Our apologies dear friends. We skipped our August pen and ink pairing post for we all have been swamped for the past couple of months. We did not want to skip September as well no matter how late it may be. Thank you for reading and your kind words!
Katherine: This pen was the star of my SF Pen Show 2017 Haul — an “old size” Omas Paragon in Arco Verde. It has a smooth, relatively wet (but not puddle-y!) B CI. The nib is marked BB, but I think it was narrowed a little bit, but is realistically somewhere between a B and a BB, it’s wider than my other Omas B by a hair. I paired it with Waterman Tender Purple for both contrast and how easy to clean it is. The pairing has been very fun for me — a smooth broad CI putting down vivid stokes of purple, with a hint of sheen in the wetter spots. This might end up as a “one true pairing” for me, since I suspect this will be an annoying to clean pen. 🙂
Pam: As a great fan of alliteration, it would only seem appropriate that September would herald in the Sailor Sky with Sapphire ink. The Sailor Sky was my second Sailor Pro Gear Slim. The rest is how we should say, his-ssstory. This pairing is also one my first first “ink will match the pen” type of pairings. (I am working on being more adventurous!) It’s one of my most sustaining pairings!
Sailor Sky is a special edition color, although I don’t think it’s limited. It’s a special edition like the 4 Seasons. (I think.) The barrel color reminds me of a summer sky. I originally paired this pen with Bungbox Omaezaki Sea. However, what really stuck was Bungbox First Love Sapphire, an ink that Franz has introduced me to. To say the least, it was love at first write. I absolutely love the sheen on this ink! It’s a very distinct blue ink with a red sheen that comes through beautifully with the F nib of the Sailor Sky. Some people have compared it to Akkerman’s Shocking Blue. More than anything, I highly recommend trying First Love Sapphire, you might fall for it too.
Franz: So for the month of September, my pairing is the Pilot Custom 823 in Smoke or Black Transparent finish and Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku ink. Ku-Jaku/Peacock is a deep turquoise blue and is such a nice ink color for both work and personal use. The 823 is the first pen I’ve ever inked up with Ku-Jaku. Even though the nib on the 823 is a stock fine, I still appreciate the color it lays down on paper especially on Tomoe River paper in my Nanami Cross Field journal.
The Smoke finish definitely conceals the ink color inside the barrel but you can definitely see the ink level as you write. During meetings in a professional setting, this pen doesn’t call attention to itself but I still enjoy the subtlety of its transparency and places a smile on my face. Now on to trying to remember what that meeting was about.
Katherine: This month my pairing is a Platinum 3776 in the red “Bourgogne” color, with Sailor Okuyama. I picked up the 3776 (I previously rated it one of my top pens) because of the C nib. C stands for “coarse” and is Platinum’s BB nib. It’s quite broad, but, out of the box, not a gusher — which I like. Additionally it writes smoothly when upside down, so I can use it at work too! Overall I’m really enjoying the sheen of Okuyama, laid down by a nib that gets the sheen going, but isn’t gratuitous.
Franz: A co-worker of mine once said that Purple is the color of royalty, and madness. I totally agree! So for the month of June, my royal pen and ink pairing is the Franklin-Christoph Model 31 Omnis in Purpurae finish, and the Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst special edition ink. The deep purple and black swirls of the “Purpurae” madly matches the dark purple of the Amethyst ink. The acrylic has chatoyance that just can’t be captured on camera that well especially on the lighter swirls of the pen.
A quick aside, I got the Model 31 at the 2017 LA Pen Show and it was (at that time) the initial color prototype. Scott Franklin of Franklin-Christoph commented that this was the first purple 31 out there. I initially called the color “Purple Soul” but Franklin-Christoph recently introduced it as a regular part of their Model 31 line up as “Purpurae”. The Amethyst ink was Pelikan’s 2015 special edition Ink of the Year and has become my top favorite purple ink due to it being a darker color, and its sheen when ink pools in the writing.
Will this pen and ink pairing become an OTP (One True Pairing) for me? We shall see!
Pam: Summer is in full swing but I still miss the rainy season so this pen is a reflection of having the best of both worlds. My choice for the June pairing is Sailor Pro Gear Blue Lagoon with Akkerman Hofvijver Gris (#29) ink. This is probably one of my favorite OTP/pen and ink pairings since I started collecting pen.
