Posts filed under Pen Reviews

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe Review

I don’t normally buy blingy pens, but when I do, it’s the Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe.

I first saw this pen at the 2013 Atlanta Pen Show. Mike Masuyama, who rarely sells pens, had this one sitting on his table. I picked it up, becasue, well, it’s gorgeous, and loved the feel of it. It was my first pen show, and there weren’t many Sailor’s available to purchase, so I asked Mike the price.


I put the pen right back down. Not today, but not forgotten.

I didn’t even know what the name of this particular Sailor pen was, but the design was distinctive and stuck with me. It was shiny, yes, but in a sublte way. And it had a nice heft to it, unlike the Pro Gear Slim (aka Sapporo), which was the extent of my Sailor experience up to that point.

Fast forward to May of this year. I was scrolling through the Fountain Pen Network Classifieds (bad idea for your wallet!) and ran across a Sailor pen I had seen before. And it had a name: The Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe. It looked to be in great shape, the price was fair ($350), and I had it on the way nearly as quickly as I found it. I wasn’t passing it up for the second time.

The standout feature of the Regency Stripe is the rhodium stripe and barley corn pattern that adorns the barrel. It is as stunning to look at as it is to hold. There is some weight to it as I mentioned earlier, but it’s not too much. It gives it that “just right” feel when writing with it.

Mine came with a broad nib, which wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I never have an issue getting the pen I want and worrying about the nib later. The broad was ok as-is, but I shipped it off to my friend Dan Smith at The Nibsmith to give it a little cursive italic love to fit my writing style better. Dan delivered a sharp, juicy nib that is a pleasure to write with.

Would I have purchased this pen without the opportunity to have held it in Atlanta several years ago? I think the odds are very low that I would have. That’s a lot of money to shell out sight unseen. This is why pen shows are great. You learn more than you buy, and that is valuable when it comes to making purchasing decisions in the future. This was a decision I was very happy with, and I’m not the only one.

Posted on October 5, 2015 and filed under Pen Reviews, Fountain Pens, Sailor.

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Fountain Pen Review

The Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age fountain pen is one of my grail pens. It is one of those pens that catches your eye with its striking bronze embellishments and basaltic lava finish. There's nothing quite like it.

I held off ordering one for quite awhile, simply because the pen looked enormous and heavy. It is a big pen, measuring 5.75 inches, and it is weighty at 45 grams (both measurements are with the pen capped). Nevertheless, it balances perfectly in the hand. A seller on Fountain Pen Network offered this Homo Sapiens for an "I-can't-pass-this-by" price, so I bought it.

The packaging is sophisticated and suits the pen. The outer cardboard box is cream colored with the Visconti logo. Inside is a large, leather-like clamshell box. When you open it, the Homo Sapiens is encased in cream-colored cloth that contrasts nicely with the pen. The clamshell box has a slide-out drawer that contains information about Visconti pens and a polishing cloth for the bronze.

The cap attaches using Visconti's special "hook safe lock." I like the design and it's certainly quicker than unscrewing a cap, but I haven't found it to be all that "safe." The cap comes off too easily. I wouldn't trust it in a shirt pocket.

A removable bronze finial with the Visconti logo adorns the top of the cap. You can replace it with Visconti's "My Pen" system and choose your initials or a stone. I like the Visconti finial but might someday buy a stone just for variety.


In addition the cap is encircled by two solid bronze bands and the Visconti clip. The Visconti name is painted on both sides of the clip. I think they should have engraved it. If you want to attach the pen to a shirt pocket or papers the clip lifts easily.

The barrel has two bronze bands. The top band is engraved with "Homo Sapiens." The letters are filled with black ink so they stand out nicely against the bronze.

The bottom band is slender and encircles the piston. It actually popped off when I was cleaning the pen. It's not hard to press it back into place, but I'm not impressed when bronze parts fall off.

