Pilot Falcon – Red – Rhodium Trim – Soft Extra Fine Nib

30 11 2017

Am I trying to accomplish feats of miniature, or am I just being lazy about making a written portion of the review?

For a pen I’ve kept quite regularly inked, I haven’t said much about the Pilot Falcon. I wasn’t looking for a Pilot Falcon when I bought it last year. Pretty sure I was helping Crazy Alan set up the tables at the Baltimore Washington International Pen show last year when I saw this bright red pen I hadn’t seen before and went, “What is this? What do you want for it? Put it on my tab.” I haven’t been much of a fine/extra fine fountain pen user of late—I want big bold nibs that really show off my inks. But I went for this soft extra fine anyway.


Look at it! How could I not?

Fantastic, warm, firetruck red

I’m always a fan of the Pilot aesthetic. Solid, attractive colors with minimalist decoration, dependable pens that are well made. The clip is sturdy; the rhodium bands on the body, cap, and grip look sharp; and the decorative cap band gives it a subtle, unique flair. And the metal disk on top of the cap doubles as a mirror.

Admire my blue-ringed clip-on iPhone macro lens

This weird nib. Let’s talk about this weird nib. I was hoping the Pilot website would have some sleek explanation of how the curvature of the 14K gold nib exactly creates the physics required to produce a soft, semi flex writing experience, but no. So, to make one up, the angle of the metal creates a quantum tectonic microshear in the fabric of space, time, and human decency that makes for a nice, springy nib. There’s line variation to be had for you lucky ducks blessed with the ability to write all flexxily, but for the rest of us it’s just nice to write with.

And periodically attempt to make fancy flexxy writing with

What has made this pen so essential to my life is how well it pairs with my Hobonichi. The monthly spread pages have small boxes. Small boxes require small writing. Perfect for the soft extra fine nib. The Falcon is lightweight and comfortable, with threads that don’t get in the way of my grip style. My go-to ink choice has been Rohrer & Klingner Salix iron gall ink, but I might get in on this Scabiosa and Salix mixing I see the cool kids doing online.

I gaze at myself in my fountain pens until I become one of the cool kids. Is it working yet?

The only thing I’d like to see from the Falcon is Falcons in colors besides red and black. Dark purple? Turquoise/aqua/minty blue green? Warm cheesy yellow? Feel free to make any of these, Pilot. You know where to find me.

Pilot Guilloche Vanishing Point (2016 Limited Edition)

6 10 2016

As long as Pilot keeps coming out with limited editions that I like, we’ll make this particular mini review a yearly tradition. The design isn’t as flashy as last year, but the ombre fade of the Twilight Limited Edition would have been hard to beat. Taking a different direction entirely was probably the best choice.

This year will focus on a complete lack of color altogether

Again, as in at least the past 3 years, the limited edition comes in this honking big box. The details on the box match the pen design, this year being black with guilloche pattern imprint. On to the main attraction:

Cue either seductive music or carnival music, depending on how the phrase “main attraction” has you feeling

Because I intended to make this VP a daily use pen, the clip had to go. I tried using it with the clip on for about half a day, and it just wasn’t working out. Once I wiggled the nose cone off, I was surprised to see something slightly different than what has heretofore been beneath modern VP nose cones.

See the difference. Dare to compare. What conspiracy have I uncovered?

This is the only limited edition VP that I’ve clipectomized so far. Is this a limited edition thing, or is this a change in Pilot’s Vanishing Point design thing? Too soon to tell, but if this is permanent, I may change my clipless VP decorating game plan.

Gentle lighting brought to you by the only sun-facing window in my house, conveniently located next to the red dog bed

I love the guilloche pattern. It’s like my pen is wearing a sweater. The texture provides excellent gripability and makes it more visually interesting than some simple black. The standard limited edition comes with a medium rhodium-plated 18k gold nib, but I got mine from my local pen store with the black-ionized 18k gold nib in fine, for maximum cool factor. Sunglasses are sprouting from my eye sockets as we speak.

It hurts but that is the price you pay to be ineffably cool

I highly doubt the Guilloche will be as sought-after or worth as much money as the 2015 limited edition, but 2015 was unexpected gangbuster hotcakes. The 2016 is a cool, classy limited edition, that sips martinis and generally exists somewhere in the aesthetic crossing of James Bond and Mr. Rodgers.

Pilot Kakuno – Fine Nib – Black Body / Light Green Cap

12 05 2015
Don't ask me how to pronounce "Kakuno." I promise you however I'm saying it is wrong.

Don’t ask me how to pronounce “Kakuno.” I promise you however I’m saying it is wrong.

I’ve had various color combinations of the Pilot Kakuno languishing on my JetPens wishlist for a while, but it took being stuck home sick in a syrupy haze of cough suppressants for me to actually decide to order one. Which I ordered from my Amazon Prime, for whatever reason.

