Review: Pilot Custom 823

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: This is a serious looking pen. But not too serious. All three finishes (amber, smoke and clear) are demonstrators, but the amber and smoke aren’t obviously so. As usual, the cigar shape isn’t my favorite, but I like the way the translucent amber and smoke materials look with ink sloshing around. My long time gripe with the clear one was that the cap liner (on all three, but most obvious on the black) is black… and very obvious. BUT, I’ve recently discovered that it’s not hard to remove the cap liner — a fat eraser (like one of the ones on those easy grip chubby kids pencils) can easily pull it out. Then it looks oh-so-much cleaner! If this pen came in the 912’s styling (flat ends, rhodium trim), it would be a must-own for me, instead I very much enjoy it, but I’m not in love with the way it looks.

Pam:  Le sigh.  It’s another cigar shape pen.  Its saving grace is due to the demonstrator quality of them.  The clip is… not aesthetically pleasing to me. I really enjoy the black and transparent material.  Per usual, I am more fond of rhodium trim, however I don’t think that trim is available in the 823 model.  Oh, what I would give for a ruthenium trim on the clear/transparent model.  I will admit that the vanity in me prevent me picking up this pen.  (Spoiler alert:  I regret not picking up this pen sooner.)

Franz: Now I feel out of place. I love cigar shaped pens but the Pilot Custom 823 is more torpedo shaped, no? Hihihi… Either way, I love the 823’s shape and for some reason, that smoke finish is a winner for me! The 823’s size is substantial in the hand but at the same time it’s not too big, if that makes sense.

Just like what we learned in our review of the Pilot Custom 912, Pilot assigned a lot of their pen model names according to the company’s year when they were introduced. Namiki/Pilot was founded in 1918 and they are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year as well. So for the Pilot Custom 823, the first two digits (82) mean that the pen was released in Pilot’s 82nd year, 2000. The third digit represents the manufacturer suggested retail price in 10,000 Japanese Yen, ¥30,000.

In the Hand: Pilot Custom 823 (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Pilot Custom 823 (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

The Business End

Katherine: Yay for Pilot #15 nibs! I really enjoy them. The medium on this pen was no different — a wonderful balance of smooth and wet, but not overly so in either direction. I’ve also had the pleasure of using a handful of other nib sizes on 823s and have been quite happy with all of them. Personally, I own a #15 FA, and love the bounce (the #10 I own is softer/flexier) and smooth writing it gives me.

Pam:  Franz was kind enough to allow me to borrow a 823 with a fine nib.  What a nib!!! It’s honestly everything one could love about a Pilot nib.  Granted, my experience with Pilot is limited to a few select pens (Elite, Myu, m90, Murex, Volex) and I typically use the Pilot Prera and Vanishing Point at work.  What was quite different about this particular nib is the size; it’s so big!! It’s also a great “upgrade” in both size, material and performance.

Franz: The 823’s nibs are very pleasant to write with. No adjustments were necessary to provide a great writing experience. However, among the three, the broad nib was modified by Mr. Dan Smith into a juicy stub. The medium and fine nibs had a good flow as well. The 823 nibs definitely have the bounce to give that flair in your writing.

Writing sample on Nanami Cross Field A5 Journal

Write It Up

Katherine: I thought the 823 was overhyped until I borrowed one from Franz for this review. As I wrote with it (and stared at it, trying to settle my feelings on its aesthetic) I realized why it’s such a popular pen… It’s a solid workhorse of a pen that writes wonderfully and feels solid and comfortable in the hand. It’s not too big, not too small, not too smooth, not too feedbacky… Somehow it’s a fantastic balance on so many axes (plural of axis, not that I’m balancing pens on wood chopping implements). I guess it’s implied, but I had a great time writing with it — though I did forget to loosen the knob the first time and was momentarily vexed as I wrote the feed dry.

Pam:  I didn’t just write with this pen for an extended period of time.  I “borrowed” this pen from Franz for an extended period of time.  It’s has just enough stiffness and give from the material and size to make the writing experience tactically enjoyable for me.  I found the pen to be very well balanced unposted.  It’s a bit tall for me posted.  The ink in the chamber is a bit mesmerizing.

The nib was Pilot smooth with little/no feedback.  The nib performed surprisingly better than I expected on cheap office paper.  It didn’t feather as much as usual.  Ink used was Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku. The pen and ink combo shined in both my Midori insert and Hobonichi (Tomoe River paper).

The writing experience of this nib is quite unique to this nib/pen.  I am a bit addicted to the particular writing experience that this pen provides.  I would highly recommend trying this pen out yourself.  Just remember, the first taste is free. ;P

Franz: The biggest thing that I love about the Pilot 823 is that there isn’t a step between the barrel and section and that the threads aren’t sharp. When the cap is posted it is plenty long for my large hand but like Pam, I prefer to write with the pen unposted because the weight is more balanced. So with fingers on the threads, the unposted length is very comfy for me.

EDC-ness

Katherine: Solid clip, 1.75 turns to uncap and an ink capacity that lasts pages and pages and pages. And it low-key looks so your boss doesn’t wonder why you’re writing with a glitter stick. But some oooh and aah when your teammates notice the ink sloshing around inside.

Pam: I loved this pen at work.  It was less than two turns to get you writing and as previously stated, the F nib does a pretty good job on office paper.  The clip was just enough to easily slip in and out of a my white coat pocket with little issues.  The ink capacity of this pen is fantastic and by far exceeds my other EDCs for work.  For quick note taking, the VP is the height of convenience.  However, for end of the day wrapping up “thought gathering” and where you have an extended note-taking session, I kept reaching for the 823.  I may be adding another Pilot to my pocket for work at the rate we are going.

Franz: The 823 is a great companion for use at work and when I’m out and about. The fine and/or medium nib was great for the copier paper in the office and it just wrote well. The ball clip is sturdy and fits onto my shirt pocket as well as my jeans pocket. The biggest advantage of the 823 is its ink capacity. When you operate the vacuum filler (pictured below), the pen gets about 75% filled up. There is a maneuver you can do to fill the pen 100% of ink which is about 2.5ml. Dan Smith shows this in his video review of the Pilot Custom 823 here.

As Katherine described earlier, the 823 does have a shut-off valve (second picture below) and you need to unscrew the knob to make sure the ink flows freely onto the reservoir and feed. Gotta make sure that it is unscrewed or else you’ll find the nib writing dry after a page or two of journaling (trust me, I know). The shut-off valve helps contain the ink when you are flying, or if you are shipping the pen filled with ink. I received my 823 filled with ink in the mail from my friend and aside from ink spots in the cap, no other ink was wasted.

Vacuum plunger knob pulled all the way back ready for inking
The plunger knob is unscrewed and the shut-off valve is open for ink to flow onto the reservoir/feed

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: The 823 is a solid pen. It’s not my favorite aesthetically, but I’m more than willing to forgive it that for how well balanced of a pen and nib it is. However, at $250-300 new, it’s not a pen I’m in a hurry to acquire (well, also because I arguably have more than enough pens…) but I do one day want to own one with an FA nib. I’m sure this will upset someone, but the 823 reminds me a lot of another pen I love, the Pelikan M800 — solid workhorse pens with an ink capacity for days and a clean professional vibe (assuming you aren’t sporting a maki-e M800 or something). If you like cigar shaped pens and gold trim, I don’t think you can go wrong with the 823.

Pam:  #PenAddictProTip I agree with Brad. As in you should try the 823 for yourself.  I believe that this pen is in the “everyone should try it or own it” category, like the Lamy 2000.  You may not like it, but it’s a pen that is so easily and quickly reference for what it brings to the table:  a LARGE gold nib, piston filler, a classic shape with a modern twist and a fantastic writing experience.  It is well deserving of the “pens you should know” pantheon. The price maybe a sticking point, but I have had such a great writing experience with this pen that if you enjoy it as much as I did, it may well justify the price for you.

Franz: Well, if you haven’t noticed yet, the Pilot Custom 823 is a definite win among the three of us. It is a decently sized pen with great balance and is a great fit for small to large handed writers. Currently in the United States, only the Amber finish is available. I really wish that the Smoke and the Clear finishes would be made available in the market. You may purchase the two finishes from Japan sources if you are patient and knowledgeable enough to do so. I was lucky enough to secure my Pilot Custom 823 in Smoke from the secondary market.

You can call it a cigar-shaped, or a torpedo-shaped pen, it doesn’t matter as long as you try one. It’s a fantastic pen for me and I’m happy I own one.

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Parker 75, TWSBI Eco, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor 1911 Large, *Pilot Custom 823*, Pelikan M805, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Parker 75, TWSBI Eco, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor 1911 Large, *Pilot Custom 823*, Pelikan M805, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Parker 75, TWSBI Eco, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor 1911 Large, *Pilot Custom 823*, Pelikan M805, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

Amber

Clear

Smoke

6 Comments

Review: Aurora Optima (365 Azzurra, Fine Nib)

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: I love the Optima’s aesthetic. I love the flat ends, a taper, but overall it’s short and kind of stubby. And I love stubby pens. Additionally, Aurora makes it in a range of gorgeous materials — including the limited edition pictured here. I’m partial to the gold and green, but have yet to find one at a price I’m comfortable with.

