Maxmadco “Titanium Bolt Action Retractable Pen” Review
This is the first review by new contributor Tim Pockett. Tim is an EDC and stationery enthusiast from the South West U.K. with a background in copywriting. You can follow his Instagram account here for some awesome pen, paper, watch, and EDC shots. To read more reviews by Tim, click his author page next to the little pencil icon above.
- Description: A great looking, well designed bolt-action retractable pen
- Length: 5.1 in
- Weight: 1 ounce
- Refill: Parker-style refills accepted – Itoya Gel used for review
- Stainless steel clip and hardware
- 6AL-4V Titanium body
- Color Options: Stainless Steel, Naval Brass, Bronze, Black Aluminium and Titanium. Buy Here.
The Maxmadco bolt-action is a long-standing American–made entry into the machined pen market, and currently the only design the company offers. Upon receiving mine from Jim Madrid, owner and machinist at Maxmadco, I could see immediately why his writing instrument has the following it does.
Picking it up, it’s clear that this initially simple-looking pen is packed with exciting little details that just make you want to take a closer look. Keep reading to see just what puts the Maxmadco Bolt Action up there with the best.
Appearance and Construction
‘Over built’ feels like an understatement when you hold a pen machined from titanium. Used as it’s meant to be, I really can’t think what could stop it from working as a writing tool.
Sleek and minimalist, the Maxmadco is a pure looking bolt-action pen, with the visible aspects of the bolt mechanism being one of the few major details. Other than the clip, there’s little else to distract the eye. The body maintains a constant thickness with unbroken lines from the top to the bottom chamfer. The only lettering on the pen is ‘USA’, which is interestingly written across the body, rather down the side as you’d expect.
On the body, you’ll find a finely brushed finish—like that found on high-end watches. One thing worth noting is that the titanium picks up scratches very easily. The Maxmadco pen is no exception. You may want to consider one of the other more forgiving options such as stainless steel, if you’re a little OCD like me.
The bolt mechanism is the most eye-catching feature of the Maxmadco and has a few pleasing little details in its own right. The knock is sleeved in brass, which adds a subtle pop ofcolor to what would be a very single-tone looking pen. Inside, I was surprised to see what appears to be a Delrin rather than metal bolt, making the internals appear black. The choice of brass sleeve and polymer bolt is probably to prevent galling on this high-wearing part of the pen and therefore purely functional – but I like the aesthetic they bring to the overall design.
A stainless steel sprung pocket clip is mounted to the body with torx screws, sitting in a cut-out indentation. Disappointingly, mine looked as though it had been altered on one side to fit, with the top of the clip being slightly irregular – a bit of a shame on an otherwise very well-made pen.
The crowning detail (literally) is the Maxmadco logo tooled into the top of the pen. I actually love this little flair on what is an otherwise very austere design. The depth of the engraving shows off the thickness of the metal and reinforces the quality of craftsmanship, conjuring images of medieval signet rings for wax sealing letters.
Machined pens have a tendency to run large and sometimes heavy, but the Maxmadco titanium is neither. The slender 3/8 in diameter of the body feels unobtrusive in the hand, with the titanium version weighing in at an ounce. Weightier versions are available in other metals if you want a bit more heft.
Naturally there is a little more weight towards the rear of the body due to the mechanism housing. However, long-hand note takers should have no worries putting this pen through page after page of notes, thanks to its decent balance and light weight.
Deploying the Maxmadco’s mechanism requires the knock to be pulled down the ‘J’ shaped travel groove and slid across to the left or right to extend or retract the refill respectively. This secure design makes it a great candidate for a pocket pen and I really can’t imagine how it could be engaged accidentally.
The action is very smooth and can easily be used one-handed. After only a few goes, getting the angle of my thumb ‘just right’ was automatic, achieving deployment and retraction in two fluid strokes. Although bolt mechanisms will never be quite as easy to use or intuitive as the Parker Jotter or other ‘clicky’ pens, this one definitely comes close.
Compatible with Parker G2 refills, the Maxmadco is a pretty easy pen to find ink for, with plenty of options including Fisher Space Pen and Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 refills. The pen is supplied with a 0.7mm Itoya Quick Dry Gel refill, which sits very snugly inside with no wiggle room or play.
- Elegant, subtle design that won’t grab attention
- Great weight and balance
- Mechanism well designed and easy to use
- Brushed finish scratches very easily
- Pricey, considering competition
- My example had a very slight irregularity to the top of the clip
For me, the Maxmadco is a strong contender for the perfect bolt-action pen. It looks great without being gaudy, feels good in the hand and is definitely built to last. But most importantly, it just works.
When a tried and tested design like the classic click-pen retractable mechanism is changed for something else, no matter how good-looking or fun it is, the alternative must function just as well. I believe the Maxmadco’s bolt system gets close enough to the ease and reliability of the humble clicky to be a worthy replacement. Couple this with the security of the bolt-action mechanism and you have a pen with many of the strengths and none of the weaknesses – making it an excellent Every Day Cary writing instrument.
With many cheaper, alternative machined pens out there, at $125 the biggest weakness for the Maxmadco Titanium is the price. But if you’re in the market for a very well-engineered bolt pen and have the means, this fine example will not disappoint. Want to grab one for yourself? Check out the titanium version here.