There were two things I knew heading into the Atlanta Pen Show: 1. A Sailor was at the top of my wish list, and 2. The likelihood of me coming home with one was almost nil.
The reason for number one was thanks to my good friend Thomas. You see, he didn't just send me one Sailor to try out. That wouldn't be his style at all. Instead, he sent me three: A Sailor Professional Gear 21K EF nib, a Sailor Sapporo 14K EF nib, and a Sailor Sapporo Mini 14K F nib. All are black barrels with Rhodium trim - my perfect setup.
From the outside, you might think this is just another standard, high-quality Japanese pen, and you would be right. The barrel construction and fit and finish of the pen are top-notch. What makes this pen a standout though is the nib. I have never used anything like it before, or since.
Sailor's nibs are considered some of the best, if not the best, in the world. I can't say why without actually visiting their factory and discovering their secrets, but I do know from my short time with them these nibs are elite. The extra fine nib is so smooth it has to be used to be believed. I was enamored with them, which is why the Sailor brand sits at the top of my wish list.
The Sailor Professional Gear is the largest and heaviest of the models I tested, and was my favorite. The size is perfect without being too large or intimidating, and the 21K gold nib is just wow. I don't know what else to say besides how impressed I was with this pen.
The Sailor Sapporo checks in slightly smaller and lighter than the Pro Gear (similar to the Pilot 91 compared to the 912), but is excellent in its own right. In fact, it might be the first one I purchase. The 14K nib makes it more reasonably priced compared to its bigger brother and there was no noticeable difference in writing performance.
The Sailor Sapporo Mini is the smallest of the group, but packs the same punch as the standard Sapporo in design and performance. It is one of the nicer mini fountain pens I have used, but unfortunately it was recently discontinued.
As great as all of these pens are, I should be able to purchase one pretty easily, right? That brings me to point number two from the start: They are not easy to come by. I would have loved to run across a vendor selling the Japanese Sailor line at the Atlanta Pen Show but was out of luck. They are readily available on eBay, but all ship from Hong Kong or other Far Eastern outposts. You can also find a few Asian-based sites that that have good prices and ship to the US if you want to go that route.
If you want to keep it close to home, in my case the US, I know of one well-respected vendor that stocks the full Sailor line (among other hard to find Japanese pens) and that is Nibs.com. Warning: If you browse around their site please hide your wallet before doing so. Don't say I didn't warn you. If you know of other US-based sites with the full Sailor line please let me know in the comments section.
I am anxiously awaiting the day when I pick up my first Sailor. I imagine it will be in the very near future.