is in a shiny brass
  • Length Capped 5 ½”
  • Length Uncapped 5 1/8”
  • Length Posted 5 5/8”
  • Diameter Body 3/8”
  • Diameter Cap 7/16”
  • Weight 39.2 g
  • Pricing: Pledges start at $41 for the brass version and at the time of this review that level was still available.

Packaging

Urban Survival Gear takes a minimal approach to the packaging. I like the thinking behind more money and effort put into the product. Kelvin uses the popular clear twist tube that serves the pen community well. This style packaging ships a lot of pens around the world safely and inexpensively. If you’re short on room or you’re just not a box saver no big worry dropping this one in the recycle bin.

packagingWhat’s In The Box

  • TiScribe-HL Pen Body and Cap
  • Mont Blanc Document Marker Refill (Available in green or yellow)
  • O-Ring (More on this later)Construction Fit & Finish

High quality was no surprise after my first TiScribe. The attention to detail is as good as any machined pen I have reviewed. I every time I used the pen the cap threads started easy with no squeals or roughness. I wish more machined pens took the time and focus that Kelvin and team have on the TiScribe-HL relative to body and cap threads. It doesn’t affect the writing quality of the pen but when they are smooth and quiet the experience for me is just better. A+ here.

The O-ring threw me at first until I got a little rattle after installing the refill. I knew a detail this big was not overlooked and that’s when it donned on me. Using the O-ring allows for any tiny manufacturing variances that may occur with the refills’ length and insures a tight quiet fit. Great idea, well executed. My only suggestion would be a drawing or quick text of instructions for dummies like me.

end-o-ringOverall Appearance

The brass is beautiful right from the start. Highly polished and smooth from the TiScribe factory. You can read mixed reviews on the patina that sets in with any brass or copper pen. It’s really a personal preference that you have decided before purchasing a pen made from one of these materials. You know it’s coming.

The accents on the HL include 4 grooves turned into the body of the pen at the normal grip section. They look nice and provide a good reference point for your fingers in the event you grab the pen while multi-tasking or your eyes are glued to text.

The tail of the pen is nicely tapered and near the tail are two black O-rings set into the body. I like the aesthetic appeal of the black but these mostly are functional to allow a grip of the cap when posting.

Another O-ring near the writing tip and a nice rounded taper going down to the yellow wedge tip of the refill.tip-grip-sectiontailgrip2Ergonomics

I’m not sure ergonomics is a stringent requirement for a highlighter but the TiScribe has no drawbacks here either way. Length is good, the four rings grooved into the body near where your fingers rest give a good indicator grip and the diameter of the pen comfortable. With the short cap the threads are close enough to the writing tip that your grip hand will probably never be bothered by them.

Cap

The cap is small, about 15/16″ in lenght and slighter larger diameter than the pen body. The very top is chamfered both for aesthetics and comfort I suspect. Threads are wonderful as described above and an O-rings mates the cap to the body to prevent any premature drying out of the refill.cap2Clip

My review sample came as a no clip option.  A clip is available (+$10), as well as a magnet installed in the tip of the cap (+$5) as a retention option.  I have the magnet concept on another pen and it’s actually quite handy. That would probably be my choice and retain the clean lines of clipless.

Refill

I have never used a Mont Blanc Document Marker. I have not reviewed a lot of highlighters to compare it with but thus far my limited experience says USG has made a good choice with the Mont Blanc. It’s wet and goes down thick, a trait I like in my fountain pens, so I welcome it. The color is vivid and dried quickly on the sample paper I tried. Winner in my book.

Conclusion

I don’t use highlighters a lot. Mainly because I find mainstream versions ugly and low on character. Coming from true pen nerd having nothing to do with highlighting text. I have a cool one now so I suspect I will be highlighting more than I have in the past.

