Category Archives: Pens

Pen Review: Kaweco Sport (blue body, EF nib)

This review has been a long time coming. It’s because I didn’t really like the Kaweco Sport at first, but over the many months that I’ve had it, it’s grown on me for its light weight and reliability. Also, even though I alternate between being mildly enthusiastic and indifferent about its aesthetic, I’ve come to appreciate its clever design.

Kaweko Sport - written review

What’s the deal with the Kaweco Sport? It’s a clever design because it’s about 4.1 inches long when capped, but 5.2 inches long when you “post” the pen, as in put the cap on the back of the pen (thanks to JetPens for the measurements). So it’s a tiny pen. For comparison, 4 inches is about the height of my palm. This makes for a very pocketable (or… purse-able?) fountain pen when the Kaweco Sport is capped. But post the cap, and suddenly you have a pen that is comparable to a full-size pen. I’m not sure that Kaweco is the first company to do this–though they certainly could be–but they’ve implemented the design well and popularized it in the Sport.

Kaweko Sport - pen, capped 2

I should also mention that this is the “Classic” Sport. There are two several a crazy number of other lines of the Sport model:

  • Ice Sport: clear, colored bodies (also called “demonstrators” because you can see the ink and the feed) with silver trim–these are popular to convert to “eyedroppers,” where you skip the cartridge/converter altogether and load ink straight into the barrel of the pen
  • Skyline Sport: like the classic, but with more modern colors, like mint, pink, gray, and white; these have silver trim
  • AL Sport: made in aluminum, with raw, anodized, and stonewashed finishes
  • Brass Sport: made in brass
  • AC Sport Carbon: aluminum with carbon fiber inlays
  • ART Sport: I don’t know if these are still available, but these were made in modern acrylics, often with swirly features in the acrylic

Kaweko Sport - size comparison

When I first got the Kaweco Sport, there were a few aesthetic things I didn’t like about it. I thought the blue was a strange middle ground between navy and indigo (it depends on what light you’re in, and I’ve tried to capture the variation in the photos). I don’t like gold trim on any pen, and the Kaweco Sport is not an exception. I thought the design was rather strange, with the skinny cylindrical barrel and the wider faceted cap. I loaded it with the included (blue! not black) cartridge and found that, while the EF nib was very smooth, it would skip at the beginning of letters on occasion. So lots of little strikes against the pen.

What I found to be the biggest advantage of the Kaweco Sport when I first got the pen was its reliability. At the time, I was using a Pilot Metropolitan with either a F nib from a 78G or an EF nib from a Penmanship. I’m not sure if it’s the design of the Metropolitan or that the nibs aren’t tuned well or if it’s the ink I was using, but if I didn’t use the Metropolitan for about a week, it wouldn’t write. I would get little streaks of ink as if the ink had dried in the nib and feed. (This still happens. I’m not sure what it is. There’s a long-term experiment involving different pens, nibs, and inks going on to diagnose the problem.) But even after the Kaweco Sport had been sitting for a few weeks on my desk, rejected and cast away, I could pick it up and write with it without any problem at all. Major points for the Kaweco Sport there.

Kaweko Sport - in hand

How do I feel about the pen now? I’ve owned it for a number of months, but have started to use it earnestly only in the past couple. All of the things I’ve appreciated about the pen are still true: it is an extremely reliable, dependable pen. I don’t have to worry about if it will start writing right away, even if I’ve let it sit for a week. I really like that about the Kaweco Sport.

I also think that the mini to full-size design is genius. The TWSBI Mini does the same thing, and I think it’s a great idea. There’s a small level of intrigue and joy that I get from using that bit of design and engineering, and if you’re going to spend $25 on a pen, hopefully you get a bit of intrigue and joy out of it. Though if you’re spending $25 on a pen, you’re probably hoping for a good writing experience, which you do get with the Kaweco Sport. The nib is smooth, and after a good cleaning, the skipping issues have noticeably decreased. There’s a bit more feedback with the Noodler’s Black that’s now in the pen than there was with the Kaweco blue cartridge, but nothing that’s really scratchy.

Again, the remaining quibbles are that I would much rather have a Skyline Sport with the silver trim. Despite navy and gold being UCLA colors (fight! fight! fight!), I just don’t like gold trim that much. Also, if you’re taking notes with this pen, you might be better off just leaving it uncapped, because it feels like it takes a lot of turns to screw and unscrew the cap. I haven’t had any drying issues, so leaving it uncapped should be quite feasible.

If you’re thinking about picking up a Kaweco Sport, I recommend a Skyline over a Classic. You can pick one up from JetPens (scroll down to the bottom to see the different Sport lines) or Goulet Pens.

Kaweko Sport - nib and finial

(This pen was provided free for review by JetPens, but the opinions contained herein are solely my own.)

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Pen Review: Pilot Metropolitan (fountain, medium nib)

Long review short: The Pilot Metropolitan is a great, high-value fountain pen! I would just prefer it with the fine nib. (The fine nib edition was not available when I received this pen for review–I wish it had been, though!) In my review of the Platinum Preppy, I noted that the nib designation of “fine” did not quite match my mental conception of what a “fine” line is. The medium nib on the Pilot Metropolitan does match what I think a medium should be–it’s just not what I’m looking for. In using the Metropolitan, I’ve discovered that I do indeed prefer finer nibs. Luckily, as of writing this review, Pilot has released fine nib versions for all their Metropolitan pens. So if you think you’ll like the pen but not the medium nib, you can purchase the Metropolitan with a fine nib! That being said, the Metropolitan overall represents fantastic value; and especially with the new variety of nib sizes, I think it’s a great choice for a first (or basic, or inexpensive-but-great-quality) fountain pen.

Pilot Metropolitan - writing
Ink: Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron.

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Pen Review: Platinum Preppy (fine, black)

The first two fountain pens I ever used–the OHTO Rook and the Sailor HighAce Neo–had some issues, and left me rather underwhelmed with the whole fountain pen experience. I can’t say that the Platinum Preppy knocked my socks off, but I can say that it worked, which is a good start. For $3.30 (at the time of writing), it’s a great way to get introduced to fountain pens, and I appreciate having such an inexpensive fountain pen to try out. The downsides are that I would never consider this a “fine” line width, and the ink isn’t quite black so much as it is dark gray. If you’re just looking to try out a fountain pen, like me, it’s a good place to start, and may very well be your gateway pen into the fountain pen world.

Platinum Preppy - IMG_20140317_101026 Continue reading

Pen Review: Morning Glory Mach 3 (0.38mm, blue black)

I looked at the Morning Glory Mach 3 as a part of my ongoing search to find my perfect pen–my “blue whale,” as it were. This pen only comes in a 0.38mm tip size, although it has a variety of colors. This particular pen has blue black ink, which is exactly what it sounds like: a regular blue mixed with some black for a more navy color. In this pen, the blue black runs quite heavy on the black aspect, so the ink is very dark. In terms of line width, I would say that it writes a hair larger than a 0.38mm gel ink pen.

resize IMG_20140216_171109 - Mach 3, color-crop

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Pen Review: Retro 51 Tornado (with Schmidt EasyFlow refill)

This review has been a long time in the making. The folks at Retro 51 were kind enough to send me a promotional version of their pen a few months ago, along with a blue ballpoint/gel hybrid refill. (The Retro 51 Tornados usually come with a rollerball refill, which just isn’t my thing for everyday use.) I’ve been using it for just over three months, and it’s time to finally review this guy.

IMG_20131217_122739 - Retro 51

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