I love the Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen a lot. It is the type of pen that seems to get a hit or miss type of response from people, but generally not a lot of "meh" type of folks out there. Either you love it, or hate it. Kind of like Marmite.
I've known about the ballpoint version of this pen for quite some time and was always anxious to try one out. Pen Chalet started carrying them and was kind enough to send me one to for review on the blog, so special thanks to them for providing it.
If you are familiar with the fountain pen version, the size of the ballpoint is about the same, but also feels a bit different. The barrel is definitely slimmer in diameter by about a good mm or so which, in pen diameters can feel like a lot. Pilot does make a smaller version of the Vanishing Point called the Decimo, but I've never used one so can't say for sure if this is closer to that in size.
The model I received is the chrome and gunmetal, which is a metallic grey, lacquered finish. It is glossy and picks up the gleams of light in the room. The chrome section is, well, chrome and is one of those fingerprint magnet surfaces. The finish on everything is excellent which is what I always come to expect from Pilot products.
One thing about the fountain pen version is that it comes in about a zillion color schemes, and Pilot is always releasing more. Not the ballpoint version though. From what I can tell it comes in only a few color variations, generally in the more "businessy" palette of black, white, grey (gunmetal), and silver, all with the chrome accents. I was hoping for a matte black version.
And, the chrome is so shiny that one can also make cameo appearances in their own reviews...
The tip of the pen where the refill extends is a rounded, dome shaped feature that cuts off sharply. Now, being so familiar with the wider fountain nib opening (which I think has a bit of an aquatic vibe), this looks weird to me, but only due to the fact of familiarity. If I'd never before seen the fountain pen version it would be fine, but my brain is telling me it is off...but it isn't.
What makes the Vanishing Point series different than most retractable pens is that the opening faces UP when in your pocket, versus down with the knock mechanism visible. This is for the obvious practical purposes of not leaving an open (so to speak) fountain pen upside down in your pocket to let gravity have its fun with your nice oxford shirt. This is also true with the ballpoint version as they are in essence the same pen, just with different insides.
The ballpoint version is considerably lighter than its fountain pen cousin coming in at around 0.6 oz. Compared to 1.0 oz inked fountain pen version, this is extremely noticeable in the hand if the Vanishing Point is one of your regulars. It doesn't feel cheap, but doesn't have quite the same substance to it. It almost feels like they are made from slightly different materials.
To extend the tip the knock has quite a bit of spring movement before it kicks in and the refill appears. It easily takes about 0.5 - 0.75" of push before you see the tip of the pen show up. There is also an audible "crrrrriiiiiing" type of noise (best I can muster phonetically) from the inside spring which is also different. Kind of like a tinny metal noise then followed by a loud "click" when the refill snaps into place. This, of course, doesn't impact utility at all, just a noticeable difference in the experience worth noting.
The refill inside is the Pilot BRFN-30-M (M for medium), which is compatible with other ballpoint barrels like the Ageless and Dr. Grip to name a couple. It is a very smooth and enjoyable ballpoint refill that lays down a dark and consistent line (no rollerball or gel mind you). It is available in either black, blue, or red in fine or medium line widths.
While writing there is literally no movement in the tip which is always a good thing.
Going back to the thing that those that adamantly dislike the pen call out most, is the clip placement. For some, depending on your writing grip, the clip is in your hand while writing which I could see being uncomfortable for people. I have what I'd consider a sort of stereotypical pen grip or, the "three point" placement of thumb and index finger at the 10 and 2 o-clock positions with the pen resting at 6 o-clock on the side of the middle finger, so the clip doesn't impose on me in the least.
I like this pen, probably since I enjoy the fountain pen so much, but am not certain I'd put this one in the daily use category for me. When using a ballpoint, I just seem to have a variety of pens that I gravitate towards more, but I'm sure it will see use from time to time. I actually think for a pen person in your life these could make a great unique gift of a pen that they've likely not seen before.
Retail on these babies is pretty high (in my opinion) at $136, but the street price is much less. Pen Chalet actually has them for a steal at $68 if you were itching to add one to your collection, but not sure how long that will last as it says "limited quantities" on the site.
Thanks again to Pen Chalet for sending this one my way!