Pam: I really love the Optima’s shape and size.  Why you ask?  Because, to me, the Aurora Optima 365 is a gaudier Sailor Progear with the use of a wider, more ostentatious cap band.  I have hesitated in purchasing an Optima mostly due to the stock material used for the pen body and cap.  This limited edition material for the Optima made me eat my words.  It’s sooo pretty. The blues, teal and flecks of silver-white is pretty unique and fantastic.

Franz: Wow! That Azzurra is fantastic! Pam’s observation is correct that the Optima is similarly styled as the Sailor Pro Gear. However in the hand, the Optima is definitely larger and the section is longer. That Greek key cap band is quite nice to look at as well. I’ve observed that a lot of Italian pens use this design which is pretty cool especially on the vintage ones.

In the Hand: Aurora Optima (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Aurora Optima (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

A Bit of History

The Aurora pen company was established in 1919 in Turin, Italy. Pretty cool to know that they are nearing their 100th year anniversary!

Just like what we learned about the 88 model in our review, the Aurora Optima model has been a part of their model lineup since the 1930’s. The vintage model had the same flat ends kind of style and the greek key cap band as well. The vintage Optima however had the same celluloid material for the whole pen unlike the modern one which has black cap finials, section, and piston knob. Also, the vintage Optima had a vacuum-filler instead of the piston-filler in the modern one.

The Optima that we know nowadays was redesigned in 1992. The Optima is offered in different colors, materials, and limited edition options. As long as you like the shape and style of the pen, there’s gonna be an Optima pen just for you. The Azzurra 365 is a limited edition of 365 units and Franz snagged one when it came out in 2017 from Dan Smith, the Nibsmith. As of March 2018, Dan still has a couple of these in his inventory.

Beautiful Azzurra celluloid engraved with Aurora’s full company name: Fabbrica Italiana di Penne a Serbatoio – Aurora

 

The Business End

Katherine: I’ve been surprised by the Optima nibs I’ve tried — they’re somewhere between a Japanese and a Western nib. Plus they have a wonderful smidge of feedback, reminiscent to me of Sailor nibs. Now that I’ve typed this all out… the Optima nibs feel like a middle ground between a Sailor nib and a typical Western nib in terms of both line width and feedback vs smoothness.

Pam:  I have been able to try both an Aurora Optima’s EF and F nib.  I have found Aurora’s nibs to be very consistent in line width and feel. The EF is more similar to a Japanese EF.  The F nib is more consistent with a Western EF. The nib is quite wet but then again, the ink itself is also quite wet. I really enjoyed the super smooth writing experience.  Sheeny inks would really shine with this nib.

Franz: I really love the nib design of the Aurora Optima and the shape is a traditional fountain pen nib. Surprisingly, I didn’t ask for a medium/broad nib from Dan but a fine instead. I’m glad I did because the fine nib is definitely lovely to write with. As Katherine said, there is a pleasant feedback while writing that I like especially on smooth paper like my Rhodia meeting notebook. The 18-karat nib isn’t really flexy nor is it marketed as a flexible nib but with just a little pressure, it does give my signature a little flair.

Franz’ writing sample on a Rhodia Meeting Notebook

 

Write It Up

Katherine: I haven’t measured, but this pen feels like a heavier Pro Gear. Maybe a little bigger? But if it is, not by much. I found it comfortable (and quite enjoyable) to write with for long periods of time.

Pam:  It’s a comfortable size pen for a variety of hand sizes.  For smaller hands, it would be worth it to post the pen.  For smaller sized hands, unposted is slightly better balanced and comfortable.  My thumb wraps around the step and threads of the pen, but I hardly notice them.  The step and threads aren’t sharp and the step is minimal making for a wonderful “no imprints” writing experience in my iron fist grip.

Franz: Let me just say that writing in my journal with the Optima was such a joy. The Optima is quite light compared to my usual Pelikan M800 and I have not experienced any fatigue at all. Both modes posted and unposted were very comfortable for me. The cap posts deeply onto the barrel and doesn’t affect the balance at all. I’ve already mentioned this but what I really love about the Optima is the lengthy section since I do grip pens farther back than others as seen in the hand comparison photos above.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: A solid pen that works quite well as an EDC. And the cap takes 1.3 turns to uncap, which is pretty darn fast. I holds up quite comfortably to a life of being used to jot down quick meetings.

Pam:  The pen is a great size capped.  It should fit into a decent number of pockets.  The clip is strong and tight.  It should have no problem slipping in and out of shirt pockets. It took a bit more finagling for my white coat pockets with the thicker material. I kept it in my Sinclair case for a majority of my time with it.

Franz: I’ve been using the Optima at my workplace for a couple weeks now and it’s such a nice everyday carry pen. The ball clip fastens to my shirt pocket very securely and uncapping is fairly quick with less than one and a half turn. The fine nib was nice to use on the copier paper in the office too.

Something pretty cool with Aurora’s piston filled pens like the 88 and the Optima is their hidden ink reservoir. If you are running out of ink, just fully extend the piston down and a little bit more ink will be available to use hopefully until you get back home to refill your pen.

The black stem behind the feed is where ink is fed through. The piston has a hole that will fit around the black stem.
Piston midway onto Stem: When the piston goes over the black stem, a couple drops of ink underneath will be displaced and fed up to the stem.
When the piston knob is extended, it is a reminder for you to refill the pen.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: All in all, I really like the Optima. I like the shape, the nibs are fantastic and they are made in beautiful materials. But, I find the MSRP quite high for the pen so I’ve been quite conflicted about purchasing one. As Pam mentioned earlier in the review, also remind me a lot the Pro Gears, though I don’t think the aesthetic is better or worse — just very different.

Pam:  I really enjoyed my time with the pen.  I enjoyed the nib more. This particular material is exceptional.  I know the price of the Aurora Optima reflect the celluloid material used for the pen but that alone isn’t enough for me.  That being said, if you can enjoy a beautiful modern celluloid pen with a fantastic nib, I would highly recommend the Aurora Optima.

Franz: I don’t have a lot of Italian pens in my collection but so far, Aurora has been winning my heart over. The Aurora Optima has been a pen model I’ve liked a lot and the 365 Azzurra pushed me to get one. For large-sized hands, I can definitely recommend the Optima and as mentioned earlier, there are lots of finishes that one can choose from. I think with the experience of the two ladies above, the Optima is also a good pen for small and medium sized hands as well. Plus, it’s a piston-filler which holds a lot of ink perfect for daily use.

A little food for thought to end this review, Optima is derived from the word optimus which stands for “Best”. Hmmm… is it the best pen ever? For me, the Optima has jumped into my Top 5 since I got it late last year. Not necessarily my Number One pen (Pelikan still FTW) but it’s up there. Now of course, best pens are very subjective! =)

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: TWSBI Eco, Lamy 2000, Platinum 3776, Sailor Pro Gear Classic, *Aurora Optima*, Pelikan M805, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: TWSBI Eco, Lamy 2000, Platinum 3776, Sailor Pro Gear Classic, *Aurora Optima*, Pelikan M805, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: TWSBI Eco, Lamy 2000, Platinum 3776, Sailor Pro Gear Classic, *Aurora Optima*, Pelikan M805, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, and Lamy Safari

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

5 Comments

Review: Sailor Professional Gear Slim/Sapporo Mini (Medium-Fine Nib)

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: This pen is adorable. But it does bug me a little that the end of the barrel isn’t black (I’m picky, I know). But oh, it is so cute. (Contrary to what Pam says, they’re still available on Rakuten)

Pam:  CHIBI BUMBLEBEE SAILOR for the win!!! It’s a petite Progear that is small enough that the pen gets posted by screwing on the end of the pen.  Sailor pocket pen are three words that send my heart swooning; great things come in small packages. Unfortunately, these are not being made anymore.  They are available on the secondary market.

Franz: The Sailor Pro Gear Mini is so tiny and charming especially in this yellow finish! Pam calls it bumblebee and I can see that too but in my mind, I refer to it as a banana pen. I don’t know… it’s just something about that black cap finial that makes me think of one of my favorite fruits.

In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear Mini (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear Mini (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

The Business End

Katherine: It’s the the same Sailor MF 14k as a Pro Gear Slim (it’s really just a Pro Gear Slim with a shorter barrel, after all) — and unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed it. It’s broad enough that I can see the color of the ink, but fine enough that I can stick to my usual tiny hand writing.

Pam:  It’s a Sailor MF (medium-fine) nib.  It’s in the great sweet spot of a slightly wetter/broader line that isn’t too wet.  I would recommend putting in an ink that you want to show off.  Perhaps an ink with some sheen.  I don’t find as much feedback with this Sailor nib, which makes sense given that the MF nib is a bit broader.

Franz: The Mini’s medium-fine nib is very nice to write with. Just like most Sailor nibs I’ve tried, it was very smooth. The M-F line width is actually a good one for me as I find Sailor’s fine nibs just “a little” too thin of a line for me.  The design on this nib is different from any other Sailor pen because this was a pen commissioned and sold by the Nagasawa Kobe stores in Japan.

 

Write It Up

Katherine: I found this pen usable, but slightly short when unposted. It’s one of the few pens that I prefer posted to unposted. Like the Kaweco Sport, when unposted, this pen makes my hand a bit tired after a while because it’s just barely long enough to fit in my hand and I have to be careful about how I position my hand. Posted though, it’s fantastic — like a slightly longer Pro Gear Slim!