The reason was money

The reason was money

Although I picked everything about this pen based on what option was cheapest on Amazon at the time, I like the dark grey and lime green combo. The color is fun without feeling childish. Not that there’s anything wrong with childish—this is designed to be a kid’s pen. But the design isn’t aggressively elementary school; it’s a minimalism that holds a broad appeal.

The product description is a lie. The body is grey. Not black.

The product description is a lie. The body is grey. Not black.

There’s no clip, but the Kakuno is hexagonal and the cap has an unobtrusive little nub to help discourage the pen from rolling away. The grip is shaped in a roughly triangular hexagon, with all edges (if you can even call them that) quite rounded—the guidance from the grip is subtle and comfortable. The pen itself is lightweight, yet the plastic feels reassuringly sturdy, as far as this price point goes. It’s no luxury resin, but it’s also not some cheap, fragile crap.

Adorable, or, in the right light, terrifying

Adorable, or, in the right light, terrifying

Here’s the most unavoidably adorable part: the face of the nib. Literally. A smiley. face. (unless you have one of the soft body colors; then it’s a winky face) — it’s another point of guidance for the novice fountain pen user: if the pen is smiling at you, then you’re holding it right (or at least not upside down). Maybe not everyone is confident enough in their adulthood to rock out such a happy pen on a regular basis. I’m not here to judge you. But it’s really only noticeable to others if you point the face out. Or if they stare at your hands obsessively.

For example, if your hands were on fire or something, that might draw extra attention to the vicinity of the happy nib

For example, if your hands were on fire or something, that might draw extra attention to the vicinity of the happy nib

To be on the safe side, I probably wouldn’t take this pen as my prime writer in a Serious and Professional Meeting of Important Business, but right now it’s my favorite no-worry knockabout pen. I toted it around on a trip to the mountains. I’ve thrown it in countless bags, back pockets, and cup holders. It writes reliably, neither too wet nor too dry, and the fine nib is perfect for everyday use. The performance of the nib itself was surprisingly pleasant (not sure why I was surprised, I should have known Pilot wouldn’t let me down), a sort of tactile feel on the page without any scratchiness or sharp edges.

Impulse purchase yours today!

Impulse purchase yours today!

If you’re looking for a specific color or nib size, JetPens has the full selection. If you’re looking to save a few bucks and aren’t picky, you can likely find a Kakuno on Amazon for under $10 (right now, the winning combination is a fine nib White Body Soft Blue cap with free Prime shipping, clocking in currently at $9.46).

Pilot Kakuno — medium and fine nibs in multiple colors — at JetPens

Pilot Kakuno Fine Nib Fountain Pen Black Body Light Green Cap at Amazon

Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen – Medium Nib – Black Crocodile Body

21 03 2014
Pilot/Namiki black ink cartridge

Pilot/Namiki black ink cartridge

The Pilot Metropolitan has been on my radar for a while—I’ve heard good things about it, even got to try it a few times at my local pen club meetup. Every time, I’ve thought, “What a solid pen!” and then promptly forgot to get one. So I was delighted when JetPens sent me one free of charge to try out.

High quality at this absurd price?? It's hard to believe

High quality at this absurd price?? It’s hard to believe

When you see the word “CROCODILE” on a box, you either think of Steve Irwin or you’re thinking of some kind of eccentric piece of old lady accessory fashion.

Fake crocodile on fake leather

Fake crocodile on fake leather

Thankfully, the crocodile pattern accent is totally tasteful, and nicely done—not some cheap sticker. The metal body is matte black (not the same matte black material as the Vanishing Point, so hopefully it won’t have that same problem), with an appreciable little bit of weight to it. In terms of appearance, it’s a lot like the Sheaffer VFM—an attractive, modern, minimalist black pen. Sometimes I wish I was a fancy businessperson with a briefcase. I would put this pen in my briefcase.

The downside of a streamlined body is the inevitability of a hard grip ridge

The downside of a streamlined body is the inevitability of a hard grip ridge

For once, a treacherous, precipitous ridge at the grip lines up in such a way as to completely not affect me. But that edge might be a pain if it falls on a delicate part of your grip.

Now, where do I buy other nibs for this?

Now, where do I buy other nibs for this?

The writing on the Metropolitan is really stand out. I had no trouble getting it started, and the flow is great—juicy but not too juicy. The medium nib is true to the same size medium lines laid down by the Pilot Vanishing Point.

None of my other Pilot nibs look quite like this

None of my other Pilot nibs look quite like this

I am not familiar with this style of Pilot nib (I know the cheapo nib used on the Varsity and the Petit 1 (unique in its ability to fuzz and feather on nearly any paper); the Super Quality style used on the Plumix, Penmanship, and Prera; and the gold Vanishing Point nibs). This nib is new to me, and it’s pretty great. The sweet spot is oh-so-sweet, a whisperingly smooth tactile nib skating along the page.

We have a winner

We have a winner

Pros of the Metropolitan: great writing performance, quality build, round grip, metal body, and comes in different colors and accent patterns. Cons: medium nib only (though I’d bet other steel Pilot nibs can be swapped on), proprietary cartridges (but it did come with a converter for bottled ink use). This is another great under $30 entry level fountain pen, or a great every-day-carry-around pen for the fancy collector who wants a knockabout pen that, if lost in the course of frequent daily use, wouldn’t induce a heart attack.