The Sailor progear has a really unique and whimsical color pairing with the neon green and soft blue. The gentle blue with such a vibrant hue reminds me of the “Unicorn Barf” colorway with the blue and bright pink. I have been trying to get the term “Unicorn Snot” for this blue and green combination to stick…but alas. The Sailor nib is perfectly wet enough to show off the wonderful gray ink, as usual.
Akkerman #29 is my first ink from Akkerman and I couldn’t be happier with this ink. It’s practically my “gateway” gray, getting me more interested and more inclined to try out more gray inks. I had thought that gray inks would be only dilute and dull blacks. I am so glad to be have been mistaken! Originally obtained via ink sample from Vanness Pens, I quickly tried to obtain a full bottle of this wonderful gray. The gray reminds me alot of pencil graphite and I really enjoy the shading available in this ink. Not to mention, the bottle of Akkerman ink is always a treat in itself!
Update 05/15/2017 : We are adding the information that the Turquoise Sailor Pro Gear pictured above was a 2016 limited edition pen release via the Japanese shop, Wancher. Pam purchased this online via the global marketplace, Rakuten. And the Kingfisher finish that Claire is holding below is another Japanese limited edition Sailor Pro Gear. These limited edition finishes are currently unavailable via US retailers. We apologize for not establishing this bit of information. Our main focus for our pen reviews is to show how different pen sizes feel on different hand sizes and we hope that we continue reflecting this point.
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: I love the look of the Pro Gears — the clean lines and squared-off cap just look really classic, but aren’t boring. The one pictured above is Pam’s, and I think the translucent material is gorgeous, and the gold trim, while louder, really makes the green look more rich. I own a Pro Gear in the Keio Atman “Kingfisher” limited edition colors… That’s another upside, no matter what kinds of colors you liked, there’s a Pro Gear out there for you! (It might just not be cheap…)
Pam: In a previous review, I made terrible analogies comparing my love for the Sailor Pro Gear’s smaller sister, the Progear Slim to the ardent love that Darcy had for Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice fame. Just like last time, my love for a Sailor is of literary proportions. I was originally attracted to the Progear Slims as they are only slightly smaller than the Progear, but at a significantly lower price. That being said, you don’t always get to choose what limited edition you love and must have so my collection expanded to the Progears as well. Let’s just say I felt remiss for missing out on such a wonderful pen for so long. The relationship status I I have with my wallet on the other hand is “complicated.”
Claire: Hang with me here, I can wax poetic about the Sailor Pro Gear all day long. This is by far my favorite pen available on the market. I currently own three Pro Gears and one Realo. I love the way this pen looks, the flat finials pull the pen together in the best possible way. The size and weight is perfect for my hand. If I had to choose one pen to write with for the rest of my life, a Pro Gear would be that pen. I love how many colors are available, especially if you’re willing to do the leg work on Japanese exclusives.
Franz: A turquoise-y disposition! (Yep… that will now be a term and a hashtag, thank you very much!) For the past six months I have come to appreciate Sailor pens more and that’s due to both Katherine and Pam. Largely, Pam is to blame though for she has set out to collect some special/limited edition Pro Gear Slim and Classic pens available. And what’s not to like? It’s a pen that Sailor designed almost 15 years ago so the aesthetic works.
The Professional Gear has been on my “list” of pens to own for the longest time. Just like the three ladies above, the flat ends definitely appeal to my taste. The gold trim blends well with the color of the pen and gives it a warm feel.
The Business End
Katherine: The MF is fun to write with — fine enough for daily use but just wide enough to see the character of one’s ink. My Pro Gear (which I’ve written with more) has a H-F nib, which is extremely fine, but also wet. It’s a magical combination of wet and fine, which leaves me with saturated but very fine lines. Additionally, despite being labeled a “hard” fine, it has some bounce to it. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I can get line variation out of mine. And, at the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, I also love the feedback on this nib. It’s a nice pencil-y feeling that isn’t too smooth, it’s got character!
Pam: I have had some variability in my experience with the Sailor 21k MF nibs. I have seen some that are more on the fine and harder end of the spectrum while some are broader and slightly wetter. Given that the MF nib is broader than the F or EF, the nib is wonderfully smooth and really shows off the ink qualities like shading or sheen really well. Surprisingly, I didn’t consider grinding the MF down, probably because I paired this turquoise demonstrator Progear with Robert Oster’s Fire and Ice; be still my heart, the sheen!
