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.

Tactile Turn Gist Fountain Pen / Kickstarter Launch *UPDATED w/ COMPARISON*

Tactile Turn
“Gist” Fountain PenTactile Turn Gist Lifestyle-10


  • Description: A machined fountain pen that POSTS!
  • Nib: Steel, Titanium, or Gold, EF, F, M, B.
  • Materials: Polycarbonate + MANY metals
  • Refillable: Yes, via converter
  • Measurements: 5.15″ closed, 4.64″ open, 6.10″ posted

Tactile Turn on Kickstarter


Tactile Turn Gist Fountain Pen Review Kickstarter-4I’m starting this review off with a big disclaimer, just so everyone knows where I stand before the review. Will, the man behind Tactile Turn, is not just a friend, but a photo client. I was hired to take the photos for his Kickstarter campaign, so yes, I was paid for my services. I’ve been speaking to Will about this fountain pen for the better part of a year, whether it was giving advice, input, or simply just being excited about it. I’ve had a prototype of the pen for about a month now, and I really, really enjoy it. I have backed the Kickstarter myself, with my own money, because yes – I really like the pen. I have no further financial motives, I don’t get anything else if the Kickstarter hits a million dollars. I just think that this pen is a breath of fresh air in a somewhat-stagnant world of fountain pens. My intent is not to steer people wrong because of the involvement I had in this project, but fill them in about a pen that provides something different than what’s out there. Please keep this in mind as you read the review, enjoy!


Tactile Turn Gist Lifestyle-4This pen is SOLID. I’ve been carrying around a polycarbonate/titanium grip model for about a month and there are no issues. The plastic feels robust, the pen walls are thick, and the Ti grip is exactly what it should be. This pen utilizes acme threads, which are a good but chunkier than what you may be used to seeing on a fountain pen. Not only does this add to the overall industrial aesthetic of the pen, but it provides a smooth, secure method of keeping the pen capped. What’s unique about this pen is the fact that it posts. Most Kickstarted pens do not have this ability, but Will included that as a must-have trait in these pens. The cap posts on nice and secure, maybe a bit more-so on the polycarbonate versions. To me, this pen looks like a cross between the Pilot M-90 and the Lamy 2000. This is definitely not a bad place to be in. It has that modern design that I love so much. While the all-metal versions are stunning, I personally prefer the mix of polycarbonate and metal. I’m stuck between the Poly & Ti Grip/Finial and Poly & Brass Grip/Finial as my favorite version…


Tactile Turn Gist Lifestyle-14The Gist both looks and feels familiar. It’s similar to the Lamy 2000 in size, shape, and weight (the poly/Ti version at least). The one glaring difference is the ridged pattern seen on Will’s pens that adorn the entire length of the body. If you’ve used a Tactile Turn before, you’ll be familiar with the “bite” and control that this grip gives. The pen is nicely balanced, comfortable to write with, and I really like the fact that it has a #6 nib.

Tactile Turn Gist Lifestyle-11The grip section of these pens are mostly metal. Typically, metal grip sections can get slippery real quick. That’s not the case with the Gist. The ridges allow you to grip the pen without squeezing too hard, making them comfy for longer writing sessions as well as quick notes. The grip tapers into the nib section, so be careful about choking up too much on the pen. You may encounter inky fingers if you aren’t paying attention. I haven’t found this to be much of an issue, as it’s comfortable to grip the pen slightly above where the feel and grip meet.

Writing Performance: 

Tactile Turn Gist Lifestyle-18
The Gist pens feature a #6 Bock nib in either steel, titanium, or gold. I’ve been using the Ti version for the better part of the month, and I was surprised at how smooth it wrote. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the titanium nibs, but the extra fine one I have is smooth, has good flow, and the springy nature of titanium adds a nice amount of cushion to the writing. Once the entire batch of pens showed up, I swapped out the EF for a B just to see how it is. The B isn’t as great as the EF was, I experienced a few hard starts, but once you’re writing, it’s great. I couldn’t resist trying out the steel and gold nibs, both were smooth. The gold provided a little bit of additional cushion and had slightly better flow than the steel. These pens fill with an international size converter, the experience was standard, no complaints here.