Pam: The size of the pen posted is similar to the Sailor Progear Slim.  The width of the pen is exactly that of the Sailor Progear Slim actually.  They section and body are swappable amongst the Sailor Progear Slim and Mini. Other than the length, if you find the width of the Sailor Progear Slim comfortable, this pen won’t be a problem for you.

Franz: I wrote in my journal with the Mini only in the posted mode because it was quite difficult to write with the cap unposted. I found that the posted length made it a little more comfortable for me. The girth of the section was quite thin for me so I end up gripping the pen on the threads. They weren’t too sharp and I barely noticed them.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: It’s great for quick notes and pocket use. It’s tiny, brightly colored (and hard to lose…) and seems plenty durable, not that I threw it against a wall or anything.

Pam:  I kept this pen with my Hobonichi A6 notebook cover and it kept up with my adventures in my bag.  It’s really portable.  It’s not the best for quick notes given that you have to screw the cap onto the body to post, However, if you have particularly petite hands and don’t need to post it, a which quick twist of 1.5 rotations, will get you writing pretty quick.

Franz: Ahh… every day carry. It is definitely a pen that fits in your pockets. The M-F nib is actually very appropriate for use on cheap copier papers as the line is thin and the ink spread is minimal. But I don’t think I can recommend this pen for large handed writers because after 2 or 3 words, it’s hard to write with the pen unposted. This is due to the pen falling into the crook of my hand and is uncomfortable. I’d need to post the cap and screw it onto the barrel which takes quite a bit of time if you are constantly needing to cap and uncap for quick usage. It takes almost 2 turns to uncap the pen and then another turn or two for posting the cap. Small hands? No problem as you can see from the two ladies’ experience.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: This pen is really cute — but between this and the Pro Gear Slim, I’d prefer the latter. It’s just a little more flexible and accommodating for my hand. But if short pens are your thing — this is definitely a great fit.

Pam:  It’s a chibi Sailor for chibi hands.  It’s a solid Sailor pen, albeit small.  If you are into challenging yourself on how small of a pen you can comfortably write with (like Franz), this is a great pen to borrow from smaller hand friends.  If you are looking for a great pocket pen and don’t mind the extra work posting, you will be rewarded with this Sailor.

Franz: I really like the Pro Gear Mini a lot, and want one for myself. But to be honest, this is more because of me just hoarding wanting the pen in my collection. As a journal, or letter writing pen, I’d use this pen again.

The Mini is a pen more suited for people with a small, or medium hand size. This is coming from a guy who uses his King of Pen Pro Gear a lot in the workplace and for daily use. As well as a guy who constantly annoys pen friends by singing, “I like big pens and I cannot lie…!”.

But one, including myself, cannot deny that the Sailor Pro Gear Mini is an adorable pen to behold. #ChibiPen

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Pelikan M400, Platinum 3776, Pilot Prera, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, *Sailor Professional Gear Sapporo/Mini*, TWSBI Eco, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Pelikan M400, Platinum 3776, Pilot Prera, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, *Sailor Professional Gear Sapporo/Mini*, TWSBI Eco, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Pelikan M400, Platinum 3776, Pilot Prera, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, *Sailor Professional Gear Sapporo/Mini*, TWSBI Eco, Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari

 

Sailor Professional Gear Comparisons (Left to right: Pro Gear Sapporo/Mini, Pro Gear Slim, Pro Gear Classic, and Pro Gear King of Pen)

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

2 Comments

Review: Pilot Custom 912 (FA Nib)

 

We would like to thank Pen Chalet and Ron M. for sending us this Pilot Custom 912 as a review loaner pen. Pen Chalet has been a great company that sells pens and stationery items at competitive prices. They also frequently run promos for specially priced items as well as provide discount coupons. Check them out if you haven’t yet.

That being said, the opinions below are our own and we were not compensated (monetarily, or otherwise) for this review.

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: I like the way this pen looks. Flat ends, with some taper, and silver rhodium hardware. It’s nothing flashy, but I much prefer this look to cigar shaped pens.

Pam:  This pen hits several check boxes for me in terms of aesthetics.  Flat top, check.  Rhodium trim, check. Non-garish clip, check.  It’s perfectly understated and professional.  Oh, what fun this pen hides!

Franz: A lot of Pilot pens have a simple look and this is one of them. The shape of the 912 reminds me of a Parker 75, a Lamy 2000, and maybe even a Sailor Pro Gear. A flat top pen with slight taper. And do you notice how the clip’s shape looks like a sword? The pen is mightier than the sword, right? =)

Here’s a quick informational tip. A lot of Pilot pens are assigned numbers as their model names. I’ve come to know that the first 2 numbers of the model name indicates the company year when the pen model was released. In the case of the Pilot Custom 912, it was released within the 91st year of the Namiki/Pilot company which was founded in 1918. So, 1918+91 years means the 912 was introduced in the year 2009. The last digit was/is the manufacturer suggested retail price for the pen in 10,000 Japanese Yen. So 2 x 10,000 = ¥20,000.

In the Hand: Pilot Custom 912 (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Pilot Custom 912 (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

The Business End

Katherine: Ooooh the FA nib! This is the second #10 (the smaller size) FA nib I’ve used, and just like the other, it was a delight. I love the flex and softness of FA nibs — they don’t have quite the snap back that some vintage gold nibs have, but they’re plenty for my untrained hand and ultra reliable (see the EDC portion). The one caveat is that the stock feed with the 912/742 tends to have a hard time keeping up if you flex a lot. To solve this, I widened the feed channel on my FA nib (the 912 was a loaner, so I didn’t, but I made the modification to my 742) and rarely have rail roading problems. With the improved flow the 742 is a fantastic, fun writer.

Pam:  The FA nib is really really fun.  It’s one of the best softer/flexier modern nibs.  It’s a great alternative to those who don’t want to tempt fate with vintage gold nibs or on a more modest budget.  (If you are a newb like I am with vintage pens and find the idea daunting.) The nib can take quite a bit of pressure and allows for some generous line variation. Yes, the nib survived my writing pressure.

Franz: Pilot nibs in general are so good out of the box whether it be the steel nib of a Pilot Metropolitan, or the 14k gold nib of a Pilot Stargazer. The Pilot Custom 912 just follows suit and is a very smooth writing nib. The FA nib has that soft bounce and it was a pleasure writing with it. I don’t do much “flex” writing and the nib and feed kept up with my writing doodling. So it’s a great one for me!

Did you know that some of Pilot’s nibs are date stamped? You can barely see it in the photo below but this nib is stamped “315” which means the nib was manufactured in March of 2015. #justoneofthosethings =)

 

Write It Up

Katherine: This pen is plenty comfortable for me. It’s well balanced, not too thick and not too thin. The nib is also stiff enough that it’s easy to write with for pages on pages (versus some really soft nibs where super light pressure is a must) but soft enough that it’s easy to add some flair to my writing when I want to (or for whole pages at a time, if I must admit).

Pam:  I am reminded of how reliable and wonderful Pilot pens each time I pick one up.  It’s a pretty light pen, well balanced and had a good width.  I can’t use my usual grip with this pen given how this nib performs, but even in the tripod grip, it’s a good comfortable section.

Franz: Comfy posted or unposted. Nuff said. Thanks. =) Yep, writing with the Custom 912 was such fun. Unposted, the length was sufficient and I was writing along fine. The cap posted deeply onto the barrel and didn’t change the balance very much but I appreciated the longer length.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: What really makes the Pilot FA nibbed pens stand out to me over vintage flex is how incredibly reliable they are. I carried this 912 in my backpack for a few days, and I never had a leak or found ink in the cap — it’s a durable pen that has all the conveniences of modern pens, but with a fun flexy nib.

Pam: This is a great pen for lettering in planners to add a pop or a flourish to your dailies or to do lists.  The clip worked well in my Hobonichi A6 notebook. One of the perks of modern pens is that I know that it will perform well and consistently.  It survives the transit in my daily bag without any issues.  I didn’t really use this pen at work, but it’s a great companion for “planner time.”

Franz: I got to use the Custom 912 at work for about 3 days and found it to be a great pen for daily use. The clip secured the 912 on my shirt pocket nicely. Pilot supplies the 912 with a Con-70 ink converter and it holds a decent amount of ink.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: If I didn’t already have a 742, I’d be asking Pen Chalet how much they want for the pen so I’d never have to send it back. I really like it (and prefer the way it looks to the 742). But… alas, a girl cannot have every pen that catches her eye. Overall, the 912 is a comfortable, non flashy daily driver AND a fun pen for doodling and dabbling in calligraphy.

Now back to telling myself I don’t need a second FA nib. I don’t need a second FA nib.I don’t need a second FA nib.I don’t need a second FA nib. Ugh.

Pam:  If you are looking for a modern “flex” nib or want to start practicing your hand letter/calligraphy from a consistent and reliable writer, I would highly recommend the 912.  If you are a newb like me and just want to have the fun of a softer nib without delving too deep into your wallet or the vintage world, this is a great pen to start with.  Granted, that being said, there is almost no alternative to a flexy vintage gold nib.  One of the great things about fountain pens is that there is a pen to suit anyone. This pen hits a particular spot for me as the best of both worlds, soft nib with a reliable performance and good body.  It’s a “happy writing” spot.

