TiScribe-Mini Bolt Action Pen by Urban Survival Gear

It has only been since 2015 that Urban Survival Gear started producing new pens, but the owner and proprietor, Kelvin Verrett, has not stopped to take a breath it seems! Since then he has been producing new models and variations on his most successful pen, The TiScribe Bolt, every few months it seems.

Now, I know other makers hustle too, but Kelvin HUSTLES. I am seriously impressed by his work ethic that I see show up on his Instagram feed and know the guy cares a lot about what he is producing. And, if you don’t follow him you should as out of all the pen makers in the space he has probably the most outgoing personality I’ve seen. His enthusiasm and humor will make your day!

I don’t usually lead into the reviews so heavy on the maker or brand, but in this case felt like I should. In the world we live in today it can be so easy to buy products from faceless, personality-less (probably not a word) companies that we never meet and never interact with. The pen space, particularly with machined pens, lets you connect directly to the people that are manufacturing and shipping you your goods and that is super cool. Kelvin is no exception and has always been awesome to work with.

One of the newest versions of the TiScribe bolt lineup is the new “mini” version. Same sturdy build out of grade 5 titanium (or copper or brass) as the regular, but just a bit shorter for a more compact pocket carry.

The overall shape of the pen can be described as a tubular, cylinder shape which is extremely simple, but a clean design. No real frills other than the five grooved rings machined into the barrel at the grip section which is kind of nice. It is understated, but still has a rugged, machined look to it. It looks cool.

Now, there are several bolt-action pens on the market to choose from, but Kelvin’s more unique design is that the mechanism itself is built into the pocket clip. I can’t think of another pen that does it quite like this as they are always separate which is a differentiator. This takes something that is already sticking out of the pen’s profile (a clip), and turns it into a dual-function action. It activates the pen as well as keeps the pen in your pocket which is pretty sweet.

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Speaking of the clip, it is also machined from grade 5 titanium and works really well. On the all titanium models I like how it makes everything match up in color. It is affixed to the internal mechanism by two torx style screws that sit just below the flat side of the clip.

As far as branding, the Urban Survival Gear logo is cleanly etched at the very bottom of the clip.

The action of extending the writing tip is an easy, one handed motion (as it should be with a bolt action pen).

The regular length TiSribe-Bolt takes a Pilot G2 (or a refill of equal length), but the mini comes standard to take a Parker style. This means it could also take the Fisher Space Pen refill with its included Parker adaptor, or really any other of the many refills in this size. A Parker style refill I’ve grown to like recently is the Schneider Gelion 39 (a gel refill) due to its nice dark line.

I’ve not tried one of these, but if you’d like the Pilot G2 Mini…in the “Mini”, Kelvin also makes an adaptor for an additional cost.

The mini is a fairly lightweight pen coming in at just 0.7oz. One thing I’ve noticed about the Urban Survival Gear pens is that Kelvin tries to keep the walls of the pen thin which helps with the weight.

Overall, the pen is pretty short at just 4.77”, but in the hand it doesn’t FEEL too short. My hands are pretty good sized and I don’t feel like the pen gets lost while writing with it. The weight to length is actually pretty perfect I think. The pic above is how it compares to the standard sized TiScribe Bolt (this particular one is one of his cool Cerakote versions he does from time to time…)

If you are a fan of Urban Survival Gear or are looking for a thin, more “pocketable” bolt action pen I find these really comfortable. The pricepoint on these aren’t super cheap at $89 (he is taking pre-orders right now), but Kelvin makes a great product and they are in line with others on the market.

Special thanks to Urban Survival Gear for sending it along for review!

Karas Pen Co Vertex Fountain Pen - Long Awaited Review

Wow! I’ve actually been waiting the good part of a year to write this review…

It was actually last summer when I was able to get my hands on one of the earliest examples of the Karas Pen Co Vertex fountain pen, and I’ve been anxious to provide my thoughts on it since then. As it would have it, the production timeline of the Vertex took a little longer than expected, but it is officially here.

Over the last 7 years, Karas Pen Co (AKA, Karas Kustoms) has become one of the household names in the machined pen niche. They were one of the earliest to launch a new pen design using the then new-ish platform, Kickstarter, and it has been a strong journey ever since.

They went on to produce at least 10 new pen models over the last several years, and the Vertex is the most recent to officially hit the scene. But, why I’ve been so excited to talk about the Vertex is due to it being a bit of an outsider (but in a good way) to Karas’ traditionally “tough”, metal pens that they are best known for. While many of the pens have steel metal clips and knurling, the Vertex in contrast is a completely new animal and gives the Karas brand a bit of “refinement” if I may say so.

From the beginning I’ve been a fan of the Karas lineup of pens, and still carry them consistently today. Each release has been well received and enjoyable, but you sort of knew what to expect, you know? With the Vertex, I have to admit that I was completely stunned at what they had produced.

