Tuff Writer Retro-Click Executive Pen Review Kickstarter Special

In last week’s episode we watched Tuff Writer’s Mini Click and Operator take on the forces of evil and once again send Skeletor crying for his mommy. If you found yourself liking the build of the those pens, but wanted something a little less intimidating and more refined, they’re back with a Kickstarter Campaign that might interest you. Read on for details on the Retro-Click Executive Pen.


The Retro-Click will be available in a number of metals including Zirconium, Copper and Brass. The model I’m handling is Polished Titanium. This isn’t the David Guetta variety, this is real deal Grade 5 Titanium. With one of the highest strength to weight ratios among metals, this Titanium makes for a smart option for those who want a beefy, yet light pen. This pen features Tuff Writer’s signature 416SS Swiss-machined advancing mechanism. It’s their smoothest mechanism to date, they basically took R. Kelly’s voice, filtered out the creepiness and made a pen. My plebeian tongue can’t even begin to properly explain what that is, so I’ll quote directly from the site:

“What makes this 416SS mechanism so special?”

Mostly the material choice and time consuming manufacturing process refinements. Virtually all high-end pen mechanisms are made from brass and plated (easier and cheaper to manufacture but not as durable as ours), we decided to go nuts and machine it out of 416 stainless steel (a much harder and more durable material). This meant we had to have it Swiss-CNC’d which, while more costly, means we can hold much tighter tolerances (less than .0005″ all day long on the Citizen L-20). The G-Code programming done by our friend’s shop re-traces the race toolpaths to debur all edges, taking more time but it also means that the chrome steel bearing glides smoothly and the mechanism cycles like butter. It’s much more expensive and time consuming to make it this way but it really is pretty awesome. Plus, the 416SS and chrome steel will wear better and last much longer than plated brass. It’s complete overkill for a pen mechanism but hey… if you’re going to make one, might as well make the best.”

The pen also features a tensioned clip and comes with a Fisher Black Medium cartridge, but will accept any Parker style due to the adjustable internal spacer. These pens are all made from start to finish in the United States. The Retro-Click I’m using weighs, including ink,  1.6 oz (40g) and measures just over 5.25” – Expect heavier pens with the other metals.


People often think I can’t find a pen when I’m rummaging through my bag. Little do they know I’m experiencing a mild panic attack trying to choose which of these beauties to sign with.

The Retro-Click offers a much different feel than other Tuff Writer’s I’ve worked with. Where as the Mini-Click in Brass is like plowing a M1 Abrams through a Bloomingdale’s, the Retro-Click is more like cruising in a B29 on a really nice beaded cushion. I prefer this design over the o ring grips on my Mini-Click (2 of the o rings have since disappeared somehow) The circumference of this pen is great and makes gripping it easy. The Fisher cartridges are of course great. Just today my co worker needed a customer to sign off on an invoice and grabbed a cheap Bic that had been sitting in our work truck all night in freezing temps and it wouldn’t write, my Tuff Writer which had ALSO been sitting in the truck wrote like a charm. You know when you grab a pen and do the preliminary circular test doodles? Not anymore.


Much like Cap’n Crunch, this pen is part of a balanced EDC

The clean, uncluttered lines are just so easy on the eyes. This pen doesn’t get the, “Wow, this pen is solid, can you even take this on a plane?” retort. When customers use the Retro-Click, it’s more of a delayed response after they’ve signed. Something along the lines of, “Hmm…nice pen” And sometimes that’s what you want, understated quality. What I also enjoy is this pen isn’t a presumptions $800 Mont Blanc that you’ll fear taking out of your bag. In Goldeneye when Q gave 007 the grenade pen, I’m pretty sure if the explosive detonated inside of a Tuff Writer, only a wisp of smoke would have exited the barrel and Boris would have still remained invincible.

Had to pull a favor for this shot, Arnie and I go way back. He was my kindergarten sub one semester.


As I pretty much figured, Tuff Writer once again executed a brilliant pen. In a world of card trick Mages, they’re pretty much Alpha Wizards. You can tell they’re passionate to an almost inappropriate degree with writing instruments. If you already have a Tuff Writer, I’m not quite sure you’d need this pen, as it feels pretty similar to their Mini-Click in some respects. The retail on the Titanium Retro-Click is a hefty $150, however through the Kickstarter campaign you can get it for a steal at a $100 pledge, that is definitely worth it.

