I’m sure you all remember this little Kickstarter you helped successfully fund? Thanks to Cliff at Billet Pens, I now have one of the pens and one of the markers to take for a spin. Thanks to Cliff for providing these free samples!
The Billet Pen comes in a simple box—nice enough to be functional, especially if you’re gift-giving, but well within the range of something you can dispose of and not feel bad (this is a big problem for me. I have a lot of boxes I don’t want but feel too guilty to get rid of). There’s also a slip with some helpful safety information about these magnets. Do not eat the cap, kids, and especially don’t eat two of them.
These pens are solid, from the appearance to the feel of the aluminum, from the magnets to how snugly everything fits together. There’s no clip, but I go back and forth on the clip issue—on my pens that have them, I wish they didn’t, and the ones that don’t tend to make high-speed rolling escapes off the side of my desk. No way to win on that for me. The pen is a little shorter than the marker—both bodies are the same length, but the marker cap is longer. The caps aren’t interchangeable between the pen and the marker; the pen cap has a special rubber plug and the marker a special inner cap to keep their respective refills from going dry.
The refills themselves aren’t really the focus—the Hi-Tec-C and the Sharpie marker both are solid writing options. As for the writing experience, both the pen and the marker hold their refills firmly in place. There’s no play, no wiggle, just perfect writing. The grip for the marker is the grip on the Sharpie refill. The pen grip is a two-part aluminum construction: an adapter and a tip. The adapter is perfectly machined to the width of the Hi-Tec-C refill, and if you unscrew the grip at the adapter’s meeting point with the barrel right behind the O-ring that seals the cap, you won’t be able to pull the refill out the back (there’s a flare at the tip of the refill that is wider than the ink part of the refill). You have to unscrew the tip section to get the refill out. I’m thinking the adapter/grip section is thus interchangeable so that, further down the line, other adapter sections can be made suited to other refills that are thicker or thinner than the Hi-Tec-C.
These magnetic caps are pure sciencey forces-of-nature fun. They stay perfectly put while you write. Easy to absentmindedly snap on, easy to take off, but strong enough to stay on in the normal course of use. You can tap it on the page; it won’t knock the cap off (unless you’re particularly violent). Even pushing the cap down on the page, bending it away 90 degrees from the body with just the edges touching, the cap will still snap back onto the body when you lift it (best do this trick slowly though). And though the magnets can’t hold the entire pen to your refrigerator or other suitably magnetic surface, it will hold the cap. Magnets, yo. More fun than should even be allowed.
The aluminum is smooth, and lovely to hold. The pen has weight, but isn’t too heavy. The barrels are thick—about the size of a Prismacolor marker—much thicker than your average pen body. And that’s a good thing! Variety is the lifeblood of the pen world (that said, if you don’t like big barrel pens then these babies are not for you). These pens are well made (in the USA), simple, but undoubtedly satisfying.
Note: the giveaway winner tells me he’s had some issues with the tip coming loose on the pen, which I haven’t had any problem with (this is why multiple pen reviewers and multiple pen opinions are important!)…if any of you have or have not had this problem, let me know! And if you do have this problem, see if Loctite helps any? I’m always told I need to put that on anything that might rattle loose on my motorcycle…