Claire: The 21k hard fine Sailor nib is my favorite. I love how hard the nib is; though it isn’t too hard. It’s hard to quantify what makes this a Goldilocks nib in my opinion. I love the pencil like feedback that these 21k nibs give so consistently. All three of my fine nibs have given me the same lovely out of the box performance. The only qualm I have with this pen is the converter isn’t the best. Sailor converters don’t hold very much ink and are notorious for having issues. Typically when I get a new Sailor converter I open it up and put silicone grease on the threads and piston. That so far has saved me from running into any of the issues I’ve heard others to have.
Franz: In my experience, Sailor nibs are well tuned out of the box. And this H-MF is no exception at all. I enjoyed writing with this nib for hours. (I have held it hostage from Pam for a while now) And like Katherine, I found the feedback to be pleasant like writing with a pencil.
Write It Up
Katherine: This pen surprised me with how small it is for the not “slim” version. And it’s a wonderful size for my small hands. Both this and the Pro Gear Slim are comfortable for me to use for extended periods of time, but I do prefer this to its smaller sibling (Which is unfortunate for my wallet. And there are slightly fewer limited/store editions available in the Pro Gear). This pen isn’t too narrow, it’s well balanced and the nibs are a delight to write with — I regularly toy with the idea of collecting on in each nib size, but haven’t quite convinced myself not to stick to my pen limit.
Pam: As all pen addicts know, the smallest differences can make all the differences turning a good pen to a great pen. Fortunately, going between the Progear Slim and the Progear isn’t such a large difference that it’s an issue. In my hand, the Progear is a bit longer, equally well balanced and slightly girthier than the Slim. The extra girth is great for longer writing sessions in my opinion. Even in more petite hands, the Progear is comfortable and well balanced, capped or uncapped. Honestly, if the Slim is comfortable for you, the Progear would be equally comfortable. If the Slim is slightly uncomfortable for you, the Progear will be just right. All I can say is, beware of picking up a Progear, you won’t want to put it down.
Claire: I can write with a Pro Gear all day long without running into any hand fatigue. Many times when I’m taking notes for school I’m switching between Pro Gears so I can have a variation in ink color. The way the section tapers fits my hand perfectly. The section on the Pro Gear is really what makes the pen. The more I write, the more I want to find more to write. I really can’t write enough about how much I enjoy writing with this pen.
Franz: The Pro Gear is slightly bigger in girth and length compared to the Pro Gear Slim. Because it is larger, it’s more comfortable to journal with. And I wrote blissfully for a good ten minutes. I even got to finish a letter for a friend with it. But once I unposted the cap, it became a bit tiresome even after only five minutes of writing. So definitely for my large paws, I gotta have it posted for longer writing sessions.
Katherine: This is a great EDC pen — not terribly expensive, not too small, not too big, fantastic nib, durable plastic body, what’s not to like? The clip is solid too! Plus, because the converter is mediocre… even if everything goes wrong, you’ll never get lots of ink on your clothes! (Honestly, because the F I have is so fine, I get plenty of writing out of one converter, so capacity isn’t an issue for me EDC-ing this pen, as long as I remember to check my ink level regularly)
Pam: I have at least one Progear or Progear Slim in my rotation at all times. The nibs can’t be beat and the finer nibs (EF in 14k or F in 21k) performs admirably on cheap office paper for work. The clips are secure without being overly tight and the pens do tolerate being in white coat pocket easily and well. Additionally, depending on what colorway you choose, the pen can be subtle, professional and classic looking or bold, loud and modern. For those in the office setting, this pen can be like a tie, the pop of color or a small, subtle way to show off some personality.
Claire: If I had a job where a fountain pen would be useful in day to day work, this would be the pen I would bring with me every single day. The Pro Gear is often the first pen I reach for when taking notes for class. When I graduate and move to a desk job, you can bet this will be one of the pens I carry with me on a day to day basis. At home, this is almost always the first and only pen I reach for for my evening journaling.
Franz: I once again echo the three ladies above and agree that the Pro Gear is a nice pen to use on a daily basis for my workplace. The pen was clipped securely onto my dress shirt and was always ready to write. You do need to rotate the cap twice to deploy the pen but I just accepted this since it gives me happiness to use the pen. With signing my name multiple times at work, I didn’t feel the need to post the cap and the medium-fine nib was perfect for the copy paper used in the office.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: I really like this pen. It comes in so many colors and I’ve been very tempted to collect quite a few. But, alas, my pen limit has prevented me from doing that and instead I only own one Pro Gear, but it’s a solid pen and I love writing with it. It’s a very comfortable pen and a very solid one. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s thinking of purchasing — and it’s fun (and frustrating…) to hunt down crazy colors and limited editions to find the perfect one (or ten).
