There are certainly no shortage of machined metal pens around to choose from, but which brand is right for you? For me personally, I find myself using pens from a variety of makers so my answer might be.. there really isn't one? Although many of the pens seem similar, each of the brands do tend to provide their own variations that allow them to stand out. Some brands are more rugged, some minimal, and others go for a sleek modern feel so it really does depend on your personal taste.
A brand I've seen around for a little while is Inventery out of Los Angeles, but up until now I've yet to use one of their products. They were kind enough to send me a few of their various models to take a look at in the black Onyx finish, so expect to see a few reviews to come in the next little bit. Special thanks to them for providing some pieces to review as I've been excited to take a look.
In taking a look at the Inventery website and Instagram they are definitely a style centric brand. I would say a somewhat more obviously masculine aesthetic (although not to dissuade anyone that likes the style) that feels very sleek with clean, simple lines, and is designed to allow for a more curated and uniform carry. Think of it like cool color coordinating. Your watch, wallet, keys, phone, pocket knife, and pen can all match which I know a lot of people really like to do.
All of their products come in a range of three colors really: raw brass, nickel plated (more of a shiny chrome), and black called "Onyx".
While they have a pretty good variety of writing tools, the first pen in the lineup I wanted to review is their take on the bolt-action style pen, aptly named "Bolt Action Pen".
The Bolt Action Pen comes in three sizes of S, M, and L (small, medium, large) based on their given lengths. The largest of the series takes the popular Pilot G2 size, the medium a Parker or Schmidt P1826, and the small a D1. This is a pretty solid spread which is bound to fit just about anyone's preference.
For mine I opted to get the M since I enjoy the Schmidt Capless rollerball refill, but could also swap in an Easyflow or Fisher Space Pen (with their Parker adaptor) if I wanted something more durable.
One thing to note is that all of the Inventery pens are made from solid brass. This is a major consideration to be had if interested in one of their pens since this will make them a bit hefty. Even though I went with the M size of the Bolt Action Pen, all in it comes out to almost 2 oz which is a weighty pen indeed. I don't find the weight-to-length ratio unwieldy, but if you are sensitive to heavier pens take note.
With the heft comes an extremely solid feel. The quality in the machining and finish is really nice (nothing feels cheap about it) and the pen is sturdily built.
The "Onyx" finish is a more matte black coating that covers every aspect of the pen. I've mentioned this before in other reviews, but I always appreciate very monochromatic styles in pens. Some people may find it a bit boring, but when I can have a pen that contains almost an entirely uniform color scheme it makes me happy. This doesn't have to always be an all black pen, but this seems to be one of the easiest to achieve for many pen makers. An entirely silver colored pen is also acceptable...
The finish is likely a PVD coating (on their site they call it black oxide), but I've found it to hold up well. Just a couple of points of wear I've noticed. I wager that over time there will be more nicks and dings that it picks up which will allow the brass to show through. The coating provides enough texture to make the barrel not too slick considering it is completely smooth.
From a branding perspective the only indication of a maker's mark is the Inventery encircled "I" logo that has been laser etched in the top. Since the pen underneath is brass, the logo comes through like a shiny golden emblem which is a nice contrasting element. The Onyx finish aligns most closely to their brand and packaging aesthetic which helps to provide that very uniform experience.
With any bolt action pen, the big question is how does it operate? Quite well actually. The spring they use in the M version (possibly similar in the others) gives the bolt mechanism a strong "snap" which is extremely satisfying. I love when pens maybe over do it a bit on spring tension, because one thing I really don't like is a weak spring. It is very easy to activate with a thumb, although not quite as smooth in transition from open to close as others I've used, but I've not been hindered in any way. It operates nicely and as intended.
I did notice the machined edge and corners of the "J" slot where the bolt screw sticks out does have some sharpness to it. I've found it mainly on the flat surfaces between the vertical sections. I find myself uncomfortably catching my thumb on it sometimes and would prefer it be softened a bit. I don't believe I would inadvertently cut myself on it (it isn't that sharp), but it impacts comfort somewhat.
One thing that Inventory allows is some customization to the pen. The end cap unscrews easily which allows the pocket clip to be removed for either a sleeve or pants pocket carry. I'll be reviewing their Pocket Fountain Pen sometime soon and will cover some other customization options they've included in their lineup.
Speaking of the pocket clip it is wide, flat, and ties in nicely with the overall design of the pen. With some pens the clip feels like an afterthought or is somewhat intrusive on the barrel, but the way Inventery has done it makes it almost feel like an invisible feature which I think I like. It is simple, clean, and doesn't draw attention to itself. It is somewhat thin but not flimsy, although I imagine if I gave it a good tug or snagged it on something while in my pocket I could certainly get it to budge somewhat.
As mentioned above, the M size of the pen takes either a Parker style refill or the Schmidt cap-less rollerball which is a comfortable and popular choice. The stiff spring makes movement in the tip almost nonexistent while writing.
Overall, I've really been enjoying the Inventery pens, the Bolt Action being no exception. I'd love to see some potentially lighter materials offered as I think they could appeal to a broader audience, but the uniformity of using brass also makes sense.
Being a bit of a style brand impacts the price point on Inventery pens, but not in a ridiculous way in my opinion. The M sized Bolt Action Pen retails for $70 which seems reasonable for the fit and finish I've experienced as well as the overall presentation. Oddly, the Bolt Action Pen seems like one of the more complicated designs, but is the lowest priced offering of their lineup (which I'll cover in other reviews soon).
Thanks again to Inventery for sending me a sample of the Bolt Action Pen for review. More to come soon.