The Sailor 1911 Professional Gear
Imperial Black Edition Fountain Pen
– Handwritten Review –
- Review Ink: Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron
- Review Paper: Rhodia Elastibook, A4 – 80g Bright White
Specs: Taken from Sailorpen.com and Nibs.com
- Description: Matte Black resin pen with titanium ion plated nib and accents.
- Special Features: Completely Black Pen
- Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / Converter
- Weight: 24.5 grams
- Measurements: 5.063″ closed, 5.875″ posted, 0.5″ barrel width, 3.635″ barrel length, 0.41″ section diameter
- Ink Capactiy: 0.9ml
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Handwritten Review Scans:
From the second I saw the Professional Gear Imperial Black fountain pen, I knew I had to have it. Sailor took their standard Pro Gear and completely murdered it out. They even listed the pen being completely black as one of the special features. This is my first Sailor and I have a feeling it will not be my last. The pen is a joy to look at, hold, write with, and then look at some more. I hope you enjoy the review as much as I’m enjoying this pen!
Appearance & Packaging:
The appearance of this pen is what you’re really paying a premium for. Sailor has gone above and beyond in making the Pro Gear Imperial the blackest pen out there. The 21k gold titanium ion plated nib is a beautiful black chrome color, and somehow manages to be shiny, yet still very black. It’s a perfect match to the cap band, the band above the section, and the clip. The attention to detail is top-notch. Another thing that stood out to me is the material (resin) that the pen is made from. The mattified black resin has a great tactile feel to it. It provides an added amount of grip that smooth pens simply do not have. My hands can get sweaty and slippery during long writing or note taking sessions, and the little bit of extra grip/texture goes a long way
As far as packing goes, I did not get this pen in the fancy black presentation gift box. I ordered my pen from a Japanese retailer, and I’m not sure if they swapped boxes to save on shipping, or if the Japanese market pen comes in a different box. It came in a standard Sailor presentation box with velvet-like lining, along with the cartridge and converter. I was able to overlook the fact that the gift box was not included, considering I purchased the pen for significantly cheaper direct from Japan rather than one of the retailers in the United States. The box is an added bonus, but it really has no affect on the pen’s performance.
Nib & Performance:
I opted for the Pro Gear with a fine nib, knowing it would be more like a Western extra fine. The nib is quite smooth, especially when considering how fine the line is puts down really is. It always starts up and lays down a nice, consisten line. The pen has yet to skip either. I can place it down uncapped during short writing breaks, and it starts right back up when I need it to. The nib is very smooth, although it can be a little noisy. I think the sound it makes on the paper tricks my brain into thinking it’s less smooth than it really is. To test this out, I wrote the second half of the review with headphones on, and sure enough the pen felt smoother because I wasn’t hearing it. I don’t mind the audio feedback from the nib, but I think it was worth noting. Also, this could be further emphasized or lessened with a different combination of ink and paper. I love the way the all black nib looks. The engraving and filigree are top-notch, and an absolute pleasure to look at. The shape of the nib is different from what I’m used to as well. The nib has more of a swooping taper to the point, and is folded on the shoulders. I really like the aesthetic appearance of Sailor nibs. It’s something different in my collection. The ink flow is pretty perfect for my writing style, so no complaints there.
Now, onto the filling system. Many Japanese pens are shifting towards the cartridge/converter filling system. The Pro Gear Imperial Black is no exception, and is equipped with this filling system. While many people prefer a piston-filler, I do not have a definitive preference. The cartridge/converter holds a decent amount of ink (0.9ml) and makes pen maintenance much easier. Since the nib lays down such a fine line, it does not burn through ink, even with the medium flow. The converter that the pen came with is high quality, plus, it’s hidden within the pen. The converter can be completely disassembled, which makes cleaning a breeze. I really like that Sailor designed the converter this way, as ink always finds it’s way into the unreachable crevices, therefore turning the formerly unreachable into the reachable.
I briefly mentioned before how the matte black resin feels, wel…it’s great. I think it was necessary to add a category devoted to how the pen feels in hand because that can be just as important as how the pen writes. I wrote the entire handwritten section of the review straight through, and nothing got slippery or sweaty (sorry, I know, gross). The weight of the pen is pretty much perfect for me. It’s just a touch lighter (0.5g) lighter than a Lamy 2000. I’ve been writing with this pen posted and the balance and size in my hand is pretty much ideal. I like that it has a bit more heft than my Pelikan Souveran M605, but it’s not a tank like my Montblanc 149. The diameter of the section is very comfortable. The lip at the bottom of the grip is a comfortable stop for my fingers too. The barrel gently tapers into the section, and the threads are very unobtrusive. There’s no real step from the barrel down to the section, which makes the pen super comfortable in hand. I think the Pro Gear has an ideal weight, balance, and feel. The only thing that I feel is worth noting is that the pen is a little bit on the short side (for me) when it’s not posted. Other than that, it’s pretty perfect.
