Those of you following my reviews may know that I am on a quest for the perfect “cheap” Chinese fountain pen. Well folks, that day may have very well come. If you want the quick version, I basically can’t find anything I don’t like about this pen. If you want some details, then please allow me to introduce you to the…
Wing Sung 3203 Fountain Pen
Nib: Fine/Extra Fine
Filling System: Screw-Type Piston Converter
About the Pen:
Wing Sung is one of China’s oldest and most well known pen companies. At some point, it was acquired by the Shanghai Hero Pen Company and Wing Sung was adopted into the Hero brand of pens (the largest and most well known Chinese pen manufacturer). After finding out about the world of inexpensive Chinese fountain pens, I’ve tried several different brands, including Duke, Yiren, Jinhao, Baoer, Crocodile, and Kaigelu. I had seen many Wing Sung pens available, but none of them really jumped out at me until I saw the 3203 out on eBay. Modern looking and classy, the 3203 has a very understated and refined look. It sports a beautiful gunmetal/titanium finish that I just couldn’t resist. I snatched it up for the princely sum of $7.00 (including shipping from China to the US!), and quite frankly, it might just be the steal of my eBay Fountain Pen Rampage.
Keep reading for the rundown.
The Wing Sung 3203 is a fairly small pen. The image below shows it beside a few popular fountain pens: Conklin Duragraph, TWSBI Diamond 580AL, Noodler’s Ahab, and Pilot Metropolitan. It’s the shortest of the five, coming in just slightly shorter than the Metro. It’s also the thinnest of the bunch. The overall shape is a thin cylinder that tapers a little toward each flattened end. If you find that using thinner pens causes your hand to cramp, then the 3203 probably isn’t for you.
The 3203 sports a uniform gunmetal finish on all external parts except the section, which is black with a silver ring at the nib end. The barrel, cap, and top finial have a matte finish, which gives the pen a very understated, clean look. The clip, cap band, end cap, and a small band at the front end of the barrel are the same gunmetal color as the rest of the pen, but they have a glossy/shiny finish. This gives the pen a uniform look from end to end, but adds just a touch of shiny adornment to catch your eye while maintaining the classy appearance.
All surfaces of the pen are smooth, except for the barrel, which has a criss-cross pattern etched into it. The etching is pristine. For the $7 cost of the pen, it would not have surprised me to see sloppy craftsmanship, but all the lines are straight and uniform. It definitely looks like it could be a much more expensive writing instrument.
As I mentioned, all the hardware on the cap and barrel are the same gunmetal color as the larger parts of the pen. Engraved at the top of the clip, there is a small Wing Sung logo. The cap band has WING SUNG engraved on one side and 3203 on the other. The finial is flat across the top, and the end cap is slightly concave.
The Wing Sung 3203 sports a two-tone #5 nib, a size pretty typical in a lot of Chinese pens by Baoer, Yiren, and Kaigelu. The majority of the nib is gold colored and has several items engraved on it. There is a simple design pattern inset a few millimeters from the outer edge of the nib. And just below the breather hole are the Wing Sung logo and name in all capital letters. I’m not sure the gold of the nib fits well with the gunmetal finish of the rest of the pen. I think a plain silver-colored nib would have looked nicer, although the gold is pretty understated, so that’s a small detail overall.
Build Quality (5/5):
For $7, which includes shipping, I’m not surprised if I receive a less-than-perfectly-built pen. Sometimes these inexpensive pens have things that fall off or rattle. It’s really not uncommon. This pen, however, is perfect. All the pieces fit together and are assembled perfectly. Nothing is loose; nothing rattles. Most parts of the pen are made of metal, so it feels pretty substantial, although it’s not heavy at all. The section and barrel couplers are perfectly aligned, so screwing them together and unscrewing them is smooth and gives that wonderful metal-on-metal ring that I love so much.
The cap snaps into place very tightly with a nice, solid click. But it is also easy to remove. You don’t have to fight with it to remove it, and you also don’t have to worry about it accidentally popping off.
The clip is very sturdy and secure, but also flexible enough to use without ripping your fingernail off trying to get it in your pocket. It’s easy to clip onto fabric and will hold the pen in place securely so you can bend over to pick something up without fear of the pen flying out onto the floor. You could probably even fall down a flight of stairs without losing the pen from your shirt pocket. I would not recommend testing this theory out; although if you are prone to falling down the stairs, this might be the perfect pen for you.
