The Bolt: A Machined Bolt Action Pen

The Bolt
The Bolt, by KarasKustoms

Last week was a good pen week, and one of the pens that made it so was The Bolt, by KarasKustoms. I backed their first pen project, the Render K, and was so pleased with that pen that it was a no-brainer to back this project.

KarasKustoms sets the bar pretty high when it comes to Kickstarter projects. They provide regular updates that often contain videos of the machining process. (I’m oddly fascinated by these glimpses of the birth of a pen.) The shop truly brings you along for the ride and provides a very transparent experience. I haven’t backed a project that’s done it any better.

Like the Render-K, the Bolt is available in both aluminum and brass. I chose aluminum, as I did for their first project, and am again pleased with my choice. The pen has heft but is not heavy. The weight is just perfect for me. The pen measures 5.5″ long and 0.45″ in diameter, and feels great in hand. I’d consider it well-balanced and comfortable.

Bolt action
Bolt action

Unlike the Render-K, this pen is retractable, and that’s where things get particularly cool. To extend the writing tip, you push down on the knock, as you would for any other retractable. But THEN, use your thumb to twist the knock to the side so that the bolt continues to travel in the machined slot, and the extended writing tip is locked into place. (At first this action took two fingers, but now that things have loosened up, I can do the whole thing with just my thumb.) I don’t know why this is fun, but it is. It is.

Sturdy, sturdy clip

The pen comes with stainless steel hardware, AND an Allen wrench so that you can tighten the clip’s screws, if need be. (Have I mentioned that these guys have an eye for detail?) The clip on my pen hasn’t budged, but it’s nice to know that I can tighten it up if I have to.

0.5 mm Moleskine gel refill
Writing sample with the 0.5 mm Moleskine gel refill

While the pen DOES comes with the Allen wrench, it DOES NOT come with a refill. Why’s that? Well…because the body is able to accept a number of refill options (generally in the Parker-style format), Karas Kustoms chooses to leave the choice of refill up to the customer, rather than providing refills that users may toss. That’s fine for me, and I was well-stocked with my Parker-style refill of choice- the Moleskine 0.5 mm gel refill. Within minutes of unpacking the pen, I popped in the refill and was off and running. (A few folks missed this detail in the project’s documentation, and were puzzled/angry. This lack of refill is the same as with the Render K, AND is clearly stated, so I wasn’t caught off guard.)

Here’s a list of some of the refills that are compatible with The Bolt:

Faber-Castell Ballpoint Pen Refill
Fisher Space Pen Refill, PR Series- Colors (Bold, Medium, Fine)
Foray (Office Depot) Ballpoint Refill for Parker (Medium)
Monteverde Ceramic Gel Refill (Broad)
Monteverde Needle Point Refill (Fine)
Monteverde Soft Roll- Colored inks (Medium)
Monteverde Soft Roll- (Superbroad, Medium, Ultrafine)
OHTO Needlepoint Ballpoint Pen Refill PS-807NP
OHTO PS-205NP Extra-Fine 0.5mm Ballpoint Pen Refill
Parafernalia Ballpoint Pen Refill NO LOGO
Parker Ballpoint Pen Refill (Broad, Medium, Fine)
Parker GEL Ballpoint Pen Refill (Medium)
Parker Quinkflow Ballpoint Pen Refill (Medium, Fine)
Pelikan Giant Ballpoint Pen Refill 337 (Broad, Fine, Medium)
Pentel KFLT8 Ballpoint Pen Refill
Schmidt 9000M EasyFlow Pen Refill
Schmidt P8900 Super Bowl Refill (Fine)
Schmidt P900 B Ballpoint Pen Refill (Broad, Medium, Fine)
Schmidt P950M Megaline Pressurized Ballpoint Pen Refill (Medium)
Schneider Express 735 Pen Refill (Broad, Medium, Fine)
Schneider Slider 755 Pen Refill (Extra-Broad, Medium)
Stabilo Ballpoint Refill
Tombow BR-ZLM Ballpoint Pen Refill
Visconti Ballpoint Pen Refill AA49 1.4 (Broad)
Visconti Gel Refill (Broad, Medium, Fine)

Quite the list, eh?!

The Bolt

I have nothing but praise for the team at KarasKustoms. The Bolt is solidly made, and sports clean lines and a cool industrial look. And that bolt mechanism? It’s irresistible.

Keep ’em coming, KarasKustoms. Keep ’em coming.


Want your own Bolt? Though the Kickstarter project has ended, the pen is now available via the KarasKustoms website. Check out all of their cool products by clicking here.

I was not compensated in any way for this review. I’m just a fan, and wanted to spread the word about this interesting pen and the quality workmanship.

21 thoughts on “The Bolt: A Machined Bolt Action Pen

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  2. Can you on comment on the width off the pen and if its comfortable to write with for long periods of time? How thick is the pen compared to other pens such as a retro51 or such?

    • I just sent you a comparison photo. That’ll give you a decent side-by-side comparison. In a nutshell, the Bolt isn’t tapered whereas the Retro 51 barrel is, so the Retro body is a bit narrower in the “grip” area.

  3. Can you tell if a Jetstream refill will fit? I don’t mind if I have shorten the refill to make it work. That’s what I do for my Retro 51’s.


    • Hmmm…would probably take some finagling with the spacer tubing, but might work. Will give it a shot at some point and let you know.

      • I liked this pen so much I purchased it and figured if I couldn’t get a Jetstream refill to fit I would use another.

        The good news is a Jestream refill will fit, but it takes some work. The collar on the refill is very slightly (fractions of a millimeter) too big for the barrel. I used sandpaper to trim it and it fit only to discover the tip didn’t protrude far enough out of the barrel. This took more work on the plastic tube that the metal tip fits in. Then all I had to do was cut the refill to the right length.

        It took some work, and it probably means I’m mental, but I’m very happy. It’s a great pen.

  4. Of the various “bolt-action” pens out there, I’ve got the Dark-metal design Protector and the TiBolt. The Protector was what I thought was the first one out there in ’10, but Brian Fellhoelter actually designed his in ’09. And I like the TiBolt – everything about it is top-notch!

    Anyway, if you want some more viewpoints about some of the various bolt-action pens, check the following: and

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  7. I’m guessing a Schmidt 8126 will not fit in this body?
    I like Rollerball type pens, may have to settle for the EasyFlow 9000.

    • I believe that is correct…just Parker-style refills. Karas Kustoms INK rollerball takes the Schmidt P8126 refill, so that’s an option for you.

  8. Hello Mary,

    Thank you very much for the informative post. I am a 20 year old college student, and I think the bolt is awesome and am really tempted to purchase one. However, I am a little hesitant to spend upwards of 50$ on a pen. Is the pen comfortable to write with over an extended period of time. Do you think It would be a good pen to carry in my pocket everyday. Also do you have any issues with the pen being too slippery when writing? Since I have read else where that the lack of knurling on the lower part of the pen body makes it hard to grip if your hands are wet/sweaty.

    • I like the Bolt and find it comfortable but it is possible for the pen to become slippery, depending on the weather and your hands. I don’t have much of an issue in this regard, but, as you note, the smooth grip section may cause grip issues for some. I have to say, though, that I love all of my Karas Kustoms pens. Right now, the EDK is probably my favorite.

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