Sailor 1911 Large Ballpoint 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 are known for their high-quality, well-made fountain pens. There are several Sailors on my wishlist, but they can take some time to purchase given the high price tag. After all, well-made goods cost more than cheaper ones.

When I received the 1911 Large ballpoint to review, I was curious to see how it performed since I only associate Sailor with fountain pens and inks. The 1911 looks similar to the fountain pen version of the pen, except it uses a twist mechanism to extend and retract the refill tip.

At first glance, the top portion of the pen seems too large compared to the grip section. I've seen fountain pen versions of the 1911, and they don't have the same "out of balance" look since the body is longer and untapered at the end. That thought hasn't stopped popping up every time I look at the pen. And, it adds a bit of extra heft to the top of the pen while writing, too. This can cause some balance problems if you're not accustomed to writing with a top heavy pen.

Initial impressions weren't bad, and I was excited to see how it wrote. That's where my impressions took a big hit, and they're still struggling to recover. Yes, this is a ballpoint refill, and I was expecting something in that ballpark, but the writing experience with this refill was less than satisfactory. It's perfectly smooth (almost too smooth), but it skips and constantly looks like the refill is almost dried out due to the light black to medium gray tone it puts down. The lines are not sharp and tend to deposit artifacts outside of the main line as you write. When compared to my favorite ballpoint refill, the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000, it just doesn't compare.

Shortly after writing a few lines to try out the refill, I was optimistic that I could just swap in another refill that worked better. But, as I went through my stash of regular refills and eventually crossed them all off the "compatibility" list, I realized that this refill is proprietary to this pen and that I was just stuck with it. Bummer!

For that reason alone, I find it difficult to recommend this pen. The refill looks like a standard Parker refill that has been slightly modified to make it unique to Sailor. That doesn't feel right, and the fact that their stock refill is mediocre just hurts more.

Maybe I'm being harsh on this pen. After all, it's beautiful! This complaint is similar in nature to buying a $150 fountain pen that has significant nib issues that make the writing experience negative without some kind of nib tuning. It just shouldn't happen. With this pen, however, tuning isn't an option due to the proprietary refill.

At nearly $100, that's just unacceptable. This pen oozes executive class on the outside, and it feels great when you pick it up and operate the twist mechanism. Once you start writing, however, the experience is similar to the dollar-a-dozen Bic stashed in the office supply closet. At this price, you're not far off from the fountain pen version. My recommendation is to spend a little extra money on the fountain pens that Sailor has figured out and perfected!

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

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Posted on June 6, 2017 and filed under Sailor, Ballpoint, Pen Reviews.