Posts filed under Sailor

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.

Sailor Jentle Yama-dori Ink Review

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

Back in July, I reviewed Noodler's Turquoise and came away with an urge to try more blue-green inks. So, here we are — I picked up a bottle of Sailor Jentle Yama-dori on Brad's recommendation. He seems to know a thing or two about good inks, so I figured I couldn't go wrong. Turns out, I really enjoy blue-green inks, and I especially enjoy Yama-dori.

If you listen to the podcast much at all, you'll pick up on a trend with Brad's ink tastes (or just look at the Top 5 lists) — he loves some blue-black inks. I like a good blue-black just fine, but some of them get so close to black that I don't end up using them very often. I like the flare and unique colors of some blue-blacks, but it seems like most are too dark for my tastes. That's where Yama-dori comes in. It's a fairly dark ink, but it's blue-green, shades beautifully, and has a red sheen. It's a delightful ink.

From a standard ink perspective, this is a very well-behaved ink. It dries relatively fast (just after 5 seconds for me in a medium nib), doesn't bleed through, doesn't feather much on cheap paper and not at all on premium paper, and cleans out easily. What really sets this ink apart for me is the color, shading, and confusing red sheen. Yep, red sheen in a blue-green ink. I can't begin to explain how that works, but it's fascinating to watch the pooled up ink give off a red color in certain lights. It looks as if someone wrote some lines with a medium blue-green ink and then came back with a red highlighter to fill in the darker parts later. It's unique, and I love it.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't know much about pheasants. I don't think I've ever seen one in person. When Sailor calls this ink "copper pheasant," I'm not really sure what to think because I don't know whether pheasants are copper or not. After a quick search, I landed on the green pheasant that's native to Japan. Take a look at the male plumage and take a guess at why Sailor named this ink after it. Pretty obvious, right? Dark green, brilliant blue, and shiny red feathers.

If you want an ink that looks professional but has a unique color, Yama-dori is a great color and behaves well. Personally, ever since I've gotten this ink it's always been in at least one pen. I love the blue-green colors because they're brilliant when you look closely under the light. Yet, it's mild and dark enough to be perfectly legible and professional. It has a royal, mysterious feel to it, and I can't get enough of it.

50 mL of the ink will run $20, which is the normal price for the Sailor Jentle line. The bottle (like the other Sailor bottles) has a nifty cone inset that allows you to easily draw up ink even when the ink level gets a bit low. Also, Sailor gets major points in this bottle design because the mouth of the bottle is extra wide. It's frustrating to get a new ink only to find that your favorite pen is too fat to get into the bottle. Well done, Sailor.

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

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Posted on January 21, 2015 and filed under Sailor, Ink Reviews.

Sailor Jentle Blue Black Ink Cartridge Review

I am a big fan of bottled inks, as the sagging shelf in my closet will tell you, but there is absolutely a case to be made for fountain pen ink cartridges. What you sacrifice in variety and cost, you make up for in convenience, and sometimes that is a price worth paying.

Sailor inks are some of my favorites, including the bottled blue black and both the black and blue black Nano inks in bottled and cartridge form. It was a foregone conclusion that I was going to try out the new Jentle ink cartridges, in blue black of course, and they work wonderfully.

All Sailor inks I have tried are well lubricated and flow smoothly in all nibs and in all nib sizes, and the blue black cartridge is no exception. I popped in into my medium nib Sailor Black Luster and it worked just as expected. The lines were solid and there were no flow issues at all. The only thing I noticed is that the color is slightly darker than the blue black ink from the bottle. This happens from time to time when comparing bottled inks versus the same ink in cartridge form. It's often not a dead-on match.

My only hope is that Sailor expands on this line to include even more colors. Pelikan has done this, adding matching cartridges to their Edelstein ink line, so hopefully this becomes a thing with brands. Yes, it is not as cost effective or environmentally friendly, but if the barrier to entry can be lowered even a tick I think it is worth it.

(JetPens is an advertiser on The Pen Addict and I received this product at no charge.)

"This end up" and a born on date. My kind of 12-pack.

"This end up" and a born on date. My kind of 12-pack.

Posted on December 8, 2014 and filed under Sailor, Ink Reviews.

Sailor Fasciner Fountain Pen Review

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

Sailor is one of the brands that I'm a huge fan of without even owning many of their pens. Every time I've bought or tried a Sailor fountain pen, I've been very impressed – even (especially) with their budget-friendly offerings.

The Fasciner is no exception. It's a great all-around pen, and looks gorgeous to boot. At just over $100, it's not an impulse buy, but it's definitely worth every penny.

Aesthetics

The Fasciner has the same body shape as a Sailor 1911 pen, but with a white body and gold trim. Handling the pen, you can tell immediately that it's solidly built. It might not be one of Sailor's premium pens, but it definitely isn't cheap, either. The quality can be felt when handling the pen and also when writing.

The section is made of metal and has a small rubber o-ring that snugs up to the body when the section is screwed on, which makes for a tight seal in case of any accidental ink leakage inside the body. Internal bleeding might not be the best phrase, but you get what I mean.

The clip is a great strength – not too tight or loose. I haven't really clipped it to anything besides the inside of a case because the body feels too nice to risk getting scratched or scuffed. Although, it's done pretty well against any accidental blemishes on my part. As a desk pen, you don't have to worry about being careful with it. In a bag or pocket with other objects, it might not fare so well.

The cap is a screw fit, and it feels great coming on and off the pen. When screwing the cap on, instead of hitting a sudden stop at the end of the threads, you reach a soft, gentle end of the threads. It's a small detail, but it makes me smile every time. It just feels great.

The nib is "pink gold" color, but I can't detect any of the pink. I was assuming it might be something like the TWSBI rose gold color, but I just can't see any of the pink. Despite that, it looks great. I'm not a big fan of gold trim, but it works really well on this creamy white pen. It gives it a highly classy look, and I like it for that. The trim on the cap is done very well. None of it looks or feels like cheap decoration flourishes – they're solid components of the pen.

The cap posts on the back of the pen, but you have to place it firmly on the end to make it stay. Otherwise it will wobble a bit when writing.

Writing

As every Sailor pen I've tried before it, it writes beautifully and effortlessly. It's a fine nib (no other options available here), and it runs finer than other Japanese nibs, like Pilot or Platinum. It's almost too fine for my taste, but it isn't an issue because it writes so smoothly.

This wasn't always the case, however. When I got the pen, it was a really dry writer. It wasn't unusable, and some might even prefer how it wrote out of the box, but I lean toward wetter nibs all around. A couple of gentle pulls on the tines to bring them away from the feed a bit fixed the problem for the most part. At some point I might like to have it worked on by a professional, but it writes great now.

It's the kind of fountain pen nib that I'm 100% confident about. Know what I mean? It's had zero issues with starting, skipping, drying, or any of these problems that sometimes plague or briefly affect pens. Some of my pens have 95% of my confidence, because every now and then they might skip or have a hard time starting, and they always respond to the same fixes. They write well, but sometimes have a small little issue. Not this one. It's a great writer.

It also feels great in the hand, as you might expect from Sailor. It's well balanced in the hand when writing and feels like an extension of your hand instead of a separate object.

Overall

If you're a fan of Sailor's pens, the Fasciner is a great piece to add to the collection. If your'e new to Sailor, it's a nice middle-of-the-road place to try them out. It's hard to beat the High-Ace Neo in terms of value, but you get a lot of extra class and finesse with the Fasciner.

As you might expect, it works with Sailor's cartridges, or you can purchase a converter to use with bottled inks.

Posted on December 2, 2014 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Sailor.