I love small business. I love the passion, ingenuity, screw-ups, and downright scrappiness that comes with taking your idea and then pushing it out into the world. From the outside, it seems like an easy task, but for the person doing the making/creating it often means huge sacrifices of time, energy, money, stress...
Sometimes the small business is super calculated, has investors, a "business plan" and all of that and sometimes it is just a guy (or gal) with a full time job working nights and weekends out of their home shop inside their garage, closet, or spare bedroom that wants to make something awesome and share it. I can relate to this for sure.
Currently on Kickstarter is a pen called the SQ1 by a gentleman named Ryan, the owner of RNG Products LLC, who was kind enough to send me a sample for review.
The SQ1 is a machined aluminum barreled pen that is slim, pocketable, and houses the trusty Fisher Space Pen refill. I'm just gonna go out and say it that I think there will never (ever) be enough machined pens on the market that house the Fisher refill.
It is probably the most versatile refill in existence and I love the idea of options to house it in various shapes and forms. Keep 'em coming!
I'd consider the SQ1 to be more of what I call a "stick" pen, meaning it has no taper or contours. This would seem pretty high on the "boring" side, but some of my favorite pens are this way like the LAMY cp1 and unic designed by Gerd A. Müller.
The pen is pretty small in size coming in between 4.5" and 5" and is about the same diameter as your average pencil. Slim, pocketable, not bulky, and fits nicely in your hand while writing.
The SQ1 is made up of 6 major components: the barrel, cap, tip, end cap, set screw, and refill.
The barrel is made from aluminum and comes in a variety of color schemes and the caps and end caps are made from either brass or copper. Personally, I'd kind of like to see an option where the components all match if possible which would require doing all aluminum or all copper/brass versions.
I requested the black anodized barrel with the copper "shipwrecked" cap and end cap. I must say, the "shipwrecked" finish is pretty fantastic. Ryan nailed it as it seriously looks like something salvaged from the bottom of the sea. I'm not certain, but it appears that he has sealed the finish somehow which is a plus. I'd hate to buy this special, oxidized version simply to have it wear off after the first few uses.
The cap is designed to post on the end of the pen, which it does, but I was having a bit of trouble with the threading. It will catch for the first 1 to 2 rotations, but then gets a bit stuck. Not certain if this is an issue with the finish on the barrel being slightly thicker, or whether there is an issue with the thread compatibility in general. Or, maybe some of the sealer on the cap got into the threads (don't think this is it). Also, catching the cap on the tip threading occasionally took a few tries to get right.
Either way, I know this is something that Ryan can work out in final production, but wanted to call it out.
As mentioned, there is a set screw that is deep within the pen barrel holding the refill snugly in place. I can absolutely see why this is necessary because simply shortening the pen wouldn't have worked out due to being too short. While the set screw adds the need for a specific allen wrench to swap the refill, I like it better than a spacer which is loose and could be lost.
Overall the pen is comfortable to use and highly functional.
That being said, there are things I like about it and others not so much. More of aesthetic things I think.
Understandably, the cap of the pen needs to hang over the barrel making it possible to post it, but this does create a bit of a "magic wand" kind of look. This isn't necessarily bad, but doesn't really make a "sleek" look.
Another design area that seems a bit out of place is the dimpling used for the grip section. They are executed perfectly and look really great! Although, with all of the lines and straight edges and sharp chamfers, round design elements seem to contrast the very linear feel. As an alternative, concentric rings across the whole barrel or even knurling may have fit a bit more? Not trying to be overly nitpicky, honest....
I do enjoy the interesting lines in the cap and end cap quite a bit.
The only real feedback I can give would be to try and work out the potential issues with the threading, but other than that I think Ryan has come up with a solid EDC pocket pen. And, the pledges start at only $25, so totally reasonable to pick up one to carry with you. If interested in backing the project, head over to the Kickstart campaign to check it out.
Thanks again to Ryan from RNG Products for sending the sample!