I initially reviewed the Tactile Turn Gist fountain pen back in 2016, following the close of the Kickstarter project. The Gist Kickstarter can only be considered an unqualified success for Tactile Turn, raising $129,000 in pledges and cementing their status as one of the premier manufacturers of machined “EDC-style” pens. The “Gist 1.0”, as I’ll call it, garnered generally positive reviews. Most attention focused on the Gist’s pairing of a lightweight Makrolon (polycarbonate) pen body with a textured metal section made from either common or rare metals, including copper, brass, bronze, Damascus Steel, zirconium, and titanium. All-metal versions were also available, though they could be quite expensive due to the difficulty of machining pens from certain materials (i.e. zirconium, which has a tendency to combust and do inconvenient things like destroy machinery).
As I noted in my initial review, the Gist 1.0 was not without a “few hiccups,” most notably the Makrolon’s propensity to crack around the cap lip, and for the nib to dry out due to some caps not sealing properly. The pen body was also too short to accept a standard Schmidt international converter, so you had to use a different one supplied by Tactile Turn which, in my opinion, wasn’t as good since it had lower ink capacity and ink flow issues. None of these issues made the Gist 1.0 a “bad pen” - to the contrary, I enjoyed the weight, balance, and overall look. I know several people who still use their Kickstarter Gist as a daily writer more than two years later, and issues are to be expected with any “version 1.0” product release. How a company progresses from version 1.0 to version 2.0, incorporating feedback from customers, is more telling about the Company’s future prospects. From my experience with the Gist v. 2.0, the future looks bright for Tactile Turn.
New Materials, Different Specs
For the next iteration of the Gist, Tactile Turn made several notable design changes:
No More Makrolon! Tactile Turn stopped using Makrolon in favor of Delrin, a plastic used by high-end penmakers such as Conid. According to Will Hodges of Tactile Turn, the Makrolon he was able to source was not up to his standards in terms of durability, so he made the decision to switch materials on the non-metal pens. I think the Delrin pens look great, and they’re now available in white as well as black. As of now, metal sections are not available - you either go all-metal or all-Delrin.
A Longer Body. The Gist now accepts a full-size Schmidt international converter, and the added body length provides better balance, whether you write with the pen posted or unposted.
Shorter Threads. It now takes only 1.5 turns to cap/uncap the pen, as opposed to the 3+ on version 1.0. The threads also aren’t nearly as tight, reducing the risk of cracking the cap lip.
Plastic Cap Inserts on Metal Pens. You can now post the cap on the metal versions of the Gist without any unwanted metal-on-metal contact. I can’t speak to the other metal options, but the titanium pen posts nicely without too much added weight.
You can read more about the various design choices on Tactile Turn’s website, including specific details on the machining and engineering. Fans of the first Gist will be happy to know that the Gist continues to feature Tactile Turn’s signature texture, which serves a dual purpose of making a metal pen easier to grip (no slippage!) and hiding the small scuffs and scratches that polished metal tends to accumulate through everyday use.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
My Gist is a joy to write with, and I’m happy to report that I’ve written through three straight fills of ink since acquiring this pen at last month’s Arkansas Pen Show. The Gist presents a durable, well-priced option for a daily writer, and “Version 2.0” is everything I hoped it would be. The Gist comes in both fountain pen and rollerball configurations, with prices starting as low as $99 for a Delrin pen. The titanium version reviewed here runs $219 for the fountain pen, with copper and brass versions priced at $139 and $119 respectively.
Disclaimer: Will Hodges at Tactile Turn was kind enough to provide me with a discount on my purchase of the titanium Gist featured in this review, which I purchased with my own funds. Many thanks to Will for making this review possible! This post contains links to paid sponsors and affiliates (ink notes below).
So What About this Purple Ink?
The eye-popping purple ink that appears below, and that I’ve been using in this pen, is standard Waterman Violet (or, as it’s known now, “Tender Purple”). Surprising, I know! I recently broke out my Waterman inks after a long hiatus, and love them as much as I did when I first got into fountain pens years ago. They’re currently available for the bargain-basement price of $11 per bottle at Vanness Pens, making Waterman ink one of the best buys out there. The paper pictured in this review is, of course, the “Shit to Do” notepad from Skylab Letterpress. Ink swabs are done on Col-o-dex cards, courtesy of Ana Reinert and Skylab.
One note of caution: while Waterman inks are generally regarded as “safe” inks, the purple, in my experience, will stain celluloid and light-colored acrylics, as well as demonstrators and converters if you let the pens remain inked long enough. This isn’t uncommon among purple inks, but since Waterman ink has a reputation as being "safe for anything,” it’s worth mentioning.