The pen uses Visconti's high power vacuum filler system. It's simple to use. You unscrew the piston, pull to extend it, submerge the nib in the ink and push. I do this two or three times to make sure I get a good fill. Unfortunately, the Homo Sapiens does not have an ink window, so you don't know how much ink is in the barrel. And vacuum fillers are notoriously difficult to clean. When I changed ink for this review it took a half hour of plunging to get the water to run semi-clear.

My nib is a 23K palladium stub (1.3mm). It's a beautiful nib with scrollwork and the Visconti name. Visconti calls it a "dreamtouch nib" which means it writes without any pressure being applied. It is definitely a smooth nib. The stub lays down a thick, juicy line. But, I've experienced hard starts and skipping, which is disappointing considering the retail price of this pen ($695.00). I suspect I'll have to send it to a nibmeister to tune it and maybe turn it into an italic.

Over time, the bronze elements tarnish. In fact, I've only had the pen a few months and the bronze has tarnished substantially. I used the included polishing cloth before I took photos for the review. It got some of the tarnish off, but the bronze isn't as shiny as before. The cloth is thin and doesn't seem to work all that well. Some Homo Sapiens owners prefer the look of the tarnished bronze; I prefer it shiny.

The lava body is something you simply have to touch to appreciate. It's a mixture of basaltic lava from Mt. Etna and resin. The lava surface is smooth to the touch, but has tiny pits in it, giving the pen a matte look.

The material quickly warms to your hand. And, if your hand gets sweaty, the lava absorbs the moisture. I've read elsewhere that when you ink the pen you should wipe off any remnants on the grip quickly with a wet cloth so the ink doesn't get absorbed into the lava.

The Visconti Homo Sapiens is an iconic pen. It's unique and beautiful. I've read that Visconti nibs can be hit or miss, and mine definitely has some faults. But, after a trip to a nibmeister, I suspect this will be one of my favorite pens.


  • The basaltic lava composition of this pen is unique and wonderful to touch
  • The power-fill system works well, but it's hard to clean thoroughly
  • The nib is gorgeous and writes a wet, smooth line (but see below)
  • Although the pen is large it balances nicely in the hand
  • The matte black and bronze accents are striking


  • Some people might find this pen too heavy
  • There's no ink window, so you don't know how much ink is left or if you've gotten a good fill
  • The bronze appointments tarnish over time
  • The cap is easy to remove accidentally
  • My nib exhibits hard starts and skips occasionally
  • At retail price, this pen is very expensive
Posted on September 25, 2015 and filed under Visconti, Pen Reviews, Fountain Pens.

Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.5mm Review

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

You can never have enough gel pens, which is the rationale I use when I continue adding more to my collection. With so many options out there, it can take some time to really give them all a fair shake. I've been using the Sarasa Clip 0.5mm for the last couple of months as a daily driver, and while it wasn't love at first write, it's won me over as a top contender.

There are a few things that make a gel pen great, and one of the most important ones is how it feels when it writes. Is it smooth or scratchy? Is it free-flowing or dry? This is where the Sarasa Clip threw me off at first. I'm so used to writing with a Pilot Juice that I've started to think that all pens should write exactly like that. While that's a compliment to the Juice line, it's not necessarily true. The Sarasa is different, and that's not a bad thing.

The Sarasa Clip 0.5mm refill provides more feedback when you're writing. It's a smooth writer, but you feel more texture when writing on the page. It took me a few days to take this in. I didn't like it at first, but I eventually started to enjoy the different feel — and that's exactly what it is. It doesn't affect the writing performance at all. This pen writes very well, but it just provides a more tactile experience when moving across the paper.

Of course, all of these observations are probably different in the various tip sizes offered by Zebra. The 0.5mm is somewhere between ultra-fine and medium, but 0.5mm refills in general are fairly smooth. It's not until you get below the 0.4mm range that you might start noticing scratchy qualities, so that's not something I expect in a 0.5mm. Still, calling the 0.5 Sarasa "scratchy" isn't the right term, because that's usually a negative attribute.

Apart from the feel of the refill on the paper, the pen writes fantastically. Never a rough start, skip, or blotch. It's a top performer in the gel pen world.

