Posts filed under Pen Reviews

Machined Beauty: The Tactile Turn Mover

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Machined pens are quite a thing over on Kickstarter. They're a fascinating genre of pen because they're created by small shops from pieces of metal and eventually shipped to your door. While Tactile Turn now has a shop that you can buy from anytime, the didn't start off that way. Brad took a look at their pens a year ago and came away impressed. I joined the second round of their Kickstarter that featured new materials, and I'm really happy I did.

I have to be honest — it was extremely difficult to pick a style of pen. It was equally as difficult to select a metal and color. They all look good and if money were not object, I'd own one of each. But, money is certainly a consideration, so I went with a black aluminum Mover.

Let's back up a little. There are two main styles of these pens: The Mover and the Shaker. The only real difference is the length of the pen. The Mover is designed to accept anything similar to a Pilot G2 refill, while the Shaker is designed for a Parker style refill. It boils down to choosing the body that supports your favorite refills. Being a huge fan of the Pilot Juice, I went with the Mover.

Apart from the choice between the Mover and the Shaker, you then have a chioce of several metals, of which the aluminum can be had in different colors. Here are your options: titanium, polished bronze, polished copper, polished brass, raw aluminum, and anodized aluminum. The latter comes in the following colors: dark red, black, teal, dark blue, and olive drab.

I really liked the looks of the olive drab pen, but eventually decided to stick with black for now. I'm slowly convincing myself that I need an olive drab Shaker.

The pen you purchase comes with a refill. The Mover comes with a blue Pilot G2 0.38mm refill, and the Shaker comes with a Schmidt Easy Flow 9000.

So, how does this look and feel in person? Like a high-quality piece of art that can withstand abuse and write like a champ.

I've used other machined aluminum pens, and none of them have the right balance for me. They're usually significantly heavier on the nock end, which makes them feel top-heavy when writing. Not so in the case of the Mover. It has a wonderful balance. Another feature that I love about this particular machined pen's design? The textured grip. This is the first one I've tried that has one, and I love it. An alumnium barrel can get slick, and that makes it difficult to control. With the Mover, I haven't had this problem.

The nock used in this pen is the same one that was used in the Retrakt before it. It's a high-quality, smooth, silent mechanism that works like a charm. Personally, I think it looks really nice, too.

The clip is strong, but easily slides on and off when attaching it to my jeans pocket or in a Nock case. Other machined pens I've used have clips that are a bit tight and sometimes require two hands to operate.

The thickness of the barrel is another thing that I love about the design. It's the perfect width for writing. The diameter is really close to my Lamy 2000, which is a pen that I enjoy writing with more than most.

The build quality of this pen is superior, but that's something that you should expect from a machined pen. These make great EDC pens given their simple, excellent design and strength. They also make excellent gifts — they look fantastic and they accept "normal" refills that non-addicts understand.

Prices for these pens range by material. Aluminum bodies are $69, and prices range up to $139 for the titanium model.

All in all, if you're looking for a high-quality machined pen that accepts a wide range of refills and also looks and feels great doing it, the Mover and/or Shaker are a perfect choice. I can't wait to make my collection a pair.

Posted on January 28, 2015 and filed under Pen Reviews, Tactile Turn.

Sailor G-Free Ballpoint Pen Review

(This is a guest post by Dwayne Lively, pen addict, knife collector and writer for DwayneLively.com. You can follow him at: @DwayneLively on Twitter and @blatherama on Instagram.)

I don't understand why the Sailor G-Free needs to exist. It seems more like a proof-of-concept than a product people might be clamoring for.

It’s 300 yen (which as of this writing is around US $2.50 or 1.6 Pounds Sterling). This makes it expensive for a ballpoint, even in Japan.

My first impressions of this expensive pen, though, were not particularly good because it’s ugly.

It has a big Sarasa-style clip and a chunky rubber grip that makes it look like a stretched hourglass. The monster clip, unfortunately, serves as the nock release, meaning you can’t just snap it off and go clipless.

Two versions of the G-Free by Sailor on a Field Notes Red Blooded.

Two versions of the G-Free by Sailor on a Field Notes Red Blooded.

Sailor claims the pen has two special features that make it worth the extra money: hard/soft adjustment and a special low-friction ink.

First, by twisting the nock, the user can adjust a spring that changes how springy the pen feels. For example, if you're writing on a blotter, the hardest setting is fine, but if you switch to a hard surface, you can adjust the pen to make it feel better as you write. This is kind of interesting, but it’s not something I’ve ever wished a pen could do.

On the softest setting, you can almost push the nib back into the pen; on the hardest setting it barely moves. However, there’s not enough difference that it’s worth more money than my Pilot G2 or the 130 yen a UNI Jetstream would cost me. I’m also not sure the G-Free needs seven different levels of adjustment. The difference between 7 (hard), 4 (medium), and 1 (soft) is noticeable, but there’s not much change felt by switching from setting 2 to 3.

Details of the ugly clip and the hard-soft spring.

Details of the ugly clip and the hard-soft spring.

Second, Sailor claims its ink — which as near as I can tell is a gel ink — is specially formulated to have less friction, making for easier and faster writing. They even claim specific percentages for how much more efficient your writing will be.

Although it is smooth, I haven't noticed anything special about the ink except that it only comes in black and there isn't much of it. The black version of the pen is translucent and you can see the refill stops halfway up the pen to allow space for the hard/soft mechanism. The eight different barrel colors available are just for fashion, although each version has the ugly black clip.

You can see the where the ink stops right in the center of the picture.

You can see the where the ink stops right in the center of the picture.

