If you come to me one day and ask, “Luke, what is the most useful pen I could buy” I’m going to put a Schon DSGN Pocket Six in your hand.
You didn’t ask for the fanciest. You didn’t ask for the prettiest (although Ian Schon’s pens are gorgeous). You didn’t ask for the most expensive status pen that you’ll scared to ever take out of the house. You asked for something useful, and I stand by my answer.
The Pocket six is hands down the most useful pen I own, and I always have one (if not both of mine) inked at all times. It’s not often that you’ll hear people make the argument for a pocket pen being an everyday writer, but I’ll plainly state that I use my Pocket Sixes more than any other pens in my collection. It may seem weird that a pocket pen is one of my everyday workhorse pens, but it seems to always find its way into my hand.
If I’m running errands, it’s in my pocket. I use it regularly for journaling and longer writing sessions. If I’m at the studio, in my workshop, or in the kitchen, it’s right there with me. I’m probably not going to be jotting down bread recipes on a flour-coated counter or working in my spray booth with my Pilot Custom 823 handy to take notes, but I hardly think twice about doing it with the Pocket Six. Use it, wipe it down if need be, and on to the next thing — these pens are survivors.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of writing with one of these pens, here’s the rundown. The Pocket Six is unassumingly small, a true pocket pen. But good things come in small packages because this marvelously engineered writing tool can quickly expand into a full-size pen. Unscrew the cap, post it onto the back threading, and you’re off to the races with a wonderfully comfortable writing instrument that fits into a package just a touch bigger than 3.5 inches long. It also sports a #6 sized nib (hence the name) instead of the smaller nibs commonly found on other pocket pens.
I find many metal pens too heavy to use for extended periods, but the Pocket Six’s construction gives its small frame some heft and makes it feel substantial and balanced in my hand (though some of the solid metal ones in brass or copper may be heavier than my aluminum version — this could be a good or bad thing depending on your preferences). I also find that many machined/tactical metal pens lack resin or ebonite’s visual interest. It’s almost as if they over-embrace the austerity of manufacturing and lose something in the process — creating an object that’s practical but no longer exciting. I never feel that way about these pens. The colorful anodized designs are every bit as intriguing to me as some of the best boutique resin blanks. The look of the faceted metal versions feels sculptural rather than just industrial. These pens have heart and soul.
Other materials are available, including faceted copper, brass, and aluminum versions (have you seen the all-black aluminum one with the faceted barrels? I guess I know what my next Schon purchase will be). They do come at a significantly higher price point that may change the usefulness to value ratio for some. But if you love the more affordable versions I think you’ll find that your desire for one of the higher end options growing over over time (especially if you are a collector), I know mine has.
There’s also something to be said about the guy who makes these pens. Ian Schon gives you a look into his pen making process like no other. I’m always excited to see his Instagram stories where he shares both the successes of his days in the shop as well as the mistakes and stumbles. It is incredibly humanizing and endearing to have someone show you the batch of parts that got fucked up or how they had to spend a day fixing a machine. Despite all this, he remains accessible and personable — quickly answering questions and taking care of any issues I’ve ever had with great speed and care. Some large companies out there could learn something about customer service from this small Philadelphia pen maker.
You could make the argument that the Kaweco Sport or similar pocket pen could serve this niche just as effectively — and at a lower price point. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a Kaweco and own quite a few of them, but after using the Pocket Six for several months, the Kaweco started to feel awkward in my hand. It was suddenly too light and lacked the solid feeling I wanted in a pen that I took with me pretty much everywhere. I feel like the Pocket Six can take a beating that the Kaweco would not stand up to; I also find the feel of writing with the Schon a lot more pleasurable than that of the Kaweco Sport. It’s sleeker, the form factor feels a little more natural to write with, and the larger nib gives a better overall writing experience, and I find the more aggressively contoured grip section of the Pocket Six more comfortable than that of the Kaweco Sport —which has a slight hourglass shape, but not enough for my preferences. I suppose the tradeoff is that if I lost or broke a Kaweco I would be far less heartbroken than if I did the same to a Pocket Six — though the aforementioned durability helps me not stress about it too much.
I currently own two of these pens, both in anodized aluminum. The first is a gold/yellow and green color-way called Amphibian — mine sports a 1.1 mm Jowo stub nib available directly from Schon DSGN that wrote wonderfully out of the box. The second is a blue and purple combo called LaCroiy that as of the publication of this review sports a broad architect nib that I originally had on another pen but wanted to install in something I used more frequently. Because Ian has opted to use Jowo Nibs you have a wide range of options in terms of customizing your writing experience down the line
I was actually hesitant to buy my first Pocket Six. The fact that It only took cartridges was initially a huge turnoff for me. Still, I quickly rationalized that I could, with a scant amount of effort, actually refill cartridges from any of my favorite bottled inks. However, these days I usually just keep them inked with Monteverde short cartridges — Purple Reign for the LaCroiy and Californa Teal for the Amphibian. Looking back, I actually can’t believe how long I hesitated, considering how much I use them daily.
(The pens in this review was purchased by me for my own collection. This post contains no sponsored content, affiliate links, or items provided for review by vendors/manufacturers)