So after being very happy with my Retrakt I decided to order a KarasKustoms Bolt.
This thing is huge! When I made the Retrakt my daily companion (I refuse to use the term EDC) I was already trading up in the size department from the Parker Jotter. But the Bolt G2 is even bigger. So big that it is getting impractical for me. If you think you have to compensate for some kind of (ahem) shortcoming, this is definitely a pen to consider.
The Bolt is made from the same aluminium that is used in all KarasKustoms pens, and just like with my other purchase, the construction is very solid. The 2 sections screw together well and securely. The pen is straight down the barrel while the retract is slightly tapered. I think this adds to the perceived bulk of the Bolt.
The clip is the same that comes with the Retrakt, held on to the pen body by the same hex screws and is just as tough and secure.
The main attraction and namesake of the Bolt is the mechanism that deploys and retracts the refill.
You press the knock and give it a slight clockwise twist. The screw in the piston moves down the grove in the barrel and catches behind the little hooklike protrusion, leaving the refill deployed.
The mechanism works well. I did lubricate the piston a little to make it easier to rotate in the barrel. As with the Retrakt, the Bolt shows KarasKustoms origins as a car parts manufacturer. You get to tinker with the pen a little and make it fit your needs as a part of its industrial aesthetics.
The Bolt comes in 2 sizes, one barrel accepts Parker style refills, the other one G2 size refills. The top part of the barrel with the bolt action mechanism is identical for both sizes, as far as I know.
I get the impression that the refill on my pen sticks out half a millimeter too far, exposing the plastic behind the metal tip in some cases. Could be remedied by grinding down the piston that pushes it out a little. I might try that at a later point. Yay! Tinkering!
I bought the G2 size, simply because I haven’t found a Parker style refill that I enjoy (yes, I have tried the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000. No, I don’t like it.)
Schmidt produces the 5888, a rollerball refill that matches the G2 pretty much exactly, and I have been using that in my Bolt. It performs like the highly regarded rollerballs that you can find in Retro 51 Tornados (which are actually just custom branded Schmidts). I like Schmidt rollerballs, but I get the impression that they are not very durable. I’ve had several of them develop some kind of dead spot that you could see in their lines. The Pilot G2 themselves are more sturdy, but the gel ink takes longer to dry. Compromises have to be made.
The Bolt as a design project was conceived before the Retrakt, and you can tell. The Bolt is great. No argument there. It’s sturdy, attractive, interesting and versatile.
It’s just that the Retrakt is better. Just as sturdy but more compact. Just as versatile, but better build. Interesting mechanism with less hassle. Good thing that the competition is coming from the same manufacturer.
I’m, glad I bought my Bolt. I use it on my desk at home and I enjoy it a lot. But my Retrakt stays in my pocket.