Karas Kustoms Retrakt Prototypes - Pen Review

 Living close to Karas Kustoms (Mesa, AZ) is such a pleasure.  I enjoy getting to stop by the shop to talk to Bill, Dan, and the guys about how business is going, what projects they have happening (outside of pens too), and just generally shooting the breeze. 

A little backstory on my Karas history, I actually missed the Render K Kickstarter campaign, but found it about a month after it was done.  It wasn't until I looked a little closer at the location did I realize they were a local company that I could walk in and buy from.  The soonest chance I could (when they were available), I stopped by the shop and bought my first Render K personally from Dan Bishop; I've been back so many times since that I hope I haven't overstayed my welcome!  In retrospect, I'm glad I missed the Kickstarter campaign in a way because it gave me the opportunity to get to know these guys better.

When Dan was on the Pen Addict Podcast back in March of this year, he discussed some of the concerns/struggles of manufacturing a true "clicky" style pen, so it sounded kind of up in the air of whether one would be a reality to add to the Karas Kollection.

I was lucky enough to see some of the "Top Secret" plans for the Retrakt a few months ago (maybe even before it had a name) and then a working prototype (that Bill now carries around with him) and I was instantly hooked and excited that they had worked out a solution to the click problem.  My exact words were, "you guys nailed it".   

The Retrakt really is a fantastic pen; functional, durable, good looking, and is a great follow-up, not so much to The Bolt, but more the Render K.  I say this not out of disrespect for The Bolt, because I love it, but the styling and feel is linked more to their first pen which has helped shape the "pen-o-spere" in so many ways.  Bill and his lead designer, Dan Bishop (his blog, Design Concussion), have created some amazing products for us to enjoy over the last few years and I'm so excited they've brought this new pen to light because it's going to be awesome.

There are three versions of the Retrakt: an anodized aluminum (aluminium...), raw brass, and a new material, raw copper.  All three versions are striking, and I want to thank Bill for giving me the chance to use and review all three over the last several weeks.  The aluminum, being the lightest, would likely be the most comfortable as an everyday carry for a lot of people, but honestly the brass, although heavy, feels really good in your hand.  The extra weight in this instance doesn't bother me a bit and I've found myself carrying the brass more than anything during my time with the pens.    

The copper is heavier than the brass, but is simply a stunning pen.  Although it will tarnish beautifully over time, fresh out of the package this thing surprises you with how nice it is.  Like a new penny you can write with.  It takes a certain buyer to have this pen as an everyday use due to the weight, but I could see this pen being super popular as a gift for someone that wants to give something striking. 

When I said they nailed it, they really did.  I love the design features of the knurling at the top (nod to Render K) and in keeping the same strong steel clip we know and love.  The Retrakt fits right into the family of pens that Bill, Dan, and the crew have made that have won us over so well.  As a pen person, it is hard not to have an example of each because of how cool they are. 

The Retrakt pens come sized to accept the popular G2 refill or Parker style refills with a spring swap and black spacer for the knock section.  I've done a lot of experimenting with G2 "style" refills to find which one feels best for me.  Some of these are the Uni-Ball Signo 207, Uni-Ball Impact, Pentel Energel, and TUL gel refills.  

I've settled on the Energel as my choice, but it does take some slight modification to the refill (as it is a smidge longer than the G2) by cutting about an 1/8 of an inch off the end and putting one of the plastic "butts" (pardon...) in the tube from another refill.  Now, I'm not suggesting that you need to start buying gobs of refills to hack apart because the G2 is great, but just know that there are some options to play with if it is your thing. 

The knock is really cool and I'm actually glad that it can be taken off of the pen.  It adds to the industrial feel, like a machine, that you can unscrew, look at, and then put back together.  I just enjoy the mechanical side of the pen as much as the visual aesthetic.   The knock isn't overly loud, but is actually quite smooth.  It surprised me how much I like it.

Please check out the Kickstarter campaign on this one for sure.  If you're a repeat customer of Karas, you know you'll be getting the same great quality they've delivered before.  If you're new, take my word for it...  

Thanks again Bill and Dan for letting me review and enjoy these pens! 

Honestly, these things look just as good on the inside.