Karas Kustoms RETRAKT Pen–Long Term Review

Discount codes can be dangerous things.

I passed on the original Kickstarter for the Karas Kustoms RETRAKT pen. I didn’t like the monotone design with the only options being solid aluminum, copper or brass (unless you bought two and mixed and matched).

Eventually, though, Karas Kustoms began offering the design with different colored barrels which piqued my interest. When a generous holiday code came available, resistance was finally futile. I quickly moved it into my work carry and for over a year now it has marked positive and negative points, and yellow cards and red cards (more on that in a future post) for my students.

I chose the grey barrel which, until the recent turquoise version, was often lauded as the version of the pen people had to get. I have to concur, though, with the complaint that the grey is not photogenic which often makes people frown at a picture and go “well, I’m sure she has a great personality”. However, in person, the grey is a terrific color that looks sharp without being too flashy.

The Karas Kustoms RETRAKT pen.

The Karas Kustoms RETRAKT pen. This is about as good a shot of the grey as I could get.

The two tone look reminds me of the Parker Jotter ballpoint pens members of my family used to use–and for all I know may still use–but the RETRAKT is fatter which makes it more comfortable for me to use long term.

I bought the version that takes Pilot G2 gel refills (along with many others). It is 5.625 inches long and weighs around one ounce. It uses the common Schmidt push button mechanism which has held up well in over a year of regular use.

The only real complaint I had was a minor one: the refill tip didn’t stick out far enough. It didn’t effect writing much, except that from my usual writing angle, I couldn’t see the tip of the refill.

This works perfectly well, but it doesn't look right and that bothers me.

How it looks out of the box. This works perfectly well, but it doesn’t look right and that bothers me.

Luckily, Karas Kustoms includes a length of thin plastic tubing owners can cut to help make refills fit properly. After some trial and error, and no small amount of swearing and cursing the names “Karas” and “Kustoms” I managed to get it looking the way it should.

This is how it's supposed to look.

This is how it’s supposed to look. Also, note the machining marks in the grey. 

The problem is, now I’m afraid to open the pen for fear I can’t get everything back together properly.

The anodizing has held up well, but since it mostly stays in a case, it hasn’t received a fully brutal treatment. Also, because I’m used to the “turns” on my Tactile Turn pens, the RETRAKT sometimes feels slippery.

That said, it’s a pen I’d recommend for non-pen people. It feels like a work pen and not like a show pen. It may be pricey compared to it’s Parker counterparts, but it’s easy to use with cold hands and with gloves.

Also, for pen people, it’s a good pen to have on hand for those inevitable moments when someone asks to borrow a pen.



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  1. Pingback: Pen and Stationery Confessions | Mere Blather

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