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Everyday Considerations: Pens

August 1, 2015 | By | Add a Comment

Pens on Doane Paper legal padThe third time is the charm!  We’re back for the third installment in the new TitleBeard series, Everyday Considerations.  Today, we’re going to have a look at a few of the pens that are available for you to include as part of your everyday carry (EDC).  If you missed the first two installments, never fear, the links for both are at the bottom of this post.

First, let’s get some of the standard language out of the way – each article in the series will focus on a different category of items that people can carry as part of their EDC.  These are not product reviews per se (those will come separately), nor are they meant to be competitive between the companies to say one is better than another.  I simply want to inform you of some of the options available so that you could make your own decision. The articles in the series will take a look at these products and some of their interesting features, and are meant to be read in conjunction with the subsequent product reviews.  They will not cover every option available; rather, these are the companies that offered to be part of the series.

If you make an EDC item that you would like to see featured in an upcoming article, simply email

For this entry in the series, we will take a look at an assortment of pens from High Caliber Craftsman, Karas Kustoms, and Schon Design.  Even before I had heard the term everyday carry, or EDC, I carried a pen with me at all times.  From as far back as middle school, I remember the Principal once telling me that a gentleman always carried a pen with him.  I distinctly remember that this particular gentleman carried with him a Mont Blanc fountain pen that probably cost more than my first car.

However, the idea of consistently carrying a pen with me didn’t stick with me until my second year of college when I started working as a runner for a local law firm.  For those of you not familiar with that particular job, it is (mostly) what is sounds like.  I would “run” documents to and from various clerks’ offices, take things to clients, do some filing and so on.  One day, the head partner in the office came down and I asked him to sign a document so I could file it in the circuit clerk’s office and he asked for a pen.  I replied that I didn’t have one and went to get one.  When I came back he said – seriously, but not in a mean way – “Don’t ever let me catch you without a pen again.  You never know when you might need to sign something or write something down and too few people carry pens.”  From that day on, it stuck with me and I’ve carried a pen ever since.

I always enjoyed the Pilot G-2 (in blue), but once I started getting deeper into the EDC world, I realized there were some great pens out there that would last longer than my trusty Pilot  so I started searching.  When I started this series, I knew that pens would have to be part of it because what that attorney told me was true – you never know when you might need to sign something or write something down, and despite our reliance on any number of digital devices, nothing can beat a pen and paper.  Even when I started conceptualizing TitleBeard, I didn’t type my notes on what I wanted the site to be like, I wrote them down with a Pilot G-2 on one of my many yellow legal pads.

But enough of my personal history – if you’re still reading this, you’re ready to see some pens (click on any of the photos to see the full size versions).

High Caliber Craftsman

High Caliber Craftsman pen unboxedWebsite:

Instagram: @HighCaliberCraftsman


High Caliber Craftsman produces a number of different products from military fired .308 rounds.  The pens are available in a number of different colors (thanks to cerakoting) and prices on the pens range from $30.00-$60.00 (with free shipping).  I received the pen you see pictured here, the 308 Brass Pen with Copper Hardware, which sells for $35.00.  The High Caliber site notes that the “bullet casings may have dings and scrapes left over from when they were fired.”  True to the description, my pen did have some slightly noticeable markings.  I like that; it reminds you that the product you’re using has a history, and the fact that the brass will develop a natural patina as you carry the pen allows you to add to that history.

High Caliber Craftsman everyday carry (EDC)

The pen arrived via USPS first class mail; the pen was in the small black felt sleeve pictured here and then packaged inside the small box also pictured above.  It was also accompanied by a pair of business cards – the silver one pictured here is metal, which was neat – and a letter from owner Austin Saunders that was sealed with a wax stamp; always a nice touch.    The pen experienced no issues in transit and arrived to me in great condition. The High Caliber Craftsman pens use a Cross style ballpoint refill.  The pen has a solid weight to it so that you’ll feel it when you carry it in your pocket, but it was not so heavy as to make me feel like my pocket was being excessively weighed down.