Franz: To state the obvious, I really liked the Pilot Custom 912. It has been on my list for a while now but I haven’t been able to acquire one. Reviewing this loaner from Pen Chalet could be the helpful nudge I’ve been needing.

Even if the term “solid” may be overused in reviews, I have to say it. The Pilot Custom 912 is a SOLID pen to use and recommend. It isn’t an inexpensive pen, but there is value in it. The nib is a great writer, the build seems durable, the threads are smooth, and the pen’s silhouette is beautiful. However, there is one caveat/drawback with the 912. As of this writing, the pen has only been offered in a black finish. For me, I love black pens and don’t mind the lack of options (would love to have a blue though). But knowing the awesome people in the pen community, a lot of pen folks want color options for the pens. So if the aesthetics of the 912 appeal to you, go get one and try it out!

 

Once again Ron, we appreciate your lending this Pilot Custom 912 for review!

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Classic, TWSBI Eco, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Pilot Custom 912*, Lamy 2000. Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Classic, TWSBI Eco, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Pilot Custom 912*, Lamy 2000. Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Classic, TWSBI Eco, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Pilot Custom 912*, Lamy 2000. Pelikan M805, Lamy Safari

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

1 Comment

Review: Ryan Krusac Studios Legend L-16 (Cocobolo, Broad Cursive Italic)

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: I love the materials and finish of this pen. The warm, rich wood paired with a turquoise finial is a beautifully organic pairing! However, I think the pens proportions are a weeee bit off? The barrel looks a little too long to me. But, I do tend to prefer stubbier pens.

Pam: This is one big pen.  Even for someone who loves the Pelikan M800 and the Sailor King of Pen.  The craftsmanship on this pen is obvious. From the warm and super smooth finish of the wood, the subtly engraved Ryan Krusac logo, and the turquoise inset, you can see the care that has been put into this pen. It’s a work of art.

Franz: The Legend L-16 is quite impressive in the hand as it is the largest in Ryan Krusac’s Legend pen line. The L-16 denotes that the barrel’s diameter is 16mm and then another size is the L-14 which is 14mm. Ryan had also announced the L-15 size (15mm) but that is still unavailable at the time of this review. The Legend pen can either be ordered from his website or at any pen show that he attends. I happen to have snagged this Legend in Cocobolo from Ryan at the 2017 Atlanta Pen Show. The dark Cocobolo finish is complemented by the turquoise inlays on the cap and barrel.

Being a wood pen, the Legend gets warmer while writing as well as the ebonite section. I must mention that Ryan pays attention to details with each pen he creates. When you are writing with the Legend, the best looking grain of the wood faces you as you write and also, the cap and barrel aligns perfectly each time. Smart move to make it a single thread!

In the Hand: RKS Legend L-16 (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: RKS Legend L-16 (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
Detail: Turquoise inlays on the cap and barrel

 

The Business End

Katherine: The pen fits a Jowo #6 nib. The nib on this one had a nice BCI, unlike many of Franz’s other BCIs, this one had a little bit of tooth. It’s unlike most of the Masuyama grinds I’ve used, but it was a perfectly usable nib with some character. Would borrow (from Franz) again!

Pam: It’s a great CI.  I find the nib to be crisp and wet. It is pretty toothy, but I greatly appreciate the feedback.  It makes for a unique writing experience.  It did show off the sheen of Pelikan Turquoise fantastically.

Franz: When you buy a pen from Ryan, you have a choice of steel nibs or 18-karat gold nibs. I opted for a broad steel nib with the intention of having it ground by Mr. Mike Masuyama at the same pen show. Needless to say, the juicy broad nib was transformed into a crisp, juicy cursive italic. The broad nib can go through ink quite fast but the included standard international cartridge/converter does its job as it should. Also, I really love Ryan’s logo on the nib as it makes a “generic” Jowo nib match the pen.

Franz’ writing sample on a Rhodia 6.5 x 8.25 Meeting Book

 

Write It Up

Katherine: This pen is quite long for me… but surprisingly light. As a result, it’s a very comfortable pen for me to write with despite its size.

Pam: I am surprised how comfortable I found this pen.  The length and width/girth of the pen is similar to the Sailor King of Pen.  The Krusac is lighter for me. Due to the width of the pen, it’s quite comfortable to hold in the tripod grip.  However, for those with the iron fist grip, the step and the threads are right below where I would place my thumb.  No thread imprints for the win.

Franz: The Legend fits my hand very well and my journaling of about 15 minutes was very enjoyable. We may have taken a hand comparison photo of the pen with the cap posted but neither of us wrote in that mode. Reason being? I don’t believe this pen was made to be posted as the cap threads can mar the wood finish. Also, the cap only touches less than half an inch of the barrel which makes for a very long unwieldy pen, and the cap is unsecured and can wiggle off while writing. Unposted, this pen is plenty long even for my bear paw.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: The lack of a clip or rollstop makes this one a bit of a danger to EDC… I imagine it doesn’t do well when hitting the ground. (Don’t worry Franz, I didn’t test that!) Additionally, it takes a full three turns to uncap — so I found this pen was a suboptimal EDC. But a lovely home desk-living pen!

Pam:  Honestly, it didn’t occur to me to try out the EDC-ness of this pen other than have it live in the Nock Sinclair.  My hesitation was that it didn’t have a clip and I can’t imagine dropping this pen out of my coat pocket, especially since it’s not mine to drop.  This is a “savor the journaling moment” pen where one would enjoy the finer things and slower moments in life.  Keep it at the desk or in a case is my recommendation.

Franz: I do echo the ladies above that the Legend pen being clipless is a risk for ROFY. (Rolling-On-Floor-Yikes!) So I’m a bit more conscious when I am using this pen at work and avoid walking around with it. I do enjoy writing with it while I’m at my desk during a call or something else that doesn’t require me to move around.

And because the pen is single-threaded to maintain the cap and barrel alignment, the trade-off is taking 3 full turns to uncap for use. Not really the best for on-the-go purposes.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: If the proportions of this pen were a little bit different, I think this would be love. But, thankfully for my wallet, they’re not, and while it’s a nice pen, it’s not aesthetically balanced to me. Despite that though, it’s very usable even for my small hands — light and comfortable!

Pam:  If you appreciate the craftsmanship and the beauty of natural materials like wood, I would highly recommend this pen to you. For many, it’s a worthy grail pen to covet.  If this pen is too big for you, the good news is that Ryan Krusac has other sizes available!  Be sure to check Ryan Krusac out at your nearest pen show to see what works best for you.

Franz: As I started my review above, the Legend L-16 is an impressive pen — size-wise as well as aesthetics-wise. Anyone who is interested in this pen must try it out and see if it’s for you. Ryan is currently based in Georgia so he will always be at the Atlanta pen show but he travels to several U.S. pen shows including the Los Angeles pen show, and the San Francisco pen show.

One of the best parts of buying a pen from Ryan is that you get a handmade pen sleeve by his two daughters, Zoe and Sylvia. They even have their own handmade brand, zoia.co. The grey and black pen sleeve pictured above was included when I got the Legend in Atlanta.

What else can I say about the Legend L-16? I like it… a lot! So much that when Cary (Fountain Pen Day), and Ryan collaborated on a pen to raise funds for Shawn Newton, I jumped on the opportunity to get the FPD Legend pen in the L-16 size as well. The limited edition pen is made with Gaboon Ebony wood (pictures below).

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Custom 823, TWSBI Eco, *RKS Legend L-16*, Pelikan M1000, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Custom 823, TWSBI Eco, *RKS Legend L-16*, Pelikan M1000, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Custom 823, TWSBI Eco, *RKS Legend L-16*, Pelikan M1000, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

7 Comments

Review: Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen (Sky, Broad Cursive Italic Nib)

 

Happy 2018 folks! Thank you for your continued readership and we are looking forward to provide you with more reviews, and other interesting content. And for our first pen review of the year, here’s a blue pen from Sailor.

Also, just in case you’re wondering, the notebook the pen is resting on is a Musubi handmade diary just arrived from Singapore. We may review this notebook after some use. We are not affiliated in any way. They were quite popular at the San Francisco Pen Show in 2017 and they’re friendly people as well.

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: Ahhhhhh. I want a sky. They look so cool. Even the converter showing looks cool!

Pam: I am totally biased given that I own a Sailor Sky in the Progear Slim size.  The blue material is the same, however, there are more metal parts to the King of Pen which adds to the weight and hand feel. (More on that later.)

Franz: “Blue Sky smilin’ at me, nothing but blue Sky… do I see…”. Ever had a pen make you just wanna sing? Well, this King of Pen (KoP) Sky did it for me and I got Sinatra’s voice in my head.

It shouldn’t come as a shock to a lot of people that I just adore the blue finish of the pen and the shape of the Pro Gear is a great aesthetic as well. I’d say that in my hand, the Pro Gear KoP size is in between a Pelikan M800 and Pelikan M1000. A pen of substance if you will.

In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (posted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (unposted) – from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

The Business End

Katherine: Being one of Franz’s, this pen sports a wonderful BCI. The nib is quite large, but a joy to write with. Smooth, juicy without being sloppy and capable of crispy line variation.

