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EDCPen Review

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by Ironside, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. Ironside

    Ironside Loaded Pockets

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    The EDCPen began as a Kickstarter project by maker "Kris" who ran a thorough and fun campaign and raised $15,442 through 259 supporters to buy bar stock and CNC machine time. Once he began to use the Kickstarter funds Kris emailed feedback about the process of production, including pictures, and this was an unexpected surprise to me as it was the first time I supported a campaign, but its typical Kickstarter protocol.
    The aluminum pen now costs $40, brass and steel $50, Titanium $70 ($USD).
    It comes packaged in a very EDC-reusable thick clear plastic tube with screw cap (cap is sealed and you have to break the seal when you open it the first time) plus a paracord lanyard.

    The pen is 4.5 inches x 0.5 inches and mine is made of aluminum but it also comes in heavier brass, steel and Ti. I got aluminum because it is lightest at 31 gm. Brass weighs 90gm. Steel weighs 86gm. Ti is 48gm. 90gm or so is regarded as a quite heavy pen. 30 gm is an upper limit for many. A Fisher bullet pen weighs 19 gm.

    The EDCPen takes Fisher Spacepen, pressurized write on almost anything pen cartridges available in medium and fine point nibs in blue or black. The cap is not postable.

    I like the design. It is absolutely minimal. I cannot see what can be removed without sacrificing function.

    It is a tube of machined aluminum with very little milled off by the CNC machine: a hole for the pen cartridge, a screw in the end to hold the cartridge in, fluting for friction while turning, three radial grooves for grip near the nib, an o-ring of Mil Spec VitonĀ® Fluoroelastomerfor holding the cap in place with tension. If you look carefully in the attached picture you can see mill marks. Its finished by tumbling. Its as if the designer thought "metal bar stock...hmmm...what's the minimum amount of CNC programming operations necessary to get a pen out at the end?" And that's a good thing.

    As a result of the minimizing the design to what is only necessary the design resembles the Klarus mi6 flashlight and is very very similar to another Kickstarter EDC related project, the titanium Sentinel pod. This resembance caused a very minor controversy which Kris addressed directly. He said he had not copied the design but arrived at it independently. I believe him because its has happened to me while designing something. In Kris's own words on his Kickstarter page, "My cap design was inspired by the Kleen Kanteen "loop cap" and then I modified the hole to be wider than round so as to not have so much wasted open space so when clipped onto something the cap would be stronger. I tested that design and found it to slip in my fingers and not get a good grip when unscrewing. I then added the four flutes up top for grippage and mirrored that on the bottom of the EDCpen body to be uniform with the cap"

    If you compare the EDC pen and the Sentinel cache you will see how their forms are similar, identical really, but that I believe is a function of the designer trying to achieve certain outcomes through very simple machining, while maintaining a minimal industrial look. There are only so many ways to remove material with a CNC machine to turn barstock into an object with a cap that twists off with some finger grip, but no knurling, and with an opening on the cap as an attachment point.

    Using the scoring system from the blog "Everyday Commentary" here's my evaluation out 10 criteria, in a total score of 20

    Twitter review: An appropriately named compact, indestructible pen with an industrial look and feel

    Design: 1
    The purpose of the design is to be EDCable, minimal and compact. I am giving it a 1 as the pen meets these criteria and while interesting in an industrial design sense its has no wow factor. However when I opened the package I liked the look in real life much better than its photos - not the case for many products.

    Compare it with a pen like the Parker Vanishing Point and you'll get my drift.

    Fit and Finish: 2
    My sample, of aluminum, has a satin finish from tumbling in a tub of mildly abrading material. The threads are relatively smooth but the machining of the attachment ring was slightly off, not centred, the product of a lack of quality control after imprecise machining. However I like this flaw because it shows this is small batched produced and it doesn't affect performance or durability. I thought about giving it a 1 for this very minor flaw but its part of its charm and maybe it was one of the first off the CNC machine. The second batch of pancakes is always better than the first eh?
    My piece screws smoothly and feels nice.

    Carry: 1
    I attach my pen to my keychain with a Mcgizmo or python clip or a small biner and it carries fine. You unobtrusively could clip it to any number of things but theres a reason most pens come with a pocket style clip. When capped this pen is small enough to be pocket carried in a pants pocket ( the heavier versions would be more noticeable too) but it would rattle around other stuff. Its designed to be tied or clipped to something. Plus the aluminum version of the pen is heavy already so I wouldn't consider the brass or steel versions at near 100 gm as true EDC pens.
    The carry might be improved by going on a CNC diet with some clever machining of the interior to shed weight but this could be expensive and difficult.
    Part of the objective was to be durable however and that's a tradeoff against weight. So its plus 2 for the neat design of the clip opening and small enough size, but minus 1 for weight. Its a carry pen... its called "EDCPen"...it should be as light as possible.

