Inexpensive. Chinese. Fountain pens. Some are gems; some are disasters. How does this one measure up? Let’s mess with the…
Jinhao 3005 Fountain Pen
Nib: Fine / Extra Fine (Hooded)
Filling System: Cartridge/Converter (Standard International)
About the Company & Pen:
There is a huge number of Chinese fountain pen brands. Some, like Hero and Wing Sung, have been around for several decades. Others, like Duke and Kaigelu, are relatively new, but considered among the high-end of options from the Middle Kingdom.
Jinhao—a property of the Shanghai Qiangu Stationery Co., LTD—is another new-ish pen brand that came storming onto the scene in 1988. Okay, so maybe “storming” is a bit of an exaggeration. But at the present time, Jinhao produces a large number of fountain pens that are considered to be of decent quality and are available in many places, including several US retailers.
The fact that you can find Jinhao pens sold alongside names like Delta, Pilot, and Visconti gives the name Jinhao a bit of extra credibility that other Chinese brands haven’t been able to enjoy in the Western Hemisphere.
Many people have reported excellent luck with Jinhao pens. For me, though, they’ve proven to be troublesome and uninspiring. Lured in by their vast array of interesting (sometimes wild) designs (not to mention their dirt-cheap prices), I had gone on a “cheap pen spree,” picking up a whole pile of various Jinhao models. Several of the designs really impressed me when they came in; others were pretty tame; all of them gave me a positive first impression and seemed promising.
But as I started to use them, I was really left uninspired. So far, I’ve tried the 189 (okay), 159 (junk), and x450 (also junk, but possibly counterfeit) models. None of them really inspired me to try the other models. But I do know that quality control (QC) is an ongoing issue with Chinese pens, and that I have just as much of a chance to find a great pen as I do a dud.
So after a bit of a hiatus with the brand, I’ve dipped my toe in the Jinhao waters once again. Up to now, all the Jinhao pens I’ve used had traditional nibs. This time around, I thought I’d try one of their hooded options to see if I could break my streak of bad luck.
Something I’ve discovered about Chinese pens is that typically, if a pen has a traditional nib on it, it will write as a Medium grade…and if it has a hooded nib, it will write as a Fine or Extra Fine. Many Chinese pens with hooded nibs are billed as “Financial Affairs” or “Accounting” pens. I assume this designation is to indicate that these finer pens are appropriate for filling in tiny ledger boxes. Who even uses those any more?
In a word: nondescript. The Jinhao 3005 is certainly not an ugly pen, but there’s nothing striking about it, either. It’s small and glossy black with chrome furniture/accents. The barrel, cap, and section are all made from brass that has been painted black and coated with glossy lacquer.
The barrel has a thin chrome band around the mouth (it’s part of the coupler on the inside of the barrel that attaches the section). Tapering gently toward the back end of the pen, the barrel ends in a simple chrome button of an end cap.
The cap has a wide, chrome cap band that has Jinhao stamped on one side and has a couple Chinese characters and 3005 stamped on the other (I assume the Chinese characters translate to 3005, but I’m not 100% sure). Much like the barrel, the cap tapers gently from the mouth toward the finial, which consists of a wide, chrome band and a glossy, black button on the top.
A sturdy, dagger-shaped clip is the only stylized feature on the pen. It maintains a simple and classy look while sporting an interesting shape and the Jinhao chariot logo stamped into it.
Because the section is brass, I anticipated that it would be slippery. But that’s not really been my experience with it. There are a few “ridges” around the rear-most portion, and they provide a nice amount of grip. Even the smooth portion of the section doesn’t seem to get slick for me at all
It’s hard to really describe the nib. It’s hooded, so you can’t see much of it, but it’s stainless steel and somewhere in the Fine/Extra Fine range.
Build Quality (5/5):
I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I have to give the Jinhao 3005 a full five points for build quality. This pen is rock solid. The tolerances of all the threads are excellent. The cap snaps on very securely and doesn’t require undo force to remove it. The standard generic converter fits into the section tightly. Nothing is loose, rattly, or wobbly. The nib and feed are assembled well.
Honestly, the Jinhao 3005 looks like it was made by a company that cares. I’m surprised that the same company made that sloppy-ass 159 that I have in my collection. The 3005 is about 15% of the cost of the 159 and is a far superior writing instrument.
There are a handful of minor issues that I do want to mention. I don’t think they’re serious enough to dock points, but they’re worth calling out:
- Regarding disassembly, it’s not possible to remove the nib and feed from the section. As I’ve found with other Chinese pens with hooded nibs, they glue the nib assembly into the section. It’s not a big deal, though, because if the nib is damaged, you can get whole a new pen for $1.58, so it’s never really necessary to replace the nib.
- How do I know the nib is glued in? Because there’s dry glue all over the inside of the section opening. They certainly didn’t take the time to clean that out. Again, not a big issue, as it doesn’t affect the usability of the pen. Just a little sloppy.
