Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point Review

A surprising fact! I actually own pens that aren’t demonstrators. Really, I do. However, black and silver bodies tend to be my staple. I’m just not really that adventurous. So, when I laid my eyes on the Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point, it was love at first sight as the curved matte black body with the black plated nib reminded me of the famous SR-71 Blackbird.

In school, I tend to take my notes with a keyboard, but copying graphs and diagrams into a digital form is a time consuming task. It is a task best left for an analog input method. That’s where the Pilot Vanishing Point comes in. As probably the only click (is that an official term?) fountain pen in existence, the Vanishing Point deploys in a snap and tucks away as quickly as it appeared. 

The Pilot Vanishing point is a thick pen. According to my measurements, it’s 1.3 cm wide, 14 cm long and just a few mm shorter when the nib is deployed. Those who don’t use a traditional tripod pen grip may struggle with the Pilot Vanishing point as the pen clip sits on the top of the pen, providing an effect similar to the Lamy Safari’s triangle grip. The entire pen weighs in at a heft 30 g. Some have complained that the matte black body scratches easily, revealing the brass underneath. With gentle use, my body has yet to suffer such an extreme scratch, though a few faintly shiny black scratches have appeared.

Disassembling the Pilot Vanishing Point is a little different from most pens as the nib unit runs the length of almost the entire pen body. The nib unit could technically be considered a pen in its own right due to its size, though it would be next to impossible to use comfortably. To disassemble the pen, unscrew the body and slowly separate the two pieces as not to cause the nib unit to shoot out unexpectedly. Once the nib unit is removed, the cartridge/converter can be removed. The Vanishing Point is compatible with cartridges, the CON-20 converter, and the CON-50 converter. When using a cartridge, the metal cover included with the pen will need to be used to ensure the click mechanism works properly.  To reassemble the pen, simply line up the notch in the body with the protruding piece of metal in the nib unit, and screw the body back together.

Filling the pen will require disassembling the pen. The filler hole is actually located about an inch above the nib’s tip and will require a rather tall or full bottle of ink to fill the pen properly. It is pretty difficult to check the ink level in the Vanishing point as the CON-50 converter only has about a cm of exposed clear plastic near the piston to check the ink level. When using a cartridge, it is covered in by the metal cap, hiding the ink level.

Using the pen is very easy. The button is requires a long and solid press to deploy the nib. The nib then pushes open a trap door and pops out. The trap door does help slow evaporation, though I do not believe it is very air tight. I have yet to have the pen leak, even though it has been jostled around in pockets and backpacks.

One of the features of the Vanishing Point system is the ability to swap pen bodies and nib units with little hassle. The 14k gold nibs are available from Japanese EF to B with rhodium plated, black plated, and gold finishes, The bodies come in an array of colours and materials. Limited edition Vanishing Points are released each year, providing plenty of opportunity for collectors.

My nib of choice is the Japanese EF as I tend to use really cheap lined paper for most of my school note taking. Even for its fine size, the EF nib is incredibly smooth. There is no scratchiness to the nib, just the slight feedback expected from a nib so fine. The flow out of the box is nice and balanced. The line width is closer to a .4 Pilot Hi Tec C on Clairefontaine paper.

The Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point has an MSRP of $175 USD and a street price of $140 USD. It is definitely not a cheap pen, but personally I think the unique click mechanism makes it worth it. However, I do wonder how much the price would drop if Pilot made stainless steel nib units available vs the 14k gold.

The Recap

 

Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point, EF
Ink: Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium

Paper: Clairefontaine 90g

Likes
+ Unique click mechanism
+ Fast deployment
+ Smooth nib
+ Modular design
+ Great every day carry pen

Dislikes
– Hard to check ink level
– Difficult to use if grip is different from traditional triangle grip

Recommended?
YES!

Inked Up – January Edition

Welcome to our very first edition of a new monthly segment called Inked Up. Every month, a member of the fountain pen community and I will share our current rotation that has been inked up!

Our very first guests are Jon and Liz Chen of Wonder Pens, hailing from Toronto, Canada. Wonder Pens is currently my local store and carries pens, pencils, journals, notebooks, office supplies, tons of fountain pens, and fountain pen accessories. I often plan to visit with the intention of picking up an item or two and end up leaving with a lighter wallet and bag full of ink. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, be sure to swing by their brick and mortar shop to pet Super the store dog in training while you stock up on ink. Liz gave us a peek at her very colourful rotation.

(Be sure to click the thumbnail for the full image in all its glory!)
wonder-pens-inked-up-001
Continue reading “Inked Up – January Edition”

Adventures in Nib Grinding – Lessons Learned in The Pursuit of the XXF Needlepoint

I love extra fine pens. The finer the better! I absolutely adore my extra fine Pilot Penmanship (XXF by Western standards)  as it is incredibly comfortable to hold and lays down a very fine line. However, in the search of something finer, I have begun grinding my own nibs. It started with nib smoothing and grinding stubs, but now my quest for knowledge has turned to creating needle point nibs.