Pam: My love for Sailor Progear or Progear Slim has been effusive to say the least. However, once you pick up one of these pens, you will understand. The pen is well made, the nib is beautifully crafted, the shape is elegant and the color ways can be unique. (Speaking of nibs, Sailor makes some amazing specialty nibs like the zoom nib.) Like the Lamy 2000, everyone should at least try this pen, and I would surmise that it’s pretty inevitable that you will own one. Additionally, if it’s a limited edition Progear, I am sure one of us would be happy to “insure” the purchase…
Claire: The size of this pen is perfect, it’s just long enough to fit perfectly in my hand. The balance is exactly what I look for in a pen. The tapered section allows the pen to be comfortable to write with without adding additional weight to the pen. I only have one gripe with this pen: the converter. While I haven’t run into any of the glaring issues I’ve heard of with this converter, I really wish it could hold more ink.
Franz: Sailor has done right with the Professional Gear design. Proportions are great and the build quality is awesome. And just in case you still aren’t sure what my thoughts are, this pen is awesome. It is perfect for me posted, and “okay” unposted. I seem to have always hesitated to buy this pen due to its size in my hand. But after spending some time with Pam’s Pro Gear, I may just get one myself when I find a finish that attracts me.
In closing, every serious pen user should pick up and write with a Sailor Professional Gear. You never know, this pen may just appeal to you and change your mind as it did mine.
Sailor Professional Gear Comparisons (Left to right: Pro Gear Slim, Pro Gear Classic, and Pro Gear King of Pen)
Katherine: I love the finish on this pen. When Pam first told me it was one of her grail pens, I thought it was a little silly. But, seeing the pen in person… I wish I’d ordered one when they were still in stock. I have the cheaper Sailor Pro Color in Winter Sky (same finish!) on order from Engeika… It’ll get here one day.
Compared to the cheaper Sailors I have and have had (Pokemon Little Tales + Sailor Pro Color 500) I like the look of this pen much more. The shape is distinctive and, I think, nicer.
Pam: Like Mr. Darcy, the shape and other colors available for the Sailor Pro Gear Slim were wonderful but “not enough to tempt me.” Until I saw the Elizabeth “Galaxy” Bennett. I really enjoy the shape of the Sailor Pro Gear Slim but it’s really the resin that took my breath away and sets this pen apart. The shape and size is quite reminiscent of the Pilot Prera with it’s flat ends, shorter length and slim profile.
I have Katherine to thank for acquiring this pen. The limited edition pen sold out so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to break the piggy bank for this pen when it was first offered. Katherine alerted me of a very kind soul in Hawaii who was willing to part with this pen at a VERY reasonable price on FPGeeks. (THANK YOU MONTE! Mahalo!)
Franz: Well, hello Starburst Galaxy! The different colored stars are so stunning and I am quite enamored with them. The Sailor Professional Gear pen design has always piqued my interest. The Imperial Black version has been on my list for the longest time now. The flat ends, the distinctive Sailor clip, and the slight taper at the end just looks so cool. Now this is the Pro Gear Slim/Sapporo size which is just a little bit smaller than the one on my pen list. Time to try this pen out!
The Business End
Katherine: It’s a solid nib with that touch of feedback that Sailor is famous for. Despite being an EF, the pen isn’t scratchy and puts down a good saturated line. Compared to my cheaper Sailor pens, I haven’t noticed a big difference in nib or writing quality — but the flow is much better. The Pro Color, which put down a similarly fine line, was just too dry to be very enjoyable — the Pro Gear Slim absolutely nails the balance between a wet, saturated line and an extra fine line.
Pam: Ditto Katherine! The nib itself is beautifully engraved and shows great care in how it was crafted. To borrow a line from Azizah and Dr. Brown, for a small nib, it has some “serious nibbage.” It’s a dream of an EF nib by any standard, laying down a crisp, saturated, almost needlepoint like line. Surprisingly, I am able to detect sheen from inks like Visconti Blue and Bungbox Omaezaki Sea. This EF nib lays down the finest line of all my pens, much to my delight.
Perhaps it’s the perfectly calibrated flow, but this pen leaves more feathering on cheap copy paper than my other pens. Therefore, it’s not a pen I use for work. I prefer it for personal use in my planners.