Pam: Sailor has one of the most beautiful and consistent nibs on the market.  The KOP nib is no exception.  The cursive italic was expertly ground and the slight springiness of the nib allows for a great ink flow.

Franz: Mirroring what Pam said, Sailor nibs are well tuned with a hint of feedback out of the box . I’ve purchased a couple Sailor pens in 2017 and it wrote oh so perfectly for me without any adjustment. I got this pen second hand via a well-known auction site for a great price but when I got it, I found that the tines were a bit misaligned and almost too far apart. I inked it up and found that the flow was too much. So what do you do in this situation? You wait for the next pen show and ask Mr. Mike Masuyama to take care of it! Which is what I did and I also asked Masuyamasan to transform the Broad nib into a crisp cursive italic. Been loving the nib ever since.

Franz’ writing sample on a Rhodia 6.5 x 8.25 Meeting Book

 

Write It Up

Katherine: The KOP Pro Gear is a little bigger than I’d prefer, but still very comfortable and usable. I had no fatigue using it for extended periods, but do prefer the standard sized Pro Gear overall (better for my wallet, I suppose).

Pam: This size reminds me of the Pelikan M800 where it appears to be intimidating to those with pixie hands but is surprisingly comfortable. I find that the girth of the pen to be comfortable to hold for long periods of time.  The weight of the pen doesn’t seem to bother me at all as it’s a well balanced pen when unposted.  It does get long and more unwieldy for me when posted.

Franz: As I mentioned in the beginning, the Pro Gear KoP’s size is between the Pelikan M800 and M1000. These are two pens that I’m very happy to write with so this pen definitely fills my hand well. I wrote with the Sky in both posted and unposted modes at 10 minutes each and found that I’m comfortable either way. I lean more towards writing with cap unposted because it’s just a little bit more balanced that way. The cap band does place a bit more weight when posted but it wasn’t top heavy at all.

EDC-ness

Katherine: Works just fine as an EDC. The clip is strong and it takes 2 cap turns to uncap, which isn’t crazy, but feels extra secure.

Pam:  This would be a pretty good EDC pen.  The only down side is that this beauty maybe a bit too eye catching.

Franz: I use the KoP Sky at my workplace quite regularly and found it very useful as a daily carry pen. The broad cursive italic was just perfect for the copier paper we use as well as on my Rhodia meeting book. The clip like every other Sailor is very secure on my dress shirt pocket and the 2 turns to uncap isn’t too bad at all. It does fill either via cartridge/converter so I found myself refilling the converter after 3-4 days of use.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: As mentioned earlier, I prefer the non-KOP Pro Gear more. But, I do love the way the KOP Pro Gear looks — it’s like a chubbier cuter (but larger) version of the Pro Gear! And a solidly awesome pen to boot. Alas, I can’t justify the price point (I can barely justify the price point on most Pro Gears these days…)

Pam: The Sailor KOP is a fantastic pen for those who enjoy the Sailor Progear but want something with a bit more heft and solid feel in hand.  It could easily become a daily carry pen or “the” pen that is constantly inked.  If there was a KOP in the right color (combination), it would easily make it to my grail pen list. As much as I love the Sailor Progear Slim and Sailor Progear, the KOP is an easy yes for me.  Too bad my wallet says no alot more than I do.

Franz: Four words. Bear paws are happy! The Pro Gear King of Pen is definitely for medium to large sized hands (but Pam who has the smallest hand among the 3 loves it) and I truly prefer this against the Classic size of the Pro Gear pens. In the photos below, the Pro Gear size comparisons dramatically show the big step up in size between the Classic and the King of Pen. Another key difference of a King of Pen is its nib. It is springier than a Classic or Slim size Pro Gear and provides flair to my writing that I appreciate very much.

Because of the price point of the King of Pen, it does dig into your wallet a bit..er..a lot. But it’s all a question of value. I would like to repeat that I won this second hand pen via an auction for a great price and I’m very happy about it. Would I purchase a brand new KoP Sky if this one didn’t come along? **cough** I would **cough**. I’ve wanted one ever since I saw Pam’s Pro Gear Slim Sky.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Pelikan M205, Pilot Prera, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen*, Pelikan M800, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Pelikan M205, Pilot Prera, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen*, Pelikan M800, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Pelikan M205, Pilot Prera, Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum 3776, *Sailor Professional Gear King of Pen*, Pelikan M800, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari

 

Sailor Professional Gear Comparisons (Left to right: Pro Gear Slim, Pro Gear Classic, and Pro Gear King of Pen)

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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Review: Pelikan Souverän M300 (Green-Striped, Oblique Medium nib)

 

We are once again joined by our guest reviewer, Roz and she contributed her thoughts on this Pelikan pen. She is also our first left-handed reviewer and we are glad to have her persepctive. Thanks very much Roz!

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Roz:  Classy and petite! The green, black and gold made me feel fancy just looking at it. I don’t usually seek out gold accents, but this pen makes me question that inclination. Definitely the smallest pen I was ever going to write seriously with, so I’m really looking forward to it!

Katherine: I love the styling of classic Pelikans, and this one is no different. Plus, its adorable! ❤

Pam:  Great things come in small packages so when you make a Pelikan petite, it’s adorable.  My wallet is very lucky that the white tortie did not come in this size.  I don’t normally enjoy the “classic” styling of the Pelikan, but in a small package, it harkens back to the vintage Peter Pan pens.

Franz: Hey! Did someone leave a Pelikan M1000 in the drier, or did it shrink from ink starvation? Harharhar!

Yep, it’s that familiar and elegant green stripe of a Pelikan in their smallest pen ever. They introduced this pocket pen version in 1998 and the green-striped finish is a standard finish as well as a black barrel one. Pelikan also produced a few special edition finishes in the year 2000’s. The M300 is unmistakably a Pelikan Souverän pen.

In the Hand: Pelikan M300 (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, Pam, and Roz
In the Hand: Pelikan M300 (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, Pam, and Roz

 

The Business End

Roz: Springy! Honestly, I had a lot of trouble writing with this nib. I wasn’t expecting the amount of bounce back, so my natural writing pace had a lot of adjusting to do. I also learned (thank you Pam!) that this is an oblique medium nib, maybe my inexperience with this type of nib added to my inconsistent writing.

Katherine: I liked this nib more than I expected. The only other oblique Pelikan nib I’ve written with much was a vintage OB, and that was an unusable angle for me. This one was comfortable, forgiving and surprisingly wet (I’m not sure why I expect small pens to be drier? Not like this one can’t hold a lot of ink…)

Pam:  I find the oblique nib to be too inconsistent for my writing style.  I always feel that I am apply more pressure to the “longer tine,” if that makes sense.  That being said, like all Pelikan nibs, I find the nib to be smooth and enjoyable to write with.  This nib somehow reminds me of an ice skater gliding over the ice on one leg.

Franz: The M300’s 14-carat nib is quite springy and I love it! An oblique nib’s characteristic always seem weird to me at first but I eventually get used to it. It’s just being conscious of turning the pen at the right angle. But yes, this nib’s flow is quite generous and I enjoyed it.

 

Write It Up

Roz: The diameter of the pen being so small, especially because I tend to grip low on the section, made it difficult for me to find a comfy grip position and my hand got tired pretty quickly as a result.

Katherine: This pen is usable for me for quick notes… But not the pinnacle of comfort for longer writing sessions. Overall though, not bad. Much more usable than I expected, but definitely more of an on-the-go pen than a sit-at-my-desk-and-write-about-my-deep-dark-feelings.

Pam:  When I said that this pen reminds me of the Peter Pan pens, it’s likely due to how I see this pen being used.  For quick notes in a pocketbook.  I find the diameter of the pen to be too slim for a prolonged period of time.  I am always fearful of snapping this petite pen with my iron grip.

Franz: At 4.3 inches closed, it’s a small pen. I went into the 20-minute writing session already expecting that my hand wouldn’t be comfortable. And I’m glad I managed my expectations because I did feel fatigued after ten minutes. The section and barrel’s thinness contributed to that fatigue. I only used the pen with the cap posted because unposted, the M300 was almost disappearing in my hand.

 

EDC-ness

Roz: At first I was super worried I would lose this pen because of its size. However, the clip on the M300 is really strong and it did great in my carrier. I admit though that for my day to day writing, I did not use the M300 much due to the size of the pen being difficult for me to hold for long periods of time.

Katherine: Great pen for EDC! The clip is strong, the size is perfect and the nib makes notes enjoyable. My only gripe is that the typical Pelikan wetness, paired with a medium nib doesn’t make for the fastest drying notes. That’s easily solved by getting a different nib though. 10/10, would EDC again.

Pam:  In a checkbook, pocket book or a dainty pocket, it’s perfect!  Perhaps it’s the size, but I feel that it’s more fragile than the normal size pens so I wouldn’t throw it into a jeans pockets if you plan on sitting down or putting your keys in the same pocket.

Franz: The M300’s Every Day Carry-ness is what won me over though. Definitely fits in my shirt pocket, and it’s ready to write with only one turn of the cap. It may be too short for my hand unposted but is perfectly usable for a fast signature, jotting down a phone number, or whatever quick note one needs. If I know I’ll use it for more than five words, I’ll post the cap and it does so securely. Unlike Pam’s thoughts, I didn’t find the M300 more fragile than any other pen. Granted, I wouldn’t dare to sit on this pen (or any other pen) but it’s quite durable for everyday usage.

