Blank Force’s X1 and X2 pens are the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign from last year. I interviewed Kevin Hayes, the person behind Blank Forces, back in November. Now that the pens are available to buy online I thought it would be a good time to review them. Rather excitingly, I have a follow up interview with Kevin coming later this week, where he talks about his Kickstarter experience and what happens once a campaign has finished. (Spoiler: a lot happens, and it’s very hard work.)
Price: $74 (X1), $79 (X2)
Tip size options: 0.7mm as supplied, but replaceable
Barrel options: Two lengths, wide range of engraved finishes (or plain)
Ink type: Ballpoint (replaceable – D1)
Size: 3.2″ (X1) & 4″ (X2) by 0.38″
The X1 and X2 are pretty much identical except for length. They take standard D1 refills and come with the OHTO Needle Point 0.7mm refill as standard. This is a reasonable ballpoint refill, though a little scratchy. I plan on putting Uni-Ball Jetstream D1 refills into mine.
I bought my X1 through the Kickstarter campaign and Kevin was kind enough to send me an X2 as well. You can pick from a wide range of laser engraved patterns. My X1 is ‘naked’ and my X2 has a nifty ruler engraved into it.
The quality of engineering on these pens is magnificent. It’s almost impossible to see where the cap joins the barrel. I keep trying to convince my daughter it’s a magic pen because it just looks like one single piece of
aluminium stainless steel until you unscrew it. She’s eight and isn’t going to fall for that kind of nonsense but that doesn’t stop me trying, again and again and again. One day she’ll appreciate my genius. Anyway, the point is, these are fantastically well made. The etching on my X2 is great, too, and even on this one you can’t see where the cap and barrel join.
The refill is kept in place my a brass end screw. These need to be kept tight – new pens now come with some Locktite on the threads to help keep them secure. I did lose the screw in each one but mine didn’t have this Locktite. I don’t see this now being a problem but thought I should mention what happened with mine.
The pens are too small to be comfortable to write a novel with but they are perfectly fine for quick notes or sketches, which is the whole idea of them. Obviously the X2 is a more comfortable length. I keep one on with my car and house keys and one with my set of work keys and they come in useful time and time again.
There’s something very deliciously tactile about the X1 and X2. I keep picking them up, swinging my keys around with them (which may explain the screws working loose) and unscrewing the cap just so I can screw it back on again and watch the join disappear. They are fine objects and they also write! What more can you ask for? A wonderful example of form and function being combined in a very effective way.
The X1 and X2 aren’t cheap but they are extremely high quality and do, I think, justify the price. They’ll last a lifetime, are practical and are beautiful.
Uses D1 refills
Beautiful etching options
Needs some additional care to ensure refill isn’t lost
Check back soon for an interview with Kevin all about his Kickstarter experience!
As I mentioned above, I bought the X1 with my own money. Kevin sent me the X2 so I could see what the engraving was like and compare it to the size of the X1. These are all my own opinions.