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!