Sometimes all you need is a fancy ballpoint pen.
Ballpoint? Ballpoint?!?!?!!... Yes.
I've mentioned this before, but over the last year or so I've definitely found myself drawn to using rollerball, gel, and ballpoint pens for convenience. Fountain pens are still so fun, but I've found that for my day-to-day they aren't as easy to fit in. But, that doesn't mean you can't write in style.
Sailor recently launched a new, full-size 1911 ballpoint pen and the folks at Pen Chalet were kind enough to provide me one for review. And, they also sent me a Pro Gear version to do a bit of comparison which is awesome because, although subtle, these two pens put off entirely different vibes.
My request was for the glossy piano black resin with rhodium trim (to match each other) which is actually really nice. These pens look and feel like fancy pens.
The thing is, with fancy ballpoint pens a few brands usually come to mind like Montblanc, Parker, Cross (the higher end ones), but Sailor? Not so much. They have a really proud heritage and reputation for their fountain pens, but their non-fountain versions don't seem to draw as much attention or recognition.
One of my thoughts with doing this review was seeing how well the Sailor pens held up against others, particular in making buying decisions.
I own some fancy ballpoints, but not a lot. Although one such pen is a Montblanc Starwalker series called the Urban Spirit. It is FANCY (but, also modern). For awhile I was of an opinion that Montblanc pens were ridiculously overpriced, but the quality, finish and presence of their products really is pretty impeccable. Like a nice watch, leather bag, handmade shoes...
$400+ reasonable though? That depends on a lot of factors, but they are nice. Even the entry point Montblanc ballpoints are floating in the mid-$300 range.
I bring this up as I put these into a similar category to the Sailors. Although, the Sailor pens will run you between $110 and $130 which is quite a difference. Do they hold up?
In many ways, I'd say yes.
Out of the box, the Sailor pens portray a very similar sense of presence and quality that I'd wager your average person might not be able to distinguish from Montblanc if they weren't already "starstruck" by the white star. They look beautiful, the shiny black resin reflecting the light, the seams of the silver furniture lining up perfectly, and the sharp alignment of all the parts in harmony.
These are pens that will turn heads.
To extend the tip both the 1911 and Pro Gear are a twist mechanism which work smoothly. I did find that if it wasn't tightened down quite right, the top of the cap and barrel would come undone when twisting, but a gentle push in the "closed" direction got things in place for future twists.
There is a little bit of squeaking or a feeling of some flex when you twist it (maybe I'm just too aggressive...not really) from time to time. I think this is due to the barrel resin connecting to a metal piece, but isn't overly distracting.
The proprietary Sailor ballpoint refill is smooth and very enjoyable. Not mind blowing, but really nice with less of the dreaded "white space" in the lettering that you might find with other ballpoints.
Being both full-sized pens, they fit nicely in the hand with some heft, but they are not in any way heavy. The 1911 version seems to feel a bit weightier, as it is larger in spots than the Pro Gear.
From a style standpoint, the 1911 is more your classic "nice pen" look with a rounded finial and curvier lines, while the Pro Gear is a bit more on the edgy, modern side with its flat top and sharper, conical tip. They seem to be built on the same platform, but these subtle design changes provide such a contrast in appearance it took me a bit by surprise. I've owned both 1911s and Pro Gear pens in the past, but haven't given them a strong side-by-side.
With graduations coming up (being the time of year when fancy ballpoint sales are up I'm sure), I'd say these Sailor pens are a strong alternative to higher end pens and will still get that message across for the "rite of passage" into the working, grown-up world we live in.
Or, if you're wanting to spruce up your writing game when working with clients, these would also do the trick in improving the overall feel of the experience. It seems so vain, but a nice pen during a loan closing says a bit more than a Bic Stic. Just saying.
Like almost all Sailor pens, these come packaged in a lovely blue box with silver letters that will enhance the presentation when gift giving.
My ONLY wish is that Sailor would make a fully-capped rollerball version of these...
Thanks again to Pen Chalet for providing these for review!