High Caliber Craftsman pen on Rhodia dot grid notepad

I was very pleased with how the pen wrote and functioned as part of my everyday carry.  The pen has a twist-body mechanism, so you twist one half of the pen while holding the other to engage it.  The clip has a nice tension to it so I was never concerned with it falling out of my pocket.  Just so you’re aware, when I carry a pen, 99% of the time it is in the front pocket of my pants.  I will sometimes carry it in a shirt pocket (if the shirt I’m wearing has a front pocket), but the vast majority of the time it is in my pants pocket.  I typically favor gel pens over ballpoint pens, but I liked this ballpoint pen – it wrote well with minimal pressure and for someone who writes as much as I do, this is an important feature.  This is a great-looking and functional pen, and makes a great conversation piece.  “Hey, what’s that pen made of?”  “Oh, just two military fired .308 rounds, no big deal.”  I really enjoyed carrying this pen and got a number of compliments on it.  To purchase, visit the High Caliber Craftsman website listed above, and be sure to check out the High Caliber Instagram page for some excellent EDC photos featuring their products.

Karas Kustoms

Karas Kustoms Bolt, Render K, RetraktWebsite:

Instagram: @KarasKustoms and @KarasPenCo

Twitter: @KarasKustoms


When I started getting into the EDC world, a name I kept seeing pop up was Karas Kustoms.  Any time I mentioned getting a nicer pen, a number of people would comment, “Check out Karas Kustoms”.  I did, and was immediately impressed – In addition to the other products they make like keychains, tops, and pen holders, they offer a wide selection of pens made from a number of different materials, and much to my delight, they produced pens that used, among others, the Pilot G-2 refill.  Prices range from $45.00 – $105.00 (plus shipping) depending on the type of pen and material you select.  The pens arrived to me via UPS Ground and did not experience any issues in transit.  They were packaged in individual boxes inside the larger box, and the pens were wrapped in plastic inside of the smaller boxes.


The Bolt – Pilot G2  

The Bolt – Pilot G2 is a machined, bolt-action pen body.  The version I received carries the Pilot G2 refill, but a separate version is also available that utilizes any Parker ballpoint compatible refill (including the Fisher Space Pen refill).  This was the longest of the three pens (6.125″ in length) and heaviest of the three (1.2 oz).  It does have a solid weight and was noticeable but never uncomfortable when I carried it in my pocket.  It is machined from 6061-T6 aluminum, so the pen body will develop a patina through carrying, but again, I like this feature as it shows use.  All Karas pens are made to be used, and carried, on a daily basis.  The bolt action is not your typical “clicky top” pen, but after minimal use, it’s easy to engage and disengage the pen with one hand.  While some may find this featured to be initially awkward, it also serves as a safety of sorts as the pen is less likely to engage while being carried in your pocket due to the click & twist motion required to engage the pen.  I can say that despite all the pens I’ve carried, I’ve never utilized a pocket protector, so it’s handy not having to worry about the pen becoming engaged and staining your pocket.  While this pen can be used by anyone it’s a great pen for those with larger hands or those who really want to feel the heft of a solid pen while writing.  $55.00

Karas Kustoms Bolt Pilot G2 on Word Notebook

Render K – Raw Bar Stock

The Render K – Raw Bar Stock is a twist top pen body that carries either a Parker ballpoint compatible refill or the Pilot G2 refill.  The version I received was the Parker compatible version and carried a Pilot Hi-Tec C refill.  The Render K measures in at 5.125 inches and weighs 1.1 oz.  The “Raw Bar Stock” refers to the fact that this pen was minimally machined – only the ends and area forward of the pen body are machined – as noted on the Karas website, “The raw bar stock will have imperfections, scuffs and dings. There are going to be imperfections on the barrel and cap from the machining process where the material was held in the lathe. This makes every one a little different. If this bothers you, please don’t purchase this pen and expect it to be perfect.”  But like I’ve already mentioned twice in this piece, I like that.  It allows the user to develop a wear pattern unique to him or her, and despite any perceived “imperfections”, this is simply a great looking, well-made pen.  The twist top opens and closes with two turns, and the tension on the clip is tight enough to not have to worry about the pen ever falling out of your pocket.  Having carried three different Karas pens now, I have to say that my personal pick to purchase would be the Render K – Raw Bar Stock in the Pilot G2 option.  I really enjoyed carrying and using the standard version, so I know I would enjoy the Pilot G2 version even more.  $45.00

