I have had the Mover and Shaker from Tactile Turn for a couple of weeks now so I’m in a position to give some reasonably informed thoughts. I keep forgetting which is which, but I just looked it up again and the Mover is the longer pen and the Shaker is the shorter one. I guess I’ll try to remember that “smaller” and Shaker both start with the letter S. Anyway, the long and short of this review will be that these pens are (a) well made (b) offer a fair amount of refill flexibility and (c) a bit boring.
Pen fans likely know that machined pens have become rather popular thanks to funding sites like Kickstarter. In addition to these Tactile Turn pens, I have a couple of Retrakts from Karas Kustoms. Frankly, there isn’t a world of difference between the Mover and Shaker and the Retrakts. In fact, the longer Mover and the Retrakt have nearly identical lengths and weights. That said, there are a couple of important differences that have me favoring the Tactile Turn offerings, especially the shorter Shaker.
The Shaker has spent the last couple of weeks as one of my pocket pens of choice. Initially, I did some hacking to get an Energel refill to fit the Shaker but ultimately decided that it was all a little too high maintenance for a pen that gives off an entirely utilitarian vibe. So, it’s now housing a medium blue Fisher Space Pen refill. For a pen that can go anywhere and tolerate all sorts of abuse, the write-anywhere Fisher refill seemed like a natural fit. My Mover is holding a 0.50 blue Pilot Juice refill which has the same dimensions as the Pilot G2 refill for which the pen was designed.
Refill considerations brings me to my two minor critiques of the pen design. When retracted, the tip of the Fisher refill resides too close to the opening of the Shaker. It turns out that this isn’t a huge deal because I clip pens to the front pants pocket and the Shaker’s short length prevents the tip from reaching the bottom of the pocket. However, if you keep pens in a shallow pocket, the proximity of the refill tip to the opening could give you some bleeding issues. Second, the threads connecting the two halves of the pen are finely cut which can lead to off-center connections and potential thread stripping if you are not patient when changing refills. Also, you’ll definitely want to rub a bit of pencil graphite onto the threads to eliminate the annoying squeals machined threads often produce.
The distinguishing feature of the Mover and Shaker is the grooved tip. It’s such a simple design element, but it’s amazing how much grip these grooves provide. Now, if you’re a high holder of pens (further from the tip) you’re unlikely to naturally find your fingers resting on the grooves. I suspect that I’m a bit of a high holder compared to most folks so my finger tips really only contact 0.5 to 1.0 cm of grooves. But, even that small amount of contact is enough to benefit from the trademark design feature. In fact, if you’re a low pen holder you may find yourself touching too many grooves and that you’re getting gecko like contact with the pen. As for the clip and knock, they’re both plain and entirely functional. The knock is the same one used by the folks at Karas Kustoms and delivers a smooth and nearly silent action.
Earlier, I said these pens are a bit boring. While you take this as a criticism of the overall design (Seriously, look at the pen. It’s just sort of there), you can also think of it as a compliment regarding the no fuss user experience. It’s also a comment about the color I picked for my Mover. I forget what it’s called, but the cream/ivory/sand color of the larger pen was a bad call on my part. It’s a color you might see painted on the walls of the multipurpose room of a psychiatric facility. It might work for some, but I find myself wishing I went with something a bit bolder.
Before I start wrapping up, I want to make one more comment about machined pens in general. Keep in mind that these pens are made of unforgiving metal and that you might experience a bit of finger tip fatigue with prolonged use. When I hold a pen, it tends to rest on the side of the top knuckle of my middle finger. With plastic or rubber or even acrylic pens, I won’t notice much fatigue on that part of my pen grip. But, with harder pens, the pressure can become a bit uncomfortable over long periods. Your pen grip and experience may differ.
So, should you get a Mover or Shaker? I would say probably “yes” to the Shaker and “maybe” to the Mover depending on your pen collection. The smaller size of the Shaker makes it a more unique entry into the machined pen catalog. Also, machined pens are made to take a beating and the Shaker is easy to take with you thus offering the chance to take full advantage of its rock solid build. If you don’t have any similarly sized machined pens, then give the Mover a serious look as well. If you already have and enjoy something like the Retrakt, then the Mover will feel a touch redundant. That’s not to say the Retrakt is better than the Mover; they’re both quality pens. It’s just that they’re similar enough so having both pens may not be the most efficient use of your limited pen funds.