Although some Chinese manufacturers, such as Jinhao and Duke, include their own converters in some pens, you’ll typically see a few more generic converters in most Chinese pens. The Wing Sung 3203 comes with a fairly nice converter that has a metal spring inside to agitate the ink and keep it from pooling in the converter. It’s a push-in converter, but provides a snug fit in the section. Under normal conditions, there should be no issue with the converter dislodging and spilling ink. As long as you’re not throwing your pen around, you should be good.
If I were to have any complaint about this pen at all, it would be that the cap does not post. You can put the cap on the end of the pen and it will mostly stay put if you don’t make any sudden moves. But the cap does not secure in place at all, and will eventually slide off.
I used this pen on and off for several weeks, and I didn’t run into any issues. The converter drew up ink right away, and I experienced no problems writing, even if I left it sitting around for several days. It started up every time I wrote with it. None of the hardware failed or weakened. No ink burped out of the nib while I was writing. From the time I first inked it up until the time it ran out of ink, this pen performed reliably and consistently.
Despite the fact that it’s made mostly of metal, the Wing Sung 3203 is a fairly small and lightweight pen. The section is comfortable to hold and easy to grip. I did find that after writing a full page, my hand cramped slightly, but I believe that was due to a combination of the smaller section diameter and my gripping the pen too tightly. Once I relaxed my grip on the pen, the cramping stopped.
The pen seemed well balanced when not posted. The cap doesn’t secure in place when posted, and makes the pen a little back-heavy anyway. If you have large hands or are otherwise compelled to write with your pens posted, then I think you might find this pen annoying to write with. I usually don’t post my pens because I don’t want to scratch the finish on the barrels, so the 3203 works perfectly for me.
There is a bit of a “step” where the section connects to the barrel, but it’s not sharp at all. While I was writing, my fingers rested against this step, but I never noticed it. Wing Sung did a nice job here.
Writing Experience (4.5/5):
So the pen looks great, has excellent build quality, and is dependable. But how does it write? If I could capture the writing experience in one word, it would be wonderful. The nib on this pen…is…awesome! Other than the Wing Sung engravings, it looks like every other #5 Chinese nib I have, but I noticed right away that (1) it’s very smooth, and (2) it puts down a very fine line. Most #5 Chinese nibs fall somewhere between Medium and Medium/Fine; however, I would put the 3203 nib on par with Western Extra Fine nibs. As someone who has very small handwriting, I found the 3203 to be just about perfect for everyday writing.
Under normal conditions, I experienced no skips or hard starts at all, even if the pen sat unattended for several days. It puts down a consistent line all the time.
Because the pen puts down such a fine line, it tends to be a little on the dry side. The ink flow is great for normal writing, but I found that if I tried to write faster, the line would break up a little bit on longer strokes. This isn’t a deal breaker, as it’s still quite serviceable when writing fast. The one thing I just couldn’t do with it is write my signature. The ink flow couldn’t keep up with the big, fast, flourish of a K that I write. I don’t really see that as a problem, though. I tend to stick with gel ink when signing anything anyway, and if I was going to use a fountain pen, I wouldn’t select a Fine or Extra Fine pen to do it. I’d choose a Broad or Italic for that.
Let’s see…It’s a beautiful, well built pen that works well all the time. The nib is smooth and puts down a very fine, yet consistent line. And you get all this for $7. I defy you to find a better value.
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 24/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Gorgeous and Classy||Does not Post|
|Smooth EF Nib||Suffers Slightly when Writing Fast|
|Very Well Built||Better for Folks with Smaller Hands|
Of all the inexpensive Chinese pens I’ve tried, the Wing Sung 3203 is easily the cream of the crop. It offers an excellent writing experience at an amazing price. If you can comfortably enjoy a thinner pen, prefer an EF nib, and have a tight budget, I would recommend giving this pen a try. It’s classy enough to use in the office, and inexpensive enough to use as an everyday carry (EDC). I still have a pretty large pile of Chinese pens to test out, and I have serious doubts whether or not I’ll find another one this good. The Wing Sung 3203 is among the best pens I’ve used so far.