Category Archives: Fountain Pens

Fountain Pen Reviews – Comprehensive reviews of fountain pens from beginner class to high-end. Each review includes sections for Appearance and Packaging, Nib and Performance, the Feel, Pros and Cons, and a Wrap-up. Each image is clickable, and you are able to enlarge it to see all the small details.

Pen Comparison: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black vs. Pilot Custom 823

Pen Comparison: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black vs. Pilot Custom 823

Sailor Pro Gear Versus Pilot 823-3

Notes: These two pens are not necessarily similar, in that they have different stylings, different filling systems, and different sizes. However, when shopping on the Japanese market, they are nearly the same price. I snapped these photos the other day because someone on Reddit was asking for advice on which pen to get. Both of them are great, and have landed a permanent seat in my collection. It’s hard to recommend one over the other, but maybe this post will help those out who are considering both pens!

Sailor Pro Gear Versus Pilot 823-1 When capped, the Sailor is visibly shorter than the Pilot. The flat top and bottom on the Sailor make for some great styling and looks, but it does make the pen significantly shorter. The other obvious difference is that the Pilot has a demonstrator body with an integrated vacuum filling system, while the Sailor is all-black resin with a cartridge converter. The Sailor is much more modern, while the Pilot has a classic cigar shape.Sailor Pro Gear Versus Pilot 823-3 This is how I prefer to write with each pen. The Sailor is much to short for me when unposted (see below), but the Pilot is pretty much perfect. In this configuration, the weight is about the same. I’ve had custom adjustments done to both nibs, so it’s hard to say which one is a better writer. The 14kt Pilot nib was ground to an architect point and the 21kt Sailor nib was adjusted for more flow than the stock nib. Despite being 21kt gold, the Sailor nib is quite stiff and unforgiving. The modification on the Pilot doesn’t allow for any flex, but my experience with other Pilot nibs was very positive. They have a nice cushion and spring to them, and lay down a smooth line.

As seen above (click to make bigger!), the Sailor is a bit short for me when unposted. I know people prefer to write this way, and it’s not uncomfortable for me. I simply prefer the cap on this pen. It adds a nice amount of weight and doesn’t throw off the balance of the pen at all. I also like being able to see the Sailor logo on the cap while writing, as it is one of my favorites in the pen world.

I prefer writing with the 823 when it’s unposted. I find the cap to add too much length and it throws off the balance. The pen by itself is long enough and heavy enough for me to write with comfortably. The huge ink capacity and metal components in the filling system help with adding to the nice weight.

Sailor Pro Gear Versus Pilot 823-8

Overall, they’re very different pens, but being in the same price bracket makes them more similar than I had originally thought. They both provide a different writing experience, but they’re both great looking, high quality, and in my opinion worthy of adding to a collection. If you prefer a larger pen, then definitely consider the 823. Another check for the 823 if you like unique filling systems. If you’re in the market for a more modern pen and your favorite color is black, it’s extremely hard to ignore the Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black. Both are great writers, and neither pen would be a bad choice. If you like this pen comparison, let me know in the comments! I’d be happy to do some more as time goes on.

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Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen Review

Pilot Custom 74
Fountain Pen Review

- Handwritten Review -

Specs:

  • Description: A nicely balanced demonstrator at a reasonable price with a great 14k gold nib.
  • Nib: Fine, 14k gold, rhodium plated
  • Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / Converter – CON70
  • Weight: ~23 grams
  • Measurements: 5.50″ closed, 6.25″ posted
  • Color Options: Blue, Clear, Orange, Purple, Smoke – See them here!

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-7I’ve been interested in the Custom 74 for quite some time now. The $150(ish) price range has a ton of options, and it’s always good to try out another pen in the range. I feel as though $150 is the middle ground in the fountain pen world and some of the best pens are around that price. I have a Custom 823 with an architect grind that cost around double the 74, so I was very happy to check its little sibling out when Pen Chalet offered one up for review. The Custom 74 is a gold-nibbed demonstrator style fountain pen that fills via Pilot’s high quality pump converter – the CON70. The pen is a great looking work horse, and at $160 it makes a great entry into the mid-level price tier.

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-5

Huge thanks to Ron at Pen Chalet for sending me a Pilot Custom Heritage 74 over for review. I’ve had the Custom 823 for a while now (and love it), and I am happy to report that the Custom 74 is just as great!

