This is our first time comparing two pens. As such we’d extra appreciate your feedback! Was this helpful? Did we cover the points of comparison you care about? Let us know!
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: The two pens look pretty similar — the VP is a little wider, the Decimo is a little more sleek. I suspect, for more people, any aesthetic preferences will come from preferences in the different finishes. The VP is available in solids, wood, raden and a whole bunch of special editions. The Decimo is available in pastels. (I didn’t realize it when I painted mine, but there isn’t even a black Decimo anymore — mine is likely from the 80s. Oops.)
Pam: I was originally quite biased towards the VP because I enjoyed the added weight and width. However, the Decimo is actually more comfortable with it’s slimmer clip for longer writing sessions. The VP comes in more colors which include the drool-worthy Radens (hint hint boyfriend of mine…) and my beloved dark grey. The VP is also known as Capless in other territories. Typically, the VP/Capless is sold with a gold nib, however, there is a “special alloy” (steel) nib available for about half the price. I can only find the special alloy nib from retailers in Japan. Unfortunately, the special alloy nib is only available in a handful of Capless models (black, dark blue, yellow, deep red, and silver).
Franz: The Pilot Vanishing Point has always been a pen that’s admired for its retractable nib and quick one hand deployment. Even though I’ve known about the Vanishing Point since I started using fountain pens in 2012, it was only this year that I learned about the Pilot Vanishing Decimo line. The Vanishing Point pens are inked up either by sticking a cartridge onto the nib unit, or by filling ink with its supplied converter. When bought new, both will have a Con-50 piston converter but you may also use a Con-20 squeeze converter which slightly provides more ink capacity.
The Vanishing Point reviewed and pictured above is the Twilight Limited Edition for 2015 which I was lucky enough to obtain on the day it was released. Katherine’s VP Decimo is a standard black model that she glitterfied and is now an Artist’s Proof 1 of 1 pen. Of course, there are a number of colors, materials, and finishes that are available for both pen models. We will try our best to focus on the size differences of these two models.
The Business End
Katherine: Nib units for the two are interchangable, but the VP is available from Japan in certain finishes with a stainless steel nib. Decimos and most VPs sold in the US have gold nibs.
Pam: For my VP, I switched with a friend my fine gold nib for the fine special alloy nib since the steel kept a more consistent and finer line with my “iron grip” hand. I found the original gold F nib scratchy for the line width that it produces. The special alloy F nib was the perfect pilot nib that we all know an love. It laid down a consistent line that was just wide enough to show off the beautiful color of Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo, the one true ink pairing (OTIP), for my VP. Currently, I have a gold EF nib in the Decimo. Yes, the EF nib can be considered scratchy given the size of the nib but due to the feedback, however, I may be writing with less pressure allowing for a more consistent line. The EF nib performs wonderfully on Tomoe River paper where as I found the F nibs to shine on Midori paper.
Franz: As Katherine mentioned, both Vanishing Points utilize the same nib units and generally gives you the same paper-to-nib experience. The VP Twilight currently has a broad (B) nib and its line width is very close to a western broad nib as well, which I like! The VP Decimo has a fine (F) nib which writes smoothly and lays down a thin line that’s like a western extra-fine (EF). I loved both writing experiences even if they were different line widths.
Write It Up
Katherine: I can write with either pen for 20 minutes with relative comfort. However, and perhaps out of habit, I do prefer the Decimo. It’s a noticeably slimmer and lighter pen, which I overall prefer. That being said, the VP is perfectly usable and I suspect with time (I borrowed Franz’s VP for a week) I would get used to it and no longer notice the difference.
Pam: I really miss the weight and width of the VP, but I must admit the size of the Decimo is more comfortable for longer writing session for me. The Decimo also has a slimmer clip profile so it’s less likely to interfere with anyone’s grip. I would recommend the VP for average to large hand individuals and the Decimo for those with the petite hand persuasion. All in all, both pens are wonderful pens and suitable for all hands.
Franz: I wrote with both pens for fifteen minutes each. I first wrote with the VP Decimo and it felt a bit too thin and I felt my hand cramp a little bit. I switched to the Vanishing Point and the thicker width felt much better and allowed me to write in my journal more comfortably. Pam is spot on that for larger hands, the Vanishing Point is the way to go.
Katherine: The two are functionally the same to me as EDC pens. I find both very convenient.
Pam: The click mechanism is just too darn convenient and pen is so well constructed to withstand consistent daily use that it’s practically an EDC must for me. The VP was in my white coat pocket everyday, up to the day I lost the pen at work. (Have you ever had such a busy day, you literally have a gap in your memory of that day/afternoon/couple hours? I literally don’t remember which area of the hospital I was in when I used last used the VP. ARGH!!!) The VP is, I mean, was, my most used pen in my entire collection. The Decimo is equally sturdy, but the weight of the VP was reassuring in my pocket.
I don’t have this problem with either model pen, especially since I use F or EF nibs, however, the ink capacity of the VP is pretty small. Given that it’s a cartridge converter, the ink capacity is typically less than 1 ml. If you use a wider nib or use the pen for novel writing, it may require multiple fillings in a day.
Franz: For my daily carry purposes, both pens win! Both VP’s easily clips on to my jacket, or shirt pocket and lets me quickly deploy and write with just one hand. All day long it pretty much went like this: Grab VP from pocket, click, scribble-scribble, click, clip back VP in pocket, and repeat.
As for the ink capacity of the Con-50, a full converter lasted about two days for me. Having been spoiled by my piston-filled pens, refilling every two days was something I had to get used to. Not a deal breaker though.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: After spending a couple months with a Decimo of my own (and dousing it in glitter) and a week with Franz’s VP… to me the big difference is in the finish you prefer. Everything held equal I prefer the slimness of the Decimo as an EDC or for taking quick notes (and I tend to slightly prefer slightly wider pens for long, lazy journal sessions). But the VP is by no means unusable or uncomfortable for me. If I lost my Decimo tomorrow (I hope not!) I would replace it with whichever I saw first at a price and finish I liked first.
Pam: I loved the VP enough to buy another variant of the pen, after the appropriate mourning period had passed, of course. The only caution I would give is to make sure that the VP works well with your grip. If the VP agrees with you, it will be a GREAT pen and won’t let you down.
Franz: The Pilot Vanishing Point pen is a great pen to have in one’s pen case. My first VP was the Matte Black one that I bought at the 2012 SF Pen Show. This was about a month after I got into fountain pens and I used it at work for almost a year, and I loved it. I have come to appreciate this pen for its versatility, different finishes, and nib sizes. I’m proud to say that I have a couple VP’s in my collection.
Both the VP, and the VP Decimo are fantastic pens for the money. You really just need to hold and write with one to see if it feels right. For some, the clip gets in the way of having a good grip (it does not for me), and because most are lacquered on metal, it can be too heavy for some (not to me). The only drawback as to why I do not use my VP’s on a daily basis anymore is the ink capacity of the supplied converter. But I am always happy when I ink one up for journaling, or doodling purposes.
Pen Comparisons (click to enlarge)