Karas Kustoms Render K Raw Bar Stock on Doane Paper legal pad

Retrakt – Aluminum

The Retrakt is a click top pen that carries either a Parker ballpoint compatible refill or the Pilot G2 refill.  The advantage to using the Retrakt as opposed to one of the other aforementioned pens is that either refill can be used on the same pen; you don’t have to purchase a separate version to use your refill of choice.  This is accomplished by a small spacer that is inserted into the pen body with the Parker compatible refill – simply take this spacer out when inserting the G2 refill and spring and you’re good to go with the Pilot refill.  The Retrakt measures in at 5.625 inches and weighs in at 1 oz.  Users may also like the Retrakt because of the multiple color combinations that are available without having to worry about a higher price because of a different material used. I used my version with a Parker compatible ballpoint refill and thought it wrote very well.  I did try it with the Pilot G2 refill (of course), and it functioned great with that as well.  The clip has plenty of tension to prevent the pen from falling out of your pocket, and the tension on the click top is calibrated excellently – I never had an issue with the pen engaging while it was clipped in my pocket.  $45.00

Karas Kustoms Retrakt Aluminum on Hitlist notebook photo by TitleBeard


To purchase, visit the website mentioned above, and be sure to follow both Karas Intagram accounts.  On the first, you’ll see a a ton of great product and EDC photos among others, and the second, @KarasPenCo, highlights some of their small batch and one-off releases, and is a must follow for pen fanatics and those looking to get some hard to find releases of Karas’s quality work.   Karas has a wide selection of pens to fit most budgets and most users – if you can’t find something you like, you’re not looking hard enough.

Schon Dsgn

Schon Dsgn pen photo by TitleBeardWebsite:

Instagram: @Schon_Dsgn

When I started thinking about what pens I would like to include in this post, I took some time to consult Mike Dudek (ClickyPost / Dudek Modern Goods) to get some input on what pens to include.  I listed the ones I had already contacted and when he wrote back he said I had to be sure to include a Schon pen as part of the article.  I vaguely recalled another friend of mine mentioning Schon a few months back, so with Dudek’s recommendation, I headed over to Schon’s website and the first thing I looked at was Ian Schon’s video, The Pen Project.  If you’re not familiar with Schon Dsgn, take a few minutes and watch that video – It’s one of the coolest promotional and informational videos I’ve ever seen.  You learn about how the idea was born and get to see parts of the manufacturing, among other things.  Schon offers pens of varying materials that range in price from $58.00 – $180.00 (plus shipping).  What originally started with one pen as a Kickstarter project in 2012 has blossomed into five different pens – different materials, but the same design.

Schon Dsgn EDC

The pen I received is the one that started it all – the Schon Dsgn #01A – Classic Aluminum Pen, machined from 6061-T6 aluminum ($58.00 plus shipping).  It is a twist top pen that takes approximately 1.5 turns to remove or attach the cap.  The unique design of the pen gives it the smallest profile of any of the pens featured here, but this is also the only pen without a clip.  I did not find this to be a problem, and the pen sat nicely in my pocket , never falling out in any of the times I carried it.  Thanks to a multi-step finishing process, the pens do have a very smooth, or even slick-looking, finish but I never had an issue maintaining my grip on the pen, even with extended use.  Due to the nature of the finish, the Schon pen will also develop a patina that is unique to how the user carries it – again, a feature that I’m a big fan of, and something that was a conscious choice in the design as Schon developed his pen.  The pen carries the Fisher Space Pen refill (in case you didn’t know, that means yes, you can literally use it in space) and writes great.

Schon Dsgn Aluminum pen on Rhodia dot grid pad photo by TitleBeard

Schon’s engineering background certainly comes through in his pens, and he’s created a minimalist masterpiece.  These pens would be great for anyone to use, but especially those looking for a pen with a smaller profile than most of what’s on the market, that would easily fit into any pocket, purse, fanny pack or other item used to carry your EDC collection.  The pen arrived via USPS, with no issues in transit, in a padded envelope and the pen was then packaged in the cardboard tube shown above – an excellent, original presentation.  To purchase, visit the Schon Dsgn website listed above, and follow Schon Dsgn on Instagram as well, to see photos of customer use as well as shots from the manufacturing and assembly process.  You can also catch up with some of Ian’s other work on his other Instagram page, @The_Schon.


There you have it, folks!  If you don’t yet have a good pen in your EDC, I would highly recommend all of these.  All of these manufacturers take great pride in their product, and in manufacturing locally in the United States.  Be sure to check back next month when Everyday Considerations will take a look at a number of pocket notebooks.  If you missed either of the first two entries, simply click on either of the links below.

Everyday Considerations

Everyday Considerations: Wallets

Everyday Considerations: Hanks

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Category: EDC, Everyday Considerations, Featured

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