INK by Karas Kustoms - a unique, machined fountain/rollerball pen

For this pen, “unique” would be an understatement without question…

INK is the newest Kickstarter offering from our good friends over at Karas Kustoms and is their first attempt at a fountain pen, but let’s just say, they knocked this thing out of the park.  If you are familiar with Karas’ previous pen offerings of the Render K, Bolt, and recent Retrakt, prepare for an entirely new experience. 

The previous pens all sort of fit within the same family: same approximate size, same clip, etc.  With INK, designer Dan Bishop started from the ground up and what he has come up with is just astounding.  Dan also runs his own blog called Design Concussion and he recently did a post called Designing the INK.  Make sure to check that out because he has a lot of cool concept sketches and an inside look at the process of creating INK.

The fellas over at the shop were kind enough to provide me with a working prototype to get my hands on and use and I’ve been more than impressed thus far.  Now, this being a “prototype”, there are subtle refinements and changes that will likely take place as things progress, but it is extremely close to the final product.

The first design element that stands out proudly in contrast to their previous pens is the clip.  Instead of being a side mounted sprung steel held on with either hex bolts or slotted screws, there is a channel carved out of the top of the cap for the clip to slip into, and two hex bolts screwed in through the side of the cap to hold it in place.  This is extremely cool as it adds a dynamic to the clip that is very reminiscent of a fancy fountain pen (we’ll call it “flair”), but meshed with the industrial machined look that we’ve all grown to love from Karas, it makes a killer combination. 

The clip is made from a mirror finish polished steel.  When I first saw the clip several months ago (perks of being local), I did have some concerns as to how well it would actually “clip”, but it does the job great.  There isn’t a lot of spring in it, but it will fit nicely over your shirt pocket.  It isn’t the vice grip of the previous clips, but this is a fountain pen; less rough, right?

Robot says "hi"

Let’s talk about that a bit and how there really isn’t much in the fountain pen market that even comes close to this thing.  Who else is really making an all metal, machined fountain pen?  There may be some, but not like this.  A pen like this not only looks refined, but will be extremely durable. 

Unlike an acrylic or plastic (more traditional) fountain pen, this thing you could probably run over with your car and it will still write.  Dan Bishop and I were discussing trying this with his VW Beetle: expect a full report if we do…

Unlike their other pens, the INK will only be offered in an aluminum barrel and cap, but where the material variation comes in is in the grip section.  They are offering an aluminum, brass, and copper grip in both the fountain pen and rollerball versions. 

Personally, I prefer the aluminum grip to match the barrel, but the copper and brass are stunning.  Also, the added weight of the brass or copper will completely change the writing experience (and is antimicrobial).  There are some color combinations of the anodized barrels and copper/brass grips that look amazing, so there is a lot of mix and match possibilities.

The rollerball grip allows for the use of one of our favorite refills in the pen world: the Schmidt Capless roller (P8126 and P8127) which is found in the Retro 51 Tornado as well as the Kaweco Sport Rollerball (non-cartridge version).  I anticipate that the rollerball use of INK will be far less than the fountain pen, but it is a great option for someone that wants to enjoy the killer design that Dan put together.

The included nib is a Schmidt iridium point (mine came with an M) and is a fantastic writer.  It lays down a wet and incredibly smooth line and I filled the included converter with some Iroshizuku Kon-Peki.

The converter they provided is really nice also.  They've done a great job of picking components that will make for an awesome experience.

The Kickstarter campaign only started on Monday the 16th, but has already blown well past its goal and is skyrocketing to what could be the most successful Karas Kustoms pen project yet.  With good reason.  Even with my hands on a prototype, I know that a unique pen like this is going to remain on my list of favorites for years.  Good show gentlemen.

I chose to back the colored barrel with aluminum grip: gonna go for the grey...