The Vertex pen can be best described as an all acrylic (or delrin…) eyedropper capable fountain pen that is pocket friendly.

Size specs image courtesy of Karas Pen Co website

Size specs image courtesy of Karas Pen Co website

It is quite portable in size although not small in my opinion, and rather than rigid shiny metal, we have softer, subtler lines that provide a very pleasing look and feel. If you didn’t tell me it was a Karas pen, I wouldn’t have guessed it, but that to me stands as probably one of the highest compliments I can pay to it I think. The guys at the shop set out to make something different than they are traditionally known for, and I feel like they succeeded really well.

In design, the pen has a few visual features that stand out. The cap is slightly larger in diameter than the barrel, the barrel starts wide and slopes down to a rounded point, and the “finial” is part of the cap material and is a machined out bowl which adds some nice interest to the overall shape. I’ve not seen a pen with quite that design on the cap, but I think it is one of the more interesting aspects overall.

Being an eye dropper pen by design, the guys wanted to make sure you could see inside. The solve for this is quite clever as the cap and barrel don’t touch or meet, but instead the section is made from a selection of clear or colored transparent acrylic which creates an elegant ink window. This serves a function, but also adds a layer of material for a pop of color or additional interest in the overall profile.

Filling the pen to my hearts content was actually pretty easy. The pen ships with a standard international converter as well as a plastic pipette to eye drop from the get go. Of the pens I have, I opted to eye drop one and then converter fill the other. Overall, I think the eye dropper is more fun and likely what I’ll do ongoing with this pen moving forward.

I opted to fill the converter pen with Iroshizuku Kon-Peki (since it has a blue section) and then did the eye drop with Iroshizuku Yama-Budo.

In total there are 9 different possible section colors that you can select with the production models of the Vertex ranging from clear, smoke gray, blue, red, orange… even to a “Coke Bottle” material that is similar to the color of the vintage glass used to hold the soda. Regardless of which color you choose, you will be able to clearly see the ink sloshing around in the pen when used as an eye dropper, but the various colors will limit being able to see the ACTUAL the ink color itself. If showing off what ink is inside is important to you, I’d recommend either the clear versions or even the smoke grey. In the black delrin barrel version I have the smoke grey section and the rich wine color of the Iroshizuku Yama-Budo (mentioned before) stands out clearly.

When it comes to sealing up the pens, the guys seem to have it covered with at least three o-rings. (I’m pretty sure that is it…) One in the cap that connects the section and cap while closed to help reduce the nib drying out, one in the section where the nib threads in to help keep a tight seal there, and one more inside the barrel where the section goes in so that when eye dropped the pieces stay together and don’t leak. I appreciate them going to this level of trouble to make all those things happen. When using other pens as an eye dropper, generally you have to add silicone grease to all the parts to be “safe”, but this makes it a bit more plug and play.

I did notice on a couple of occasions that ink was in the cap of the pen when pulling open (it is a fountain pen) and then got back on the section when closing, but not sure if the tight seal of the cap o-ring produces some suction. Fountain pens tend to make inky fingers to some extent, so I don’t necessarily see this as a huge problem.

Now, to that end, silicone grease is pretty easily applied and most fountain pen owners have had to use it on pistons, etc to keep things moving nicely. I’m not certain as to the shelf life of these o-rings meaning, how long they will last before needing replacement, and whether replacing them in the long run will be easy or difficult. This in no way gives me anxiety about the pen, but something to think about. The hope is that the Vertex will be a pen to own and use for decades… long term upkeep is an important factor when buying a nice pen.

I actually have three models of the Vertex: the original polished black acrylic from last Summer, one of the limited edition Galeocerdo (Tiger Shark) versions which I believe are now sold out, and a black delrin which will be one of their more standard options going forward.

Of the three, I think my overall favorite is the black delrin… if you’ve not used a delrin pen, the material has a sort of soft feel where metal or acrylic is just stiff and smooth. It is light like acrylic, but is extremely durable so if you bump your pocket unexpectedly there is really no likelihood of damage being done to the pen (and inky pants). The delrin just looks cool too. It has a matte black vibe that is pretty forgiving of scuffs and scars and looks sleek. I wouldn’t call it “beautiful” like the Galeocerdo which is a grey, metallic material that catches the light, but I appreciate it very much on its own. Understated, but cool.

Each pen comes with a #6 Bock nib that has been engraved with the Karas Pen Co logo which is nicely done. Not entirely sure if it is more just a striped decoration, or if they were wanting to incorporate the Arizona flag “rays” being where they are from. The nib options are pretty vast from steel, titanium, or gold with a variety of sizes to choose from. For the most recent two I went with steel for both, one a medium and one a 1.1 stub. The medium is a fantastic writer out the gates, but the 1.1 took some tuning to get flowing right.

