There is hustle, and then there is... HUSTLE.
I would definitely put Kelvin from Urban Survival Gear in that second category as he has been designing and producing new pens at a pretty amazing rate. Especially being a one man show! (not discounting the help of his awesome family, of course) In the past 18 months he's produced three different Kickstarter campaigns and is quickly expanding his lineup of goods.
The newest pen is the TiScribe-Bolt, Kelvin's take on the popular bolt-action mechanism design and he kindly sent me a sample to check out and share.
His design of the bolt-action pen incorporates the clip into the bolt itself. Being fastened to the internal bolt cylinder with two hex head screws, to extend and retract the refill you move the entire clip into the "J-slot" positions. The movement is surprisingly easy to use and works really well.
Personally, I'd love a slightly stiffer spring in the pen, but the existing one has enough tension to be comfortable and not "loose" in all the parts. I find that with most retractable pens I am this way though, so it may be more of my own preference. I find that pens with slightly more tension seem to sure up the tip and all the parts so the pen feels nice and tight when writing.
The TiScribe-Bolt is being produced in three materials: brass, copper, and titanium which is a nice blend, and the pricepoint on them for the Kickstarter campaign are very reasonable from around $50 - 75 depending on what you get.
Also available is a stonewashed version which has been tumbled to provide more of a matte finish. This also helps remove any blemishes and gives it an already "worn in" type of aesthetic. I received the stonewashed titanium version as my sample and I love how it looks.
One thing Kelvin did really well with the stonewashed is making sure all the parts and pieces look uniform. The clip, the INSIDE bolt cylinder... all of the pieces are tumbled to a consistent finish which looks awesome when put together as a final product. Kudos! I've received other products in the past that are inconsistent in the finish which really distracts from the overall design.
I would consider the pens Kelvin makes to have a very simple design, but I don't mean that in a negative way. Straight lines, cylindrical shapes, simple angles and chamfers; these all come together well into a highly functional product that looks good, but isn't flashy.
His designs have evolved over time as he's discovering what works and what doesn't, which ultimately will help shape what his overall lineup looks like long term I think. A couple of examples of this are the grip "lines" on each of his pens being spaced slightly different, or some caps having a sharp top edge rather than the chamfer. Eventually, I'm sure they will all look the same.
A new addition to the pen is his decision to add a logo to his product. Previously the pens were without brand or mark, but to remedy this he has added an engraved emblem from his logo (not the full logo) on the very end of the pen which is tastefully done. I'd consider it a nice addition the the pen and glad he opted to do it. If we wanted to get EXTREMELY compulsive about it, from a design standpoint I'd try to figure out how to align the logo to the top of the clip when the pen is retracted, but, definitely not a deal breaker.
The pen comes standard with a Pilot G2 refill which is a great, everyday choice which most people can use or appreciate. There are others like the Pilot Juice, Precise, and others that could be swapped in to change up the writing experience to your preference.
The tip of the pen is held snug with an o-ring to keep things from coming undone, but I found it to be a bit TOO snug. Now, I can open a really tight jam jar when needed, but either Kelvin has super grip in his fingers when tightening these down, or maybe the o-ring is adding a little too much tension.
To loosen mine I had to get a piece of rubber to get it open and even with hand tightening it back down with my fingers it is a bit of a chore to get open again. The removable tip section is about 0.75" long, so not terribly big and is smooth which is likely adding to the issue. I'm just gonna say, for most people this is going to be a pain in the butt when swapping refills.
If I have one other observation is that there is a slight bit of movement in the clip and bolt mechanism. This doesn't impact the utility of the pen in any way, but if you put your thumb on the clip and move it back and forth, there is definitely a little play. REALLY small tolerances of 1000ths of an inch I mean that if the J-slot was the slightest bit smaller would prevent some of this. Again, not something to impact the pens utility, but will be noticeable. I have several bolt action pens and some have this movement and others don't.
Overall, I really, really like this pen and I know I'll put it to good use. I've gone and backed another titanium version of the pen as well to have one with the more machined look to add to my set.
If this type of pen is up your alley, I would definitely give the Kickstarter campaign a look. Thanks Kelvin!
(Sponsor Disclosure: Urban Survival Gear has also purchased a sponsorship ad space on The Clicky Post, but this in no way has influenced the objectivity of this review.)