    Appearance: 2
    This is something that impressed me when I first opened the package. my impressions were: its small, it looks "industrial" and not perfect. Despite its small size the pen invites comments "what is that?"
    As I said above it looks like some other designs and that's enough for me to want to even match it up with them just on the basis of appearance.

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    Durability: 2
    This thing is a tank. Your direct ancestors will play with it and if it doesn't get lost theirs will too.
    The only thing that might fail is the threads as they are not Acme style flat trapezoid threads but triangular. They are still pretty solid. They could wear down eventually or be mangled but not for years. Also the small brass screw bit that retains the cartridge could come undone and get lost but that's unlikely. Don't let your kids play with it though case they will lose this bit.
    Don't worry about breaking this pen.

    Writing Performance/Refill: 2
    Kris decided to go with the Fisher pressurized "write on anything (eg. leaves) even if its wet" space pen cartridge. Good choice for an EDC pen. Just the typical complaints about this refill, blobbing sometimes, but that's the price to pay for its versatility.
    Writing with it is another matter. Because you can't post the cap its small in the hand plus the sharp cap threads can, but don't necessarily, dig into your hand.... depends on how you write. I would not want to write an essay or lecture notes with the pen (unfortunately who does anymore?) but for jotting notes and signing things, what its designed to do, its fine.

    Balance/In Hand Feel: 1
    The aluminum is heavy enough already! I can't imagine how a pen triple this weight, such as the steel version, fees in the hand but it actually might be an advantage in writing. Without a posted cap it is lighter but only the aluminum one. I imagine the brass and steel must be 50-60 gm without cap which is heavy for such a small pen. The pen is so small the added heft might also help as this pen is not balanced like some others. It's meant for jotting things down not writing the Magna Carta so the lack of "balance" is not a real minus but it gets a single point for having a fun fiddle factor if your into that kind of thing.

    Grip: 2
    Minimalist fluting instead of knurling, plus three machined rings around nib end for friction in a classic form = plus 2. Threads sometimes digging into hand = minus one. Just big enough to hold = plus one (this pen fits my hand so I would qualify this by saying if you hand is big the pen will feel cramped) Overall 2

    Barrel: 2
    It's a thin tube of machined then tumble finished aluminum. The tube is a bit narrow at 0.5 inches and this affects grip but was designed to keep the pen size (but not weight) small. Maybe the barrel can have thinner walls and retaining rings for the cartridge. As is its just a hole bored in the bar stock. Nothing fancy but there are a few finishing details that round out edges and that's a nice touch.

    Deployment Method/Cap: 1
    The cap is not postable. You unclip it, unscrew it then find a place to put the cap, or keep it clipped and unscrew from there. The multiple steps and relative awkwardness of deployment just goes with the territory of this design. The unclip from pocket, click-switch deployment method of most pens today was invented to save time and to protect the nib. On the EDCPen keeping the cap clipped could be seen as a plus as you won't lose it, as is the relatively few turns it takes to get the pen off the cap, but I am giving it a 1 because the pen without a cap will roll when put down (unless its got a clip as shown in the photos) and because you need to make a decision about the cap. I don't necessarily want to make a decision when I am using a pen on the go, I just want to deploy, write, retain, go. Note : there is an Oring to provide back pressure and friction when the cap is screwed on to keep it from loosening

    Overall Score: 16 out of 20
    This is a good pen and I would it replace if lost.

    If you want a unique EDC pen bigger than a Valiant Concepts Pico pen or a True Utilty Telepen, sturdier than the Inka pen with clip and different from the slightly smaller ubiquitous Fisher Bullet then this is it. The only major drawbacks are relatively high price (don't want to lose this like the Inka and Telepen I've lost in the past six months!) and the weight of non-aluminum choices. However you are supporting a new maker, you are paying for something made in small batches that is very durable, its interesting and unique and these things are worth something. There is nothing fancy about this pen but it stands out from my other pens because it looks like a piece of highly specialized EDC gear, appropriately named

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    Last edited by Ironside, Apr 12, 2014
    Eciton, Nighted, Antithetik and 2 others like this.