Review: Jeffbona In[k]ception, Gel Ink, 0.4mm


The fidget toy craze has obviously crested. Sales seem to be waning, claims that they improve focus have become ever more dubious, and I haven’t seen that Fidget Spinner kiosk at the mall in a while. But sometime late last year I decided to back In[k]ception by first-time Kickster creators Jeffbona. It’s an aluminum pen that includes a fidget-spinning mechanism on the top end.

The design of the pen is actually pretty minimal. There’s no clip, no textured grip section, and no knock. To eject and retract the tip, there is a thin, metal band with a notch that twists (and digs into your finger a bit). And, above this band, you can give the top-quarter of the barrel a flick with your thumb and it will silently spin for 30 to 45 seconds.


Despite the gimmick, there’s nothing remarkable here, and, yet, I still found myself flicking the spinner over and over. As the type of person who has the urge to click-click-click retractable pens all day, this pen grew on me. Though I take some ribbing at work over the “rose gold” (metallic pink, really) color, I’m sure my coworkers appreciate that fidgeting with this pen is practically silent.

For non-fidgeters, there’s not much to recommend in the In[k]ception. It’s a bit top heavy, the retracting mechanism is somewhat uncomfortable, and though the 0.4mm Schneider Gelion 39 (gel) ink is quite dark, it’s also surprisingly thick and smeary. Besides, the pen doesn’t seem to be available outside of Kickstarter (yet) anyway. So if you want something with a similar look – but without the fidget attachment – see the Baron Fig Squire, or if you want another pen that’s good for fidgeting, check out the Pilot Down Force.


Review: RNG Products SQ1, Pressurized Ballpoint, Fine Point


Back in August 2016, the SQ1 by RNG (Rise-N-Grind) Products was successfully funded on Kickstarter to the relatively modest tune of $10,299. To be fair, at $25 per pen, it’s probably one of the least expensive Kickstarter pens I own, yet it’s still a pen that I happen to like. And, frankly, there’s a lot to like about the SQ1, not least of which is the “shipwrecked copper” cap.

Though other color options/combinations were made available through the Kickstarter campaign, I chose these weathered ends against an anodized blue barrel. It’s one of the coolest-looking pens I own, and it’s a killer piece for the pen holder on my desk. It’s pleasant to write with too; the grip section is patterned with divots that add a nice visual and practical touch. It’s comfortable to hold, and the included Fisher Space Pen refill is always a great choice.


Since the SQ1 is made from CNC-machined aluminum, making it durable and slender, it’s tempting to think of it as an “everyday carry” pen – it is, in fact, advertised as such. However, I think this classification is a mistake. For one thing, the cap screws on and off, requiring four full, squeaky rotations. Though there is threading at the top of the pen that allows for posting, it’s still a little tedious – tedious enough, anyway, that you wont want to be using the SQ1 for taking short, frequent notes.

Additionally, the SQ1 has no clip, a trait that has caused me trouble in the past. If you wish to take this pen out into the world, you must be very mindful of it, lest is roll off a table or fly out of a pocket. Instead, this is a pen that would be good for taking long notes during a lecture or meeting. It can bang around a bag without trouble, yet still be fashionable and functional when it’s time to sit down and write.


Extra Links

Review: Spiffy Lab Carbon Fiber G2 Pen, Gel Ink, 0.5mm


Originally crowdfunded on Kickstarter to the tune of $23,181, the Carbon Fiber G2 Pen by Spiffy Lab is a monster. Its long, rotund barrel reminds me of a Maglite, and its machined-aluminum and carbon fiber body makes it look like something that ought to be stored in a tool bench. On seeing it, I was enamored, and I didn’t think twice before throwing $25 at the Kickstarter campaign so that I could secure a pen for myself.

When I received the pen a while later, I quickly discovered that the Carbon Fiber G2 Pen isn’t really an item I can use on an everyday basis. I should have known better; it’s really too large to comfortably fit in a pocket. Moreover, the cap screws on and off, requiring three full, squeaky rotations. And to make things a little more difficult, the cap doesn’t post to the end of the pen, and the clip juts out much too far for most practical purposes – though you can remove it with a hex wrench if you’d be okay with no clip at all.


On the positive side, I find the thick barrel fairly comfortable to write with, and I especially like the carbon fiber texture. If there’s one lesson I take away from this pen, it’s that carbon fiber should be used more often. And given its size, it weighs less than you might expect, though anyone with smaller hands might still have some trouble. Also, as indicated by the pen’s name, it includes a 0.5mm Pilot G-2 refill, which shouldn’t dry out if left uncapped for an extended period of time. However, the refill included with my pen seems to be a dud – it skips in and out a lot. Luckily, G-2 refills are easy to replace, as they are available nearly everywhere, in many sizes and colors.

While the Carbon Fiber G2 Pen probably isn’t sensible for most situations, I still like it. Though, honestly, I probably wont get much use from it. But for those that might be interested in this gargantuan pen, it looks like you can still order one through the Spiffy Lab website for $55. That’s a markup from the Kickstarter campaign, but it will at least feel like you’re getting something substantial for the money.

