About a month or so ago I received an email from Levenger asking if I'd be open to doing a review of one of their pens. I had seen and been referred to Levenger products previously so I was excited about the idea and accepted. Thank you Levenger for providing this sample for me to review.
I was given the choice of a couple of models, but decided upon the L-Tech Fountain Pen in the Stealth finish. My love for this style of pen (metal with faceted barrel) added to my excitement to get my hands on it for review and I must admit that I've been pleased with it thus far.
The finish on this pen really is top notch. The Stealth edition has a matte black barrel and cap, but a gloss black finish on the clip and ends of the pen. Good show on this finish Levenger. Usually with "stealth" type pens, everything is matte, but I really enjoy the contrast of the gloss against the matte. It adds some visual "texture" so to speak to the pen. The overall design has a very technical/engineering feel to it.
This pen is quite weighty coming in inked (with converter) at about 46 grams. This isn't a "cheap feeling" weighty. Coupled with the great finish, it adds a nice level of quality to the pen. It is an all brass pen and feels solid and extremely sturdy in your hand and the barrel is about 1/2" in diameter. The cap is threaded and has either triple or even quadruple threading which makes putting the cap on quick and easy. One thing that is cool about the cap is that the threads, upon tightening, line up the facets of the barrel and cap pretty closely. You can tighten it really tight which throws the alignment off a smidge, but an easy adjustment makes the pen look awesome just sitting on your desk or pad of paper.
From first glance you would think it was 6 sided, but the barrel actually has 7 sides meaning it is heptagonal. New word of the day: heptagonal barreled pen. This is an interesting choice. One thing about it that is kind of nit picky on my part is that with an odd number of sides, the clip of the pen never sits parallel with your pad of paper if the pen is capped and at rest. If laid on it's "back", the clip is always pointing in either the 2 o'clock or 11 o'clock position (depending on which side you set it on). If you have tendencies to be OCD (as I sometimes do), this might bug you a bit.
Under the cap you'll find a knurled grip. The knurling isn't very sharp so I wouldn't consider it to be extremely grippy. Let's just say it looks grippier than it is, but I love the visual element it adds to the pen. I'm pleased they went with this route rather than a smooth section as it pays homage to some earlier pen models (of which I am obsessed).
I requested an F nib on the pen and at first I was having trouble getting ink through it. I initially tried inking it up by just popping in a cartridge, but wasn't getting ink to feed at all. Even after a few good shakes, nothing. I was starting to worry that the pen was going to have a problem (which technically this is). After fussing with it for awhile, instead of trying to use the cartridge I decided to put in the converter. I inked it up with the sample of Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki that Mr. Ed Jelley sent me to try. (Thanks Ed! Now I have to buy a bottle...) Once inked up through the converter, it was an entirely new experience. I've been writing with it for days with rarely a skip or feed issue. The line width on the F is nice and not too small.
**UPDATE - Upon further investigation I found that Levenger actually recommends "priming" the pen by slightly squeezing the cartridge once installed until ink starts to flow through the nib. This likely would resolve the concern I initially had with the pen not writing.**
The cap posts nice and snug on the end, but adds too much length and weight for comfortable writing in my opinion.
The Design Inspiration:
Now, I have a thing for the rOtring brand; a lot. There actually is a bit of history between Levenger and rOtring that I thought I'd share along with the review. Back during the production of the rOtring 600, Levenger contracted to have some "Levenger" branded pens made. I found this great image on fountainpennetwork.com posted by member FLJeepGuy of some branded 600s (I wish that I had this set!):
Eventually, either rOtring stopped making these for Levenger during the merger with Newell-Rubbermaid, at the discontinuation of the 600, or when Levenger decided to start making their own pens instead. I'm not so sure of all the history, but would love to be educated further!
The L-Tech pays obvious homage to the rOtring line from whence it sprang which I think is awesome. The rOtring brand is no longer making pens of this kind on their own and I'm glad someone is carrying the torch. The fact that there is history between the two companies makes it even more comforting I suppose. The L-Tech actually shares some of the design elements of both the 600 and Newton (first version) pens. They maintained a knurled grip similar to the 600, but took the gloss black accents off of the Newton.
The L-Tech is quite a bit larger than the 600 and Newton which some consider to be hefty pens, but I think Levenger did a good job on the sizing. The pen is large, iconically striking, well made, and hefty in a good way.
At $80 I would say the L-Tech is a great choice. The slow starting nib with the cartridge is a pretty strong concern (see update above), but the pen feels solid in your hand. If you are a fan of vintage rOtrings then this pen is a great choice under the current pen market offerings to give you a similar experience. Even without it's famous history, the L-Tech would hold its own as what I would consider to be a great pen.
Thanks again, Levenger, for the opportunity to review the L-Tech!