And just like any other Pelikan Souverän, it’s a piston-filled pen and the piston operates very smoothly. As shown in the photo below, you can see through the barrel’s stripes and see the ink level clearly. The smaller barrel definitely means a smaller ink capacity though. And it holds about 50% less ink than an M1000. At 0.7mm, the ink capacity is just like a converter for other pens.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Roz: The M300 is a beautiful pen. I would like to give it another try down the road, maybe when my experience with oblique, springy nibs develops a bit more. ^_^;

Katherine: A great pocket pen! Classy looking, fantastic nib and the perfect size. My only gripe is the price, for $200+, I would likely get a vintage 400 instead (fairly easily found at around $150) and I’d still have a reasonably small pocket pen, but one that can play dual duty as a normal writer as well.

Pam:  Despite my love for pocket sized pens, I would have to say that this pen is an acquired taste given the size.  It’s not as practical as the M200 or M400 in size.  For those with average and larger size hands, it may be a challenge to use for an extended writing session.  For those who love Peter Pan pens or pocket pens, I would highly recommend trying out this pen before committing your wallet to it.

Franz: Clearly, the Pelikan M300 is for people with smaller hands or for people who wants to have an elegant looking pocket pen. Also, it’s a great pen for a Pelikan pen addict (like myself). Have you guessed who owns this pen yet? =) For my large hands, the M300 is a novelty. I love it but I don’t see myself using this pen comfortably on a daily basis. My hand is definitely happier writing with a M800 or M1000.

The M300’s Souverän styling gives it a serious and classic look but it’s tininess makes it a “cute” pen.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pilot Prera, Sailor Professional Gear Slim, *Pelikan M300*, Kaweco Sport, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pilot Prera, Sailor Professional Gear Slim, *Pelikan M300*, Kaweco Sport, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Platinum 3776, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pilot Prera, Sailor Professional Gear Slim, *Pelikan M300*, Kaweco Sport, Lamy 2000. Lamy Safari

 

Pelikan Pen Comparison

Closed pens from left to right: 120, M100, M200, M300, M405, M620, M800 and M1000
Posted pens from left to right: 120, M100, M200, M300, M405, M620, M800 and M1000
Unposted pens from left to right: 120, M100, M200, M300, M405, M620, M800 and M1000

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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Nakaya Piccolo (Ao-Tamenuri, Soft Medium CI)

In this review, we have included our guest reviewer Claire (@writteninrice). She creates and sells pen wraps via her etsy site as well as at the San Francisco pen show. Thanks for joining us in reviewing this Nakaya pen Claire!

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: The Nakaya Piccolo is one of my favorite shapes — it’s short, lovingly chubby, but also has pointed ends that give it some visual interest. In addition, the two I own are both in Nakaya’s lovely layered tamenuri urushi finishes. The Ao-tamenuri in the pen pictured is the more subtle of the two — the pen looks black at a quick glance, but upon closer look (or uncapping) there are hints of blue green.

Claire: It is hard to beat urushi in terms of beauty and depth.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of amazing materials and finishes out there, but as far as I’m concerned, urushi will always take the cake.   The Piccolo is the perfect size for my hand. I have found the other Nakaya shapes to be just a little bit too long for my taste and almost feel a little awkward in my hand.

Pam:  The Piccolo is a great compact pen that is similar in size to the Pilot Prera and the Sailor Pro Gear Slim, so it would not be surprising that Piccolo is my favorite Nakaya model to hold.  (The dorsal fin version 2 is my favorite to behold, if that makes sense.)  I greatly appreciate that the shape is not the ubiquitous cigar shape, but rather has tapered ends which is much more streamline in my opinion.  Although I greatly appreciate the craftsmanship of urushi, I am also really intimidated to own a urushi pen.  Perhaps the cost plays a role in it, but I am almost afraid to damage the pen or the finish.  I am just not in the urushi-comfy zone yet.

Franz: The Nakaya Piccolo has a very appealing aesthetic. As Katherine “pointed” out, the pointed ends are a nice feature and when you see it, you know that it’s a Piccolo model. Notice that the barrel’s finial is pointier than the cap’s? I really like that detail. And the Ao-tamenuri finish is lovely especially the sliver of color where the cap and barrel meet as well as on the threads. Sadly, it has been a couple years now since Nakaya discontinued the Ao-tamenuri finish. The Piccolo is still available in a variety of colors and finishes though.

In the Hand: Nakaya Piccolo (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Claire, Katherine, and Pam

 

The Business End

Katherine: Nakaya nibs are some of my favorite overall (as are Platinum nibs) and this one is my favorite out of all of them. The base nib was a Soft Medium which gives it some lovely springiness and bounce. Then Mottishaw ground it down to a Cursive Italic that gives my small writing wonderful line variation. The nib does have a specific sweet spot though, if you don’t find it (luckily it lines up with how I naturally hold my pen) the nib can feel scratchy.

Claire: The first thing I said when I tried Katherine’s pen was that I needed to get a nib like this on my next Nakaya. The Soft Medium CI is amazing. I am a huge fan of soft nibs, not looking for line variation, but the spring in the nib gives a feedback.  The CI gives some line variation even when my handwriting isn’t super tiny.

Pam:  If I was to purchase a Nakaya, or have another custom pen built, it would have a soft nib from Platinum.  Platinum has done “soft” nibs the right way.  It has a wonderful bounciness and allows for writing variation without straining your hand.  However, if you write light enough, you can still get a consistent line.  The feed dealt with the extra need for ink with no problems.  Adding a CI grind to this nib was a genius decision because it allowed for more versatility and variability in your writing depending on writing pressure.  I like a bit of a bite with my CIs and this grind by Mottishaw had a pretty great sweet spot.  Of course with a CI I prefer to hold it in a tripod grip but for modeling purposes, my iron grip was photographed.

Franz: I have tried Nakaya nibs before especially with John Mottishaw’s cursive italic treatment however, this was my first time to use a “soft” nib and it was pleasant to write with. The bounce of the nib while writing was delightful. It does have a sweet spot because it already is a fine nib and then transformed into a cursive italic. When you’re not writing in the correct angle, the nib will definitely let you know. Trust me, I know. But when you have it in the right angle, it’s perfect!

And I believe that that heart-shaped breather hole adds to the love of writing with Nakaya nibs.

 

Write It Up

Katherine: The Piccolo is a perfect size for me. It’s short, which fits my hand wonderfully, but not too narrow. It has the section width of a full size pen (it tapers from 12.25mm to 10.75mm) which makes it comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

Claire: My Piccolo is the first pen I reach for when its time to write anything down. I might have burned through a good deal of my finished bottle of Shin Kai with this pen. There are not many pens I can sit down and write with for hours on end. Usually, I tend to switch pens every few pages of writing to keep things interesting.

Pam:  I did borrow a Piccolo from Katherine and had a hard time returning it.  It was a really great pen with such wonderful craftsmanship that can literally be felt as you handle and write with the pen.  The threads are not sharp for iron grip purposes and the section is fantastic, so comfortable for the tripod grip.  The variation that the nib provides really kept my attention and interest as I wrote with this pen.

Franz: Ah yes, the 20-minute writing experience. I gotta say that my hand wasn’t really happy writing with the Piccolo for a long period of time. Actually, after five minutes of writing my hand felt fatigued. I found the section to be a bit narrow so my grip landed on the barrel section and the short length of the pen was not really comfortable for me. I also tried to lower my grip to the section like the ladies above but it just didn’t feel natural for me.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: The concern with EDCing a Nakaya is the cost — this wouldn’t be a cheap pen to replace. But, it’s perfectly suited for the job: it uncaps in one and a quarter turns, it can have a clip (this writer does, my other one is a cigar, which doesn’t), it has a fantastic nib that has never spat into it’s cap and it has a very durable finish. But, I know for many folks, the idea of a scratch in the urushi is terrifying — so the Piccolo can certainly be an EDC, but it’s all about your comfort level! Personally, this is part of my bring-to-work rotation, but I work a lazy desk job. 🙂

Claire: There are not too many pens in my collection that I would bring with me to work. Though I don’t have a job where fountain pens would be remotely useful. That being said, when I am going to sit down and take notes or journal, this is one of the first pens I reach for. and the reason is just how comfortable it is to write with. This is key especially for long note taking sessions .

Pam:  Not being the owner of the Piccolo, I kept the pen safe at home. Again, this pen is a work of art and at the risk of sounding pretentious, it should be savored while in use.  This pen is best enjoyed in long and slow writing sessions.

Franz: The Piccolo’s smaller size qualifies it to be called a pocket pen and definitely is a convenient pen to bring along anywhere. It is also a nice pen to use at my work setting. The nib was fine but smooth for copier paper. When I need to write a quick note or signature, the fast uncapping helps a lot. The clip definitely secured the pen on my shirt pocket during the day. The pen is a cartridge/converter filled so you may find yourself re-inking after 2-3 days if you use it a lot.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: If I could only keep one pen and nib, this might be it (please don’t make me though). It’s a fantastic pairing of an excellent (and interesting) nib and a visually interesting body that’s truly a work of art. The Piccolo is certainly a short pen, but it’s an unusual combination of shortness without the typical small-pen narrowness — and that fits my hand perfectly.

