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.
Notes: Kaweco has recently added 14k gold nibs to their lineup and they are great! I’m a fan of their steel nibs (EF, F, and M – nothing bigger) but this gold nib is on a whole new level. It’s got great ink flow and it is silky smooth. It starts right up, even after being unused for weeks. Retailing at around $100, it makes a great upgrade for an AL or ART Sport – adding a premium look, feel, and writing experience. This is definitely one of the better stock gold nibs I’ve used. If you’re a Kaweco fan, consider adding one to your collection. The newest Kawecos all have easily interchangeable nibs, so you can swap this one in and out easily. Thank you to Sebastian over at Kawecofor sending the nib to check out!
Pen Comparison: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black vs. Pilot Custom 823
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!
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. 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.
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.
I’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.
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!
Appearance & Packaging:
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:
I 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.
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.
The 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.
Great 14k nib
Demonstrator doesn’t look cheap
The 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!
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!
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!
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!
The Skyline Sport seriesis 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.
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.
Small, pocketable pen
Smooth and inky right out of the box
New silver trim looks great
Kaweco converter leaves something to be desired
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!
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!
Since 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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Great build quality
Fit and finish are great
Priced right for an Omas
$495 is still expensive
I wish the grip was tapered at the end
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!
Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me as a loaner for review purposes by Kenro Industries. All opinions are my own.
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