I have often been accused of being a bit awkward. There is a reason why this happens and it’s not unrelated to the fact that I am. Sometimes. Allegedly. This awkwardness means that I go out of my way to find things to like that are a little off the beaten track, which is positive, and also make an effort to dislike what is popular, which is negative. Old age, though, is beginning to soften my approach to life. The years are teaching me that sometimes the reason something is popular is because it is great. See, for example, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, music whose beauty makes me cry but is popular to the point of cliché.
What I am leading up to saying is that all the excitement surrounding the impending release of the Karas Kustoms EDK was making me inclined to dislike it. Just because.
However: I was wrong. This is a quite wonderful pen. Let me explain why.
Price: from $55 depending on materials (but currently from $45 on Massdrop)
Ink type: Liquid ink (rollerball)
Barrel options: aluminium, brass, copper, in various configurations
Refill options: P8126 (fine) or P8127 (medium) in blue, black, red or green
Size: 12.7cm (5”) long and 1.1cm (0.44”) diameter
Weight: 28g (1oz) (all aluminium), 60g (2.1oz) (all brass or all copper), 45g (1.6oz) (aluminium and brass/copper combo)
But first, just to be absolutely clear, let me say that this pen was provided free of charge by Massdrop. They do expect me to do a review; they don’t expect me to lie for them. These are my honest opinions. If you go to Massdrop via this link I don’t get any money but they’ll know you came from here. At the time of writing, Massdrop is the only place you can buy the EDK from.
The refill is one of the best there is. The Schmidt P8126 (and its plumper sibling the P8127) is identical to that found in Retro 1951s. It’s a smooth rollerball and is a pleasure to write with. The ink isn’t particularly waterproof but there are more robust alternatives if that’s important to you. For my needs, the black P8126 is my favourite.
The knock mechanism has a very quiet and soft click. It works well but personally I enjoy a clickier click. I don’t think retractable pens with knocks are the best for every day carry as they have a tendency to deploy in pockets or bags, with messy consequences. Far better for EDC are pens that twist to deploy or pens like the Bolt.
The clip is attached with Karas Kustoms’ signature pair of bolts and is a very strong piece of steel. It’s bendy enough to be useful as a clip and it’s going to last a lifetime. The whole pen, in fact, is solid and well engineered. I can’t imagine this pen ever breaking (except maybe the knock mechanism) and it will only look better with use.
There are two parts to the EDK barrel: a long section and a shorter top part. Each part is available in aluminium, brass or copper and it’s possible to mix and match. I didn’t get to pick my review sample but either by chance or design I received what for me is the perfect combination: brass section and an anodised black aluminium top part. The aluminium is tumbled before anodising. This combination looks amazing. It isn’t light and an all brass or all copper version would be even heavier. However, the weight is in the lower half of the pen and helps press the tip onto the paper. I like heavy pens and this is just about right for me. An all brass or copper version would perhaps be too much. An all aluminium version might be more to most people’s liking, weight-wise.
The combination of materials and the refill make this a wonderful pen to write with. The weight and balance holds the pen to the paper and the tip is smooth and crisp.
What we have here, then, is a pen that looks incredible, is made from the best materials, has one of the best refills and is manufactured to the highest standards. Just this once, I have to admit that everyone is right.
Knock mechanism isn’t my favourite
I only have one of them
I do realise this pen might not be to everyone’s taste but if you’re into machined metal pens it’s pretty much close to perfect. If you’re interested, head over to Massdrop and take a look!
You can find some more reviews of the Karas Kustoms EDK on Pennaquod.