The A.G. Spalding & Bros ballpoint pen has been around for a while, and I've recently had the opportunity to try one out. I've been using the Brass version of the pen for the past couple of weeks, and while it looks and feels great, I'm not sure I can recommend it for most people.
The brass version of this classic design has a tumbled and aged finish that looks great on any desk, and the balance of the pen when handling and writing is fantastic. And when you consider the price (less than $20), it's an even greater value. But, for me anyway, it all falls apart with the refill they've chosen for this pen: the Zebra F-Refill. While this isn't a bad refill in its own right, it's a severely limited choice. With the number of fantastic ballpoint, hybrid, gel and rollerball refills available today, it's a true shame to lock a pen into a refill format that is so unyielding. It's so similar to the ubiquitous Parker-style refill, but just different enough to make them unusable in this pen without major modification.
Sure, you can probably find a suitable alternative if you're also game for cutting, filing, or possibly ruining another refill to make it fit in this pen. To me, it seems like the designers of this pen lost a great opportunity. To most people, it's fair to say that most writing instruments have 3 major factors that influence purchasing: writing feel, aesthetics, and ink options. In the case of the A.G. Spalding & Bros Brass Ballpoint, it definitely has great writing feel and aesthetics. It could easily have fantastic ink options as well if some minor changes were considered during the design. What a shame!
Aside from my major disappointment in the refill choice, I've really enjoyed this pen. Like I said, the Zebra F refill isn't a bad refill at all — it's just limited to three colors in the same tip size (black, blue, and red in 0.7mm). If the Zebra F refill is a favorite of yours, this is a great option.
The size of the pen is very comfortable; it's a bit chunky compared to your standard ballpoint pen, but not too thick to make writing uncomfortable. It also lacks any texturing on the grip area, but I haven't had a problem holding onto it when writing. According to the JetPens description, only the nose cone is brass, while the rest of the body is aluminum with an aged brass-like finish on the outside. I'm not a metals expert, but this looks right to me. Either way, the extra bit of weight in the cone makes it easy to control when writing and doodling.
The click mechanism is smooth and sturdy, making a noticeable, but subdued noise when operated. The rounded top of the nock feels good on the thumb and features an A.G. Spalding logo on the top. Apart from the nock, you'll find branding along the clip band and on the side of the pen barrel. Even though branding exists in three places on the pen, it's all very well done and non-intrusive.
I'm not sure how they've achieved the finish on the barrel, but it looks fantastic in person. It pairs nicely with leather.
Overall, I really want to love this pen, but the limited refill options will probably mean this pen doesn't see as much use as I'd like. I guess I can keep my fingers crossed that someone might manufacture an aftermarket refill for this size at some point!
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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