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Appearance & Packaging:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-1

The Custom 74’s packaging leaves something to be desired for those who want a really nice presentation. It’s a cheaply-made box with a viewing window in it, displaying the pen. It’s not nearly as ornate as the fabric-lined box that came with my Custom 823, but it gets the job done. Personally, I file away packaging should I want to sell the pen so the smaller, the better. The pen itself looks great. The translucent blue resin has a smoke-colored grip and tail cap. The silver trim nicely compliments the rest of the pen. The clear body allows you to see the premium CON-70 converter inside which has nice chrome accents. The large chrome portion of the converter adds a nice pop to the pen, better showing off the brilliant blue color of the pen. Overall, it’s a classically inspired design that looks great.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-8I opted for a fine nib on my Custom 74. Being Japanese, the nibs tend to run a size finer than Western Pens. The fine nib on this pen is very, very fine. It has a fair amount of feedback, but it’s not scratchy or annoying. The ink flow is generous and consistent. If you push the gold nib a bit, there’s some nice cushion. It is by no means a flex pen, and line variation is slim-to-none. The pen will put down more ink when pushed slightly harder though. I actually prefer to write with a little more pressure with this pen. Ink flow, as mentioned before is pretty much middle ground. Even though the line it lays down is very fine, you can still see some shading. Overall, I’m happy with how it writes. Especially the fact that the fine nib can be used on cheaper paper due to its fine-ness.

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-3

As for filling, the CON-70 is a pump style converter that holds a fair amount of ink. It feels substantial and adds a nice amount of weight to the pen. Considering it is inside the pen, it adds a great balance. To fill the CON-70, you submerge the nib into the ink, and repeatedly press the button on top of the converter. The ink draws up easily and quickly. It’s reminiscent of how the old Parker Vacumatics fill with a button.

Feel:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-4The Custom 74 is nicely sized. It’s a perfect medium – nicely weighted and nicely sized. The plastic is high quality and I have no worries of the pen cracking. The injection molding is nicely finished too. There are no visible seams and the construction and fit of the parts are all top-notch. The pen really feels like it is worth the price. I think Pilot consistently nails it in quality and construction of their pens, from the $5 Metropolitan to the near-$400 Custom 823. The 74 fits nicely in the middle. The cap is capable of posting, but it makes the pen a bit too long for my liking. The pen practically disappears in hand. I definitely like how it feels.

Pros:

  • Great 14k nib
  • Solid construction
  • Demonstrator doesn’t look cheap

Cons:

  • None!

Conclusion:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74 Fountain Pen Review-1The Custom 74 is a solid workhorse pen. It’s priced right, at $160. I really like the CON-70 converter – it holds a ton of ink and looks great through the transparent body of the pen. The 14k gold nib lays down a very fine line with a bit of nice feedback. I’ve used the word “middle” a lot in this review, and I feel like it’s been appropriate. The Custom 74 would make a great alternative for those looking at a Lamy 2000 or Vanishing Point, but want something that looks a bit different. In my opinion, it would be just as great of a choice as either pen. You won’t be disappointed if you chose to get one!

Thanks again to Ron over at Pen Chalet for sending this over to review, if you’re interested in buying it, check out the product page here!

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Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me as a review unit, free of charge, by Pen Chalet. I was not compensated for this review, and this did not have any effect on my thoughts and opinions about the pen. Thank you for reading!

Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen Review

Kaweco Sport Skyline
Fountain Pen

 

  • Review Paper: Doane Paper Flap Jotter

Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen Review-6Specs:

  • Description: A great pocket pen with updated colors
  • Refills: International short cartridges / Kaweco Converter
  • Body: Grey Plastic
  • Measurements: 5.270″ long, 0.360″ diameter
  • Color Options: Several! Check them out at JetPens!

Handwritten Review Scans:
Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen Review-4

Intro/About:

I’ve reviewed a few incarnations of the Kaweco Sport in the past, but when I saw the new grey model with silver trim I had to jump at it. This review is on the shorter side, as it is more of an update than anything. Huge thanks again JetPens for sending over the pen for review!

JetPens Banner
Check out JetPens for tons of awesome Japanese pens and stationery. Free shipping on orders over $25, and hitting that is pretty easy with all the great stuff they have. Stop by!

Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen Review-7

Notes:

The Skyline Sport series is a refresh of the regular Sport line, but with new colors and a silver trim. It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Sport. Since then, Kaweco has improved their nibs. My original burgundy Sport needed some tweaking to write well, but the silver nib on this Sport is smooth and has great flow right out of the box. I’m not huge on gold trim in general, so the silver was a welcomed site. Top that off with a dark grey body, and you have a great looking pen.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen Review-8

The Sport is a smaller pen, shockingly small even. I remember when I took my first one out of the box I was very surprised. Since I knew what to expect, there were no surprises when I unboxed the Sport. I opted to use a Kaweco Aubergine cartridge and I really like the dark purple ink coming out of a grey pen body. I usually have at least one Sport inked up, they are the perfect pocket pen and they’re always reliable and work great.

