- Description: A compact, all-titanium bolt action retractable pen with an original and innovative design
- Refills: Parker style
- Material options: Titanium, Brass or Copper
- Size: Length 121mm / 4.77” Width 9.5mm / 0.375”
- Weight: 19g
- Price: $89 pre-order, $99 after
Once in a while, a design comes along that shakes things up. Sometimes it’s such a simple change, you’re left wondering why no one did it before. This is what the TiScribe has done for bolt action pens.
The version reviewed here is the TiScribe Mini, the latest retractable pen from machinist/product designer Kelvin Verret and his pen company, Urban Survival Gear. Chronicled in his Instagram stories, Kelvin has been refining his TiScribe bolt action pen design with every iteration, whether it’s improving ergonomics, shaving a gram off here and there or trying out new high grade titanium. Up until now, the TiScribe has only been available in a full length 140mm (5.58″) G2 refill option (see pictures). The latest “Mini” version offers this innovative design in a new compact format for Parker refills.
Form & Finish
The TiScribe Mini’s aesthetic is all business. Almost every part is machined from titanium and stonewashed —which is great at hiding dings and scrapes. The tumbled finish gives the pen a uniform matt grey appearance that’s punctuated by five polished grooves milled into the barrel for grip. The simple design and rugged finish means it’ll probably last a few lifetimes.
But despite its function-led design, the TiScribe has an unmistakably sleek and minimalist vibe. Unlike some Every Day Carry (EDC) pens, the Mini will slip tastefully under the radar —just as easily in the office as in the top pocket of an overall.
Machining and finishing are to a high standard, which makes the TiScribe feel like a well-made, quality pen. Bear in mind that over time, scuffing will occur on the visible areas of the bolt due to the titanium components rubbing against each other. That said, the tumbled finish hides marks pretty well and I actually like the character it adds to these working parts of the pen.
TiScribe pens offers a fair amount of customization potential thanks to their modular design, so you can bling them up if you’re inclined . The tip (which you remove to change refills), cap and clip can all be swapped for different metals and finishes, with some exotic Mokuti and Timiscus options available alongside brass and copper.
Packaging is very simple and the TiScribe Mini arrives in a two part plastic tube with some basic instructions and a foam insert. Not being a huge fan of packaging, this was a plus for me. I’d always rather see the money go into the product itself, or spare parts if possible. Inside the pen was a Schmidt Easy Flow, which I switched out for my favourite refill (an Itoya Aquaroller).
Slender proportions give the Mini a finesse seldom found in machined pens. In my view, the name ‘Mini’ might be an overstatement (or is that understatement?) for a pen that ultimately takes Parker refills. But I like the size. It’s just big enough to hold its own as a daily writer and just small enough to be easily pocketable.
The titanium used for the Mini barrel is 3AL-2.5V, which is lighter and stronger than the usual 5AL choice for Ti pens. Coupled with the 9.5mm diameter barrel, it’ll suit plenty of hand sizes. 19 grams feels remarkably light for a titanium pen, and the Mini feels much lighter than even comparable pens like the Maxmadco.
The TiScribe is up there with some of the most comfortable machined pens I’ve ever used, and that is one of the Mini’s major strengths. The grooves on the barrel are chamfered to provide enough grip without digging into your fingers. It’s streamlined form, lightweight build slim width means you can completely forget about it whilst writing. Or when you’re deftly spinning it in your fingers.
The bolt action mechanism is the thing that really sets the TiScribe apart from the competition. Your typical bolt action pen works by sliding a little button on the side of the barrel through a ‘J’ or similar shaped slot. Whilst it’s a much more secure mechanism than your average clicky ball-point, the downside to this design is that this bolt button adds a protrusion that can sometimes get in the way when writing.
The TiScribe dodges this issue by combining the pen’s pocket clip with bolt control. The pocket clip is fixed securely to the internal bolt, and can travel along the J shaped slot in the barrel. To extend the nib, you simply slide the clip down and across, where it will click into place.
From the side, the TiScribe’s clip’s mounting looks like a solid chunk of metal and provides a good surface area for pushing against as you operate the bolt action. It’s extremely easy to use, and makes a satisfying “clack” as the bolt slides into place.
One thing worth noting is that there is a ‘correct way’ of operating the pen, which is detailed in the instructions. Essentially you need to push down on the top edge of the clip (where the screws are) to avoid pressing the clip’s point into the pen which can scratch the barrel as you extend and retract the nib. The ‘right’ way is fairly intuitive so I wouldn’t class this as a negative, and either way scratches are well hidden by the stonewashed finish.
Considered in isolation, the TiScribe Mini ticks all the boxes of a great bolt action EDC pen. It’s well made, comfortable to hold and easy to use. The rugged, understated look will suit a lot of preferences and the personalisation potential opens up a lot of styling options if you’re inclined. At $89 (pre-order) for the base product, the price-point feels pretty competitive for what is a high quality titanium retractable pen.
But where the TiScribe Mini really shines is its original and innovative design. It may not sound like a lot, but the it could have just as easily been designed with a bolt button. Kelvin decided he’d switch up the tried and tested approach and improve upon it – finding a solution to perhaps one of the only disadvantages of a design that’s still readily embraced by other makers.
In my opinion, the TiScribe isn’t just another bolt action pen. Combining the pocket clip with the bolt control feels like a logical improvement on a design that’s been out for a while and largely gone unchallenged. It’s a bold statement, but I’ll say it: The TiScribe may just be the Mk2 of bolt action writing instruments. And now offered in the small-format, Parker compatible Mini, it’s sure to appeal to a great many gear nerds and stationery addicts alike.
The TiScribe Mini was provide to me as a sample for review. All views are my own and are in no way influenced by anyone else. The full size TiScribe pictured alongside was purchased at full price with no regrets 🙂 .