Thanks again to JetPens for providing this sample!

Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen at JetPens

Pilot Plumix Fountain Pen – Medium Flat Italic Nib – Black Body with Blue Ink

3 03 2011

The sketches were a bit uninspired. They were...despired. Perspired. Not even spired.

I can’t leave a big-box SuperStore without checking their pen section, and a recent prowl of Target’s pen aisle did not leave me disappointed. For the first time, physically before me in a store where arguably normal people shop, an affordable fountain pen!

Baby, for $6.37 you can take me home any day of the week (provided you have that aforementioned $6.37 plus local tax rate)

The somewhat garishly designed packaging enthusiastically proclaims in sunshine-daycare yellow, “Real Fountain Pen!” …Unlike all those fake fountain pens you’ve had to contend with, Pilot delivers a finely-crafted stick of plastic veracity and unparalleled integrity. Thank goodness Pilot’s on top of these things. And that they’re telling you about it–I would have surely mistaken this for another one of those confoundingly meddlesome fake fountain pens if it weren’t for this astute packaging.

The pen cap is a squid-head. There, now you can't unsee it.

The body of the Plumix is lightweight plastic, but seems well thought-out.

This is not to say that the design of the Squid leaves it completely clean of ink

The cap unscrews from the body (snap-on caps, especially if snapped on with the pen pointing down, encourage the ink to come out, leaving beads of ink on the nib and in the cap. Very wasteful) but posts on the end just by pushing the cap on.

The barrel unscrews from the grip and nib section, and the nib itself is easy to remove so that you can align the grip and nib to be conducive to your hand’s writing posture, a fact I did not figure out until after I’d dropped the pen from my pocket, knocking the nib loose, necessitating my fiddling with the nib.

Deliciously smooth writing on some fantastic Clairefontaine paper, done mostly when the nib was knocked loose. Still wrote!

Having never really removed a nib from a pen before, I found it a surprisingly simple task (“AUGH! UAAGH! THE METAL PART FELL OFF! OH CRAP LET’S JUST WASH EVERYTHING OFF AND HOPE IT’LL ALL GO BACK TOGETHER”), and my original problem with the angle of the nib relative to the positioning of the grip became a moot point–I could angle the nib however I wanted!

Since there isn’t much weight to the body, it’s hard to comment on the balance of the pen, but nothing feels off about the way the pen sits in the hand. Above the grip, the barrel has a slight bulge outward that fits perfectly into the web over the thenar space (thanks, The Internet; I was just going to call it “that fleshy web crook space, you know, the one between your thumb and forefinger, whatsitcalled, you know”) and then tapers off into a slender end. The barrel has these strange parabola-shaped grooves, the purpose of which I cannot discern beyond being merely decorative, and the cap has two modest little anti-roll protrusions that effectively render the cap a convenient squid-shape.

These are all small, simple touches that make a pen unique, and I appreciate them. This is what I feel so many common American pens are lacking–an appreciation of pennovation.

My first comment when I unscrewed the cap: "Where are the little balls on the end??" I did not realize the nib was italic; neither did the packaging.

Before we move on to the nib, the grip needs a little more appreciation. Note how the the bottom of the grip arches up to rest comfortably atop your finger. Carefully discern the subtly cut out concave panel–there are two of these, one for the thumb to grip, the other for the gripping finger of your choice (I rest the pen atop my ring finger, and grip with thumb and middle). The grip is entirely smooth and entirely hard plastic, but it’s comfortable. It’s a carefully designed molding of plastic where I was expecting something bare-minimum. My apologies, Pilot. The grip you designed here is an unexpected delight.

I know we've had some problems with cheap Pilot Medium fountain pen nibs before, but this, this one is different. This one has the power of SUPER QUALITY JAPAN.

The nib, I’m happy to report, is not like other cheap Pilot fountain pen nibs. Granted, I don’t really have any other Pilot italic nibs for comparison (or any italic nibs for comparison), but this one seems to put out a decent but not excessive amount of ink, and it writes so smoothly (especially on Rhodia and Clairefontaine paper) that I can’t stop writing in cursive with this pen. The mere act of cursive writing is so fun! I just keep writing nonsense even when I have nothing of substance to write. And my handwriting asymptotically approaches being pretty!

At the end of the day, this is a fun and cheap (AND REAL!!!) fountain pen that you can (provided your Target has them in stock) get with instant gratification, ripping open the package the moment your transaction is complete, and it makes writing fun. Isn’t that what a pen should really be for?


A pen should also be for use as a weapon in an emergency situation or a dramatic scene in a television drama.

You can’t order them online from Target, but they do have a link to find it at a Target store: Pilot Plumix Refillable Fountain Pen – Blue at Target


And, because I love JetPens, they get a link too:Pilot Plumix Fountain Pen – Medium Flat Italic Nib – Black Body at JetPens