The Kaweco AL Sport seems to be one of the first "premium" pens that beginners pick up after they try a few < $50 pens. I know that a $76 pen doesn't really count as premium, but when you're new to the world of nibbed writing instruments, it seems like a lot.
And I completely understand why the AL Sport is a popular pen. It's gorgeous, well-built, portable, and classy. It's a great all-around pen, and it doesn't break the bank.
Now, I should explain that this review is about the same pen that I had so much trouble with when I first got it. You can read all about those problems, as well as the solution, in the article about correcting baby's bottom.
In this review, I won't let any of my previous feelings and conclusions about this pen influence what I think about the pen now -- the corrected version that I believe Kaweco strives to produce. Although, maybe they could strive just a little bit harder, but that's beside the point. Off we go!
Look and feel
I went with the black model of the AL Sport, but it was a really difficult choice. They all look great. In the end, the matte black sheen won me over, and I'm extremely happy with it.
The AL Sport comes in a fancy Kaweco tin, unlike the regular Classic Sport models. On first picking it up and sliding it out of the plastic sleeve, I was surprised by how light it was. I was expecting something a bit heavier. Upon closer inspection, I was blown away by the build quality of the pen. It seems to be made from a block of aluminum. The pen screams quality and precision. The threads are solid and fine, which make it feel even more secure when screwing the cap or the body. There's no play at all.
In my hand, the pen feels well-balanced and easy. I've written for periods of 30 to 45 minutes with this pen. I wasn't uncomfortable, but I did find myself wanting a longer pen after a long period. This isn't so much a hit against the Kaweco as it is my own preferences. Besides, when you make a portable pen, it's understood that you sacrifice part of the writing comfort. Overall, it's a completely comfortable pen.
Being metal, the pen is susceptible to scratches, but it hasn't scratched or scuffed nearly as much as I expected it to. This is a delightful surprise, but I also won't be upset when it starts developing more character over the years.
This is an attractive pen that feels good in the hand, looks good on the desk, and won't break in my pocket or bag.
When I first received the pen, the writing performance wasn't the best. Again, you can read the article for more details on that. After tuning the nib for a while, it writes really well.
The EF nib puts down a line that is on par with other EF nibs from German manufacturers. Lamy might be a hair finer, but not much. Putting pressure on the nib results in a slightly wetter, broader line that resembles a medium nib width.
The nib flows across the page with little effort. Due to the size of the pen and the way I usually hold my pen, I tend to choke my grip toward the nib, resulting in scratchy writing. When I notice this, I back off my grip and lighten my touch. When I'm using the proper grip, the nib feels like silk. The proper grip for me means that I'm gripping the threads for the cap. I know that some people really dislike this, but I actually like it. It provides a nice grip. I'll also note that the threads are shallow and very close together, so it feels more like a texture instead of ridges.
Due to the size of the pen, the weight of the pen tends to go more toward the nib side. Again, the fix for this is mental, meaning I have to mindfully keep my posture and grip on check. It's a small, metal pen, so some imbalance is expected. Like I said earlier, I can achieve a great balance if I back off my grip and loosen my hand.
Ink filling mechanism
The Kaweco accepts international short cartridges. This means you have lots of options available outside of what Kaweco offer. They also offer a converter, which is fairly new to the market as far as I know. I haven't tried it, but it looks like it won't hold much ink. I've been happy with just filling old cartridges with a syringe.
This is a great pen that delights me every time I use it. That wasn't always the case, but I'm glad it is now. I wouldn't recommend this pen until you've tried a Classic Sport. In my opinion, the writing experience for the Classic Sport and AL Sport is nearly identical. If you find that you don't prefer the Classic Sport, you likely won't enjoy the AL Sport either.
The Kaweco AL Sport has a multitude of color and nib options. The hardest part of buying one is figuring out which one to pick. Black, blue, gray, silver, and raw finishes all look fantastic. Plus, you can easily swap out the nib you purchase with the pen with another fairly cheaply.