Pros:

  • Small, pocketable pen
  • Smooth and inky right out of the box
  • New silver trim looks great

Cons:

  • Kaweco converter leaves something to be desired

Conclusion:

I’m a fan of the Sport series, and especially this new color-way. At $23.75, it’s a great entrance to fountain pens and also not too expensive to get one to devote to living in a pocket or with a small notebook. Thanks for reading!

Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen Review-3

Thanks again to JetPens for sending this over to review, check out their site for more info on the pen!

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Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me as a review unit, free of charge, by JetPens. I was not compensated for this review, and this did not have any effect on my thoughts and opinions about the pen. Thank you for reading!

Omas Ogiva Alba Fountain Pen Review

Omas Ogiva Alba
Fountain Pen

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Inks: J. Herbin Blue Pervenche, Orange Indien, Sailor Miruai

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-1

Specs:

Writing Samples:

Omas Ogiva Alba Writing Sample

Intro/About:

 

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-19Since hearing about the Omas Ogiva Alba, I was very interested in checking them out. Omas pens typically tend to cost a bit more than the $495 entry fee for these. There are plenty of reasons justifying the price tag, and I’m a huge fan of the brand. The pens are made in Italy, hand finished, and assembled with love. The nibs are some of the best I have written with as well. Huge thanks to my friends over at Kenro Industries (the US distributor of Omas, Aurora, Sheaffer and Montegrappa) for letting me borrow these beautiful pens for review. Full disclosure – I no longer work for Kenro Industries, but don’t worry, we’re still friends. Read on to find out how the Omas Ogiva Alba was and head over to Goulet Pens if you want to pick one up!

Appearance & Packaging:

 

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-10

 

The first thing that stands out about the Albas is their vibrant colors. I think the teal, orange and purple work together quite well. They’re definitely fun and will no doubt breathe some fresh air into a pen collection full of black and grey pens. When you look at (and feel) the pen after being blinded by the translucent cotton resin, you will notice that the body and cap are ribbed. Not only does this add some nice tactile feel, but it definitely makes the pen more interesting to look at and bounces light off very nicely. The Ogiva is a classic cigar shaped pen with very classy furnishings. The clip is sturdy and has a built in roller to ease the pen in and out of shirt or pants pockets. I really like how the step from the barrel to the grip is very gradual. There’s no sharp drop off and the pen looks just as sleek uncapped as it does when sealed up. The Albas come in Omas’ standard packaging, which is minimalist and nice. It’s a sturdy box lined with grey felt in a dark grey metallic sleeve. With the holidays coming up, it would make a great gift presentation.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

 

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-11

 

In my opinion, Omas has some of the best nibs in the business. They’re all tested and tweaked before leaving the factory and it’s not hard to tell that they really care about the overall writing experience. Omas nibs are definitely wetter than the standard pen, but this adds to the silky smooth experience. I was lent an extra-flexible 14k fine nib, a standard 18k medium nib, and an 18k stub. Out of the bunch, the medium is my favorite. But first, a little about each nib.

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-6

The 14k nib is extremely soft. When writing in cursive, you can get some incredible line variation when pushing the nib. However, be careful as the softer gold can easily be sprung. Admittedly, the extra flex was much better suited for cursive than it was with my standard small caps writing.

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-8

The medium nib is pretty much perfect for me. It’s got a nice huge sweet spot, it’s silky smooth, and has just a bit of spring to it, making for a nicely cushioned writing experience. The flow runs on the wet side, so make sure you load it up with an ink that will behave.

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-7

I’m not much of a stub guy, but this one is quite nice. It’s buttery smooth and it’s not too sharp at the edges. The pen lays down a nice line and there’s noticeable variance between the cross and down strokes. Overall, I’m extremely happy with the nib performance. They definitely hold up to my Nakaya and my all-time favorite Lamy 2000.

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-15

The Ogivas fill via piston, which is smooth to turn and holds a ton of ink. The translucent resin allows you to see your writing fluid of choice sloshing around inside the pen body. No complaints here and the large ink capacity is a good thing, especially when the pens tend to run wet.