I went with a blue for this pen, and the saturation of the color is a bit too deep for my perferences in a standard blue. This reminds me more of a navy instead of a standard blue. For reference, I think Kaweco Royal Blue is a great standard for my idea of a general blue.

The body of the pen is light and very comfortable. Honestly, there's not much to say about it as it's exactly like most other comparable gel pens out there. That's not a bad thing - there's just not much to say about it because it works well. One thing that I really do love about the pen body is the clip. It opens wide and it's pretty strong, which adds a certain level of utility to the pen.

As far as putting the refill into other pen bodies, it looks very similar to the Pilot G-2 that so many pens standardize on. I think all you'd need is a plug for the end of the refill so that the nock mechanism would be able to operate.

Overall, the Zebra Sarasa Clip is a great pen, and easily one of my top 5 gel pens. The Sarasa Clip is available in a lot of colors, and comes in at just over two bucks for each one. Even better, you can buy an entire bundle with 20 colors for a bit cheaper than buying them individually. I highly recommend the Sarasa Clip 0.5mm.

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

Posted on September 23, 2015 and filed under Pen Reviews, Sarasa, Zebra.

Pilot Acroball 4 Multi Pen Review

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

It took me a while to give the Pilot Acroball a shot. I'm a fairly committed Uni-ballb Jetstream fan, and I just didn't have a need to try anything else. Fast forward a bit, and I'd heard enough good things about Pilot's hybrid ballpoint offering to give it a fair shake.

What I love about the Jetstream is how smooth and dark the ink is. It's a fantastic experience for a ballpoint, and it's also my go-to pen for ballpoint situations. They're work horses — dependable and well-made. So, that leaves Pilot with a lot of work to do from the start.

I decided to try one of the multi pens first so I could try several colors at once without having a lot of extra pen bodies lying around. Yeah, I could have ordered one pen with several different refills, but the multi pen is way more exciting. They always bring back the nostalgia of using a Bic 4 pen from childhood, except these write much better.

Look and feel

Let's take a look at the outside of the pen first. My first observation is the clip on the Acroball 4. It's a sturdy, spring-loaded clip that feels really nice. That's one thing about the Jetstreams that I don't care for: they have weak clips (especially in their multi pens). When I clip the pen to something, I don't want to worry about it falling off, and the Acroball makes me feel nice and safe.

Another thing that I love about this body is the grip. It's a fat, textured grip that feels good in my hand when writing. It also does a really good job of resisting lint and dust.

The "knocks" for each color are a bit weak, but that's normal for any multi pen. There just isn't much space to include high-quality, sturdy knocks for each cartridge. Yes, some more expensive multi pens have much more sophisticated designs that feel and work great, but they don't cost less than $10 like the Acroball 4.

I went with a clear body, which I'm really happy with. I have a soft spot for demonstrators, and this one fits the bill. There are a few other color options, but most of them feature a partially clear body. The colors only take over the grip and clip pieces on most options. The black one is, and the blue one has a blue transparent body.


The Acroball is a great writer. Pilot has a really great cartridge here, and I'm happy to use it. But, it just isn't as nice as the Jetstream cartridges. In my experience, the Acroball skips a bit too much when compared to the Jetstream. The colors work well, but the black is a little lighter than I prefer.

To be honest, I can only notice this difference when writing with them on the same page. When I'm just using the Acroball, I don't notice any differences.

Another thing to note in my pen is that the green cartridge is exceptionally scratchy compared to the other 3. I'm not sure if I have a dud cart or if this is normal because of the color and properties of the ink. Who knows. All I know is that I don't use the green cartridge because of the scratchiness.


The Acroball is a fantastic pen that I highly recommend. Fortunately, this is a pen that most big-box retailers sell, so that means more people are being exposed to it. I'm happy it's out there, but I'm also more happy with my Jetstreams.

I chose the clear model of the Acroball 4, but there are also several other color options.

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

Posted on September 16, 2015 and filed under Acroball, Pen Reviews, Pilot.