I have terrible handwriting. *Terrible*. Inherited from my father, who has several times been asked “are you a doctor?” by strangers upon seeing him write something (he is not). I used this malady (as well as laziness, apathy, general young-and-dumbness) as an excuse to just not take notes in college. But, I have always loved to draw and have always had a thing for nice pens, markers, etc. My current adult life as an IT manager produces a daily stream of Post-It notes – a necessary evil for a tired father with the memory of a goldfish.
Years ago, when I fell deep into the world of gear, I scoffed at the clowns spending hundreds of dollars on titanium trinkets – knives that couldn’t cut any better than my $20 Kershaw, pens that wouldn’t write any better than my $3 Pilot G2, etc. And, yet again, I have become what I once mocked. To date, I’ve owned several Tactile Turns, a few Machine Era’s and now 2 Urban Survival Gear Tiscribes – specifically the V2 and V3.
I will cut to the chase – Tiscribes are my favorite pen by a wide margin. Granted, I have a fairly narrow scope since I only have hands on experience with Machine Era, USG and Tactile Turn. But of those 3 – and I really do like all 3 – the Tiscribe is hands down my favorite pen and is in my hand daily. I have owned and used a V2 nearly every day for a year now, and I am very happy. When I saw the V3 announced a few months ago, I knew I was destined to grab one when it came out.
I paid just under $100 for my V2 back in the Summer of 2020. The V3 costs $140 – whoa! As you can see, they’re fairly close in size, though the V3 is noticeably shorter and thicker in hand. To get a sense for overall dimensions, here’s a comparison shot including the Pilot G2.
One of the things I absolutely loved about the V2 (bottom) is the thinness – especially since I was making the move from the Tactile Turn Bolt at the time, which I found to be great, but too beefy. I was a bit disappointed to find that the V3 was noticeably thicker – more robust even than the plastic tube area of the G2. While the average user would probably not even notice, coming from daily use of the V2 it was definitely an initial turn off.
On the flip side, one of the clear improvements of the V3 is the pocket clip. The one glaring issue I have had with the V2 is the clip. To be fair, I don’t often clip the pen to my shirt now that I work from home, and when I do it functions just fine. However, it’s always just seemed a bit small, thin and boring. The V3 clip solves all of these issues and more – it’s longer and much more substantial. Visually, it “works” a lot more with the rest of the pen body to me compared to the V2 clip. Better yet, the clip is now beveled at the top where you thumb makes contact to actuate the bolt mechanism. The area is also slightly jimped – something that V2 really lacked. All in all, the clip is a fantastic progression on this Tiscribe.
The bolt mechanism is interesting on the V3. On the V2, you had to press completely down and then move the bolt over in the latch to lock the pen in place. On the new version, the bolt opening is shaped in such a way that forces the bolt to move down and slide into locking position without the user having to think about it. This reminds me of the Tactile Turn Bolt in some ways, but much better. I personally prefer the V2 iteration of this mechanism, but that’s likely due to a year of steady use. The V3 version feels a bit weird and fumbly to me.
One minor note: I really miss the V2’s contrasting titanium finishes on the ribbing near the cap. I didn’t realize this until I had the V3 beside it, but it is a nice little detail and I’m a bit bummed they removed it on the V3.
Price is one of those touchy things that I try to avoid at all costs (hehe, get it?) – but it feels especially necessary on a pen like this. A $140 pen is insane, I get it. Is the V3 Tiscribe worth $140? Of course it is – but maybe not to you. The years of building niche expertise, equipment acquisitions, operating costs, trial and error, etc – these easily make $140 a fair price to pay for the Tiscribe. Not to mention the opportunity cost that an entrepreneur pays for years while building a business. It won’t be for everyone – but please don’t disparage makers who produce high quality (American!) work and charge accordingly. I say this as someone who has been this person. There are pieces of gear that I am simply unwilling or unable to spend money on – either because they are out of my budget, or I fail to see the value proposition. But let’s be charitable as a community – there are a lot of wonderful men and women building businesses, and that itself is respectable.
You can’t go wrong with a Tiscribe. For me, the V2 is near-perfection. The V3 would have closed that gap in a few ways, but unfortunately takes back some of the things I love about the V2. Both are excellent pens, but the V2 will be the one staying in my collection. However, I’ve already caught myself thinking about buying another V3 in the future, so perhaps that opinion evolves over time.
I can’t stress enough how impressed I am by Urban Survival Gear. Kelvin has been doing really excellent work over the years, and from what I’ve seen his output and quality has only improved over time. The Tiscribe has become on of my absolute favorite pieces of gear – right up there with the Sebenza and SKX. Nit-picking the details between the two almost feels profane. Take it from someone who has wasted way too much of his life over-researching potential purchases: just go buy one and fuggedaboutit.