The pen writes posted or unposted. With the pen overall being so light at 0.8oz, with or without the cap isn’t terribly noticeable, but I enjoy the extra length that posting provides. And, you get to see the interesting “bowl” shape of the finial as you write.

The final piece to note is the custom packaging that Karas has created for the Vertex lineup. For the Decograph they created machined aluminum “tubes” to hold the pens (super cool), but for the Vertex they did something completely new by milling aluminum boxes with a sliding, laser etched lid. I’m generally not a big packaging person, but I really love that they do this. They are, at their heart, a MACHINE shop so it seems only right to mill their own boxes to go with their Signature line of pens. Inside the box is a custom foam core that holds the pen safely inside.

If it isn’t obvious enough, I am a huge fan of the pen. The minute I got my hands on one I knew I loved it. The size, the feel, the look, the fit and finish… all of it stood out as something new and great. And, coming from Karas Pen Co who are traditionally known for their metallic and weighty instruments, this one is a welcome and awesome surprise.

And, the price point on these is extremely reasonable being a machined product made in the USA. The production models start at $130 which comes with any section color you want as well as a steel nib. I’m going to go as far as saying if you enjoy pocket fountain pens, you really do need to get your hands on one of these. While the guys were kind enough to provide these for me to review and try here on The Clicky Post, I foresee others being purchased by me in the near future (the dark green acrylic looks sweet too).

New "Bolt Action" Pen From Tactile Turn (Formerly Slider and Glider)

Will Hodges of Tactile Turn has been making machined pens for at least 7 years now (maybe more?…) starting back in the early days of his X, Y, Z models. The Clicky Post has been running just about as long and one of my favorite things to see are makers refining their craft and continuing to produce higher and higher quality products.

Back in 2016 Will released his own take on the bolt action mechanism in a pair of models called the Slider and Glider. These pens were well received and no doubt have been some of Will’s top sellers over the past few years. Well, even though the pens have been a success, Will determined that there were ways to adjust the design to be a bit cleaner, and more functional.

Many folks might think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”. But, in receiving a titanium sample of the new pen I’m really glad Will was willing to take a few things back to the drawing board.

During this review I am mainly going to focus on the new version of the pen, but if you want to go back and revisit my original thoughts on the Slider and Glider to give yourself a comparison it is one of the reviews where I actually made a video. (I should do more of those…)

Let’s start with the first obvious change, which is the name of the pen. Fans of Tactile Turn will no longer need to remember “Now, is this a Slider or a Glider?…” since Will has opted to simply refer to this new pen appropriately as the Bolt Action Pen. And, you then pick either short or standard size. THANK YOU, WILL!

The sample sent to me is the standard titanium model, but one can also purchase barrels of copper, bronze, or the ultra-cool zirconium (so sweet). The knob at standard price is made from titanium, but can be upgraded to Damascus for an extra $20 which Will included in mine.

The standard is 5.6” in length, a great size, and comes with the popular Pilot G2. While I don’t mind the G2, I immediately wanted to see if other refills could fit and with a little trimming the Energel needle 0.5 worked like a charm.

In the aesthetics department, the Bolt Action Pen now features a flat top which I think is a nice move. There are a few benefits of this like its profile when sticking out of your pocket when clipped, but I just think it looks better overall. It provides a bit more contrast to the design.

Another adjustment is the overall shape towards the grip and tip of the pen. Will has shaved off a bit more material which brings the taper in a bit closer to a more “refined” and cleaner tip. This is actually a pretty big adjustment to the design in my opinion and gives the pen a bit more of an elegant look. From a practical standpoint, having less material near the refill makes it easier to see where you are writing which is a big plus.

If already familiar with Tactile Turn, the Bolt Action Pen retains the signature “spiral” texture along the entirety of the pen which adds some visual interest as well as an enhanced grip.

The ultra strong clip is a workhorse of bent steel, is nicely polished to remove sharp edges, and I think fits the pen. It isn’t fancy, but blends in well. The clip is affixed to the pen by slotting into the barrel underneath the finial which means it won’t come unscrewed or loose.

There are no clear logos on the pen, but tucked under the clip is etched “TACTILE TURN 2019” which you can see if you look closely.

By far my favorite upgrade to the pen is the mechanism itself. The bolt slot is now half the size, is easier to deploy, and has a stiffer spring which makes activating the pen infinitely more snappy and, dare I say, satisfying. The previous model was an ok fidget pen, but the new one is next level.

Another adjustment to the bolt is the slot itself is now closed. The old one had a visible open space within the pen barrel while the refill was deployed, but this cleans things up a bit.

Overall, it feels like Tactile Turn did a great job of streamlining and updating the classic design, and all of the adjustments are for the positive in my opinion. And, never hurts to give something a fresh coat of paint and a good tune up. I also think the price Will is asking for the pen is a great value as he has also streamlined the price of the “base” models to all be $99 (the Zirconium is considerably more).

Thanks Will for sending the new and improved Bolt Action Pen my way to check out!