- All Black Everything
- Nice weight
- Good Flow & Smoothness
- Superb Fit & Finish
- Great Feel in Hand
- It’s pricey, considering the price of a regular Pro Gear is much less money
- A little bit short when un-posted
- I don’t have ten of them
I really, really love this pen. It looks amazing, feels great in hand, and it’s an absolute pleasure to write with. Un-posted it’s a bit short for me, but I prefer to write with it posted anyway. It’s definitely the highlight of the matte black collection I have going. Ever since it was announced, I knew it needed to be in my collection. Now that it is, I can finally sleep at night. I highly recommend this pen to anyone who has an obsession with matte black like I do. Even if all black isn’t your thing, the base pen is a Sailor Professional Gear, which is available in many other configurations. It’s a great writing instrument, and a must-have for all matte black enthusiasts, ninjas, and Batman wannabes.
58 thoughts on “Sailor 1911 Professional Gear Imperial Black Edition Fountain Pen – Handwritten Review”
Loving it Ed. This is on my wish list. Do you mind if I ask which retailer you purchased it from? The US prices are one reason it’s not already in my pen folder
Absolutely not, I purchased it from Japanese eBay seller “kendo_karate”. He has good feedback on eBay and a bunch of people had good things to say on FPN.
It might just be me, but that nib looks slightly more stunning with nib creep. 🙂
It definitely does!
If only I had $300 just lieing around the house gathering dust, I surely would. 😉
Firstly I’d just like to say thank you for your blog, it’s very informative and the pictures are par none.
Now on to my question. I am planning on buying my first serious fountain pen, it will be my sixth but none of the pens I have are over $50. The two pens that I’m trying to decide between are the Sailor Professional Gear (in the exact same model you have, in fact that post just totally sold me on it as I’m a sucker for titanium) and the Pelikan m600, most likely tuned up by Richard Binder. I noticed that you basically have both the pens I’m trying to decide from. The main thing here is the nib, for me. I want this pen to write really well, and I can’t necessarily say what I like in a pen, more feedback or more smooth, simply because I’ve never really felt either in high end pens. I have been reading and the general consensus is that the Sailors have fantastic nibs but they give a lot of feedback. The Pelikan, on the other hand, sort of got a lot of mixed reviews, even the Bindered one, but overall people say it’s really smooth. Also they say that it has a larger sweet spot, which is a big deal for me because I change the nib angle slightly as I get towards the end of the page. So, my question to you is which do you like best and why? What would you recommend to me? It will be a workhorse and an everyday writer, including school, and I’ll get either in a fine nib, if that makes a difference.
Thanks so much
Hey and thanks for reading! I appreciate the kind words.
Now, onto the good stuff…
The Sailor Pro Gear Imperial isn’t titanium, but a titanium ion plating. Some say Ruthenium. It gives the gold and other metal that it’s plating the look of black chrome. It does look like a titanium grey though, only it has more shine than titanium. I think titanium would be a different writing experience than the 21k gold provides (check out the t-touch line by Stipula, pretty cool stuff).
There are things I like and dislike (if you could even call it that) about both pens. Ultimately they are pretty different from each other. Your research is pretty much correct, the Sailor does give a bit more feedback than the Pelikan does, and the Pelikan definitely has a larger “sweet spot”. Even though both pens are fine nibbed, the Sailor write much finer. You can check out the last page of my review scans, I wrote out a line width comparison and measured them with my magnifying loupe. The problem in picking one over the other as my favorite is that they’re both pretty different from each other, and they both have their place in my collection. If you’ve read my recent Weekly Loadout post, you’ll notice they’re sitting right next to each other in my pen case.
For you, I think that you might be happier with the Pelikan, and here’s why. The Pelikan has a larger sweet spot; this would be beneficial to you if you rotate the pen while writing and want consistent smoothness all the way to the end of the page. The Sailor’s sweet spot is much smaller, but when you’re writing with it, it’s great. The Pelikan also has a larger ink capacity. You mentioned that you would be using it as a workhorse and every day writer, so less trips to the ink bottle may be better off in that category too. Nothing is worse than having a pen run dry in the middle of class, then having to start notes in the middle with a different ink. I don’t know if you have any piston-filler pens in your collection now, but they’re fun to use and Pelikan is well known for their outstanding piston mechanisms. The Sailor is a cartridge/converter system, which is still great, but more common. If you decide on the Pelikan, I would definitely purchase it from Richard Binder, I got mine from him and it writes like a dream. If I had to pick one pen up on the way out the door and go, it would probably be the Pelikan. The Sailor would probably be my second choice. It’s a tough decision, and the margins are very slim, haha.
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, I’d love to help.
Wow thank you so much for the incredibly detailed response! This has really helped me decide between the pens, as I will most likely be going for the Pelikan. As for final thoughts, my budget is probably about $300, but in the end I could save up more. The difference between the m600 and the m800 on Binder’s website is $150 dollars. Would it be worth saving up for or is the m600 big enough? Also would there be any other recommendations for that price range, as there are a lot of pens to choose from with that much money.