Tactile Turn Gist Lifestyle-1Pros:

  • Excellent design
  • Solid construction
  • Unique features like ridged grip, acme threads
  • Cap posts for a comfy, balanced experience


  • Body is a bit short if you don’t post
  • Metal versions require some extra force to post cap


Tactile Turn Gist Fountain Pen Review Kickstarter-3I’ve been looking forward to this pen for a long time, and I can honestly say it delivers. I’ve backed the project for a polycarbonate w/  brass grip/finial for myself. The pen is comfortable, well-balanced, robust, and looks great. There’s not much else to say other than it feels both fresh and familiar at the same time. I can see myself adding more of these to my collection as time goes on, there are so many great options and after handling each and every one, it’s honestly hard to pick. The Gist starts at a reasonable $59 and can be customized all the way up to $228 (full Ti pen w. 14k gold nib), so there really is something for everyone.

Head on over to the Tactile Turn Kickstarter to secure one for yourself!


Capped, Left to Right: Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI 580AL, Tactile Turn Gist, Lamy 2000, Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black, Tactile Turn Shaker
Uncapped, Left to Right: Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI 580AL, Tactile Turn Gist, Lamy 2000, Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black, Tactile Turn Shaker
Posted, Left to Right: Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI 580AL, Tactile Turn Gist, Lamy 2000, Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black, Tactile Turn Shaker
Most similar: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black, Tactile Turn Gist, Lamy 2000
Most similar: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black, Tactile Turn Gist, Lamy 2000


Disclaimer: Did you not read the first paragraph? Because you should totally read the first paragraph…

TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review

TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen

  • Review Paper: Rhodia No. 18 Lined Pad

TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review-13Specs:

  • Description: An updated version of the TWSBI 580 featuring an aluminum grip and piston mechanism, for added durability and a classier look
  • Refills: Internal piston mechanism
  • Body:  Plastic / Aluminum
  • Measurements: 5.6″ long closed, 7.0″ posted
  • Weight: 32g
  • Color Options: Clear with silver aluminum accents

Writing Samples:
TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review-12


TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review-1My past experiences with TWSBI have been hit or miss, mostly on the miss side. I was impressed by the price point of the ECO, but it just didn’t click with me. My old Diamond 540 was plagued with cracking pieces, I’ve given up emailing customer support. The Mini was cool, but once again, it just didn’t get used. My Vac700 was a very poor writer, and in my opinion, not very comfortable in hand. So I’ve had a good amount of experience with several of their pens. I figured the “AL” version with aluminum parts would be more durable, better looking, and overall more reliable. Read on to see how the 580AL has held up to over a year of ownership and use!

Appearance and Packaging:

TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review-7The TWSBI 580AL is a sharp-looking pen. I’ve always loved the way the Diamond series looks, and in my opinion, it’s even better with the blinged out updates. There’s an aluminum grip section that’s made of two pieces, and an aluminum piston rod and mechanism. It definitely looks more premium than the old 540 and 580s. The faceted barrel is crystal clear, allowing you to see whatever ink you have sloshing around inside. In the photos, it’s filled with J. Herbin’s Emerald of Chivor – an awesome ink to have in a demonstrator. TWSBI has won awards for their packaging, and this one is no exception. The box is made of plastic, with the pen sitting on a pedestal inside. It looks very Apple-esque and I like it. Overall, the pen looks great, and has an awesome presentation. It would make a great gift, and it looks great on my desk.

Filling System / Nib Performance:

TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review-5The filling system in the 580AL is an integration piston mechanism. It’s fully removable, whether it be for cleaning or tinkering. This updated aluminum piston replaces the plastic version seen on the standard 580, but I don’t believe it’s much of an improvement. I’ve had the piston get stuck (like REALLY stuck) a few times, and it’s definitely an annoyance. It’s nerve-racking to have to apply pressure to the piston knob, not knowing if it will give way and shoot out ink everywhere. It looks great in there, but I think the plastic version on my 540 was much smoother. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve had similar experiences with your TWSBI’s aluminum piston.

TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review-8I went for the medium nib on the pen. TWSBI uses western nibs, so the line width was right about where I’d expect it to be. The 580AL didn’t go un-modified for long. Straight out of the box, I found the pen to be a bit dry and I knew it could definitely have been smoother. While at the DC show in August of 2014, I had it adjusted by Mike Masuyama. I requested that the pen have increased flow, and be smoothed a bit. He informed me that the slit in the nib was not perfectly centered, which is what was causing the sub-par flow. After a few minutes on the grinding wheel, the TWSBI was writing perfectly. Given that the pen was a reasonable $65, investing another $30 in a perfectly smoothed nib wasn’t a bad decision. Steel nibs in this price range can be hit-or-miss, but luckily they’re easily fixed.


TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review-11TWSBI’s 580AL weighs in at a comfortable 32g. It’s nicely balanced, and provides a good amount of heft. It weighs enough so you know it’s there, but not too much to the point where it will tire you out. The grip diameter is comfortable, and flares out just a bit before the nib. I have found the aluminum to be slippery though. There’s no texture to the grip and it tends to get slick. If you have sweaty hands or prefer to a tight grip, be wary of this one. I prefer to write with the pen unposted, but it is capable of posting. There’s a silver ring on the back of the pen that the cap securely posts onto without interfering with the piston. For me, it makes the pen very off-balanced and way too long. If you want a TWSBI that posts, definitely consider the Mini. The molding on the plastic pieces is nicely done, with no visible seams or blemishes. It’s polished to a high-shine and smooth to the touch. The materials appear to be quality, but time will tell if they start to get the signature TWSBI hairline cracks over time.

TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review-10Pros:

  • Price is reasonable
  • Nice weight
  • Comfortable in hand
  • Looks awesome when paired with interesting ink

TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review-4Cons:

  • M nib was dry and scratchy out of the box
  • Piston has stuck multiple times
  • Slippery grip section


TWSBI 580AL Fountain Pen Review-14I’m very on the fence as to whether or not I like the TWSBI 580AL. There’s just about as many Pros as there are Cons, and my experience hasn’t been great with TWSBIs in the past. At $65, this pen is not terribly expensive, but it’s also not in the “impulse buy” range. I’d definitely say that I like the pen, but I don’t love it. Since getting the nib adjusted, it’s been much better. It doesn’t see a ton of use, but for some reason I’ve held onto it. There aren’t enough negative aspects as to not recommend the pen, but there aren’t enough positive aspects to suggest it either. Overall, this pen is really a true middle ground fountain pen for me. Not bad, not great, really just okay.

If you’d like to support the site, you can pick up a TWSBI 580AL through this Amazon Affiliate link.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the TWSBI 580AL in the comments below!


Super Analog: Platinum 3776 Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review

Platinum 3776 Black Diamond
Fountain Pen Review 

  • Review Ink: Sheaffer Peacock Blue
  • Review Paper: Rhodia 4 Color Book

Platinum 3776 Century Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review-2Specs:

  • Description: A 14k nibbed, translucent black pen with a unique slip and seal cap mechanism to prevent drying out.
  • Nib: Broad, 14k gold, rhodium plated
  • Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / Converter – Proprietary
  • Weight: ~21 grams
  • Measurements: 5.50″ closed, 6.25″ posted
  • Color Options: Translucent Black with Rhodium Trim

Handwritten Review Scans:


Platinum 3776 Century Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review-10First off, I want to say that this review is different from all of the other reviews on the site. The images you see throughout the post were all shot on film (Kodak Gold 400, with a Nikon N50 and 50mm 1.4G lens) and scanned with minimal color correction. Since we’re all here for analog writing in all its glory, I wanted to take it one step further. It was definitely a cool feeling to finish off the roll of film, hear it wind up, and take it out of the camera knowing that there were physical negatives of a review in there. It made me shoot the review much more carefully, as it does end up costing an extra bit of money and effort in doing so. That being said, I enjoyed the process and I’m definitely going to be playing with film more in the future. Anyway…on to the pen!

Platinum 3776 Century Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review-9The Platinum 3776 has always been in my sights, but I’ve always opted for another pen in the price range before jumping at this one. Why? I’m not so sure, maybe it was the gold furnishing? When the Black Diamond came out, I was definitely more intrigued. The translucent black body and rhodium trim is super classy, and just muted enough to grab my eye. It looks awesome right next to my Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black and Lamy 2000. There are plenty of things I love about the pen, some I like, and even a few I’m not so huge on. Read on to find out how the 3776 fared!

Huge thanks to Ron at Pen Chalet for sending me a
Platinum 3776 Black Diamond over for review!


Appearance & Packaging:

Platinum 3776 Century Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review-16The 3776 comes in a nice presentation gift box. It’s nothing crazy, and nothing in the packaging implies that the Black Diamond is any more special than any of the other 3776 models. The pen itself is a rather classic looking cigar shape, having been in production in a similar form since the late 1970’s. Theres nothing extraordinary about the pen, but it looks great. The cap and tail are nicely rounded, resulting in a tapered cigar shape. Inside the cap is Platinum’s unique “slip and seal” technology to prevent the pen from drying out. Essentially there’s an internal cap that creates an airtight seal with the grip. Above the internal cap is a spring, which ensures that there’s a tight seal. Over the course of using the pen, I haven’t noticed any drying, but I haven’t exactly let this one sit for extended periods of time.