If you are a highlighter and reading this blog you’re likely a pen nut so a TiScribe-HL may be eligible for your next pen spend. I can almost guarantee you there is not a cooler, or better quality highlighter out there. There is still time to get in on the Kickstarter. An added bonus is pricing is on the lower end of the machined pen spectrum.

Remember:   Write something nice……  (and highlight it!)

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Two New Kaweco Colors

bothnewI have written many words on the joy of owning and using the Kaweco SPORT line of pens. Recently Kaweco came out with two new colors in their SPORT Fountain Pen series. First is a Red Classic series that Kaweco calls, well, just Red. I like the hue, it’s a bold fire engine red with maybe a touch of orange but it’s an unmistakable red. The red is a nice contrast to it’s gold colored stainless nib.


The second new color is in their Skyline series called Macchiato and looking at the pen I can see the resemblance to a favorite coffee blend. Maybe vanilla with a hint of brownish yellow. Attractive without being flashy. On the Macchiato they chose polished stainless steel finish.

red newmacciato newInside mechanicals and writing experience are same as I reviewed here on the aluminum bodied stonewash version. These two new colors are in the all plastic line. Both come with Kaweco’s very good medium stainless steel nib.

  • Stainless Steel Iridium Tip Medium Nib
  • Street Price: $27.00
  • 4.15” capped
  • 4” uncapped
  • 5.25” Posted
  • 10.6 grams with ink cartridge

If you’re a colors collector you’ll want to add these two attractive additions.

Remember: Write something nice……

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Kaweco Classic Sport Ballpoint Guilloche Review

I ended up with two similar Kaweco pocket pens about the same time. A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the The Classic Sport Gel Roller in Black Chess Pattern so I won’t bore you by repeating much of what I’ve penned in the past about the Kaweco Sport line and I will spare you the duplication on my commonly written philosophy on the pocket pen genre. Most all of it was summarized in my review of the Gel Roller.

Today I want to share with you about my time with the The Classic Sport Ball Pen in Black Guilloche  Overall5 Length: 4.15″
Weight: .4 oz
Uses D1 Size Refills

APPEARANCE

The Guilloche variant features a black octagonal barrel with a subtle guilloche engraved effect and gold colored metal decal on the push button. Manufactured from ABS or sometimes called macrolon plastic, the guilloche is small, light and attractive.

Overall3 Overall4 End Cap2 Tip3Black pens are hard for me to photograph well but in the pictures I hope you can appreciate the creative design Kaweco has added to this one.

ERGONOMICS

The Guilloche is a close cousin to an Ice Sport I have carried and abused for several years. So no get familiar time was needed for me.

Where the ballpoint excels over the gel roller in my mind is speed to deploy. The knock push button is one handed and just faster than two hands needed to remove a cap.

The downside is there is no cap to post. The cap of the gel writer makes it a more comfortable pen to write with, you just can’t pull that feat off with the ballpoint design. Where the ballpoint shines is convenience. Receipts or signatures are a quick and efficient execution, unpocket, click, sign, click, repocket, done.

REFILL

Apart1The D1 refill scared me at first as there is an obvious trade off with size and ink capacity but there is a bigger variety of D1 refills than I expected. With these manufacturers producing the D1 size I’m sure you can find something you like.

    • Retro 51
    • Monteverde
    • Uniball Jetstream
    • Zebra
    • Pilot
    • Staedtler
    • Kaweco
    • Platinum
    • Ohto
    • Pentel
    • Tombow

I don’t worry about proprietary refills with the Kaweco. The Soul 1.0 that ships with the pen is worthy performer or if you prefer another here is a review I did on a wide variety of these D1 refills. I found a favorite.

CONCLUSION

The two newest Kaweco Sports to my collection are a really hard toss up on which to carry. I really like the quick deploy of the knock push button on the ballpoint but the writing comfort (posted) and Parker refill of the gel writer makes for a nicer writing experience. Either one you pick, or both, I think you will enjoy the Kaweco quality and know it’s going to work for you every time you call it to action.

Remember: Write something nice……

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