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.

[Guest Post] Sailor 1911 Matte Black Full Size with a Naginata Togi MF Nib

[Guest Post] The Sailor 1911 Matte Black Full Size with a Naginata Togi MF Nib

Another awesome guest post by Susan Pigott! You may know her from her own blog, Scribalishess! Her photography, handwriting, and reviewing skills are top notch. If you like what you see here, make sure to go check out more on her site! Here’s Susan’s review of the The Sailor 1911 Large Matte Black Fountain Pen with an incredible Naginata Togi MF nib. Enjoy!

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Review Ink: Diamine Ancient Copper

Specs:

Description:  A Sailor 1911 Full Size in Matte Black with rhodium accents fitted with a Naginata Togi MF Nib

Nib:  21K Gold Naginata Togi MF

Filling Mechanism:  Cartridge/Converter

Weight: 23.7 grams

Measurements:  5.5 inches in length, capped; 4 and 3/4 inches uncapped; and 6 inches posted

Color Options: Black with gold trim; Black with rhodium trim, Burgundy with gold trim, Black luster, Matte Black with gold trim, Matte Black with rhodium trim and metal section, Naginata-Togi Gin-sensuji with Rhodium Trim, Naginata-Togi Ribbed Black with Gold Trim,Naginata-Togi Ribbed Black with Rhodium Trim, Naginata-Togi Ribbed Burgundy with Rhodium Trim, Black Realo with gold trim, Burgundy Realo with gold trim.

Handwritten Review Scans:

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Intro/About: 

I’ve been eyeing Naginata Togi nibs for quite some time now. I’ve always been fascinated with Sailor specialty nibs, and the Togi is the most basic (and least expensive) of the specialty nibs. I bought this pen from a seller on FPN for about $100 off the price listed at Classic Pens ($416). The seller had bought it from Classic Pens, so the nib was tuned by John Mottishaw. I was thrilled because I almost bought this very pen at the full price.

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Ed already reviewed a Sailor Professional Gear 1911, so I’m not going to focus much on the pen itself, though my model is a bit different. This review is all about the nib.

Appearance and Packaging: 

My Sailor 1911 came in a blue, rectangular clamshell box with literature about the pen and Sailor’s specialty nibs. Included were one ink cartridge and a converter.

The matte black version with rhodium trim is subtle and beautiful. I usually like gold-trimmed pens, but the rhodium matches the matte black perfectly. I honestly have too many black, cigar-shaped pens in my collection, but the matte black makes this pen stand out from the crowd. It’s classy, like Bond, James Bond.

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Nib Performance and Filling System:

The nib is what truly makes this pen something special.

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The Naginata Togi nib allows for a great deal of line variation depending on the angle of the pen to the paper. It is an unusually-shaped nib (see photos), and it has a longer than usual tip. It’s a 21K nib and is pretty rigid. You’re not going to get any flex while writing with this nib. The line variation comes from how you hold the pen. In the written review, I held the nib in my normal writing position, which is about 45 degrees, and I found the nib wrote beautifully. You can see differences in line width when I held the pen at a 90 degree angle, a 45 degree angle, and a super low angle (as close to the paper as I could hold it).

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Most of the Sailor specialty nibs are made for Japanese-styles of writing and calligraphy. But I wanted one for writing Hebrew since the horizontal strokes need to be thicker than the vertical strokes. (In real life I’m a professor of Old Testament and Hebrew). Even though I have a Hebrew nib from Richard Binder, it’s got a very narrow width and, unless I write tiny, I can’t see much variation between the horizontal and vertical strokes. The Naginata Togi does quite well, though I still need to practice making the Hebrew look good. I sure wish I could do Hebrew calligraphy.

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I admit I was nervous about buying a Sailor specialty nib. When you go the page on Classic Pens, the specialty nibs are almost overwhelming. They are amazingly intricate, and I was afraid I would find the Naginata Togi to be ridiculously broad. I even called and asked about the nibs and was told they are not for everyone. But I am a believer in this nib. I’m amazed at how smoothly it writes. I love the versatility it has depending on the angle you’re writing.

One concern I had is that the Naginata Togi nib puts down lots of ink when you’re writing broad. I was afraid the feed and the converter wouldn’t be able to keep up. So far, everything has been perfect, though I expect to refill this pen more often than most.

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Feel:

The Sailor 1911 full size feels great in the hand. It’s not a heavy pen. It is smooth as silk but not slippery. I don’t post my pens, but I tried writing with it posted and, for me at least, posting ruins the balance. If you want line variation, you have to hold the pen at different angles. Some angles are quite uncomfortable (such as trying to write super fine at 90 degrees). Other angles are easier on the wrist, but the lower you go, the slower you have to write.