Platinum 3776 Century Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review-17  I really like the simple look, especially with the silver trim and ever-so-slightly see through black body. The translucency of the cap and body are only visible in bright light, or when backlit. I think it’s the perfect balance of being “translucent” and “full on demonstrator” – it’s understated just like the rest of the pen. The cap band has some text imprinted on it, and it’s bordered by a thinner band on the top. Overall, I think it’s an awesome looking pen.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Platinum 3776 Century Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review-8The Japanese broad nib is smooth, wet, and just a tiny bit springy. In my opinion, it’s an ideal nib. The line width is similar to a Western medium, which is right inside my comfort zone. The writing on the nib looks rather plain, and I’m not a huge fan of the typeface used on it. The rest of it is quite cool though, I really love the heart-shaped breather hole and lines that run around the perimeter of the nib. The size of the nib fits the proportions of the body well, not looking too big or too small.

(warning: not film)
(warning: not film)

The 3776 fills via converter or proprietary cartridge. The included converter is high quality, and has a decent capacity. I really wish that the gold accents on the converter were silver, so they’d match the rest of the pen…oh well.


Platinum 3776 Century Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review-13The pen is definitely comfortable to write with for extended periods of time. Actually, I’ve had a hard time putting it down… I’ve only kept a few pens inked up over the past month or so (I bought my first house, moved, did a bunch of freelance work, man I’m busy) and this pen I’ve actually refilled as soon as it’s emptied every time. The pen is comfortable posted or un-posted, but I prefer writing with the cap on the back. It adds a nice amount of weight and balance without throwing off the feel of the pen.

Platinum 3776 Century Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review-12The one thing I’m not thrilled with is the finishing of the pen. For a $150+ pen, the finishing should be as close to flawless as you can get, but that’s not the case. The grip of the pen has some very obvious manufacturing lines from injection molding. They’re not terribly noticeable when writing, but just knowing that they’re there irks me. The rest of the pen has no noticeable issues, perhaps they just crank out the grip sections on different machinery and just call it a day. It’s not a make-or-break issue for me, but definitely worth noticing.


  • SUPER smooth nib
  • Color is killer
  • Good balance/feel in hand
  • Pen shouldn’t dry out


  • Rough finishing on the grip


Platinum 3776 Century Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review-15
3776 next to a Pilot Custom 74

The 3776 is a good pen, but it doesn’t really achieve greatness. The picture above shows it next to Pilot’s Custom 74, which is very, very similar. I prefer the build quality of the 74 is just a bit more, Pilot tends to have excellent finishing. The nib on the 3776 is great though. When it comes down to it, I slightly prefer the 3776. Why? I’m not sure, but I find myself reaching for this pen more often than any others at this time. Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

Platinum 3776 Century Black Diamond Fountain Pen Review-1Thanks again to Pen Chalet for sending this over to review, if you’re interested in picking one up for yourself, check out the product page for more info!


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!

Kickstarter: TiScribe Fountain/Ballpoint EDC Pen in Copper

Kickstarter: TiScribe Fountain/Ballpoint EDC Pen in Copper

Ti Scribe Copper Fountain Pen Review Kickstarter-1


  • Available in Copper, Brass or Titanium
  • Fountain pen or ballpoint
  • Titanium pocket clip
  • Seamless machining and design
  • High gloss finish
  • 4.45″ overall
  • 4.15″ uncapped

Ti Scribe Copper Fountain Pen Review Kickstarter-9Notes:

The Ti Scribe Fountain / Ballpoint Pen was designed with EDC use in mind. This little pen is meant to live in your pocket and be used as needed. It’s short in length, but not uncomfortable to use when writing. The design and construction are both quality – including features like invisible seams and a fully machined body/cap.

Ti Scribe Copper Fountain Pen Review Kickstarter-12The pen is built around a Bock nib unit, and includes a small international cartridge of black ink. The nib writes buttery smooth and has good ink flow right out of the box. These nibs may look familiar – as Kaweco uses them. There’s some nice scroll work and Bock’s logo stamped into the nib.

Ti Scribe Copper Fountain Pen Review Kickstarter-13

This pen is QUITE small. It reminds me a bit of the Kaweco Liliput, but a bit wider. This extra diameter makes for a more comfortable writing experience. The grip section of the pen has grooves machined into it for improved grip and control. I do have a few issues with the pen. It’s just a little bit too short for extended writing periods. I feel like the end of the pen hits an awkward spot in my hand, I wish it was just a bit longer (TiScribe is now offering an extended length version of the pen as a stretch goal).Ti Scribe Copper Fountain Pen Review Kickstarter-4 I also wish that the cap posted. Although Kelvin, the designer, stated that threads on the back of the pen are ugly, it’s very easy to misplace this small cap. I think an EDC pen, especially one meant to be used on the go, would benefit from a cap retention system. Speaking of the cap, each cap comes with a titanium pocket clip. The clip is held in place by a single screw. I’ve found that the pen stays put in my pocket and the cap hasn’t fallen off while walking. The shorter length of the pen ensures that it doesn’t jab you in the leg while carrying.

