Sunday, November 1, 2015

Karas Kustoms EDK

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  I would note that mine came unscrewed a couple of times and once killed a dress shirt (I thought it was retracted but it wasn't).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 texture.  


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.  


  1. and Re: Massdrop -

    Seeing Elmax Pingo sprint run and then seeing "not shipping outside US" literally made a sqeak of protest come out.

    1. Customs problems have caused this. They just can't afford to deal with the customs issues shipping outside the US. Sucks, but not their fault, IMO. The main issue I have with their knife drops is the pricing. Some companies don't do much discounting(see MAP pricing) and so you don't get much of a deal, if any. Or it's Spyderco et al who mark up the MSRP so their dealers are giving you a "deal"... but Massdrop is getting the same "deal" from the factory, so often the Spydies aren't any better than at BHQ or KSF or what have you, and they ship to your house in a couple days instead of the weeks-long wait for a drop to finalize and ship.
      Now, don't get me wrong: There are still great deals on MD, and I've bought there. You just have to know how it works.

    2. hahaha! I hadn't noticed that.

      Massdrop can be an odd beast. For example, there seems to be magnitudes more Spyderco drops than any other manufacturer. Is this related to what Derrick from KSF said about Amazon squeezing for small margins?

    3. I've been a very long time gel pen and new fountain pen user. I'm pretty confident the only ball point in my home is a Fisher Bullet Space pen (which I think sucks.) Do you think I'd be happy with the Schmidt 5000 refill?

      I like the idea of an "initial overview" type articles if it means we hear your opinion about a great number of products. The backbone of this site are the in depth, long term, systematic, detailed product reviews and I don't want that to change.

    4. +1 to more articles, +1 to not losing the in-depth reviews. The in-depth articles could be saved for gear that's particularly good or bad and needs more analysis and explanation, and also gear of any kind that's noteworthy in some way, particularly if it's a piece of gear you'd be self-purchasing and/or highly recommending, I'd still personally prefer in-depth articles on knives and bags, as I think those really need more analysis and a deeper review. But I don't know that a point-by-point analysis is necessary for many pieces of gear. I'm fine getting a good overview of a piece of gear with a score and a summary of the points, like this article. I don't think I need more than what you gave us to know about this pen. But if it were a knife or a bag, I'd want more.

    5. One more thing Tony, to clarify: You don't owe us any more than you want to give us. This site's content is free, and we aren't customers. And even if I were to contribute to the site as it is now(i.e. free content), I wouldn't be a customer, but a donor, and you still wouldn't owe me anything except thanks, and maybe the general promise not to shutter the site anytime soon.
      Any feedback about "should" or "should not" or "what you should do" or whatever that any of us leaves should be taken always with the caveat that it's your site and you can do with it what you will. If you changed your format so that you never did another point-by-point in-depth article, I'd still come here and read what you did put out. While I may prefer more analysis on some things, I'd have no grounds to expect such a thing just because I'm a reader.
      Obviously if you charged for any content, or if there were any content or perks for donation, then those that paid could have legitimate expectations. But until money(or some other expression of value... I assume you'd take gear gifts instead of cash =P ) changes hands, we owe you more than you owe us.

  2. I don't like the screws attaching the clip nor the knurling behind the screws. The knurling doesn't seem functional and I can't think of why one would want a clip to be attached by screws. Both make the pen look too industrial imo.

    The TT Mover and Shaker look much more elegant imo. Perfect designs, though a bit too chubby imo.