Feel:

 

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-16

 

The Ogiva is a classic cigar shaped pen. The cap is capable of posting, but I prefer the length and balance without doing so. It’s very close in size and shape to my Pilot Custom 823, which I really like. It’s not an oversized pen, but it’s not small. Definitely right in the middle of the road. I’d say my hands are average size just to give you some scale. The fit and finish are both superb, there are no seams, no marks – just nicely polished and textured cotton resin. The pen is nicely weighted and balanced as well. My only issue with the entire pen is that I wish the grip had a taper at the end. I’ve found myself subject to inky fingers because of the straight grip. It’s definitely not an issue, but a personal preference.

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-18

Pros:

  • Great build quality
  • Great nibs
  • Bright colors
  • Fit and finish are great
  • Priced right for an Omas

Cons:

  • $495 is still expensive
  • I wish the grip was tapered at the end

Conclusion:

 

Omas Alba Fountain Pen Review-14

The Omas Ogiva Alba is a great pen. There are a ton of different nib options and the three colors are fun and refreshing. The fit and finish are on point and you can really tell that the people who make these pens care. At $495 it’s not a no-brainer, but if you’ve been interested in the brand and would like to see what the fuss is about with a relatively low barrier to entry for an Omas pen. You will not be disappointed by the writing experience. Pick one (in each color?!) up at Goulet Pens – the exclusive retailer until the end of the year today!

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Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me as a loaner for review purposes by Kenro Industries. All opinions are my own.

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age

- Handwritten Review -

  • Review Ink: Iroshizuku Shin-Kai
  • Review Paper: Rhodia No. 18

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

 

Specs:

  • Description: A full size pen, crafted from lava rock and bronze
  • Nib: Medium, 23kt Palladium Dreamtouch Nib
  • Filling Mechanism: Powerfiller (vacuum plunger)

Handwritten Review Scans:

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

Intro/About:

Ever since I saw the Visconti Homo Sapiens, I knew I needed to add one to my collection. It was during the beginning of my fountain pen journey and a $650 pen seemed insane…fast forward a few years later and it didn’t seem TOO hard to swallow. I got a great deal on the pen at the DC Pen Show and I absolutely love it.It’s perfectly weighted and balanced and the lava rock exterior is awesome to hold. The 23kt palladium Dreamtouch nib is definitely living up to its name. Enjoy the review!

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

 

Appearance & Packaging:

The H.S. is an amazing looking pen. The lava finish is as stunning as it is unique. Bronze accents beautifully contrast the dark grey-black body of the pen. The nib is nicely sized for the proportions of the pen. I really love the imprint on the nib. It’s impossible for me to find anything about the pen’s appearance that I don’t like.

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

The packaging is as expected for a $650 pen. It comes in a black leatherette box with a cream interior. I’ll be putting the pen to good use, so the box will be filed away. It’s a great looking pen that is presented nicely. I’ll let the pictures do the talking here…

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

Nib Performance & Filling System:

The 23kt palladium “Dreamtouch” nib is SO close to being perfect. It’s buttery smooth, super inky and has the slightest bit of spring to it. However, I have noticed that it sometimes has a hard start on a downstroke. This can be quite annoying, especially with my small caps writing style that has a lot of straight up and down lines. When writing in cursive, the pen doesn’t have the problem, I’m guessing because of all of the loops and curves.

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

Maybe the nib needs some breaking in, and I will be trying other inks in it as well. The nib lays down a very wet line with zero pressure needed. The filling system is essentially an over-marketed (POWERFILLER!) vacuum plunger system that can be seen in the TWSBI Vac 700 and Pilot Custom 823. It easily pulls in a lot of ink, which is needed to keep up with the wet flow. The pen was easily flushed out. The filling system is a nice departure from the piston fillers that are commonly seen in this price range.

Feel:

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

I absolutely love the size, weight, and diameter of the Homo Sapiens. It’s substantial, but not overly heavy. Posting the cap is not recommended, as it throws the balance way off and adds a considerable amount of length to the pen.

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

The lava finish is what initially drew me towards the pen. It feels great. Not too much more I can say about it. It has the perfect amount of texture to it and it feels unlike anything else currently in my pen collection. The size is perfect for me as well.

Pros:

 

  • Lava is so cool.
  • Great looks
  • Buttery smooth nib

Cons:

  • Skipping on downstrokes

Conclusion:

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

The Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Maxi is my first Visconti and I love it. Awesome looks and unique materials, paired with the smooth nib and great balance make it a near-perfect pen for me. I’m going to have the nib checked over at my next pen show, but it wouldn’t stop me from recommending the pen. Thanks for reading!

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