Dippin’ my toes into the higher-end waters to bring you the…
Sailor 1911 Standard (Profit) Fountain Pen
Nib: Extra Fine
Filling System: Converter / Cartridges (Sailor Proprietary)
About the Pen:
I’m starting to get obsessed with Sailor — and I’m not sure why. I only have one Sailor pen (this one). It’s the entry-level pen for their high-end line and I’ve only had it for a few weeks. I’m sure part of my obsession stems from the fact that Sailor’s EF nibs are extremely fine, but I don’t know what else could be fueling my obsession. Maybe it’s because…
- …their reputation for super nibs?
- …they have some of the most interesting designs of the three big Japanese manufacturers (Pilot and Platinum are the other two)?
- …their high-end pens have a 21K gold nib (gotta get me one of those!!) instead of the more typical 14K or 18K?
- …it’s fun to tell my coworkers that I picked up a Japanese Sailor in New York City?
- …they have two of the sexiest stealth pens on the market (see & see)?
Of course, there’s nothing rational about an obsession, so it’s kind of stupid for me to try to figure out where it’s coming from. I should just accept it, empty out my 401K, and go on a Sailor buying spree. But for now, I’ll just finish this review, stopping every four or five words to admire the nib, enjoy screwing and unscrewing the cap, and rolling around nak—uh…never mind that. Carry on.
Sailor’s 1911 line of pens come in three sizes: the Standard (a.k.a. Profit), the Large, and the King of Pen (which comes with a huge jump in price over the other two sizes). They all have the same traditional, nondescript cigar shape that’s eerily common in Japanese fountain pens. For some reason, Japanese manufacturers often stick with traditional designs and put most of the focus on their nibs. If you didn’t know what to look for, you probably wouldn’t be able to distinguish the 1911 from the Pilot Custom 74 or the Platinum 3776 Century.
The 1911 (which, by the way, is the year Sailor was founded) is a small, lightweight pen made mostly of plastic. As is the case with most cigar-shaped pens, the 1911 is widest in the middle (where the cap meets the barrel) and tapers down to both ends, where thin gold bands separate the body from the simple, black, bullet shapes of the finial and end cap.
The section is fairly short and tapers from the barrel down to the nib, where it flares out a bit into a wider lip. The section, finial, and end cap are all made from the same black plastic, and are all set off from the pen body by single gold rings.
The cap sports two gold cap bands, one fairly thin and unmarked, the other thicker and engraved with SAILOR JAPAN FOUNDED 1911.
The gold-colored clip is wider where it attaches at the finial, and quickly tapers to a narrower strip with a rounded-off end. A nice design element of the clip is the raised, steppe-shaped surface down the center of the clip. It adds a bit of fancy without being gaudy.
And then there’s the nib: 14 karats o’ gleaming gold! It’s larger than a #5 nib, but quite a bit smaller than a #6. It is an impressive nib, if not a little busy. There’s some nice scrollwork around the inside, a couple millimeters from the edge. And there are several items stamped in the center of the nib, starting just below the breather hole:
- The Sailor anchor logo
- 14K (etched, not stamped)
- 585 (signifies the 58.5% gold content found in 14K gold)
- A teeny-tiny Sailor name logo
This would all probably look a little nicer on a larger nib, or if they removed the redundant 585 to create more white space. But it’s a handsome nib, nonetheless.
Build Quality (5/5):
Other than the nib, the materials used are nothing really special, but they’re machined and assembled impeccably. The fit is perfect, and the finish mostly so.
The only real thing I can find to gripe about (and it’s a small gripe), is the existence of injection molding seams on the section and the parts of the barrel that are hidden by the cap (when the pen is closed). The seams are very small and you can’t feel them when you’re writing, but I think they cheapen the looks just a little bit, especially given the 1911’s price tag. They did a great job polishing the seams out of the barrel, but I’d like to see them at least buff out the section seams, too.
The converter is a treat! It seems like it has an above-average capacity (I’m not measuring, so don’t ask), and it fits into the section very securely. I believe that you could hurl this pen across the room at an assailant and the converter would probably stay put (I’m not doing that, either, so don’t ask).
No complaints here. The Sailor 1911 writes every time, all the time. Even if I leave it uncapped for over a minute while I get lost in the splendor of the nib, it writes the second I touch it to paper (it’s almost as if they anticipated this type of behavior and designed the pen to accommodate long periods of awe). I have yet to experience any hard starts or skips. I think a lot of this is due to the converter, which has a wide opening for ink to enter the feed channel. For an EF, it’s a pretty wet writer.
No complaints here, either. The 1911 is super light and the section diameter works really well with my hand. I haven’t suffered any cramping or other discomfort, even when writing for extended periods. I believe I could use this pen all day without any trouble.
Writing Experience (4.5/5):
I’ve heard an awful lot about how smooth and juicy Sailor nibs are. I can attest to the juicy, but I’m not really seeing the smooth. I’ve checked the tines about 40 times to make sure they’re aligned (they are), but the nib has some pretty strong feedback that borders on scratchy at times (well, it’s not quite to the level of being “scratchy,” but it’s rough enough for me to get nervous when it happens).
I’m hoping that this can be attributed to it being an extra fine, because it’s an otherwise amazing nib. It’s fine enough to satisfy my small handwriting requirements and wet enough to show off the ink’s properties. The feedback doesn’t affect the writing at all. The nib doesn’t catch on the paper or pick up paper fibers, and the line it puts down is nothing short of exquisite. It’s just very, very toothy and will take me some time to get used to. (Click the image below to enlarge.)
I did find that if I lowered the angle of the pen to the paper, that the nib seemed a lot smoother. It wasn’t very comfortable to write like that and my handwriting was a mess, but it gives me hope that the tooth is nothing to worry about.
If this pen was less expensive, I could forgive the small details I pointed out. But at $156, I’d expect to see no seams in the plastic and have a slightly smoother nib (I enjoy tooth in a nib, but a little more polish would be nice). I suspect their broader nibs would be smoother, so I’d still recommend the 1911 as an entry-level, high-end pen. Is that an oxymoron? Maybe “entry-level, gold-nibbed pen” would be better. Or “first-tier, high-end pen”. Yeah, I like that one. Let’s go with that.
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 24/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Beautifully fine line||Nib is very toothy|
|Comfortable & lightweight||Injection molding seams on section & parts of barrel|
|Always writes, even after periods of inactivity due to gawking at the nib|
I like what Sailor is up to with their pens, and the 1911 Standard was a great one for me to start with. Nib feedback aside, I’m pretty crazy about this pen. It’s comfortable to write with, and the super-fine-but-still-juicy nib puts down a wonderful line of ink. I definitely intend to try out F and M nibs to see how they compare to the EF.
If you’re interested in exploring first-tier, high-end pens, the Sailor 1911 is a fantastic one to consider.