The Karas Kustoms Render K.
Okay, maybe the review is not quite over yet so don’t stop reading, but I truly do love the Render K. For those who don’t know or who may be new to the pen world, Karas Kustoms is a small machine shop in Mesa, Arizona that has gained a loyal following in the pen world and it started with the Render K. Here is a little background on the Render K itself, and how I came to love the pen. The Render K launched on Kickstarter as a machined aluminum or brass pen body for the Pilot Hi-Tec-C refill and now includes a copper version, anodized aluminum versions, and a version to house the Pilot G2 refill (in all three metal options). Probably about a year ago now after hearing all the talk about the Hi-Tec-C, I ordered a few from JetPens and a Render K. As it turns out I wasn’t a fan of the Hi-Tec-C, but I was a fan of the Render K, the size, shape, looks, weight, practically everything about it. Now onto the review itself. I’m going to review both the original and G2 aluminum versions together because other than refill options and a small design detail to distinguish the two versions they are the same.
The Render K is a solid pen in the sense that it is an extremely well made pen and one that can handle a lot of abuse. You could drop it, kick it, punt it, or throw it at a wall and other than a few nicks and scratches the pen itself will be fine with a little character added to it. The body tapers from the cap towards the back of the pen and gives it an almost timeless looking design. The cap features triple-start threads which is really nice because you don’t have to have the cap aligned at a certain place to get it to screw on. The cap also has some knurling at the top which gives the Render K an industrial yet classy look and also gives you a little extra grip when removing the pen from a pocket or removing the cap if you over tightened it.
The clip on the Render K is just as solid as the rest of the pen is and is attached with two machined screws. About the only way I could see this clip breaking is if you tried using it as a pry-bar. It’s that solid. The clip is flared out on the end which makes it easier to clip onto a pocket though if you are using it in a shirt pocket it’s a two-handed affair, one hand to hold and stabilize the pocket and the other hand to clip it. Removing it from a pocket is much easier and requires only one hand. The aluminum Render K weighs about 1 ounce or roughly 26 grams, the brass and copper versions weigh about 3.3 ounces of roughly 94 grams. Needless to say the brass and copper versions are HEAVY.
The pen has a nice grip section that is comfortable to hold. It is close to the threads for the cap but because of how I grip the pen they don’t bother me though they could be an issue for some. The threads are machined into the metal but they are not sharp, just hard. The Render K is a really well balanced pen and is comfortable to hold and write with, especially the aluminum version, and is still one of my favorite pens to use. I find the brass and copper versions to be slightly top heavy. The cap can rest on the back of the pen but it rattles around and really throws the balance off. I’ll either set the cap down on the desk or table I’m using or hold it in my left hand if I can’t set it down. This could be an issue for some but I don’t find it to be a big inconvenience. The tip of the pen unscrews to change the refill and this is where the regular and G2 models vary slightly looks-wise. The G2 model has a small machined line in the grip section to distinguish it from the regular version and is the only difference in looks between the two. The width of the opening for the refill is wider on the G2 model and the opening isn’t machined as deep as the regular model.
The refills are where the two models vary the greatest. The regular model was designed around the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and includes a spacer and spring to use with a Parker ballpoint style refill. The regular model also includes some plastic tubing that can be cut to make some custom spacers if you want to experiment with hacking different refills to fit. One hack that I’m a big fan of is using the Uni-Ball Signo DX (UM-151) in place of the Hi-Tec-C, just snip some plastic off the back of the DX refill so it’s the same length as the Hi-Tec-C. I discovered this hack from a review of the Render K that Ana at The Well Appointed Desk If you happen to cut too much off (guilty!) don’t fret, just use some of the tubing that comes with the Render K as a spacer.
The G2 model is designed for the Pilot G2 size refill and only comes with a spring to use with the G2 size refill, no spacer or plastic tubing is included. The Pilot G2 refill is a size that is standard to many different refills so there are many options that can be used. Some of these include the Pilot Juice (what I’m using), Schmidt 888/5888 rollerball, Schmidt Fineliner, Monteverde W22, Pilot V5/V7 RT, and Uni-Ball Signo 207. Neither model ships with a refill. This was a decision made by Karas Kustoms because they felt if they included a refill, that due to different preferences for refills, most would get thrown away and they didn’t want that. They mention on their website that the pen does not ship with a refill but I wanted to mention it here as well.
As I said earlier, the aluminum version is really well balanced and comfortable to write with. I’ve used the aluminum Render K for some fairly long writing sessions with no issues. Due to it being a metal pen, the grip section can get slippery when wet or with sweaty hands but I don’t consider that to be a negative of the pen itself but more the nature of the material it’s made from. The nice thing about the numerous refill options is whether you use the Fisher Space Pen refill and work outside or use a gel or rollerball refill and work in an office, the Render K will work in either setting. The brass and copper versions look really nice and will develop a nice patina as they age but don’t use them as much mainly due to the weight.
I own multiple Render Ks, both the regular and G2 models, in various metals and colors and it is one of my favorite pens that I own. As much as I love the Render K there are a few things which some people may not like about. The threads being close to the grip section can be an issue, especially if you grip your pens higher up on the barrel. The cap not posting is another potential big issue and is probably the biggest complaint about the Render K that I’ve heard. The clip can be a little difficult to use with a shirt pocket and again may be an issue for some. If you are looking for a pen that will last a lifetime and look just as classy in the future as it does today, the Render K is that pen. I highly, highly recommend it.
For some guidance on Parker style and Pilot G2 style refills check out The Epic Refill Guide at The Well Appointed Desk.
To pick your own Render K or to check out all of Karas Kustoms’ offering visit their website.