I thought it's time I gave it a full review, now that I've almost finished a converter full of ink...
I've been wanting to get on the Tactical Carry I/II bandwagon for awhile, but have either procrastinated when they were on sale, or didn't see a colour that spoke to me. So when I saw Winedoc advertising this pen with the description "white pearlized lacquer over metal," I had to jump on it. Three days later, it arrived at the post office and boy, oh boy, it is a very pretty pearlescent white pen. Some may even call it feminine, but I'm secure enough in my manhood to be seen in public with this pen, alongside my Pelikan m400 white tortoise.
Here's Winedoc's excellent picture of the pen. The colour changes slightly under different lights, and I've tried to change the brightness levels for my pictures so that the pen show up as the ivory-ish colour it appears in my normal work conditions (at least on my monitor).
The picture made it seem as if it were a short and light "chick stick." I was shocked at how big and heavy the pen was. But still, overall, the "Tactical Carry II" name really doesn't fit the pen. In my mind, the only "tactical" situation this pen could conceivably be used in... is to plan the best route of attack during Filene's Basement's annual wedding gown sale, probably involving the use of this pen as a blunt weapon.
There are no marks on the pen at all, except for the nib marked with "Iridium Point Germany M." The general appearance is very pleasant. The gold-coloured furniture fit decently well, but without any sort of markings or distinctive look, they are somewhat reminiscent of those found on generic kit pens. However, they feel sturdy enough and at the price are perfectly acceptable.
There are a few imperfections in the base pearlescent layer - little nubs/worts of whatever material they used that wasn't polished off before the lacquer finish was applied. One of those nubs was big enough that it caused a little problem with the finish. But keeping in mind that it is a prototype, it's something I can live with. In any case, a drop from a shirt pocket onto asphalt would cause dings much worse. Also, the inside of the cap doesn't look like it was finished at all, and hopefully it won't be a big problem.
It's a very big and heavy torpedo-shaped pen, and feels very solid. It has the heft of a rOtring Newton, along with that nagging feeling that you need a concealed weapons permit. I didn't measure the parts of the pen using a scale, but the weight discribution of this pen is somewhat atypical: it feels as if the pen is (by weight) 45% barrel, 45% section+nib, and 10% cap. This makes it one of those few pens that feel as balanced in my hands posted or not. The cap posts securely, but I won't be posting mine for fear of scuff marks. It's surprisingly comfortable for medium-length writing sessions (half a dozen letter-sized pages). It won't be the pen I pick for an ultra-marathon writing session, but I don't do those very often anyway.
I have it right next to my Raw Ebonite Densho, and two others of my favourites that I consider in the same class (Top-Bottom: Densho, Tactical Carry II, Waterman Phileas, Pilot Knight). I prefer the looks of the clip on the Tactical Carry I, but this gets the job done.
Filling system: 4/5
It's a cartridge/converter pen. The international-sized converter that came with it is all-plastic, seems a little flimsy, but it works just fine.
Nib Design and Performance: 4.5/5
It's a plain old boring looking gold-plated stainless steel nib. This has become one of my favourite <US$50 nibs - it is very smooth, and with just the right amount of feedback. I fell in love with it when it first arrived by just dipping the pen into an ink bottle. After filling it up with Pelikan turqoise ink, the pen was slightly hard-starting, and was skipping quite a bit, especially at the start of new words. A few soapy-water rinses and a quick flossing of the nib cured the pen of the skipping problem, and now it works as it should. It's just a smidge dry for me, but this really comes down to personal preference and ink choice. In any case, it comes as close to my ideal pen as any other pen in the under US$100 category.
I've always thought that "Iridium Point Germany M" nibs meant that it was a Chinese made nib with poor QC (I have some that wrote like champs and some that were dogs). But from all reports, the great copy that I got is not an anomaly but rather the norm. I'll have to stop thinking of IPG as a pejorative term from now on.
At $33 shipped (within the US), this pen is a great value. And the very few times I've seen the Tactical Carry I or II on the marketplace, they usually go pretty fast, and for pretty much the original price. The market has spoken - this is a very fair price for the pen.
There's a little bit of a cognitive dissonance with this pen - it looks great from afar, but the luster fades a little when you examine it up close (rather like the Waterman Phileas); it feels much more expensive than it looks; and it writes like a pen that costs more than it does. I guess I can't help but think of what it could've been with just a little bit more effort. In fact, if the finishing and furniture were just little better, I would probably be comfortable paying up to 3 times the asking price for the pen.
Just to be clear, if you're getting the impression that I'm trying to damn this pen with faint praises, get that thought out of your head! This is a very good pen and I'd get this pen again in a heart beat. It is well worth the price Winedoc's asking for it, worts (literally! Hah!) and all. And remember that my copy is a prototype, and the finished products are hopefully, well, better finished. It'd be fair to say that I'm very impressed with the pen. In fact, I haven't come across a modern pen in the same category (big, fat,and heavy) that's a better value, and I whole heartedly recommend the DaniTrio Tactical Carry II (aka $33 pen) to anyone who is looking for a pen in this category. It's joined the Pilot Knight and Waterman Phileas as part of my "best value under US$50 modern pen" collection.
Disclaimer: I write with very little pressure, and my ideal pen has a buttery smooth fine nib with a very small amount of feedback with a feeder that lets ink flow like Niagara Falls. So, make adjustments to the review as necessary.
Edited to fix a few of the many typos.
Edited by helius, 18 December 2006 - 15:28.