- The cap snaps shut with a very loud click. I didn’t really notice it at first, but I was using the pen to take notes in a meeting at work. I typically re-cap the pen when I’m not writing, and the sound of the cap clicking filled the room. It was really loud. People noticed. I got looks. Annoyed looks.
- Although the cap doesn’t require a lot of force to remove, if you yank it off too quickly, it creates a slight vacuum that will draw tiny droplets of ink from the section and throw them around. I only noticed this once or twice, so it’s not a consistent problem. Ink splatter on your notes? Not a problem. On your shirt? Problem. Be gentle when uncapping.
Had I been writing this section on my first fill, I would have given the 3005 a full five points for dependability. I initially filled it with Noodler’s Air Corps Blue Black. The pen performed flawlessly. I experienced no skips or hard starts, and the pen wrote immediately even if I left it uncapped for a minute.
When the Noodler’s ran out, I flushed the pen and filled it with Diamine Ancient Copper. Now I experience periodic hard starts. Not a lot…but enough to notice. I don’t know if that’s due to the ink or the unique shape of the nib (check out the Writing Experience section below for more on that…it’s exciting), but I’m not a fan of any hard starts (huge pet peeve), so I find it annoying.
Otherwise, the pen continues to perform consistently and well.
I generally have comfort issues with narrow/thin pens. For some reason, I tend to grip them tighter than normal, giving myself hand cramps. The 3005, being a narrow pen, follows that trend. I really have to force myself to loosen my grip during long writing sessions. The pen isn’t slippery, and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fly out of my hand, so I’m not sure why I end up gripping it so tightly. It’s just something I do with skinny pens.
I’ve used a number of narrow pens with varying degrees of cramping, but the Jinhao 3005 seems to be among the worst offenders. I know there are a lot of factors that can change this effect (size of your hands, angle of writing, etc.), so depending on your preferences, you may or may not have a similar experience.
As far as weight and balance, I find the 3005 to be perfectly fine. Even though it’s a metal pen, it’s small enough to keep the weight manageable, and it seems very well balanced when writing with the cap unposted. I tried writing with the cap posted, and that lasted about 14 seconds. It’s just too back-heavy for me. The cap alone doesn’t feel that heavy, but once you tack it on to the back of the pen, it really tips the scales in that direction.
If you like narrow pens, or if you generally only write in short bursts, you’ll probably love the 3005. If, like me, you have difficulty using thin/narrow pens for longer writing sessions, then you might not care for this one.
Writing Experience (4.5/5):
For such a fine nib, the 3005 writes pretty wet and juicy. I’ve been enjoying watching the ink slowly dry as I write. It’s also a lot smoother than I expected. You can feel the paper under the nib, but there’s no friction at all. I’ve not seen many other EF or F nibs that were this wet and smooth.
And there’s something else I haven’t told you. Something I’ve been holding back…and busting at the seams to tell you. This pen…This cheap, Chinese pen…This nondescript, financial affairs pen geared toward filling out accounting books…has actual, built-in line variation.
Yes, you read that right: Line. Variation.
Like most Chinese hooded nibs, this pen has a line somewhere in the F/EF spectrum. But this nib must be squared off just enough to give it a wee bit of a stub-like quality. The variation is slight, but definitely noticeable.
I first used the Jinhao 3005 at work for all my note-taking. Weirdly, I kept getting mesmerized by my own handwriting. I kept finding myself just sitting there admiring my notes. Even now, when I go back looking through my old notes, I can instantly spot which notes were written with the 3005. It’s awesome!
It’s almost like writing with a true EF italic. I want to send out all my other pens to a nibmeister to get them all ground to write like this one.
There’s just no way I could score this pen any lower than 5 for value. It’s a smooth, consistent, wet writer that puts down a wonderfully fine line with some line variation thrown in as a bonus. And the thing cost me $1.58, which included shipping all the way from China.
Unlike the other Jinhao models I’ve tried, the 3005 just oozes with value.
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 22/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Line variation!||Hand cramps from long periods of writing|
|Extremely smooth nib||Very loud click to cap (distracts coworkers)|
|Exceptional build quality for the price||May fling a few tiny drops of ink during rapid uncapping|
Jinhao seems to be focused more on Western markets than on their native China. And although a handful of US retailers carry Jinhao, the number of models they sell is only a small portion of what Jinhao makes. eBay seems to be the go-to place for the largest selection of what the company has to offer. Of course, this opens up the potential for scam sellers, counterfeit products, and the sale of items that may have been discarded for quality issues and sold at a discount.
Considering my previous experience with Jinhao models and the ridiculously low price of the 3005, I honestly expected it to be a piece of junk. What I got, however, is a smooth, solid, consistent performer that puts down a beautiful, wet, fine line with enough line variation to be a little extra interesting. Considering my history with the Jinhao brand and the cost of the pen, I’m astounded at the fantastic writing experience it provides.