Note: Karas Kustoms provided me with a pre-production prototype of their newest pen, the RETRAKT (copper version), for evaluation and play. All other Karas Kustoms pens mentioned/shown in this review were purchased by myself. I’m obviously a fan, but I promise to tell it like it is. And though I received this prototype free of charge, I’m also a backer.
The pen body arrived, nicely packaged, with a number of little doo-dads. There’s a spring, a spacer (for Parker-compatible refills), a piece of tubing to create your own custom spacers, a package insert that explains everything and offers a few Karas Kustoms words of wisdom. (“Only use your RETRAKT for good, never for evil, as this may void the warranty and make you much less cool as a person.”)
Funny story…when I unpacked the pen, I slipped the spring from the packet over my Pilot G2 refill, inserted it into the pen body, reassembled the pen, and clicked the knock mechanism. Hrrrmmmm. The mechanism wouldn’t engage. What the…??? After a little futzing around, I discovered that there was ALREADY a spring for use with a G2 refill installed in the pen, so I had actually tried to engage the mechanism with TWO springs in place. Oops. Once the correct spring was used on its own, the knock worked like a charm. (When I have one of these mental lapses with my computer at work, my boss calls it a “PICNIC” issue…Problem In Chair, Not In Computer. So I guess what I had here was a PICNIP issue…Problem In Chair, Not In Pen. Which would make sense if “picnip” was a word.)
With that bit of business out of the way, let’s get to the pen itself.
The RETRAKT is a custom-machined pen body (refill not included) available in anodized aluminum, and hand-finished/raw brass and copper. I have the copper version, and it is a looker. Great finish, unique color that will develop an antiquey patina (AND it smells like pennies). It is ALSO quite heavy, weighing in at about 63 grams (2.25 ounces)…as measured on the same scale that I use to weigh spaghetti (so take those weights with a grain of salt). The copper RETRAKT certainly is a SOLID PEN. For all of its weight, I don’t find it unwieldy to write with. Granted, I haven’t written pages and pages in one sitting, but I’ve been using the RETRAKT to make notes for this review and I’m none the worse for wear. The weight seems to be distributed in such a way that the pen sits solidly in the cusp of my hand and doesn’t list forward or backward. Should you desire something less weighty, consider the aluminum version. But keep in mind that the copper looks really cool, AND exhibits anti-bacterial properties. (It’s true! Google it!) The RETRAKT looks great and it’s good for you!
As with the Render K, a bit of knurling adds interest to the look of the pen. Some girls go crazy over nail polish and purses. Not my thing. But show me some KNURLING, and you’ve won me over. Can’t explain it. Maybe genetics?! (Does “love of knurling” run in families?)
The RETRAKT sports the iconic stainless steel Karas Kustoms clip, the same one you’ll find on both the Render K and the Bolt. It’s super sturdy and attached to the knurled section of the pen via two set screws. I regularly slip one of my other Karas pens into a jeans pocket and have never had a issue with the clip not doing its job.
Let’s get to what makes the RETRAKT retract. Tricked out with a German-made, all metal knock, the retractable mechanism engages smoothly and quietly. Yes, quietly. Using a ball-bearing and groove system, rather than a cam, makes the difference. The knock itself is rock solid…no wiggling or wishy-washiness…and will surely survive my compulsive pen clicking habit. And because the pen is retractable, there’s no cap to post or set on your desk. Retrakt. Write. Retrakt.
Another feature to note is something that you DON’T see…branding. Their pens are sleek and industrial and YOURS. You’re not using and carrying a billboard for the company. Karas Kustoms design aesthetic and build quality speak for themselves, without the pens saying a single word. So clean, so cool.
I’ve been a fan of Karas Kustoms since their first Kickstarter project, the Render K. Backing their second project, The Bolt, was a no-brainer. Both experiences set the bar high for all other Kickstarter projects. With frequent updates and mesmerizing production videos, they bring their backers along for the ride, so you’re never in the dark wondering where a project stands. I was impressed then, and I remain impressed with this latest addition to the Karas Kustoms pen family.
The RETRAKT. “It’s Quality, Bro!”
Intrigued? Want to know more? Check out the RETRAKT Kickstarter page HERE. Levels start at just $30 for the EARLY BIRD aluminum offering (while they last!) all the way up to $250 for an on-site visit to the Karas Kustoms shop, complete with lunch and an aluminum RETRAKT.