Massdrop is one of my favorite sites, no doubt about it. The idea that enthusiasts can get together, pool their buying power and get awesome stuff cheap is brilliant. The fact that the merchandise is chosen by the community is even better. The Native 5 in FRN is one of my very favorite knives and getting it at $63 shipped is a steal. So when they asked me to take a look at the Karas Kustoms EDK, I was more than happy to oblige.
Birthed from a machine shop that made hot rod parts Karas Kustoms pens have been the darling of the Kickstarter pen community for a long time. Their first pen, the Render K, runs the very popular Hi-Tec-C refill. Their other pens have continued to hit the same spot over and over again--high quality, tight tolerances, and excellent design. The EDK came out of some part swapping on the part of Karas's pen guru Dan Bishop. Switching parts from their first clicky pen, the Retrakt, and another pen he found the swapped parts made for a smaller and more EDC friendly pen. After a few years he tooled up, did some final design work, and produced the smaller clicky pen on a large scale.
The result is one of the better machined pens out there. It lacks the BS of some of the pens knife guys are making and uses a very good refill (lest we forget about Pens v. "Pens"). The drop is still going on, so if you can take a look. If the Tactile Turn Shaker is too "corporate" and you'd prefer something a bit more "engineer-y" this is your pen.
Here is the product page. The Karas Customs EDK costs $55. Here is a written review. Because the time is short on the drop and I am drop dead tired from a sleepless infant I am going to do more of a Quick Hit style review, but with lots of pictures (if you like this format better, comment below, its WAY easier).
Here is my review sample:
Twitter Review Summary: The drafting pencil version of the EDC pen
This is a pen that is well-suited for your EDC. Its light (in the aluminum version) and smaller than a giant pen (have you seen some of those Viscontis?). Its clicky mechanism is the standard one used on all of these types of pens and it is very good. I would note that mine came unscrewed a couple of times and once killed a dress shirt (I thought it was retracted but it wasn't). That is not a big deal, but it does go with the "pocket hook" of the Ink and indicate that Karas's fit and finish isn't quite up to par with Tactile Turn. That's not to say its not good, its just not amazing. Not everyone can be Willie Mays.
I like the feel of the pen in the hand. Its balanced and sits well. I
also like the matte finish under the anodizing as it gives it a bit of
Unlike the Ink, I found the EDK to be very nimble in the hand, both because of the better shape and also because of the smaller form factor. The writing performance is excellent for a non-fountain pen thanks to a superb, favorite in class Schmidt refill.
The grip isn't overdone like it is on some pens (cough::Hinderer::cough). Its just enough.
The knock is, of course, stunningly smooth. I have used it a half dozen times before and I have zero complaints.
Overall Score: 19 out of 20 (1 off for Fit and Finish)
Dan consistently hits things out of the park and the EDK is the best Karas pen I have used to date. I am not sure if it better than the Shaker, but not being able to pick a clear winner between those two means that the EDK is a freaking great pen. If you prefer the more technical drafting pencil look then opt for the EDK. If you want brushed upscale, go Shaker. Either way, you won't be disappointed.