Karas Kustoms INK Fountain Pen Review

The fact that Karas Kustoms was there at the L. A. Pen show came as a very pleasant surprise. I entered the hall, looked around, and there, tucked into a quiet corner, was the Karas Kustoms table. There sat Bill Karas and Dan Bishop, the brilliant minds behind the Karas Kustoms pen line. I walked up and Dan greeted with a warm, welcoming smile which disarmed me completely. I stopped being so nervous, and we started chatting about their solid, well-designed pens, that I salivate over.

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Karas Kustoms on Instragram


I had been looking at the INK in black body/brass grip combo for the longest time, but it was constantly sold out by the time I had earned enough to get it. Incidentally, I was looking forward to getting a Spencerian grind on my Falcon, but was informed that John Mottishaw doesn’t work on pens not bought from Nibs.com. This came as a huge disappointment to me, but it also cleared about $110 of my budget, allowing me to re-purpose it towards getting an INK in my dream combo. Best of all, Dan kindly knocked $10 off the original price, which helped me save enough to buy another dream pen (a story for another review).

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Karas Kustoms Retrakt Review


  • Length: 5.625″
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Refills: Pilot G2/Parker-compatible refills
  • Stainless Steel Clip and Hardware
  • 6061-T6 aluminum body

These specs were taken from the Retrakt’s product page on Karas Kustoms’ website.


Right around the time I discovered Massdrop, I noticed that the Retrakt was one of the featured drops. I couldn’t resist the price I was getting it at, and convinced myself that I needed this in my collection. After an agonizing wait, it finally appeared in my mailbox. I ripped open that packaging like it was Christmas morning and lo and behold, there it was in all its shiny aluminum glory. Before purchasing the Retrakt I had been adamant that I get at least one Karas Kustoms pen, so I had ordered Pentel Energel black 0.5 mm refills from JetPens in advance, should I ever pull the trigger. They waited in my desk drawer until the glorious afternoon I opened my package up.



When I first laid hands on it, I was surprised at how light it was. I have relatively big hands, so I wasn’t sure whether the pen would be too small, having only looked at other reviews and pictures. When I held it though, all doubts about the size vanished. It was very comfortable to hold, and the brushed aluminum finish helped give a decent amount of grip for someone with really dry hands (I have dropped all my pens at least once, no nib accidents have occurred as of yet).



This is where things get a little tricky. I realized a little late that the Energel refills I had purchased had to be “hacked” (literally) to fit in the pen, as the standard sized refill is too long. I read a guide that simply said measure and cut the excess off. On my first attempt, I cut the refill way too long and conservatively snipped away at the tube till it was at my desired length.


Messy end from all the snipping

Problem was that when I had properly sized the tube, the knock(clicky mechanism) didn’t fully push the point through the hole properly, so I followed an online guide that told me to insert the black plastic piece in the back and size the refill to accommodate it. After that I was good to go.

For those of you thinking to use the same or a similar combo read this post on refill hacking: Karas Kustoms Retrakt Hack 

Writing Performance:

Doesn't it look pretty big? O.O

Doesn’t it look pretty big? O.O

When I initially loaded up the pen, I had used the spring meant for the Pilot G2 style refills, because I thought that since the Energel refill was so large, it would fit properly.


Notice the slight gap on the left? It really made a huge difference!

However, I suffered a lot of frustration when the point of the pen had a visible gap when extended and did not fill the hole properly. This may sound like me being extremely picky, but there is a good reason for the complaint. When I was taking notes in class, the tip just started bending and hitting the gap causing a weird feeling that messed up my handwriting. After rereading the guide I linked above, I noticed that it said to use the thinner of the two springs. I immediately switched out the springs and the knock felt more responsive and the tip stopped wobbling around. This improved my experience by a lot, and I find myself using it with increasing frequency.


This pen is a very sturdy, well-built pen that can take a lot of punishment (dropped it twice on concrete, didn’t even scratch it). I highly recommend it for anyone who wants a simple, utilitarian pen that can accept a myriad of refills to suit your writing style, while feeling solid and balanced in the hand. I would like to thank Karas Kustoms for making such an elegant writing instrument, and I look forward to many more years of use.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Massdrop, Karas Kustoms, and any other parties mentioned in this post. I am just another happy customer. 🙂