Kickstarter can be a scary place. In a world full of Scribble Pens and fancy coolers, it's hard to want to plop down $100 or more for a product that may never be. That's why I waited nearly three weeks before backing the Tactile Turn Gist fountain pen. Fast forward more than six months, and I'm happily handwriting this article with one of the best pens in my arsenal, wondering why I had ever given it a second guess.
The Tactile Turn Gist is a rugged fountain pen that holds its own against other $100 pens on the market. It's the first foray into fountain pens for Tactile Turn owner Will Hodges, and it's an impressive entry into the market. While its looks are professional enough to carry into a business meeting, its sturdy design makes it an excellent contender for an everyday carry pen.
The Gist comes in hundreds if not thousands of configurations. I chose the makrolon polycarbonate body with copper grip and finial and paired it with a titanium Bock nib. I should note that I'm just covering the Gist in this review and will go into more detail on the titanium nib next week. Makrolon is the same material that's used for the barrel of the Lamy 2000. It's lightweight but durable and will last for decades. The Gist's entire body is ridged, so that it's incredible easy to grip and manipulate in hand. The ridges give the pen a soft matte finish, which is nearly impossible to capture in a photograph. The pen does develop a sheen after significant use, but it doesn't get nearly as shiny as the Lamy 2000.
The copper finial on the Gist provides a teaser of what's under the hood. As the copper develops a patina over time, the finial begins to look like an old penny, a look that's enhanced by the Tactile Turn logo. The finial is machined with the rest of the polycarbonate cap, which results in a flawlessly smooth transition between copper and polycarbonate. The finial holds the clip in place, which sits in a notched slot in the polycarbonate. While the clip is incredibly sturdy, it is easily my least favorite part about the pen. Its look simply doesn't match the rest of the pen design. Fortunately, Kickstarter backers had the option to order a pen without a clip, so hopefully Tactile Turn has extended the same option to new customers.
The Tactile Turn Gist uses Acme threads to securely cap the pen. These threads are much larger than traditional cap threads and provide a secure seal, while requiring minimal twisting to uncap, less than three full turns to be exact. Perhaps there's a reason why more fountain pens don't use this type of threading, but these threads offer a dramatically better uncapping experience than threads on any of my other pens. Uncapping the pen reveals the beautiful copper grip, which is also ridged to prevent slippage. I can't overstate just how much I prefer the ridged grip to traditional smooth grips. The ridges allow for comfort during long writing sessions and prevent slippage caused by sweaty hands. The pen also posts, although it's plenty long enough to use unposted, which I prefer. The copper does leave a faint smell of pennies on my hands. At first, I avoided choosing copper for this very reason, but the smell is so faint that it's hardly noticeable, unless you jam your fingers up your nose, which I certainly don't recommend. The copper grip develops a patina over time, just like the finial.
The Gist includes a converter, which compares to a traditional international converter but is somewhat shorter. Simply unscrew the bottom section of the barrel to access the converter. The barrel, nib, and grip are all threaded, to ensure that the pen fits tightly together and does creak or wobble. Converter capacity is adequate for steel nibs, but I burn through converter fills with the titanium nib. The flex in the nib causes it to use much more ink than the tough-as-nails steel nib. Those who are accustomed to using piston fillers may certainly miss the added capacity.
As an everyday carry pen, the Tactile Turn Gist fountain pen is sturdy, grippy, and delivers on everything that it promises. This is the pen that I would take onto the machine shop floor, if I had a machine shop that is. There's something special about the copper and the way that it shows its age. It reminds me of all of the writing, scribbling, and sketching that I've done with it. Unlike traditional steel or titanium, the copper holds the history of its owner. Sure, it's easily possible to return the copper to its original glory, but perfection isn't why people purchase copper pens. The Tactile Turn Gist is a testament to Will Hodge's manufacturing prowess. It's not just an excellent Kickstarter fountain pen, it's an excellent fountain pen period.