There are plenty of tutorials teaching how to grind stubs and how to smooth nibs, but the information gets a little… thin (my apologies) when it comes to grinding needle points. When I grind my needle points, I try my best to replicate few pictures of needle points I have found online and my Pilot Penmanship XF nib.  This post is a compilation of lessons learned so far and my current method of grinding a Western XXF. I won’t go so far to call it a tutorial quite yet as I think I have a lot of practice left before I would be so confident. However, I hope this article may provide a starting point for my fellow nib grinding novices!
Continue reading “Adventures in Nib Grinding – Lessons Learned in The Pursuit of the XXF Needlepoint”

Kaweco Sport Demonstrator Review

The Kaweco Sport is a pen designed to be as small as possible when closed for easy storage in pockets, bags, purses, and so forth. When capped, the pen expands to a small pen that fits comfortably in the hand. The pen is available in plastic and aluminium in a wide variety of colours.

The pen is built like a linebacker. The thickest part of the cap measures in at 1.5 cm and the body measures 1.1 cm in diameter. When capped, the entire pen measures 10.6 cm in length. From nib to end, the body is a measly 10 cm. I have really small hands, so I find writing with the Kaweco Sport uncapped to be perfectly comfortable, but I believe most people will want to write with the pen capped. When capped, the pen is 13 cm long. I found the small size is perfect for sticking in jacket pockets and on the outside pouch of backpacks. Because the pen is so small, most user’s grips will sit on the threads of the pen. The threads are not sharp at all and are actually pretty comfortable to hold.

Disassembling the pen is very easy. The nib and feed is friction fit and best removed with a rubber grip pad. The barrel is one single piece which makes the Kaweco Sport a popular choice for converting into an eyedropper pen with a little bit of silicone grease. For people who prefer cartridges and converters, the Sport accepts the standard international short cartridge. Some people have had luck with using the Monteverde Mini converter, but I found it was too loose and could not make a seal to draw up ink. Kaweco offers a squeeze converter for those who like them. Personally, I have been refilling the short cartridges with a blunt syringe.

The Kaweco Sport accepts Kaweco nibs from extra fine to 1.5 mm stubs. The stainless steel nibs come in silver or gold colouring. The standard Kaweco Sport line comes with gold coloured nibs will the ICE editions come with silver coloured nibs. Although a standard #5 nib fits the feed, they are too long and will stop the cap from screwing in. As Kaweco is a German company, nib sizing is European. A pen clip can be purchased separately. I found pen clip to be extremely tight. Trying to slip it into the pen slots in my jacket pocket often resulted in the pen clip being pushed off the pen.

I have a 1.1 mm stub and an extra fine nib for the Sport. The 1.1 mm stub is buttery smooth. My previous experience with a stub nib was rather scratchy and even after extensive tuning, I still haven’t quite smoothed out all the edges. Normally, I’m a huge fan of extra fine nibs. The finer, the better! However, the Kaweco Sport’s 1.1 mm stub sold me on the experience of using stubs! The extra fine nib is smooth for an extra fine, but does have a bit of feedback to it.

The ink flow is very well balanced, if not a little on the wetter side of the spectrum. The pen cap has an inner cap that does a pretty good job of slowing evaporation of ink when left unused. Since the pen lives in my jacket, I was rather worried about ink leaking from the pen. I tested how water tight the cap was by pouring some water into the cap of the pen then screwing in the body of the pen. For the most part, water did not escape the cap. If the pen was shaken extremely vigorously, then water trapped between the inner cap and the outer cap would leak. However, the level of force used to cause ink to escape the cap was really high, I don’t see myself experiencing that level of force short of being caught in a bad car accident.

The Recap

Pen Check – December 20th, 2013

Today’s pen check, brought to you by reddit.

Kaweco Sport demonstrator with 54th Massachusetts in the cartridge. I try not to dump out the ink that comes in cartridges, but the Kaweco blue ink that came with it was possibly the ugliest blue I laid eyes on. Strangely enough, my last cartridge of Kaweco blue was rather pleasant. Review of pen and ink to come soon!

Karas Kustoms’ INK Fountain Pen Now on Kickstarter

After teasing the pen on Instagram, Karas Kustoms has started their Kickstarter campaign for the new INK Fountain Pen. The pen is machined in the USA and starts at $60.00 USD for a silver aluminium build. Different colours and materials are available at a higher price point. The pen was designed with the assistance of Ed Jelley and sports a Schmidt nib.

Personally, it is a bit too curvy for my taste, but I wish them all the best on their Kickstarter campaign!