1. Appearance and Design. The Fountain K I’m using is aluminum, but the pen also will be available in copper and brass. The sleek, industrial design is a nice match with the metal material. It is not going to appeal to traditionalists, but someone who wants something a little different should like it.
The pen bodies are machined out of a single piece of metal, as are the caps, so there are no seams or rough edges. The cap features a textured band at the top, where a utilitarian-looking clip is attached with visible screws, in keeping with the industrial aesthetic.
2. Construction and Quality. The pen feels and looks very solid, and is very nicely finished.
These are made by in the United States. Karas Kustoms is a small business, employing nine people, in Mesa, Arizona. Paul Bennett told me that they strive to make the pen as locally as possible. “The clips are made for us by another metal working company here in Arizona. Our anodizing is a local business. We source our copper, aluminum and brass from a few mines in the Southwest and Midwest states. On a fountain pen, the only pieces we cannot source in the United States are the nib, clip screws and converter.”
3. Weight and Dimensions. Weight of the pen capped: 25 grams. Weight of pen body only: 15 grams. Length of capped pen: almost 13 cm or a little over 5 inches. Length of pen body only, excluding nib: about 10.25 cm or 4 inches.
Those weights are for the aluminum version only. The brass and copper models are much heavier.
I like lighter pens, so the aluminum version was a great weight for me.
The section was comfortable for me, even when writing for a long time, but it’s not large. I think the redesigned longer and wider section is going to prove a good idea for people with larger hands.
With my preference for lighter pens, I’d never use this posted. But it can post, physically. However, the cap threads are inside the very bottom of the cap. They feel completely smooth to the touch, but I wonder if they might eventually wear on the pen body if the cap is always posted.
Here are photos showing the pen’s size, capped, relative to other well-known pens. From left to right, the pens are a Pelikan M200, this Karas Kustoms Fountain K, a Parker 51 and a Lamy Safari.
And here are photos comparing the pens uncapped.
4. Nib and performance. All I’ve used is Dan’s Architect’s nib grind on a broad nib, so I really can’t say how the stock nib performs. The modified nib is great. It’s smooth for a steel nib and the ink flow keeps up with the broad nib.
When the production pen comes out, it will have a different stainless steel nib — a nib made by Bock instead of the Schmidt nib used in the prototype.
One might be concerned seeing metal threads on the section, but they aren’t sharp and feel absolutely unremarkable in use. I tried resting my fingers on the threads as I wrote, just to see how it feels. The threads feel as comfortable as the threads on any other pen I use. In fact they are less scratchy that some plastic threads I compared them to.
The section is aluminum, same as the pen, but it didn’t feel slippery or anything other than “normal” to me. In fact, the aluminum warms up in your hand, both on the section and the pen body, and so it feels very nice in the hand. There is no coldness. It’s actually a very inviting pen, to the eye and in the hand. I keep picking it up and wanting to use it.
5. Filling system and maintenance. This takes standard international ink cartridges, or bottled ink using the included converter. That’s a huge advantage in my eyes: I like a c/c filling system, and I really like the standard international size because one isn’t locked into proprietary cartridges.
The aluminum body should be very easy to maintain and keep clean.
6. Cost and value. The price, per the Karas Kustoms website, will be $75.
For me, it’s a tempting price. That’s a little more than the stainless steel Lamy Studio, which is probably a good comparison. Both are c/c pens, though the Lamy uses proprietary cartridges. The Karas Kustoms pen is made in the US, and the Lamy is made in Germany.
7. Conclusion. I really enjoy this pen. It feels nice in the hand, as well as solid and well-made. Paul Bennett of Karas Kustoms said he’s a fountain pen “nerd” himself, and I think you can tell the Fountain K was created by pen users. It’s not just something that just looks cool. It is a good fountain pen that happens to look cool.