Tuff Writer Operator & Mini Click Pen Review – $95.00 & $115.00

We all know the adage, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” While this saying alludes to the power of the written word over the literal power and durability of a steel blade, I definitely wouldn’t mind possessing a writing instrument that could draft poetry as well as survive an earthquake. In my search for such a writing utensil, I came across the Tuff Writer Operator and Mini Click Pens.

                                                                                  Roll that beautiful bean footage


Let’s start with the guts of the Tuff Writer Operator (Shown in Blue) 6061-T6 Aerospace Grade Aluminum houses the Fisher SPR4 Pen. The 6061-T6 metal is extremely corrosion resistant, as well as very hard. This a great metal that performs will in areas where rust can be a hindrance. The exterior also employs a proprietary non marking/non reflective finish as well as being anodized for further durability. We see a cold pressed spring steel clip fastened by 2 hex bolts. The cap unscrews from the tip and pressure snaps onto the back for writing. The pen weighs 1.6 ounces and measures 6 inches.

All pens are personally crafted by Jack Roman, head of Tuff Writer. He describes them as “Living Designs” in that he never stops looking for ways to improve the pens, going so far as to rework already good mechanisms for even smoother operation.

The Mini Click is composed of brass, the model reviewed features a highly polished finish. We enjoy the same cold pressed steel clip. The Mini Click is you guessed it, a clicky pen. The cam mechanism is a Tuff Writer designed exclusive. The Mini Click measures in at 5.13 inches and weighs a robust 2.5 ounces. A Fisher SPR4 cartridge is housed as well.

The machining on these pens is superb. Notice how the line just disappears when the cap is screwed on.


Since both of these pens utilize an after market ink cartridge, I won’t focus too much on the actual ink. Although I will say we enjoy all the benefits of a pressurized Fisher cartridge including writing underwater, upside down in 400 degree temperatures. If, although you find yourself in those conditions with a pen, I suggest you stop reading this at once and consult a life coach.

As for the pens in hand, well I find both have their strengths. The Operator’s light weight is really nice, especially considering it’s built like a tank – although the constant need to unscrew the cap makes it better suited for a desk pen in my situation. Both of these pens are built tough, not just for durability in the field but for last ditch self defense applications, I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination though. The knurling provides decent grip without discomfort.

The tension on the mini clip is great, a very secure clip even on thin fabrics. The upward flare on the end means you can usually clip it one handed depending on the rigidity of the material. I’m digging the O Ring grips but am worried about their overall lifespan and replacements. This pen feels good in the hand, a very substantial feel. I’ve been using it to collect signatures at work and it almost never fails to solicit a, “Wow, nice pen!” remark.


The thing I enjoy most about these pens, is they’re a different sort of breed. They’re sleek without being gaudy and stylish without pretension. While forms follows function, these pens still retain a quality aesthetic. Tuff Writer offers both of these models in a wide array of finishes too, so finding one that suits your personal style shouldn’t be difficult.

Not sure if I want to write a limerick with this baby or load it into a Howitzer!
The Operator works great on any PALS system, and stays put as well. It perfectly compliments my EDC


I had a good time working with these pens. Tuff Writer did a great job transmuting the concept of a pen as merely a writing device into an essential tool. The machining is flawless as much as I can tell and the price points are fair. Again I stress you consider your end use as the screw cap on the Operator can be a hindrance if you’re using the pen constantly in the field or require one hand operation. All said, if you’re in the market for a non disposable writing instrument that might just outlast you, I’d consider a Tuff Writer.

Fisher Astronaut Space Pen AG7 Review -$100

I love me a good pen. My first dedicated pocket carry writing utensil was in fact a Fisher Bullet Space Pen, I found it on the ground while walking and was instantly drawn to it’s design. I’ve since given that pen to my wife to keep in her purse. This left a serious void in my pocket, and since I love the classics, The Fisher Astronaut Space Pen was a serious contender for that coveted spot in my Levis. Who wouldn’t want the first pen in space…in their pocket?


The AG7 has a solid brass body, finished with a black titanium nitride finish. Basically titanium nitride is a very hard ceramic coating. This finish is often used with industrial applications, so it’s pretty cool seeing it used on a pen. This will greatly improve the pens resistance to scratches and scuffs. This pen comes in at 5” long and weighs roughly 30 grams or a hair over an ounce.

It utilizes a tailcap push button operation for extending the ballpoint and a side actuated button for retracting it. There is a pocket clip with “Fisher AG 7” stamped on it as well.


This pen houses a  Fisher PR4 black ink medium point. The sealed, pressurized ink flow is excellent. I’m talking instant, smooth lines. You can write upside down with this pen, as well as under water and in absurd temperature conditions, but personally I’m just fine jotting down my to do list at a comfortable 67 degrees. The barrel doesn’t offer much in the way of grip, as there is no knurling of any kind, so this might not be the best option for a mechanic or in any environment where your hands are overly slick.

