Karas Customs Ink
Tony Sculimbrene 10.27.14
I know a lot of folks come here for hunting equipment and the like. There are awesome videos of hawks tormenting deer. So I get that it seems out of place to write a preview of a product as un-outdoorsy as a fountain pen. But few things are a handy to have as part of your EDC as a durable pen, and few pens are as nice to write with as a fountain pen.
I write a lot of handwritten notes every day–page after page after page. And over time my hands began to hurt, and when I tried my first fountain pen and I was shocked. It wrote so much better. This is not a case of nostalgia. This is a golden oldie of design that really just works better than modern tools. Problems with leaking and crappy innards are mostly a thing of the past, and you’d be stunned at just how durable a fountain pen can be. I have just about killed my Kaweco Sport.
But a recent release has caught a lot of people’s attention–the Karas Customs Ink.
The Ink starts around $85 and caps out at $105, a decent price for a machined pen and a fountain pen (the fact that it is both is what makes it so unique and EDC-able). Karas Customs started out as a machine shop that produced aftermarket upgrades for hot rods. In a strange twist of fate, it has become one of the premiere makers of higher end, high durability pens. Their stuff is absolutely perfect for EDC. They released the Render K, a pen that works with the highly touted Pilot Hi-Tec C refills, and it was a huge success on Kickstarter. They released a series of other pens–the Bolt (a bolt action pen) and the Retrakt (a clicky pen). And now they’ve released the Ink–a high durability, machined fountain pen.
But this ain’t no banker’s pen. First, the barrels come in a number of materials–aluminum, copper, and brass. You can have your aluminum barrel anodized a number of different colors (the black barrel and copper grip section is especially cool looking).
Then there is the clip. The clip is the downfall of a large number of pens out there. The much vaunted Retro 51 has failed me three times, each at the clip. But here, you get a positively massive, beefy clip, one held in place with screws and equipped with a pivot. There is simply no mistaking this pen for something dainty.
The fountain pen innards are nice as well. Karas went with a Schmidt K5 piston filler. Basically it is a plunger mechanism that allows you to refill the pen from an old fashioned bottle of ink. The nib is a stainless steel Schmidt nib, available in the three customary sizes–fine, medium, and broad. Additionally, the nibs are easily replaceable, allowing you to swap them out to meet your preference or a specific writing task.
All of this is great for the pen addict, but for the rest of us, for those of us that are absolutely brutal on our gear, it is the incredibly overbuilt design. This is a solid metal pen, with sturdy threads on the cap and a pocket clip that looks like it could double as a grappling hook.
Something tells me the Ink will last a very, very long time. I haven’t used the Schmidt nib, so I can’t attest to the writing performance, but on reputation alone it seems good for the money. And you are really not a fountain pen person, there is always the roller ball version (how boring).