Posts filed under Tuff-Writer

Tuff Writer Mini-Click Tumbled Brass Pen Review

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

Top to bottom: Tuff Writer, Ajoto, County Comm

Top to bottom: Tuff Writer, Ajoto, County Comm

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.

You can purchase Tuff Writer Pens directly from their site, and several models are available at Vanness Pens.

(I traded some Nock Co. pen cases for this pen at the San Francisco Pen show.)


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Posted on September 18, 2017 and filed under Tuff-Writer, Pen Reviews.

Tuff Writer Mini-Click Gen2 Pen Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

The Tuff Writer Mini-Click Gen2 is a second iteration on the Mini-Click that offers a larger selection of materials from the standard aluminum offerings that were available in the first iteration. The Kickstarter funded back in February, and the rewards are already being shipped to backers. I would imagine that these new materials will be available on the Tuff Writer store in the near future as well.

Among the new materials that were offered, backers had a choice of titanium, copper, and brass for the Gen2 version. Aside from the material options, there were also options for each one that ranged from polished, brushed, tumbled, flamed, and aged. Really, there were quite a few aesthetic decisions to make if you backed this pen!

The version I have today is the Aged Brass Mini-Click. This version went for $96 on Kickstarter, but I would expect a higher price once they're available in retail settings. The Aged Brass looks fantastic. The method they used to age the brass gave it a dark, gunmetal look that pairs beautifully with the black tumbled clip and polished click mechanism.

First off, though, let's talk about packaging. These pens shipped in Tuff Writer-branded airtight cigar tubes. Nice touch. You can even repurpose the cigar tube as a way to protect fountain pens from air pressure changes experienced on airplanes. The more you know!

Upon opening the package, I was met with a pretty strong smell that reminded me of gun polish. Not my favorite smell, but it dissipated with time. I can only detect it when I hold the pen directly under my nose now. There's a faint smell on my fingers after using the pen, but not nearly as noticeable as using other brass or copper pens. Something about the finish on this Mini-Click reduces and masks that oxidation odor.

First thing I noticed about this pen? The weight. Oh boy, this is a hefty pen. Weighing in at a whopping 66 grams, this is something you notice in your pocket. If casually dropped onto a conference room table after you close your notebook, the noise will attract the attention of everyone in the room. It's not a toy!

The weight makes it feel sturdy and reliable, but it's a downside in my book due to the fatigue it causes after a couple of paragraphs of writing. It's just too heavy to hold comfortably. I think I would really enjoy the titanium or aluminum versions better because of this, but they don't have a finish similar to this one. Dilemmas!

The clip is black with a tumbled finish. It's held in place with two hex screws that match the black finish. It's an incredibly strong clip, which is important given the weight of the pen.

The body of the pen features 6 different o-rings in different places. At the grip section, three o-rings are grouped close together to form a surprisingly comfortable grip. Further up under the clip, there are three more o-rings spaced further apart. I'm guessing the functional purpose for these is to provide some needed friction under the grip to ensure the pen is secure. Regardless, it's aesthetically pleasing.

The Mini-Click ships with a black medium Fisher refill. Excellent choice for a tough pen like this, although it does require a unique fitting on the butt of the refill for it to work properly. If this fitting will work on other Parker style refills, then it's fair game in this pen. That means you have many, many options outside of the Fisher.

The click mechanism on this pen is...interesting. On the Kickstarter page, they describe the "416SS Pen Advancing Mechanism" as the best refill advancing gadget that is available today. I'm not really buying into the marketing on this because it resembles the same mechanism used by the majority of other Kickstarter machined pens. If you're a fan of machined pens, you'll probably recognize it. The only difference here is that there are machined grooves around the diameter of the push cylinder, as well as a logo on the top of the push cylinder. Nice touches, but not worthy of the marketing language.

I wish that the marketing language the end of my criticism for the knock. Unfortunately, the copy I have has a significant defect. About 1 time out of 5 clicks, the mechanism becomes stuck in either the "open" or "retracted" mode. It takes a pretty hard press on the knock to recover from this state, and it really frustrates me. It would be one thing if it was a rare issue, but it happens very frequently and is very easy to reproduce. I would imagine that this is an example of a small quality defect that doesn't impact very many pens, but it should have never shipped like this. I've said this many times, and it applies here: when you're paying this much for a pen, this type of problem is unacceptable.

With that out of the way, I don't see it as a crippling issue for the pen. Tuff Writer bills this as a modular pen, which makes it easy to replace any part that breaks or gets lost. In this case, a quick swap of the knock mechanism would likely clear up the issue. Easy fix.

Overall, this is a beautiful, rugged pen that will easily outlive me. It could stand up to some of the most harsh environments without breaking a sweat. The price is fair considering the materials used and the time spent producing the aged aesthetic. Knock issues aside, I think this is a great pen. If I did it again, I'd probably opt for the aluminum or titanium versions to cut down significantly on the weight.

Tuff Writer sells the Mini-Click and many other machined pens on their site, and I would expect these new metals to be available soon.

(Tuff Writer provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Posted on April 26, 2017 and filed under Tuff-Writer, Tactical Pen, Pen Reviews.

New at Kickstarter: The Ultimate Clicky Pen Project

 


Kickstarter has become a hotbed for cool and unique pen design. The most recent is The Ultimate Clicky Pen Project by designer Jack Roman. Jack sent me an email when the project launched, and as it turns out, Jack designs pens for Tuff-Writer as well (you can read my Tuff-Writer Frontline Series Tactical Pen Review here).


I haven’t had the opportunity to test drive The Ultimate Clicky Pen but if the pictures and video are any indication it looks like a fantastic pen. There are not many (any?) high quality tactical pens that are retractable so if that is something on your wish list you should take a look at The Ultimate Clicky Pen.

Posted on April 12, 2012 and filed under Kickstarter, Tuff-Writer.