The Karas Ink is one of those pens I kept adding to my cart, for literally years, without pressing the ‘buy’ button. I was attracted by its design (particularly the clip) and colours, but I guess I wondered whether I needed another fairly generic metal pen in my life, and I also worried about the cap threads being sharp or squeaky. I once owned a Karas Render K, and every time I took the cap off it sounded like I was torturing a mouse.
But hey, in one of Karas’s many sales, I plumped for an Ink in bright orange with a 14k gold nib in fine. The Ink takes standard Bock #6 nib units, and I figured if I didn’t like the pen at least I could salvage the nib.
I don’t normally talk about packaging, but in this case I will. I’ve reviewed the Karas Decograph in the past, which came in an amazing machined aluminium tube. I’ve also reviewed the Starliner, which came in a ratcheting plastic case like a drillbit. Low-tech and charming. The Ink comes in some folded cardboard. It was a bit disappointing.
The pen, on the other hand, is beautiful. The orange anodizing is eye-searing.
It’s an even, proper orange colour on both cap and barrel — and orange is a difficult colour to get right. The machined clip is the Ink’s flagship feature: it’s a complex 3D shape that’s held inside the end of the cap by two hex bolts.
It looks like part of a mecha. The clip itself is tumbled to within an inch of its life: there’s not a rough edge on it, and it’s extremely functional. I love it to bits (and that’s coming from a guy that never clips pens to anything).
The rest of the pen is more sophisticated than it looks. There’s a bevel at the end of the barrel, and a larger one at the end of the cap; a milled line around the cap; and a gentle taper from the cap to the end of the pen. The proportions are really spot on.
The threads don’t wow me. As soon as you loosen the cap even a fraction, there is a ton of play; the cap rattles as it unscrews. I worry about the cap coming loose in a bag. 1.5 turns gets it off. For what it’s worth, don’t bother trying to post the cap.
With the cap off, you can see the pretty significant step-down from the barrel to the threads, which are cut deep and with a triangular profile, so they’re a little sharp. You can also see a sadly unfinished inside to the cap…
The saving grace is the section, which is long and concave. I chose a tumbled raw aluminium finish which has plenty of grip, so I didn’t expect that my fingers would touch the threads.
Unfortunately, the #6 nib is significantly recessed inside the section (earlier versions of the Ink used a smaller nib; I guess that to avoid reengineering the cap design, it was easier to recess the nib when they switched to a bigger #6).
This puts my fingers closer to the page than I’d like, so I compensate by gripping partly up on the threads. The recessed nib would also trap ink if you filled the (included) converter by dipping the section.
So all that’s left to talk about is the nib. The 14k Bock impressed me. Great flow, smoothness, bounce, grind. One of my nicer nibs, and a huge relief after the problems I’ve had with Bock’s QC on steel and Ti nibs in the past. Or maybe I have Karas’s QC to thank.
I actually swapped the 14k nib over to my Conid Regular (remember the nib units are standardised) and fitted a Ti nib to the Ink — it seemed to fit better with the industrial design and the tumbled section.
In my last post I scored the Ink a respectable 7 out of 12. It scored 2/3 for practicality — I worry about the finish scratching, and the cap, but the strong clip, easy-clean converter, robust metal body and easy-swap nib make this a no-fuss pen to own. I scored it 2/3 for writing experience, based on the rather nice Bock nib and good size and balance. I’ve written some long sessions and enjoyed it a lot.
I scored a 1/3 for comfort, based on the cold metal, sharp threads and big step-down. And a strong 2/3 for visual appeal — that orange anodising and unique clip are distinctive and the overall design is cohesive.
Including the 14k nib, the Ink cost me $185 with a discount. Considering it’s a made-in-USA pen with some fairly complex machining, and a gold nib that retails separately for £135 from Beaufort Ink, I think it’s rather keenly priced. RRP starts at $100.
I’m not sure whether it’s a long-term, fall-in-love-with pen, but right now I’m glad I finally bit the bullet and ordered the Ink.