Claire: There are no two ways around it, I love this pen. The size, shape and weight are perfect for long writing sessions, though I wish the converter could hold more ink since I am refilling the pen constantly. I don’t think this could be the only pen I owned for just this reason. The small ink capacity would make it difficult as a daily writer for me since it seems that I rarely run out of ink when I’m home.

Pam:  Honestly, if I had to recommend “if you can only write with one pen for the rest of your life,” I would be hard pressed to find any other pen that could compare to the performance, beauty, uniqueness and craftsmanship to this pen with a soft nib- especially for those with petite hands. (I feel like such a traitor to my Sailor collection by admitting this.)

Franz: I like the Nakaya Piccolo for it’s aesthetics and nib performance. But the very reason that the ladies above love this pen is the same reason that I wouldn’t own one. It’s just too darn small for my big hands especially when it comes to journaling or writing letters. To solve this issue is to just post the cap, right? But that isn’t something you do with an urushi laquered pen because it will mar the finish. Most people would like to take care of their pen’s appearance especially when it costs something like a Nakaya.

Overall, small to average sized hands, try the Piccolo out because you will more than likely want it. For people with larger hands who like the shape, skip the Piccolo and look for either a Long Piccolo or a Naka-Ai. Both are exclusive pens sold by Aesthetic Bay in Singapore. and Classic Fountain Pens, Inc. in California, respectively.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Conklin Duragraph, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor Professional Gear Classic, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Platinum Century 3776, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Conklin Duragraph, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor Professional Gear Classic, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Platinum Century 3776, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Conklin Duragraph, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor Professional Gear Classic, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Platinum Century 3776, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari

Smaller/Pocket Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Wahl-Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pilot MYU, Sailor Professional Gear Slim, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Pilot Prera, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M200
Posted pens from left to right: Wahl-Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pilot MYU, Sailor Professional Gear Slim, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Pilot Prera, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M200
Unposted pens from left to right: Wahl-Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pilot MYU, Sailor Professional Gear Slim, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Pilot Prera, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M200

Other Nakaya Pen Comparisons

Closed Pens (from left to right): Decapod Mini, Decapod, Dorsal Fin 2, Long, Neo Standard, Naka-Ai, Long Piccolo, and Piccolo
Unposted Pens (from left to right): Decapod Mini, Decapod, Dorsal Fin 2, Long, Neo Standard, Naka-Ai, Long Piccolo, and Piccolo

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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Review: Kaweco Perkeo (Fine Nib)

Welcome to another one of our pen reviews! This time, we are joined by our second guest reviewer and she is also our first left-handed guest, Roz Hung.

Roz is a techie by profession and enjoys writing and sketching as well. She’s always admired fountain pens but was afraid to use them until Pam took her under her wing less than a year ago. Pam let her write with a few pens to see what she might like and own. Roz primarily uses her fountain pens for journaling, and scheduling on her planner. Currently, she’s also using her pens to sketch and doodle for Inktober and tries to keep up with the daily prompts for October. When Roz isn’t busy writing or drawing, she spends her time baking in the kitchen. Thank you for joining the fun and helping us out Roz!

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Roz: My first impression of the Kaweco Perkeo was how attractive and friendly its colors were. While the colors are solid and the pen has no sheen or gloss to it, I think the facets really give it a subtle eye catching quality.

Katherine: The Perkeo is a little weird to me. My initial reaction was “ooooh facets!” then “hm… the facets on the body and cap are different…” I like the colors overall, but have clear favorites.

Pam:  The Perkeo has a design that will appeal to both children and adults.  The cap of the Perkeo heralds back to the beloved Kaweco Sports that we all know and love.  The colors are eye catching and pretty sophisticated, in my opinion.  The faceted body is an ode to Kaweco’s overall aesthetics.  I am really impressed by this starter pen.

Franz: These Kaweco Perkeo pens fascinate me. It is a substantial pen compared to the Kaweco Sport and the colors may be subdued but at the same time they are enthralling. The fine facets of the barrel makes it an elegant looking pen and makes the Perkeo stand out.

The Perkeo currently has four finishes: Indian Summer (black and yellow green), Bad Taste (pink and black), Cotton Candy (light pink and gray), and Old Chambray (white and light blue). As we expressed above, the Perkeo’s finishes are captivating and I’d like to add that Kaweco’s naming of these colors are equally intriguing. The Indian Summer and Bad Taste are both supplied with a black steel nib, and black finial. And both the Cotton Candy, and Old Chambray sports a chrome steel nib, and chrome finial.

In the Hand: Kaweco Perkeo (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Pam, Katherine, and Roz
In the Hand: Kaweco Perkeo (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Pam, Katherine, and Roz

 

Note: The Perkeo pen we used for the In the Hand photos above was the Indian Summer finish. During our review process, we focused on using Katherine’s Cotton Candy Perkeo shown below.

The Cotton Candy’s grey cap

 

The Business End

Roz:  I admit at the top of my lungs that I know nothing about nibs! However, I liked the line width of the Kaweco’s nib and I only needed to make minor adjustments to my horizontal tilt for a smooth writing experience.

Katherine: The variability on these nibs is surprising — my boyfriend and I each own one, and mine writes like a dry EF, and his writes like a wet Fine, even when inked with the same ink. Both are smooth and decent writers, but the variability in flow and tipping was surprising!

Pam:  For the times I “crave” for a “chubby” line width, I gravitate towards a Kaweco EF nib.  What I love about the Kaweco EF nib is that it creates a very round line that can sometimes compliment my writing style.

The ones that Katherine had were F nibs.  Unsurprisingly, they wrote well out of the box with no issues for me.   However, between the two pens that Katherine had for us to try out, I did notice a difference in the line width despite both pens being marked as F.  One was drier than expected and the other flowed quite well.  Aesthetically, the nib seems to be disproportionally too petite for a “regular” sized pen.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Franz: The nib on this Perkeo wrote with a very thin line width but it wrote immediately and quite smooth with minimal feedback for a fine nib. Visually, the nib is very slightly recessed and I initially thought that the nib was the same that Kaweco uses for the Sport model but I believe I was wrong. Side-by-side, the Perkeo nib is a size bigger than the nib on the Sport. The Perkeo is inked via a cartridge or a standard international converter and that makes it convenient since I have a few in my drawer.

Perkeo: fine nib
Nib Comparison: Kaweco Perkeo (above), and Kaweco Sport (below)

 

Write It Up

Roz:  I wrote as much as I could with this pen. The length of the Kaweco fit my hand nicely, and since it was so light I could write with it posted and unposted. My only (mild) struggle was with the triangular section. At the beginning, it would take me a bit to work my way to a comfortable grip on the section – after a few times of writing with this pen, I got to a point where only minor mid-writing adjustments needed to be made.

Katherine: I really expected to hate the Perkeo because it has a triangular grip, and the only other triangular grips I’ve used (and stronnnngly disliked) are the Lamy Safari and Jinhao x450, but surprisingly, I quite enjoy the Perkeo. Maybe it’s the shape of the triangular grip, or the angle or some other sorcery, but it’s a light comfortable pen for me. This is the “entry level” Kaweco folks should look at. I’m not sure why you’d buy a Sport anymore unless you want to carry it in your pockets. Or have a really small pen case?

Pam:  The Perkeo is pretty light, just like the acrylic Kaweco Sport, which is both an advantage and disadvantage in my book.  I find that in pens that are too light, I tend to bear down harder on the paper.  Yet for portability and journaling purposes, the weightlessness of this pen made it really easy to start and continue using with little fatigue (if I don’t bear down).  Interestingly enough, the disadvantage of weightlessness that I pinpointed on the Sport, was offset by the length and size of the Perkeo.  It was a joy to write with.

The triangular grip didn’t bother me very much since the corners were well rounded.  I find the triangular grip on the Perkeo to be more comfortable than the Lamy Safari with my grip.

Franz: Surprisingly, this is a pen that I can comfortably write with unposted for a long period of time. Posting the cap makes it a little long but the added weight definitely makes it better though. The Perkeo’s section is approximately the same width as the barrel and this let me grip the pen wherever I found comfortable. My fingers naturally landed right on the transition of the triangular grip as it ends toward the top of the section. I enjoyed approximately 20 minutes of writing on my journal and my hand did not cramp at all.

Kaweco Perkeo on top of a Nanami Crossfield Tomoe River page

EDC-ness

Roz: I kept the Kaweco in a Nock Lookout case and it did great! I actually did use it throughout my day, the lightweight feel of the pen made it easy to grab and made quick notes.

Katherine: I enjoyed this for the few days I carried it. It’s light, durable (yes, I dropped it. maybe intentionally) and the facets make sandwiching it in a notebook pretty secure — no worries about a rounded pen sliding out or shooting out of either end of my notebook (generally not a problem except with the fattest roundest and clipless-est pens though, tbh). And the lack of a fancy finish means it can go in a pocket with keys and come out looking the same!

Pam:  Other than a clip, this would a great EDC.  It doesn’t take much to uncap, it’s a postable pen (no lost caps!), and light! Again, some see the weight as a disadvantage, however, the construction of this pen should be able to stand up to a trip to the washing machine.  Ink stains not withstanding.