Not a problem!
$150 is a pretty big difference. I don’t have any experience with the M800, so I can’t say for sure if it’s worth the extra money.
$300 is a nice budget, what other pens do you have in your collection? If I know what you have and like, it’d probably be easier to make a suggestion.
Good luck with your choice!
Oh well I have a Pilot Cavalier in fine (which I guess I got lucky on mine cuz the nib is brilliant whereas others say it’s reaaaally scratchy) and I don’t like how small in diameter the pen is, a Reform 1745, Safari, Kaweco Liliput (which I don’t like), and finally and most recently a Platinum 3776 with a fine steel nib that was very dissapointing at first and took a ton of smoothing just to get it to become okay. I do, however, really like the girth of the 3776, although I could do with more weight. My Cavalier and 3776 are both in red, as I really do like red, so I’d get the red striped m600 methinks.
Thanks a ton!
Nice collection you’ve got going there. I think since you already have a higher-quality Japanese fountain pen, the Pelikan would be a good choice. The M600 series has similar dimensions to the 3776 in terms of diameter, but it’s a little lighter in weight and a bit shorter. If you do not like a light pen, maybe the Pelikan should be reconsidered because it’s only 17.6g where the Platinum is 20g and the Sailor is 24.5g.
The thing about picking between these two, is that it’s really, really hard.
I honestly think that either choice will make you happy, as they’re both great writing instruments.
Argh. Even though I own a broad version of this pen your review (and a few glasses of wine) just made me order the fine version as well!
Thanks Ed. :-p
You know what they say…two nibs are better than one.
…I actually don’t think anyone says that, either way, congrats on the purchase and I apologize to your wallet!
I have the small Sapporo and the Pro Gear but somehow I feel the need this one as well, just because it looks so amazing!
It’s definitely a great looking pen, I really like how the matte surface doesn’t show scratches or finger prints like my Sapporo does.
I’ve been lusting after this pen, but researching it I’ve been finding two different versions under the same name that differ in model number and price: the cheaper (relatively speaking) is 11-3028-XXX, the more expensive (by $200) is 10-9361-XXX. Which one did you get and do you know what the differences are between the two?
Unfortunately, I’m not able to find out what the difference is. If I had to guess, one could be the model number for the version that comes with the display box and ink (10-9361), and the other (11-3028) could just be the pen in a standard Sailor box. I purchased mine from a Japanese eBay seller (kendo_karate) that has a history of good feedback. I have only seen the $400+ version from American distributors, while sites like Engeika.com and eBay have the pen without the fancy packaging for a considerable amount less. I was able to find the model number of the one I got, it’s model number 11-3028. Hope I could help!
Thank you. Very helpful. I just placed my order with kendo_karate. 🙂
Awesome! It’s a great pen, one of my favorites. Let me know how you like it!
Thanks for this post Ed!
Another pen to dream about.
It took over a year Ed but guess what just dropped through the post from Japan 😉 Albeit with a B nib! Will have to wait until work finishes to ink it up, just in time for tonights club meeting.
Awesome, congrats! I just got mine tweaked by Richard Binder, and now it’s even more awesome. Enjoy!
I just received my black imperial. I will have to wait until after work to ink it up. Thanks for this review !
It was really helpful in purchasing my third Sailor FP 🙂
Last week my 9 year old daughter had to sign a new bus pass after chorus and her teacher let her use a pen to fill out her info. When she saw the pen she told her teacher “my dad loves these!” to which the teacher replied “Well you give him that one, it’s just a cheapo and I don’t like it at all.” I learned all this when she got off the bus and handed me a stunning Sailor Professional Gear Imperial Black. Not a mark on it, truly beautiful. It was physically painful driving to the school to return it much to both of my daughters amusement. (You REALLY wanna keep it huh dad?) Turns out her teacher grabbed a pen from the counter at home which happened to be her husbands beloved Sailor Imperial Black that he left in the kitchen. Hard to imagine she didn’t notice but if you knew our wonderful, super energetic, always rushed chorus teacher you’d have no trouble understanding.
I decided today to order one of my own after your review confirmed what I felt just having one in my hand for all of ten minutes. I didn’t write with it but wow, what a knockout pen.
John, great story! Props for doing the right thing!
At least you got that brief hands-on before taking the plunge. I’m sure you’ll love it, it’s a great writer and looks even better. Enjoy it!
Have you tried other inks besides the Sailor ink? And if so, did it do anything to the nib plating?
I throw anything in any of my pens and have never had a problem.
Yes, I have. Never had any problems, the plating is still fine.
Thanks for the reply, was curious how that black ion plating would hold up.
Thanks to all, I was just about to ask the same question. I just bought one a few days ago from an eBay seller in Japan. From all I’ve read this should be a good one.
Hi Ed, I bought this magnificent piece of art almost 4 years ago because your review and I have enjoyed it almost everyday since then. Today I was talking to a friend and remembered it and realized I never thanked you, so… Thanks a lot!
Great to hear! You’re very welcome.