After using both pens for a few days on different types of paper, including Field Notes, Moleskine, Tomoe River and copy paper, I haven’t noticed much difference in the writing experience than I’d get from a standard gel ink pen. The chunky rubber grip section is triangle shaped and I found it awkward to hold at first despite the fact I’ve used a Pilot Vanishing Point for almost 20 years. I eventually twisted the grip around and that made it feel more comfortable.

Although I don’t expect line variation from a ballpoint pen, I was disappointed there was no effect at all on the size of the line by adjusting the hard/soft settings. The line was always the same thickness. That said, I was surprised that although the G-Free is only offered in a 0.7 size, the line from both pens was thin. They actually felt like 0.38 pens.

One final pet peeve is that the nib has a black circle around it, even on the blue version. This has no effect other than to constantly make me think that ink residue was building up on the nib.

The ugly black ring on the nib and some ugly handwriting.

The ugly black ring on the nib and some ugly handwriting.

As of this writing the pen is apparently only available in one physical store (Tokyu Hands in Ikebukuro), the Sailor online store, and at Amazon Japan where you have to buy an 8-pack. In the end, all I have are questions about this pen: Does the Sailor G-Free need seven different adjustment levels especially when there’s no visible change in the line? Is a slight difference in springiness enough to justify the price and the ugly?

The answers, I’m afraid, are “No” and “Not for me”.

Some examples of bad handwriting at three of the seven settings. This was written on a soft surface.

Some examples of bad handwriting at three of the seven settings. This was written on a soft surface.

Posted on January 22, 2015 and filed under Pen Reviews, Sailor, G-Free.

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen 02 EF Nib Review

I'm making no bones about how much I like this refresh of the Platinum Preppy. From the moment I snapped in the ink cartridge and put nib to page I was impressed. More than impressed, I was wowed. I could not believe how nice the nib is on a $4 pen.

And this is no normal nib. Platinum calls it the 02, which is a standard Japanese EF nib. In the US, Japanese EF nibs aren't the easiest things to come by either. They are there if you dig a little, but most product lines start with fine, not extra fine. There is a reason for this: Japanese extra fine nibs are too fine for most people. I'd rather find that out for $4 not $100, wouldn't you?

Here is your chance to try one out on the cheap that will give you a comparable experience to much, much more expensive pens. I wouldn't buy a Pilot Vanishing Point with an EF nib if you are unsure you will like it. Same goes for a Sailor, Platinum, or any other Japanese pen. The nib in the Platinum Preppy compares to those in size and feel. Seriously. This is a spot-on, accurate match.

Maybe you'll discover that this pen will do just fine for you and don't need on of those more expensive models. If you like the Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.4 or the Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38 you will like this pen. If you want to try fountain pens and have a nice clean writer that won't make a mess, you will like this pen. If you want a beater you can toss in the car or a bag, you will like this pen. If you don't like Japanese fine lines, you will not like this pen.

That's the only hangup. It's so sharp and fine it is not going to fit every writing style. It fits me, and it can answer questions many of you have about Japanese EF nibs. I'm enamored by this pen.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Platinum Preppy 02 EF Review.jpg
Posted on January 19, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Platinum, Preppy.

Pelikan Classic Series P205 Cartridge Fill Review

Image via Goldspot.com

Image via Goldspot.com

The best way to get someone interested in fountain pens is to make it as easy for them as possible. And give them a nice pen. The Pelikan Classic Series P205 accomplishes both of those things.

It’s widely known how much I enjoy my piston filling Pelikan Traditional M205, and the new P205 is practically a carbon copy, minus the piston filler of course. As I alluded to earlier, this is a matter of convenience, and the P205 pulls it off without a hitch. Did you expect anything less from Pelikan?

Let’s start with the barrel design. It is Pelikan through and through. While their designs aren’t flashy, they are recognizable. The sleek, simple design is German engineering at its finest. The Pelikan beak clip is a standout, and the logo on the cap is a timeless tradition. Everything related to the build quality of this pen, and any Pelikan for that matter, is spot on.

From top to bottom: Pelikan M405, M205, P205

From top to bottom: Pelikan M405, M205, P205

That translates to the nib as well. I went with a broad nib for something different and it is as clean and smooth as one would expect. I’m turning the corner on wider nibs too, as they allow for an ink expressiveness that you don’t get in extra fine nibs. The steel Pelikan broad nib is a prime example.

The cartridge filling system in the P205 (P is short for Patrone, the German word for cartridge) is the selling point of this pen. Many will ask why they should forego what is deemed as a superior filling system in the piston filler, and it all comes down to convenience. Fountain pen users, even experienced ones, sometimes want to pop in an ink cartridge and go. The P205 allows you to do just that, and in a beautiful barrel to boot.

But let’s be clear about one thing: Pelikan is no fool. They introduced this pen in conjunction with their new high-end Edelstein ink cartridge line. And I say good for them, because Edelstein inks are some of my favorites. The written review uses the Sapphire Blue cartridge, a bright blue that pops off the page, and I have enjoyed using Tanzanite and Topaz cartridges as well. All are top notch. They use the international sizing standard too, so other compatible cartridges and converters fit as well.

Pelikan is a premium brand. While there may be pens that offer more for less, there are few brands that can match the form, feel, consistency, and quality of a Pelikan. This is one of those pens that when it is in your hand you can feel the difference between it and other brands. The P205 and Edelstein ink cartridges are great additions to the product line and I look forward to years of use with this pen.

(Goldspot Pens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on January 16, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Edelstein, Pen Reviews, Pelikan.