Franz: I love the adornments of Sailor nibs and this extra fine nib is no exception. As far as I know, Sailor has three different nib sizes and this is their smallest. It complements the size of the pen very well.
The extra fine line of this nib is quite satisfactory to write with. Just like both ladies above, I experienced a well tuned flow, and a smooth contact with the paper. I used Tomoe River paper, and a Rhodia planner.
Write It Up
Katherine: Comfortable enough, and the EF nib is very nice. I also did some drawing with this pen, and the flow was constant and I had no hard starts. In the end though, for a long writing session, I find slightly longer pens a smidge more comfortable and pleasant to write with.
Pam: Based on the positioning of my hands, my fingers are usually on the threads of the pen, so my “iron grip” can leave imprints after longer writing sessions. I don’t usually write full paragraphs with this nib. Instead, I plan with it daily and each weekend, filling in boxes and to-do lists. For this particular use case, it’s ideal. I do journal with this pen, especially if I am in the mood for the finest nib that I own. The toothiness gives way to enjoying the feel of writing on paper, particularly on Midori paper. There are other pens I prefer to use for journaling in my Hobonichi with the Tomoe Rver paper, like the FC model 45 with cursive italic or the Lamy 2000.
Franz: I wrote with the Pro Gear Slim posted during this twenty minute exercise. Surprisingly, even with the small size of the Pro Gear Slim, I did not experience any hand cramps, or fatigue. I grip the pen where the cap and barrel meet which is the thickest part of the pen and it’s quite comfortable for me.
Katherine: It’s a cute pen, and the cap unscrews fairly quickly. However, I found that the nib dried up very, very quickly — which doesn’t do well for the stop-and-go nature of my daily work note taking. I’m unsure if this is due to the ink (Bung Box Omaezaki Azure Sea) or the pen, but this is the fastest I’ve ever had a pen dry out as I’ve used it. The pen dries out quickly enough that if I think for too long between lines, it takes a squiggle or two to get it flowing again.
Pam: I keep the Sailor Galaxy with my planner/hobonichi for it’s portability and EF nib which is more complimentary for my small handwriting and the small monthly boxes in my planner.
Franz: In my work setting, this pen performed okay. On the go, I need to take 1 and 3/4 turns to unscrew the cap, and then post it each time. So for quick signatures, and notes I found it a little annoying. Once I am (rarely) seated on my desk, I found it very nice to write with as I jot down notes.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: This is a shorter pen than I thought it would be, but given that I know almost nothing about Sailor’s line up… take this with a grain of salt. The length is comfortable in hand for me, even unposted. Honestly, I’m scared of posting it because that may scratch up the plastic and distort the finish.
I want this pen just for the finish. It’s very pretty without being flashy or obvious. It writes great and is a comfortable size as a pocket or purse pen for me — it would be a great work pen if it didn’t dry out so quickly (sometimes I need time to think about what to write!). More science will have to be done to see if it’s the pen or the ink.
Pam: As Darcy once said, “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Yet, I have a hard time putting down exactly why I love this pen into words.
Yes, alot of it as the aesthetics, but the nib is by far one the best gold Japanese EF nibs that I have ever had the pleasure to write with. Correction, it’s the only gold Japanese F or EF nib that I own. Even with my own Pilot VP, I ended up swapping out the F gold nib for the F special alloy (steel) nib with a friend. This pen is portable, beautiful and writes like a dream. I haven’t felt the need to try any other gold EF or F nib since I have had this pen. It fills the niche with exactly what I am looking for in a pen and in my collection overall.
Franz: I did not expect to like this Sailor Pro Gear Slim because it is a smaller pen than what I would prefer, and the nib is an extra fine. But I was so wrong. These reviews with Pam and Katherine are slowly teaching me to not judge a pen by it’s size. Or nib size for that matter.
Anyway, the Sailor Pro Gear Slim Starburst Galaxy is such a fantastic pen and I enjoyed using it. The finish is absolutely beautiful, and the nib is awesome. The only downside to this pen is the fact that I cannot use it unposted, and that this Starburst Galaxy finish is a limited edition of only 500 worldwide. I wish it were available on a standard size Pro Gear.
I leave you with one of my favorite movie lines for this pen’s beautiful finish.
“Second star to the right. And straight on ’til morning.”
– Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek: Undiscovered Country
P.S. This movie line is also an homage to another well-known character. Anyone know which character it’s from?