Review: Everyman Grafton, Gel Ink, 0.7mm

Kickstarter, in my experience, can be hit or miss. Any given Kickstarter project might have a good sales pitch, nifty graphics, and a well produced video, but creating and shipping a final product is a different matter entirely. A good project will meet your expectations, and a great project will exceed them. And I’m happy to say that since I received the Grafton by Everyman a few months ago, I believe that it fits into this latter category. In fact, it’s quickly become the pen I pick up more than any other.


The Grafton is designed as an “everyday carry” pen, something that can easily be slipped into a pocket or purse without having to worry. To that end, the Grafton does a very good job. Its fully aluminum body, which comes with a black or silver finish, can take a beating, and the ‘click’ retracting mechanism is hearty and reliable. The clip, which is kept in place by a couple of tiny hex screws, is strong, yet pliable enough to easily attach to a pocket.

Inside the pen, a branded 0.7mm gel ink cartridge is included. The ink is dark and smears a bit, similar to what you might find in a Pilot G-2. But if you prefer a refill that can write through dirt and water, I was pleased to see that the Grafton also comes with parts that allow a Fisher Space Pen refill to fit inside the barrel.


I really like this pen, but that obviously doesn’t mean it’s for everybody (despite the company’s name being “Everyman”). As you can see from my picture, the black finish does get worn with heavy use. I’m actually a fan of this worn look, but it would obviously be bothersome for anyone who likes keeping their pens looking pristine. From a dimensional standpoint, it might also be a bit big for some people. It fits into my pocket nicely, but it’s noticeably longer and thicker than other “everyday carry” pens like the Fisher Cap-O-Matic or the Zebra F-301.

My only complaint is that the threading on the barrel sometimes comes a little loose. It’s not so much that the pen falls apart, but it’s enough that I have to re-tighten it at least once a day. It takes a fraction of a second to fix and only occurs when I’ve been using the pen a lot, but I think that it’s a minor annoyance worth noting. Obviously this hasn’t deterred me at all from using the pen.

If you’re interested in the Grafton, you’ve unfortunately missed the Kickstarter campaign. However, you can now purchase one from the Everyman website for a little more money – $35. It might be a tad pricey for some, but it’s been a worthwhile investment for me. As the packaging insists, it’s meant to be a “Buy-For-Life” pen, so I intend to get my money’s worth.


Review: Baron Fig Squire, Rollerball Ink, 0.6mm


Many might know Baron Fig best for being one of those Kickstarter success stories. In late 2013, they raised over $168,000 to create “notebooks for thinkers,” a project which was subsequently spun-off into an online business with a growing product line. And not content to rest on those laurels, Baron Fig launched another Kickstarter project late last year for a companion product to their notebooks: a pen dubbed the Squire. This second project was also successful, raising $145,249 – of which I contributed $50 so that I could have a Squire of my very own.

As a fan of the Retro 51 Tornado, the Squire immediately felt very comfortable. In fact, it’s easy to see that the Squire took much of its inspiration from the Tornado; the comparisons are obvious. Both have a twist-style retracting mechanisms at the top of the barrel, both use a branded Schmidt rollerball refill (though the Tornado uses a 0.7mm point, as opposed to the Squire’s 0.6mm point), and even their packaging is very similar.


Sadly, I had a couple issues with the Squire right out of the box. First, the refill that came with the pen was a dud – no big deal for me, though, because I have plenty of extra refills laying around. Second, the retracting mechanism was a bit defective. When twisted, it felt as if there were gravel stuck inside the threads, and it jammed every now and again. After a couple days, however, this kink worked itself out, and it was smooth sailing.

It took a couple weeks of use, but I grew to like the Squire quite a lot. The anodized finish looks and feels great, the aluminum body has a great weight, and I love the shape of the barrel, which thickens near the bottom before contracting at the tip – it looks like the blade of a xiphos sword (the type used for the pen’s logo). And after a while, I only had one big complaint left: there’s no clip.

It’s certainly a slick design, but without a clip, the Squire is really best used as a desk-only pen. In my everyday use, this pen rolled off tables and fell out of my pocket frequently, which is probably why I eventually lost it. And take my word for it, it’s a pretty awful feeling when you’ve realized a $50 pen has gone missing. My only hope is that it’s become the prized possession of a hapless pedestrian who stumbled onto it.

Honestly, I’ve been tempted to buy another (the Squire is now available from Baron Fig’s website for $55 for those who missed the Kickstarter campaign), but I don’t know if I could handle misplacing a second one.

The Baron Fig’s empty (bah!) packaging.

Extra Links

  • Here’s a review at The Well Appointed Desk that shows off the silver version of the pen, which apparently picks up a lot of visible dirt. I chose the charcoal version, the only other option, which I think looks cooler anyway.
  • Another review at Woodclinched. Here you can see the silver and charcoal versions side by side. I guess the silver version might be better if you’re looking to match your Apple gear. Side note: it seems like I’m not the only one who prefers to have a pocket clip attached to a pen.
  • A review at Office Supply Geek where he highly recommends the Squire. In fact, he prefers the pen without a clip! Well, to each their own.