Kickstarter seems to go in ebbs and flows when it comes to pens, but recently we've had a pretty solid run in my opinion.
One that has gotten some buzz lately is the aluminum pocket pen on Kickstarter by Steel & Flint which I was lucky enough to get to take a look at. Special thanks to Mike and team for sending a prototype sample my way to share with my readers.
This pen is the maiden voyage for Steel & Flint and, based on their Instagram posts over the last few months it seems they've put a lot of care into testing, iterating, testing, iterating, to try and get things right which I think speaks volumes for the company.
Another thing I like about Steel & Flint is their desire to produce their pens locally in a smaller machine shop there in the UK. I can't imagine this is cheap, but I respect their desire to support local craftspeople and their economy as well. (Thumbs up) And, that isn't knocking those that don't, but I know it often takes a lot to make it happen.
The S&F pen is lightweight, but sturdy being machined from aluminum (aluminium?) and is available in 3 finishes: Satin Silver, Basalt Black, and Champagne Gold. Originally they posted pics of a polished aluminum that looked pretty fantastic (even some sprinkled in the Kickstarter campaign), but they chose not to move forward with it as an offering.
I was sent the black version which is a matte finish which seems to be holding up well to daily use. I've had the pen kicking around in my pocket for a couple of weeks and have yet to see any odd wear and tear. Granted, I'm not "abusive" to my pens in general, but if you're the type to drop, run over, or otherwise get physical with your writing instruments, results may vary.
Closed the pen is a pretty solid length of 12cm and just under 13cm when posted. For a pocket pen, I find this to be a bit on the large size when compared to something like a SchonDSGN (10cm closed) or Kaweco Liliput (about 9.5cm closed), but really doesn't impact usability.
The pen does not come with a clip and there is no option for one. I'm ok with this as I detest "add on" clips most of the time.
The cap of the pen is machined within a pretty tight tolerance to allow for it to softly close with a cushion of air. Its novel, but what I like about it is that the cap, although not attached in any way (like by threading) does not wiggle or clink about.
A feature that stands out on this pen is the generous knurled grip section. This area alone is 3cm in length which should be enough for most of the ways people hold their pen. Sometimes knurling can have too much "bite", but I haven't found this with the S&F pen.
I have found with the close tolerance of the cap that after opening and closing it a bunch of times a few of the spikes of the knurling have rubbed back down to the metal. Not really a HUGE deal as it will get used and wear eventually, but makes it look like there is dust, skin, fuzz, or something stuck on there (which there isn't). On the silver pen I doubt this would ever get noticed.
The S&F pen takes your standard Parker style (international G2, not Pilot) which provides a good range of options usually in the ballpoint realm. I swapped in a Schmidt EasyFlow 9000M refill which is my favorite Parker style refill, but my second choice would be some form of Fisher Space Pen cartridge with the Parker adaptor.
If there is an area of the pen from a design standpoint that doesn't quite float my boat, its the abrupt and flat surface that leads to a straight cylinder between the tip and grip section. This has been an area that others have also commented on and is purely an aesthetic thing. Our brains usually think of pens as a conical shape which throws us off.
This is more of an engineering type of look which brands like rOtring have leveraged on their 600 series, although they have a slight "bump" after the knurling which helps the transition visually. I'd say even a slight 45 degree chamfer right on the edge might have done the trick, but again, not going to really impact the use of the pen.
A unique feature of this pen is it's use of magnets to hold the cap in place. You only need to get the cap about 2/3 of the way there and the magnet snaps it together. This works really well. The only thing I've found with pens containing magnets where the ink flows (maybe this is in my head) is that they seem to flow differently. Can't really explain it, but I've found the same thing with the Ti2 TechLiner with certain refills too.
I overall really enjoy the S&F pen. Well made, portable, pocketable, functional, and seems to be made by a company that is really trying to set their quality bar high which is a plus.
Pledges start (early birds are gone) at around $70 and go up from there, but full retail is looking to be set at around $100. For an aluminum pen, the full retail price seems a bit on the high end when comparing to other machined aluminum pocket pens that can be had for around $50 or even a Fisher bullet pen for $18 (although not as robust).
If you enjoy a solid pocket pen, definitely give the Steel & Flint Kickstarter campaign a look over. And, special thanks again to them for sending the sample for review!