Tactile Turn Bolt Action Pens – A Comparative Review

Tactile Turn Bolt Action Pens
A Comparative Review

  • What is it? A bolt action pen manufactured deep in the heart of Texas
  • Why does it matter? This is the new (awesome) update to Tactile Turn’s older “Slider” and “Glider” bolt action pens.
  • Where can I buy one? Right here!
Old version up top, shiny new one on the bottom.

Tactile Turn’s bolt action offerings have recently undergone a little bit of a facelift. Initially when speaking to Will (oh hey, Will and I are buddies. I photograph all of his pens in exchange for money. Please form your own opinions about this review), I was skeptical about a refresh of his bolt action pens. They were formerly known as the Slider (short one) and Glider (long one) and I thought they were some of the coolest out there. The C-Shaped bolt channel, nice action, premium finishing, and ridged grip pattern from top to bottom. Did they need a facelift? I thought they didn’t, until I got my hands on this new batch. You can go back through the archives and see my reviews of his previous bolt action pens, then maybe come back here so we can run down the differences.

C channel on the top, new J channel on the bottom.

It’s all in the name. The “Slider” and “Glider” sounded cool, but they didn’t tell a whole lot about which was the long one and which was the short one. Luckily, that’s not a problem anymore. The Tactile Turn bolt action pens are now known simply as the “Bolt Action” and “Bolt Action Short”. Now, onto the physical differences. Let’s start with the bolt channel and action. On the older model, the channel was C-shaped. It took a mild amount of effort to click the pen into the writing position. There was a bit of a learning curve involved (it’s not that hard, we’re just extending a pen here) since the shape was outside of the norm. There was also a large exposed open section in the body of the pen when the refill was open. That is no more. On the new Bolt Action, you’ll find a buttery-smooth J-channel that “clicks” more naturally. It’s oriented lower down on the pen, so the bolt itself is now large enough to cover the void that existed on the previous model. Inside, a heavier spring adds some welcomed resistance to the click action as well. The feeling is a bit less rattly, and a lot more premium.

Topping off the Bolt Action, there’s now a polished flat surface that replaces the previous dome. Overall, the pen looks a bit more streamlined. I definitely dig it.

New on the left, old on the right.

Moving to the tip of the pen, you’ll notice a completely reworked profile. One that I believe works much better. The old tip profile was a much longer taper that terminated in a chunky tip. It was probably my least favorite part about the pen. Personally, I prefer the newer version. The diameter of the pen holds for a bit longer, then starts tapering more sharply towards the tip. There’s less metal around the hole where the refill sticks out, so you have a much better view of where the ink is hitting the page. The difference in tip profiles are much easier to notice when using the pens side by side.

Short version in hand.

In hand, the pen feels solid. The standard version accepts Pilot G2-style refills, while the “Short” is made for the shorter Parker-style refills. The difference in length between the two is only half an inch with a negligible difference in weight on most models. When considering which pen to get, I would suggest going with whatever refill style you like the most, since both pens handle relatively the same. On the Short version, the bolt itself tends to sit in the soft spot between my thumb and forefinger. Between the clip on one side and the bolt on the other, there’s a relatively small “sweet spot” where neither the clip nor bolt are hitting that part of my hand. Your mileage may vary depending on how you hold the pen and the size of your hands.

L-R: Titanium, Zirconium, Copper, and Bronze

At first, I was skeptical about the update to the bolt action pens, but after spending some time with them I’m fully sold. The new design tweaks take a product that I love, and make it even better. Whether it’s writing with the pen or playing with the bolt mechanism, the entire package looks and feels more refined. The pricing structure and material offerings have been refined as well. You can pick up a bolt action in bronze (replaced brass), copper, or titanium for $99 in either the standard or short configuration. Additionally, there’s a zirconium model that will run you $249. At this time, there are no stainless or anodized aluminum offerings. Overall, I’m impressed with the update. Kudos to Will and the rest of the Tactile Turn crew for this excelllent update to an already solid pen. It’s nice to see a brand looking at what they can do better, then acting on it. I’m excited to see what’s next!

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