The pen is a bit longer than a Kaweco Sport when capped, and slightly shorter when posted.

Ti Scribe Copper Fountain Pen Review Kickstarter-5Overall, I think that the Scribe makes a good pen for EDC. It’s more substantial than the Kaweco Liliput, but not as comfortable to use as the Sport. I’d definitely say that it’s a happy medium. I’m intrigued by the longer version, as I like the design and feel of the pen. It’s obvious that there was a high level of detail involved in designing and manufacturing the pen.

To learn even more about the Scribe, and to pick one up for yourself, head over to their Kickstarter page. There’s just under two weeks left to get in on the pledge!


Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen Review

Kaweco Brass Sport
Fountain Pen

  • Review Paper: Rhodia No. 18 Lined Pad

Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen Review-5Specs:

  • Description: A brass version of everyone’s favorite pocket pen
  • Refills: International short cartridges / Kaweco Converter
  • Body: Raw Brass
  • Measurements: 5.270″ long, 0.360″ diameter
  • Weight: 45g
  • Color Options: Raw Brass

Handwritten Review Scans:


Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen Review-11Upon seeing the announcement of an all-brass Sport, my excitement started to build. Usually they hit Europe first and then make their way over here. The day it became available on JetPens, I jumped at it. I already have several Sports in my collection in various colors and materials, but none with a broad nib. I added the pen to my shopping cart, and a few days later it was at my door. Read on to see how this weighty version of my favorite pocket pen holds up!

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!

Appearance and Packaging:

Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen Review-3The Brass Sport comes in the standard Kaweco gift tin. It’s nicely decorated and has a cool vintage look. It’s small in size, simple, and gets the job done. It’s definitely in line with how a $100 pen should be packaged. Upon first picking it up, the weight and build quality immediately stood out (in a good way). The pen is precisely machined and has no visual flaws. I have always held Kaweco’s build quality in high regard. The raw brass will age and patina as the pen is used, as there is no finish to protect the surface. Since getting the pen, it has dulled down a bit and has taken on a wonderful vintage look. The steel nib is perfectly sized for the pen – not too big and not too small. It’s nicely decorated and stamped with the Kaweco logo.

Filling System / Nib Performance:

Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen Review-12Kaweco Sports are most easily filled via international short cartridges. The pen includes a single blue cartridge to get you started writing immediately. While Kaweco does offer a converter, I’ve found it to perform poorly. It’s hard to get a good fill and it doesn’t hold so much ink – I’d rather refill an empty cartridge with a syringe than use the converter. Several ink manufacturers make international short cartridges, so it’s easy to find an ink brand and color that you like. Personally, I’m a big fan of Kaweco’s Summer Blue (used in the review).

Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen Review-10I opted to get the Sport in a broad steel nib. The second I put pen to page, I knew the broad nib wasn’t for me. It’s smooth, but it’s more stubby than round – producing a slightly variable stroke. If you prefer a stubby broad nib, then definitely check it out. If not, take note. After a few pages with the broad, I swapped in a 14k gold medium nib. Kaweco’s nib units easily unscrew and swap out in seconds.


Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen Review-7The brass Sport feels great in hand. It’s hefty, but not heavy (does that make sense?). The metal is precisely machined and the finishing on the pen is excellent. All of the surfaces are smooth, the grip is comfortable, and the cap threads are smooth. Kaweco has added a thin plastic sleeve to the inside of the cap that improves the feel of the threads when opening and closing the pen. This sleeve also protects the body from being scratched when posting the cap. The brass Sport is the ideal weight – it feels like a full-sized pen. I love the easy pocketability as well. In my opinion, brass is an excellent material for the Sport line.

Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen Review-13Pros:

  • Great weight
  • Looks awesome
  • Patina!
  • Easy to use
  • A+ fit and finish

Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen Review-2Cons:

  • B nib was stubbier than I’d like
  • Not for those who like to keep things shiny


Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen Review-6It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Sport line. I have posted several reviews of this line of pens, enjoying all of them. Kaweco consistently puts out a solid pen – great fit/finish, looks, writing performance, and overall value. I think that the brass Sport does a great job of representing Kaweco’s heritage very well. It’s definitely worth the $100 (about $75 more than the plastic version). I have no doubt that this pen will last a lifetime. While the broad nib wasn’t my thing, some may appreciate the stubby nature of its writing.

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


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!