Having said that, I find it to be an ideal everyday writing instrument. The pocket clip seems robust enough to handle pant’s pockets and will be at home in a chest pocket. Thanks again to the pocket clip, there is no rolling with this pen and the novelty of the side retract button makes it fun to operate.


Honestly, I find the traditional AG7 pens a bit dull. However, the titanium nitride finish really livens up the classic silhouette. The design is very no nonsense, there isn’t anything on this pen that isn’t necessary which is what you might expect from a pen used by Nasa. This pen has an understated charm, it doesn’t scream executive splurge yet it doesn’t come off as another Bic.  


Fisher’s Astronaut AG7 Space Pen is a timeless classic. This pen writes smoothly and infallibly, and is sleek and unobtrusive when carried. If the $100 price tag is setting you on edge, you can always opt for the original chrome plated model which is 40 dollars less. Either way you’re getting a piece of history and an excellent writing tool.

CountyComm Brass Embassy Pen Review – $98

I’ve been into the EDC (Everyday Carry) scene for quite some time. Essentially, EDC comprises of the items you have on your person at all times. Be it your keys, wallet or even a pocket knife. It has become somewhat of a practiced discipline in terms of preparedness on a practical, daily level. One of the widely recognized foundation pieces of a proper EDC kit is a pen. Do a quick search and you’ll likely find the CountyComm Brass Embassy Pen mentioned more than once. I’m here today with one and eagerly look forward to sharing my findings.


CountyComm is a California based supplier to federal, state and local government agencies. They are responsible for the design, manufacture and sales of these products. The surplus products from these transactions are only available through their site in limited quantities. Their specialty lies in high quality quartz and automatic watches, but they offer an array of EDC related items and other tools.


The construction on the Embassy is pretty clear cut, it’s machined from a solid round of brass. C360 Free Pass to be exact. Brass is kind of like the Maple of woodworking in terms of crafting. It’s malleable yet maintains structural strength and integrity during the machining process (Which is done in CountyComms own private machine lab) and the use of brass also presents a few more benefits worthy to note; The bacteriostatic properties of the brass inhibit germs growing on your pen, especially relevant with an object used exclusively by hand. It’s also very long wearing, corrosive resistant and can handle high heat which is great for writing an apology note to your wife for forgetting your anniversary.

The letters U,S and A look good on just about everything

The Embassy body comprises of the barrel, pen shaft and the cap. A stonewashed stainless steel clip is attached to the lid. Aggressive diamond pattern knurling is featured on the barrel and shaft. Measurements are 5.25″ inches by .50″ diameter and the weight is 4 oz.


The Embassy uses a black ink pressurized Fisher Space Refill, so it can write in extreme heats as well as upside down. Ink flow is smooth as long as even, consistent pressure is applied when writing. Speaking of writing, this pen is heavy. Clocking in at  4oz it weighs almost as much a  modern smartphone, so keep that in mind. While I wouldn’t want to write an essay on the socioemotional differences between Nick’s Dough and Disney’s, filling out brief forms or jotting notes is a pleasure.

This pen has a commanding presence, no doubt. The substantial feel of it gives off an almost detectable aura of significance when in use. Writing down my grocery lists seems to take on a very serious tone when I write with the Embassy, contracts signed with the Embassy are never broken and sweepstakes filled out with the Embassy always win.  

The textured knurling provides a secure, somewhat uncomfortable grip. It’s not overly aggressive, but some may find it a little abrasive. I also notice my hand has a faint brass odor when I’ve been using the pen for an extended time, this may fade with use but I still notice it. The stainless steel clip has excellent tension and will keep the pen secure in a pants pocket no problem. Given the weight and size of the pen it could come in handy in self defense situations if need be and you could probably bust a window open if you had to.


The Embassy is a handsome tool. Definitely the type of pen Arnold Schwarzenegger probably keeps in his pocket when signing autographs. It adds great character to my somewhat tame EDC, and never fails to provoke a “Wow, nice pen!” when used by someone. The clean, masculine lines and expert machining really make for a flawless aesthetic on this piece. I would love to have more options on colors and metals, but the Brass does look oh so good.


At just under a hundred dollars, the Embassy actually finds it’s pricing at the lower end of the spectrum for high quality writing instruments. The weight of this pen may be a put off for some, but if you want a heavy, solid pen that will last forever, the CountyComm Brass Embassy is a solid choice.