I had a short phase of liking brass and copper pens. Then I decided that the metallic smell was too annoying and stopped using them. So why is there a bronze pen here on my desk?
You could call it impatience, or curiosity. Let me explain.
Over a year ago I got myself a Karas Ink, attracted by the overall design of the pen, particularly its angular bolted-in mecha-style clip.
But I found the cap threads sharp, the cap liable to unscrew on its own, and the recessed nib just looked odd. I sold it.
Now, Karas has promised to have fixed all three of these issues in a new version of the Ink. But it’s not generally available yet — the only one you can buy is this one, a special edition Pony Express release in fancy bronze, that comes with a Pony Express map and stamps.
I have zero interest in the Pony Express, but I do have interest in design improvements. So here it is, at absurd cost (thanks to shipping and customs).
First impressions: this is a chonky pen. All-in and ready to write, it weighs 99g — by far the heaviest pen in my collection. And even with the cap off it’s still well over 60g. You definitely, definitely notice it in the hand, even though the Ink is not a huge pen.
Capped, the proportions are very nice, unchanged (to my eyes) from the Ink v1. The cap sits flush with the barrel; the barrel and cap have bevelled edges and the barrel is gently tapered.
The gorgeous machined and tumbled titanium clip is unchanged in shape, and it’s still one of the most distinctive and functional clips around.
It even has jimping cut into the underside.
Uncapped, the first of the changes from the v1 Ink are visible.
The sharp triangular-profile threads from the v1 Ink…
are now smooth block threads. They are not sharp at all, and the cap opens and closes smoothly in 1.5 turns. Success.
Inside the cap is an almost-hidden o-ring, which grabs on to the pen in the last fraction of a turn, ensuring not only a good seal against drying out, but a completely secure closure. Success.
The new nib and section are the third change. The nib is still a Bock 250 unit, but it’s no longer recessed, like on the v1 Ink.
At the time of ordering only steel nibs were available, Karas-branded, and I was very pleased to see a writing sample test card came in the pack along with cartridges and converter.
But I didn’t even try the steel nib; I wanted to swap it out for a Ti nib that would match the clip material (so no nib review this time, folks). The nib unit was a very tight fit in the section (which explains why the steel nib and feed were out of alignment, perhaps?).
Also the section-to-barrel join was wrenched super tight…
… but the swap was painless, and it’s nice to have a Ti nib in my collection again.
In the hand the section has a new shape. It’s a good length, and that combined with the smooth threads means the big step down from the barrel doesn’t hurt comfort.
But it’s one of the narrowest sections I’ve used on a full-size pen. Its waist is narrower than the nib!
Compared to the rather broad and incredibly heavy barrel, the section feels positively spindly. Rather than pinching the section I found it most comfortable to lay the heavy barrel down on the webbing of my hand while cradling the section between my fingers.
The bronze itself is a pleasant golden colour, and Karas provides a Sunshine polishing cloth to keep it looking nice. Mine already had some patina (that’s tarnish to normal people) when it arrived, and that helped show up the light machining marks all over the surface. This is not a mirror-polished finish.
The v2 Ink is undeniably a much better pen than the original. The new threads and o-ringed cap work flawlessly, giving a smooth and secure capping experience with no rattling and no sharp edges. The new section and nib profile look better and are more comfortable than the original. That’s progress in action, folks.