 

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Pros:

  • The 1911 in Matte Black is a gorgeous pen. It is sleek and elegant and the rhodium trim complements it perfectly.
  • The pen feels good in the hand and is neither too heavy nor too light.
  • The Naginata Togi nib is a useful departure from a typical nib. I can see artists using this nib for sketching since you can get such wonderful line variation. For me, it works great as a general writer and it enhances my Hebrew printing.

Cons:

  • I prefer piston filler pens. The Sailor converter only holds .5ml of ink. You can get the Sailor Realo instead, but it only holds .9ml. Currently the Realo only comes in Black and Burgundy with gold trim. So, if you want the matte black, you have to go with the 1911 or Pro Gear.
  • The pen looks rather ordinary and plain. I like colorful pens. But the matte black makes it stand out from other black, cigar-shaped pens and the rhodium trim is different from my other pens, all of which have gold accents.
  • The Naginata Togi nib may not suit everyone’s tastes. If you can try one before you buy, that’s the best thing to do. I definitely wouldn’t go larger than the MF Togi. I’ve read that the medium and broad versions are like writing with Magic Markers.

 

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Conclusion:

All in all, I am very pleased with my Sailor 1911 Naginata Togi. My fears about the nib were unwarranted and, in fact, I am crazy about it. I love how it looks, how it writes, and that it is versatile enough that I can write in my journal or write Hebrew or both (because I totally write in Hebrew in my journal . . . not).

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[Guest Post] The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Limited Edition Fountain Pen Review

Today we have another guest post by Susan Pigott. You may know her from her own blog, Scribalishess! Her photography, handwriting, and reviewing skills are top notch. If you like what you see here, make sure to go check out more on her site! Here’s Susan’s review of the The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Limited Edition Fountain Pen. Enjoy!

Review Ink: Caran d’Ache Delicate Green and Pilot Iroshizuku Asa-Gao

 

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Specs:

Description:  The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Limited Edition fountain pen is a frosted, translucent, faceted demonstrator pen with a rose gold plated nib and accents.

Nib:  Fine,14K, rose gold plated

Filling Mechanism:  Cartridge/Converter

Weight: .7 oz. (19.9 grams)

Measurements:  5.5 inches in length, capped; 4 and 3/4 inches uncapped; and 6 inches posted

Color Options: None

 

Handwritten Review Photos:

 

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Intro/About:

 

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I am not usually one who is interested in clear demonstrator pens. I’ve always felt they were plasticky-looking and sort of silly. Why get a clear pen (and even pay more for it) when you can get a pretty color? But when I saw pictures of the Platinum 3776 Century Nice, I loved it. Somehow the rose gold plated nib and accents on the pen won me over. So, I ordered one from Classic Pens and it arrived yesterday. My Platinum Nice is one of the first 2,000 produced, so it comes with a limited edition number etched on the cap. Mine is 121 out of 2,000.

Appearance & Packaging:

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The packaging is nothing spectacular, but it suits the pen. It comes in a cream-colored oval box with a satin-like interior. It’s understated, like the pen. One cartridge of ink and a Platinum converter are included with the pen, along with a registration form, instruction booklet, and information about the Nice.

I was surprised to discover that the pen isn’t clear. It is faceted and has a frosted appearance. I really love this look. The facets give the pen more character than a smooth-bodied pen has, and they add a wonderful elegant shimmer to what might otherwise be a dull finish. The rose gold is simply gorgeous on the pen. I’ve seen it on other pens, such as the 90th anniversary MB. Personally, I don’t like rose gold with a black pen. It just doesn’t work for me. But because the Nice is a neutral color, the rose gold really stands out.

 

Nib Performance & Filling Mechanism:

 

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Initially, I was disappointed with my new Platinum fine nib–and that’s a first for a pen bought from Classic Pens. I filled the pen with Caran d’ Ache Delicate Green ink because I knew the green color of the ink would look outstanding with the rose gold (and it did). But when I started writing with the pen, I immediately thought, “I’m going to have to return this and get it tuned again or exchange the fine nib for a medium.” The ink flow was poor, the nib felt dry, and I could barely see the green on the paper. I know Classic Pens tunes their nibs before they ship them, but I thought maybe the nib had some factory oil or something that was making it write poorly. So, I dumped the ink, rinsed the nib, used some pen wash to flush the nib, and rinsed some more. I refilled: same thing–dry, scratchy, stuttering across the paper. I was not happy. This was not at all the experience I’ve had with my other Platinum Century pen. So, I decided to change the ink. I cleaned the pen again and put Iroshizuku Asa-Gao in the Nice. What a difference this made in the performance of the nib! I know that some inks work well with certain nibs and others don’t. Apparently Caran d’ Ache Delicate Green is not good for my Platinum Nice. With Asa-Gao, it writes like a dream. Of course, since a Japanese fine is like a Western extra-fine, the nib has some scratchiness to it. But this is to be expected, and for such a fine line, it writes beautifully. Plus, one thing I love about Platinum nibs is their springiness. They aren’t nails; they don’t flex; but they offer a nice, bouncy feedback as you write.

