I had the pleasure of meeting Jack Roman, the owner, founder, designer, and machinist of Tuff Writer Pens at the recent San Francisco Pen Show. We talked pens and design, writing balance and tactical needs, and the differences that all of these topics make when designing a pen.
Jack has always been open to feedback on his products. From me, he wants to know how to make a great writing pen that can take a beating. From those in the tactical community, writing is sometimes secondary to the protection aspects of the pen, and he needs to know how those features work. (I witnessed this second feature in action as Jack spun the pen in his hand from writing end to business end like a magic trick while we talked. I was jealous!)
I expressed to Jack that with Tuff Writer pens it all comes down to balance when writing. These are metal pens, ranging from lightweight aluminum and titanium, to heavy copper, brass, and stainless steel. With different metals, the balance changes. From a pure writing experience, if the weight is centered too far to the end of the pen it will be uncomfortable to write with.
As we talked, it was very clear that Jack was working on the balance of his pens constantly. With the Mini-Click, it is of the utmost importance, because it is the most standard, least tactical pen of the bunch.
Jack sent me home with the Tumbled Brass model from San Francisco to play around with, and I have been enjoying it. I chose it because brass pens can be very heavy and uncomfortable to write with, but that hasn’t been the case with this pen. Yes, it has some weight to it, but it is balanced to where it doesn’t feel like it is going to flip off the back of your hand when writing.
Style wise, I’m generally anti-o-ring. I’ve always felt they were one additional failure point/annoyance that I may have to deal with. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the way Jack manufactures these pens. His main customers need the added grip for how and where they use the pen. Me, I’m sitting at my desk half the time, of in a coffee shop. But these o-rings are integrated into the barrel and are stronger than any I’ve used. They are no different in feel to me than if a manufacturer cut grooves into the barrel in the grip section. I don’t see how I could pop one of these out if I tried.
The pen is of course built around the Fisher Space Pen refill, but with the provided Parker refill spacer added. That means any Parker refill will be able to be added right in. I haven’t swapped it yet, but I’ll do what I always do - change it to the fine Fisher Space Pen refill in blue. It’s my favorite for this type of pen.
Jack recently began manufacturing his own retractable mechanisms for his pens, and it works well. His last Kickstarter campaign lists the details and specs so you can see the work that went into designing and creating it. The stamped clip is crazy strong, too. It takes some work to slide it on and off, but for this style of pen that is appreciated.
Overall, I’m a fan of what Jack has done with Tuff Writer Pens. He is always tweaking his designs to make them better for his customers and their varying uses. I also like how he is adding a range of colors, and even flame torching some of the pen models. While I don’t have the need for the larger, more tactical models, I like what he has done with the Mini-Click and I’ll certainly be paying attention to his work in the future.
(I traded some Nock Co. pen cases for this pen at the San Francisco Pen show.)
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