First Look: The Gist By Tactile Turn

If you couldn't tell by last weeks podcast or my Instagram feed this weekend, I am pretty excited by what Will Hodges has created with the Tactile Turn Gist. The design is extremely appealing to me, and the choice of materials available in the Kickstarter project has me drooling over the possibilities. I know many of you have reached out to me with questions about The Gist, and Will was kind enough to loan me a few prototypes to help out with answering those questions.

If you aren't familiar with this project prior to reading this post and are interested at all, you need to read the project page and watch the video before continuing. It looks very involved from an outsiders perspective, but Will does a nice job of breaking everything down into bite-sized chunks. There is also far more detail on the project page than I will get into here, so head there for additional information and the final say.

My intent with this post is break down a few components of the Gist models that I received, and help you make an informed decision if you are considering purchasing this pen. I say purchase because the project has met its funding goal already, so you know these pens are getting made.

The base model of the Gist is made from polycarbonate, which is a lightweight plastic reinforced with fiberglass. It is designed to take a beating without breaking, which is perfect for an EDC fountain pen. I was struck with just how light it is honestly. I like to write with the cap unposted, but the lightness of the pen made posting the cap the more comfortable option. The model I have on loan is finished with a Damascus steel finial.

The second model I received uses the same polycarbonate barrel, but adds a brass section and finial. The addition of a metal section gives this pen a great balance and feel, while still keeping it lightweight and portable. I think combinations with the poly barrel and metal section will be the biggest sellers as it give you the best of both worlds. In fact, the combination I backed prior to receiving these prototypes was the polycarbonate barrel with damascus steel section and finial. Using this brass combo solidified my thoughts on my original choice.

The last model Will sent me was the full titanium Gist. Titanium body, titanium section, titanium finial, titanium nib. Everything titanium except the clip. After using this pen I am convinced that this is the Gist model that all others will be compared to. I was worried about this actually, because now I have to back two pens instead of one! The full titanium is just that nice. This is the perfect EDC pocket, backpack, trousers, truck pen. It is perfectly weighted without being too heavy, like brass and copper pens can be. The one kicker is the cap does not post on any of the metal pens if that is a requirement for you. (Update: I talked to Will and the cap DOES post on the metal barrels, I just didn't try hard enough. The inside of the cap is machined smooth so as not to damage the pen barrel when posted.)

Each model comes with a choice of nib from steel, gold, or titanium. All nibs are made by Bock, and are interchangeable between pens. I have one of each to test with and they are all dead smooth right out of the gate. No tweaks to be made and no issues at all. The steel nib is the firmest, and my favorite. The gold is the smoothest and softest of the three, but my preference is not an all yellow gold nib. The titanium nib is great and well worth it if you don't have one already. It is right in between the steel and gold nibs in firmness, allowing for just a little softness when writing.

The last component that is worthy of a mention is the clip. It is a coated stainless steel clip, and is strong as hell. Like nuclear strength. The flange allows it to clip on easily, and there is a clear snap when removing even from the thinnest of shirt pockets. I want a strong clip on all my pens, but especially an EDC type pen like the Gist. Like the rest of the pen, Will nailed it here.

So, if you are interested in the Gist, how do you choose which one is right for you? Here are a few bullet points that may help:

  • The full polycarbonate barrel is as light as a Kaweco Classic or Sport. I don't have the exact weights, but on feel alone that is the first thing that popped in my head. If you like those models of Kaweco and like to post the cap then you will like the full poly Gist.
  • The metal section/poly barrel models are going to be the primary mainstream option. I think they offer the best combination of weight, balance, style, and design. Going full metal barrel is a tough choice if you've never used something similar, but adding a metal grip section gives the pen a great look and feel.
  • The full metal barrels are the exact same shape as the poly barrels, but compared to other metal pens by other manufacturers, the are more compact. The titanium looks somewhat like a mash up of the Pilot Murex and Pilot MYU/M90, two of my personal favorites. I'm sure all of the metal barrels would evoke the same reaction by me.
  • You cannot go wrong with any nib choice. I'm choosing steel for both of mine because I already have a Bock titanium I can swap in, and I don't like yellow gold with the barrel choices I made. Regardless of my preferences, they all write wonderfully.

The best thing I can tell you if you are interested in the Gist is to not overthink it. I read through all of the options Will has available, and I was dead solid on my choice of poly/Damascus once I went through everything. The only issue I had was that I was lucky enough to be able to test out the full titanium barrel and now I back the two most expensive options on offer!

My thanks to Will Hodges for sending me out these prototypes so quickly. Check out the project and feel free to reach out to Will via the backer page if you have any additional questions.

Posted on October 12, 2015 and filed under Kickstarter, Tactile Turn, Gist.