 

The filling mechanism on Platinum pens is a cartridge/converter system. I never use cartridges (except on my Kaweco), so I knew I would be using the converter. The converter is tiny, holding only .55 ml. But it has a solid feel to it. I find it easiest to fill the converter directly with ink (rather than trying to fill it through the nib). I get my fingers pretty inky this way, but I always get a better fill. I much prefer piston fillers, but Nakaya and Platinum nibs are so wonderful that I’m willing to put up with the dinky amount of ink the converter holds. One advantage to cartridge/converter pens: they are easy to clean.

 

Feel:

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The Platinum Nice is a light pen, weighing in at only .7 ounces (19.9 grams) unfilled. I enjoy writing with both light and heavy pens, but I’ve found that my hand tends to last longer with a lighter pen. The Nice writes well unposted, which is how I use my fountain pens. Posting gives it a little more heft, but the weight is on the back of the pen, so it might feel a bit unbalanced. It’s a good length unposted and fits comfortably in my hand. I wrote four pages in my handwritten review without any fatigue at all using this pen. Plus, I have a Platinum 3776 Century in Chartres blue that I’ve been using for a couple of years as my main grading pen (I’m a professor). It’s my main grading pen for a reason: excellent nib and comfortable writing. The Nice will make a nice companion grading pen with a different color of ink. Unfortunately, I won’t be using the Caran d’ Ache as I planned. Guess I’ll just have to get another bottle of Iroshizuku in green!

Pros:

 

  • Beautiful, understated, elegant pen. The rose gold complements the frosted body of the pen perfectly.
  • Excellent nib; bouncy, fairly smooth (with the right ink), and gorgeous.
  • Light and comfortable to write with.
  • Special cap with “slip and seal” technology allows you to keep the pen inked for long periods of time.
  • This is a wonderful daily carry pen. It’s pocketable with a clip; the cap is secure and air-tight; it writes beautifully.

 

Cons:

  • The converter does not hold much ink, so if you use this pen often, as I do, plan on refilling often. In fact, I now store bottle of inks at work so I always have refills available.
  • Fairly expensive for what amounts to a frosted plastic pen (with 14K accents and nib) ($250 retail; $200 at Classic Pens). Still, this is an affordable limited edition pen, especially if you get one of the first 2,000 that are numbered.
  • Plan on getting a medium or broad if you don’t like super narrow nibs. The Platinum fine nib is pretty smooth for what amounts to a Western EF, but you do get a little scratchiness simply because that’s the nature of EF nibs.

 

Conclusion:

 

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I am thrilled with my Platinum 3776 Century Nice fountain pen. It is more beautiful in person than I expected. I love the facets and frosted look of the pen body. And the rose gold is simply lovely. The pen feels solid in my hand, not plasticky. And, once I got the ink problem figured out, it writes like a charm. I realize some might think me crazy for using expensive fountain pens as grading pens. But fountain pens make me happy, and that makes the horrible chore of grading a little less loathsome. A little.

Gallery:

 

 

 

Pilot 74 Edited 5

[Guest Post] Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen Review

Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen
Handwritten Review

This is the first guest post by Blake S. You can find Blake on Twitter and Instagram by the name @penjonesing. I love his photography and review style and want to thank him for answering my call for guest posters. I had the pleasure of meeting Blake at the Miami Pen show and was excited when he offered to do some guest posting. Let Blake know how he did in the comments!

Ink: Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai
Paper: Rhodia No. 18 Dot Pad

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Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro:

My first real fountain pen purchase was from Goulet Pens. I also watched hours of Brian Goulet’s videos. He always praised, and still does, the Pilot Custom 74 with medium nib. I purchased this pen about 2 years ago along with a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai. They’ve been inseparable ever since.