Franz: Using the Perkeo at work for 2 days was quite nice. It’s a no frills kinda pen that just wrote which is what an Every Day Carry pen should be. I placed the pen in my dress shirt pocket and for most of the time, it stayed upright. The length definitely made it easy to grab and not fish out of the pocket like a clipless Kaweco Sport or something similarly sized. The facets on the cap made sure the pen did not roll on my desk. And even if the pen was open and cap unposted, the pen did not roll away as long as I place it on the desk gently.

The snap-cap allows for quick usage when needed and provides a positive snap when you want to close it. The fine Kaweco nib was suitable for the not-so-stellar copier paper found in our office. And as Katherine described above, it passed the durability field test. Two thumbs up!

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Roz: I think the Kaweco is a really fun pen and I enjoyed trying it out. It was an easy writer (after some adjustments) and it fit my hand size quite nicely.

Katherine: I like it! It’s not life changing, but if the aesthetic suits you, it’s a light and totally reasonable pen. Mine is somewhat sentimental, so it’s sticking around, otherwise though, it isn’t a pen I likely would have purchased on my own… but it’s really hard to say no to your non-pen-enthusiast boyfriend wanting to get matching pens as you stand in a cute stationery store after having driven ten hours to see a total solar eclipse. So it’s my eclipse pen. (Except he got the yellow and black, which is eclipse-y themed. I have the pink and grey, which is more… rubber eraser themed)

Pam:  Honestly, the pen is a GREAT example of a starter pen for those who want to try out a Western sized nib.  For the price, the design and the nib performance, the Perkeo is a contender to be a great starter pen.  Will it surpass the Lamy Safari or the TWSBI Eco?  Maybe not, but depending on what you are looking for, why not try the Perkeo?

Franz: The Perkeo joins the ranks as one of the recommended starter pens. The only thing to consider is the fact that a converter is not supplied with the pen and is an additional expense. But hey, the Lamy Safari and/or Al-Star does not come with a converter either. I love that the Perkeo takes a standard international one!

Well, what else can I really say differently about the Perkeo that the three ladies above haven’t yet? Ditto? Hehehe… =) The bear paw likes it a lot! But seriously, if the colors appeal to you and you’d like to try an inexpensive pen with some facets, go get one of these. I for sure did and not just because it’s blue. =)

My Perkeo in Old Chambray finish. #ilovebluepens

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Conklin Duragraph, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Prera, Pilot Metropolitan, *Kaweco Perkeo*, Kaweco Sport, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Conklin Duragraph, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Prera, Pilot Metropolitan, *Kaweco Perkeo*, Kaweco Sport, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Conklin Duragraph, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, Pilot Prera, Pilot Metropolitan, *Kaweco Perkeo*, Kaweco Sport, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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Review: Franklin-Christoph Model 31 Omnis (Purpurae, Medium Nib)

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: I really like the material of this pen. It’s so pretty! The design of the pen isn’t my favorite though, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not bad. It’s probably worth noting that I’m not a big fan of what I think of as FC’s “chunkier” designs, or the indented rings they like putting on pens. I love their models with clean lines — the 45, the p66, 66 and (a little bit less) the 20, but the 31 just isn’t as clean.  But, personal preference.

Pam: I was blown away by the size and material of this pen.  The material of the pen is stunning with alot of iridescence and depth.  I really like the shape of the pen, but the size of the pen is a bit much for me. I have mixed feelings about the indentations on the body and the placement of the nib.  It adds texture to the body and interest in the eye, but also breaks up the lines of the pen shape.  The nib is semi-hooded which baffles me a little bit.  I didn’t notice this before on other FC pens and I can’t decide if I like it or not.  Overall, I think the model 31 is a great add to the line up for those with larger hands or prefer larger pens.

Franz: “Holy swirly purple pen Batman!” Yep, that was my reaction when I saw this at the LA pen show in February 2017. This was the first Model 31 I ever saw and it was (at that time) the only prototype in the purpurae material. When I saw this pen, I knew I had to have it. Anyway, going back to the pen model, this is a fairly large pen size in the Franklin-Christoph line up. Their model 19 is still the largest of the group but I think the model 31 is just a level below that.

Now for the details that my co-bloggers have mentioned, I love the indented rings on the barrel as it’s quite distinctive. While I’m at a pen show hovering at a Franklin-Christoph table, I can immediately identify a model 31 from their display because of these rings. The nib is recessed just like their model 20 and provides a smooth transition from the section to the nib which I’m liking very much.

In the Hand: Franklin-Christoph Model 31 (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Franklin-Christoph Model 31 (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

The Business End

Katherine: Like all FC nibs, this one was a comfortable and unproblematic writer. Franz had a steel medium in it and it was smooth, wet without being soggy, and an all around undramatic but very reliable writer. No complaints!

Pam:  Like all FC nibs that I have tried, it wrote well.  Smooth, saturated lines without getting too heavy.  The black anodized nib is amazing.   I particularly like how the logo stands out on such a sleek nib.

Franz: Surprisingly, I asked for a stock medium nib when I got this pen and Mr. Jim Rouse actually chose the Shadow (black) finish of the nib to match the pen. As with all Franklin-Christoph pens bought at a pen show, the nib is tuned by Jim to your writing preferences. So this medium nib is one of the smoothest, and perfect flow writers I have.

Thanks very much ROUSE! 🙂

 

Write It Up

Katherine: This pen was a wee bit top heavy when posted (the cap doesn’t post super deeply, so the pen ends up kinda long), but when unposted, is very comfortable. The threads are on the section, so I don’t even have to worry about gripping them when I hold my pen further forward. I could write for pages with this pen.

Pam: I preferred writing with this pen unposted.  In my pixie handed fist grip I found it to be top heavy when posted.  I had no issues writing with this pen as I found it relatively light (for it’s size) and well balanced.  The width of the pen is quite comfortable for either the fisty grip or the tripod grip.  For a larger pen, it is quite comfortable in petite hands.

Franz: As seen from the “In the Hand” photos above, the Model 31 is perfect for my hand with both the cap posted, or unposted. The elongated section is great because my grip comfortably lands right before the threads start when unposted. If I post the cap, it does get a bit long but it’s not unwieldy at all. The light cap doesn’t make it top heavy for me especially when I move my grip a little further back. #BearPaw

I wrote with the 31 unposted, and posted equally within twenty minutes and it was a very pleasant journaling session.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: This made a solid EDC carry. It feels solidly made, uncaps fairly quickly and has a reliable clip. I wouldn’t hesitate to keep this pen in my pocket, or even throw it in my jacket pocket with my keys (don’t worry Franz, I didn’t!).

Pam: Like all FC pens,I have no qualms using this pen as an EDC. It’s well built and should there be a clip, a great add on to any shirt pocket!

Franz: I have used the Model 31 at my workplace quite a few times already and it works nicely as an Every Day Carry type of pen. The medium nib writes nicely on the cheap copier paper and the cap twists off very quickly for fast writing requirements. The only issue of this specific pen is that it’s clip-less and at times I worried that It might roll away when I set it down. Thankfully it hasn’t happened yet.

Let me just add that when I bought this pen, Jim said that I can request to have a clip installed if I wanted to. So far I like it as it is but if I change my mind, I’m sure Franklin-Christoph will take care of it because their great customer service is legendary.

A couple months ago, I featured this pen paired with Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst ink. It just matches!

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: All in all, I think (like most of FC’s pens) this is a very solid, well made pen. However, the aesthetics just don’t jive with me. I love the material, but ultimately found the pen a little too chunky and a little too busy for my tastes. But, if the look appeals to you (and now that I’m looking at their website… perhaps that yellow and black?) it’d be an easy buy for me.

Pam: Franklin-Christoph has a pen to suit every taste, hand size and aesthetic.  The model 31 is a bit big for me and the material is not exactly my cup of tea. Although this pen doesn’t particularly scream “buy me,” I have been a fan of FC for a while. The pocket 20, model 45 and model p66 are totally up my alley. FC materials are also always amazing, so you really can’t lose!  The model 31 is a great add for any collection really.  You should really check out their table at your nearest pen show.

Franz: Dude… it only took me a couple years but I think I can finally say that I found a Franklin-Christoph pen that fits my hand very nicely.

If that last statement isn’t enough, let me just establish that I am very smitten by the Model 31. Before the 31 came out, I was leaning more towards their Model 03 and/or Model 02 but couldn’t decide which one I liked better. But I am thankful that I met this pen at the LA pen show and it has not been un-inked since I got it. I’m afraid that I might inadvertently start a Model 31 prototype collection if I’m not careful. (Channeling @murberdraws from Instagram)

As contrasted by the experiences of the two ladies above, I would recommend the Model 31 for people with medium to larger hands. If you think the model 03 is kinda small, and the model 19 is too big, try out a model 31. You never know.

“Twilight fell: The sky turned to a light, dusky purple littered with tiny silver stars.”

– J.K. Rowling

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Pelikan M200, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor Pro Gear Classic, Edison Beaumont, *Franklin-Christoph Model 31*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Pelikan M200, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor Pro Gear Classic, Edison Beaumont, *Franklin-Christoph Model 31*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: Pelikan M200, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor Pro Gear Classic, Edison Beaumont, *Franklin-Christoph Model 31*, Lamy 2000, Pelikan M805, and Lamy Safari

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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