As I go tiptoeing through the Chinese fountain pen tulips, I have discovered a true gem…
Baoer 100 Fountain Pen
Nib: Fine / Extra Fine
Filling System: Screw-Type Piston Converter & Standard International Cartridges
About the Pen:
I’ll admit, I had some pretty low hopes for this pen. I found it on eBay for just under $4 (including shipping from China). I was lured in by the crazy shape of the nib housing. It’s a hooded nib labeled as a cayman (and another vendor called it a “shark mouth”) design. And it does resemble a mouth…probably closer to a shark than a cayman, but whatever.
In the picture, the pen looked a little ugly, but the section’s “mouth” shape looked cool, so I bought one. It took like 47 weeks to get here (that’s an exaggeration), and the first thing I thought was that the pen looked a whole lot nicer in person than I had expected. It’s a fairly small pen, but very classy and understated looking. I immediately loved the way it looked.
But the biggest surprise was the way it wrote.
Like I said, it’s a very classy looking little pen. And it is pretty small. When capped, it’s just slightly shorter than my Monteverde Invincia (just happened to have it sitting next to me for a handy comparison). But uncapped, it’s about a half-inch shorter, due to a short section. It’s a thinner pen, too. Probably just a bit narrower than a Pilot Metropolitan.
The Baoer 100 has a hooded nib, tucked inside a section with a cayman/shark mouth-shaped opening for the nib. I’m not sure what the purpose of that is, but I think it looks pretty cool and it doesn’t get in the way. (As I write, I’m giggling and saying “nom nom nom!” in my head.)
What strikes me as strange is that there is absolutely no branding on this pen at all, except for the name Baoer on the converter. Not even a logo or name on the center band.
The barrel and section are made from brass (I know this because not all parts are painted, so the brass is staring me right in the face and saying, “Hi, Ken!”). The barrel is painted black and lacquered. The finish is smooth, even, and perfect. The barrel tapers down to a small, beveled chrome button of an end cap. Simple but classy!
The center band and cap are also chrome. The center band is pretty nondescript, just a simple silver band with a fine groove around the diameter close to the barrel, and a matching bevel close to the section (where it meets the cap). The cap is the one part of the pen that has any real styling. The top of the cap is flat, but slanted, giving the pen a nice, angular profile. There are a couple grooves running around the cap, meeting on both sides of where the clip attaches. Running lengthwise down the cap is a series of parallel grooves that gives it a nice, ribbed effect.
Typically, I’m not a fan of pens with colored bodies and silver caps (think Parker 51 or Hero 616). But I love the way the Baoer 100 looks. It has a very modern, stylish, and professional look.
I guess the one complaint I can make is that the entire pen is a fingerprint magnet: cap, barrel, section, endcap…all of it. I find myself wiping it on my shirt every couple of minutes.
Build Quality (5/5):
I don’t have a single, solitary complaint about this pen’s build quality. The pen has been beautiful to use and feels very durable. All parts are machined well. The coupler threads of the barrel and section screw together smoothly.
The cap snaps into place PERFECTLY. It snaps shut and opens up with just a little effort, but definitely stays shut when capped. The 100 comes with a typical Baoer converter. It’s a bit of an upgrade over the standard converters that come with most Chinese pens. It’s sturdier, and I believe it has a slightly larger ink capacity. And although the converter doesn’t screw into the section, it fits very tightly. There’s no chance it will pop out, even if you drop the pen.
Unlike a similar pen that I recently reviewed, the nib, section, and feed are well aligned with each other. Overall, the Baoer 100 looks and feels like a well-built pen. I have no worries that it will fail or fall apart.
The Baoer 100 is a really solid pen. With normal use, it never skips or hard starts. The only trouble I have is if I leave the pen uncapped for more than a couple minutes, it complains for a while before writing again. But really, that’s a common issue with fountain pens. Actually, most of them won’t go 60 seconds uncapped without hard starting. I can leave this pen uncapped for a full minute and it writes immediately.
Also, this pen is surprisingly wet, considering the EF hooded nib on it. I’m pretty impressed with it. I will say, though, that I had a devil of a time writing with my notepad in my lap. This pen doesn’t like that. It skipped all over the place. Once I moved to a table, though, all those problems went away.
The Baoer 100 is a relatively narrow pen, and I did notice that I got a few hand cramps when writing for an extended period of time. The cramps are certainly nothing to write home about (ha ha). If I loosen up my grip a bit when writing, I find that the cramps go away. If you’re not a fan of skinny pens, this might not be the right fit for you.
My only semi-gripe is that the section and barrel can get a little slippery, and it needs to be wiped off once in a while.
There is a tiny step where the section and barrel meet, but it’s not noticeable at all when writing. They did a good job of beveling the step to make it feel smooth in the hand. I find that gripping the pen is very comfortable. The section is pretty short, so no matter where you grip it, it’s likely that your fingers will rest on the step. So they did a great job minimizing the effect and providing a nice, comfy area to hold.
Writing Experience (4.5/5):
Despite the wonderful EF line this pen puts down, it’s a pretty wet writer. It’s also very consistent and smooth, a rather elusive combination in the world of inexpensive Chinese fountain pens. The nib just glides along the page.
The Baoer 100 definitely has a bit of a sweet spot. I find that as I get to the right side of a page, there is more chance of a skip or two…it must be the slight change in writing angle when the pen is on the far side of the paper. Otherwise, the pen is consistent and dependable.
I think the wetness of the nib contributes to the EF line being slightly broader than I expected. I like this, though, as it makes the pen more usable for daily use. I find that I can write pretty fast without the ink flow suffering.
For under $4, this pen is an absolute steal. A STEAL, I tell you! It’s far more durable than a Preppy, and a nicer writer than my other Baoers (which have M nibs). And when it comes down to it, I think the Baoer 100 has a build quality on par with than many of my pens, and even a better build quality than pens I paid five times the money for (yeah, I’m looking at you Crocodile!).
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 23/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Nice looking||Has a sweet spot|
|Dependable & consistent EF line||Small pen, might not be for everyone|
|Excellent build quality||Don't hold your notepad in your lap|
The Baoer 100 is a fantastic pen. For less than $4, it’s one of the greatest values out there. It’s got a decent ink capacity, and it writes smoothly and consistently. I’m very happy with the way this pen feels and writes, and it’s got a permanent home in my rotation. And, of course, the shark mouth shape of the section is just plain fun.