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Appearance and Packaging:

The Custom 74 comes in a decent, matte black, Pilot branded clamshell box. The inside is really fake velvet lined and has a “Secret” compartment that houses a CON-70 converter and the pen’s paperwork. I opted for the clear smoke color with rhodium trim. It’s definitely a looker and strikes a nice balance between professional and fun. The pen boasts several rhodium trim rings, including a Mont Blanc-ish cap band that reads “Pilot Custom 74 – Made in Japan”. The clip is also rhodium and reads Pilot vertically. The clip has a ball at the end, which is a little different, but I like it. It’s a pretty firm, tight clip. I wear my pens horizontally on my shirt placket, under a tie, so it works well for me, especially on thin shirts.

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Nib Performance:

My smoothest nib, bar none. I’ve owned a couple (German) $1,000 MSRP fountain pens and neither of them came close to this pen. It glides across even cheap paper and is my perfect round nib width. It has a beautiful spring to it which I don’t experience much with other 14K nibs.

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Filling Mechanism:

The Custom 74 is a cartridge/converter filled pen. The included CON-70 converter is high quality and decent capacity. It fills by push button vs. twist/screw mechanism, which is also cool.

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Feel:

This pen is pretty light, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While its length makes it comfortable to hold posted or unposted, I prefer posted for the added weight. I could stand for the grip section to be a bit larger as I have larger hands, but that’s personal preference.

Pros:

  • Classic, but fun design
  • The nib smoothness
  • Cool converter type

Cons:

  • Could be a bit wider

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Conclusion:

My first gold-nibbed Pilot and a great one. The 74 has me considering a Fermo and Custom 912. I’m also looking to pick up a Sailor pen to settle the best Japanese nib debate!

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Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain Pen

Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain Pen Review

Monteverde Invincia Stealth
Black / Black Fountain Pen

- Handwritten Review -

Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain Pen

Specs:

  • Description: A stealthy, all-black fountain pen with a great weight and balance.
  • Nib: Broad, steel, black plated
  • Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / Converter
  • Weight: ~40g filled (30g body, 10g cap)
  • Measurements: 6.1″ closed, 6.35″ posted
  • Color Options: Tons – see them here!

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain PenHuge thanks to Ron at Pen Chalet for sending me a Monteverde Invincia Stealth over for review. I have been eyeing this pen for quite some time now. The Invincia is a larger, heavier pen with some great qualities about it. I’m happy to finally have one in my collection, read on to see how the Invincia Stealth held up!

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Appearance & Packaging:

Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain PenThe Invincia comes in a basic green box. No frills, but it makes for a nice gift presentation. The pen itself is sleek and nicely tapered to fit comfortably in hand. The pen is high gloss, and all black making for a really sharp looking pen. The clip design is a bit funky and doesn’t quite match the overall design of the pen. The one thing I really dislike about the Invincia is the branding on the pen. The logo fonts are very corny and the white screening makes them very apparent. It stands out way too much and definitely detracts from the overall stealthiness of the pen. The pen itself is nice looking, with ribbed accents on the tail and cap. The nib has a cool design and it really stands out. The nib is very large and doesn’t leave anyone guessing whether it is a fountain pen or not. It’s definitely different from the other offerings out there.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain PenOut of the box, the broad nib was admittedly not great. It was dry and scratchy and overall unpleasant to write with. I opened up the tines a bit to increase ink flow, made sure everything was aligned and hit the tipping with some micro mesh and everything was writing nice, wet and smooth – like a broad nib should be. It definitely writes much better now, but with the beginner price point it may turn off people who are new to fountain pens. There’s always the possibility that I got a bum nib as well. I don’t think the factory broad nib being less-than-great is unique to Monteverde though. I’ve had less than pleasurable experiences with Kaweco B and BB nibs as well.

Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain PenI mentioned earlier in the review how the nib design was unique. The mountain design is stamped into the pen and the branding on the nib is significantly more classy than that on the cap band. The feed has no trouble keeping up with the broad nib, making the converter empty rather quickly. I’m curious to see how the other Monteverde nibs perform as well. For it’s $68 price tag, the pen performs well, but keep in mind the broad nib I received needed some tweaking.

Feel:

Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain PenThe Invincia is a large, heavy pen. 6.35″ posted and 40g gives it a very substantial feel in hand. The grip is a bit slim for a pen of its size and doesn’t quite hold up to the rest of the pen. I’d prefer a fatter grip, but that may be personal preference. The pen isn’t uncomfortable to write with at all though. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of fatigue while writing the handwritten portion of the review (which I did straight through, no breaks). The step from the barrel to grip is substantial. It doesn’t affect my grip, but those who choke up on the pen may find the threads intrusive.

Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain PenLonger writing sessions are great and I’m especially happy with how secure and deep the cap posts. I prefer to write with a posted pen and the Invincia has one of the better posting caps I’ve seen. The fit and finish on the pen are great as well. The clip seems to be secure and sturdy. I can definitely see clipping it onto the pocket of my jeans and not having any worries of it disappearing.

Pros:

  • Great balance
  • Cap posts well
  • Good price point

Cons:

  • Logo design
  • Broad nib was finicky out of the box

Conclusion:

Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain PenThe Invincia Stealth is a solid feeling pen that definitely stands out in the $65 price range. Fit and finish are on point, but I’m not 100% keen on some design points (clip shape and logo color/font). The grip may be a bit too thin for some, but overall I’m quite happy with the pen.

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!

Parker IM Fountain Pen Review

Parker IM Fountain Pen Review

Parker IM Fountain Pen
Black with Gold Trim

- Handwritten Review -

Parker IM Fountain Pen Review

Specs:

  • Description: A beginner fountain pen with classic styling and a great feel in hand
  • Nib: Steel Medium
  • Body: Lacquered Brass
  • Measurements: 5.4″ capped, 6″ posted, 0.5″ in diameter
  • Review ink: Noodler’s Cayenne
  • Color Options: Lacquered brass body (Check them all out at JetPens!)

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:
Parker IM Fountain Pen Review
 This is my 3rd Paker. The IM has joined my modern Sonnet Cisele and a vintage Parker Vacumatic Major. The IM comes with a medium nib (that writes a bit dry) and boasts a metal construction and classic styling. The pen comes in at $28.50, making it a solid entry-level fountain pen that will appeal to a lot of people. The pen has a professional look and feel without the big price tag typically associated with both of those features. Huge thanks to my friends over at JetPens for sending over the pen!

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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. So thanks again!

Appearance & Packaging:

Parker IM Fountain Pen Review

The IM comes in a nice gift box. This is a nice touch, especially for a sub-$30 pen. It would definitely make a nice gift for a new fountain pen user. The pen has a classic black an gold color scheme and a modest, unassuming shape. The pen is at the upper end of the beginner fountain pen price range, but it doesn’t feel cheap at all. I particularly like the brushed metal grip and the contrast it provides against the shiny metal rings on the pen above and below the brushed section. The cap has a nice weight and is adorned with the classic Parker arrow-shaped clip. It’s a great looking pen and feels great too.

 Nib Performance & Filling System:

Parker IM Fountain Pen Review

The medium nib on the Parker IM is fueled by a proprietary cartridge / converter system. I used the converter from my Sonnet, and I’m glad that I did. The Parker converter is not included and is a $9.25 add-on (!!!). You’d be much better off saving yourself the money and refilling the included cartridge with a syringe. I think the price point of the pen is great, but adding almost $10 to be able to used bottled ink is a bit crazy. The Parker converters are very high quality and are well-made, but I think they simply cost too much.

Parker IM Fountain Pen Review

In my opinion, the medium nib writes more like a fine than a medium. This may be due in part to the flow being slightly on the dry side. I don’t mind the flow being a bit dry because it allows for easier use on cheaper paper. Being that this is an entry-level pen, the drier nib will help new fountain pen users cope with bleeding and feathering much more easily.

Feel:

Parker IM Fountain Pen Review

The IM has a nice, premium feel to it. It’s nicely weighted and balanced, practically disappearing in hand. The black finish is smooth and without flaws. The pen is a bit shorter than I like when used unposted, but the cap posts securely onto the body. The metal grip may not take too kindly to very long writing sessions and/or death grips, but I like the overall shape and feel of it in hand. The Parker IM feels like it could be double its asking price. It’s a small detail, but I also noticed the awesome tacile “click” sound and feel when the capping the pen. It adds to the overall experience, and little things like that resonate with me enough to include them in the review. The pens clip is sturdy and should hold up to normal use.

Parker IM Fountain Pen Review

Pros:

  • Solid build quality
  • Nice weight / balance
  • Smooth medium nib
  • Great value

Cons:

  • Proprietary cartridge costs way too much (in my opinion)
  • Flow may be a bit dry for some right out of the box

Conclusion:

Parker IM Fountain Pen Review

The Parker IM is definitely a solid choice in the world of under-$30 fountain pens. Great build quality, nice weight, great writing performance and a nice presentation round out a well designed beginner pen from a classic brand. The only real downside is the $9.25 converter, it adds a rather large barrier to inky freedom. Would I recommend the pen? Absolutely, definitely to those who want to try fountain pens but don’t like the looks of the Lamy Safari or Pilot Metropolitan.

Huge thanks to my pals over at JetPens for sending the pen 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!