Kaigelu 336 Fountain Pen
Filling System: Screw-Type Piston Converter
About the Pen:
In my research trying to find good Chinese fountain pen manufacturers, the name Kaigelu comes up a lot. I’ve read reviews on different Kaigelu models and nearly every one claims excellent quality and writing experience. I stumbled on an eBay auction for the Kaigelu 336 and immediately loved the way it looked. It’s a little more expensive than other pens I was looking at, and because I was fresh off my Crocodile disaster, I didn’t want to trust a random eBay seller with this one. So I searched around, found it on iSellPens, and put in my order. Let me say that all the pictures of this pen on the Internet just don’t do it justice. This is an absolutely stunning pen and I just couldn’t wait to ink it up and get writing. How does it write? Keep reading to find out.
Like I said above, this pen is just gorgeous. The barrel and crown of the cap are composed of what they call “checkered resin.” The resin is a shimmery, slightly translucent mottling of amber, brown, and black. It looks like they mold the barrel and cap, slice them into rings, rotate the rings, and re-stack them to form the checkered appearance. The larger part of the cap is a brushed gold-colored metal (probably brass). All the accents are gold: the clip, finial, cap band, end cap, barrel coupler, and the band on the upper part of the section. The 336 sports a small (#5, maybe), two-tone steel nib with the Kaigelu name, the trademark kangaroo, and an ornamental band stamped into it. The cap band has KAIGELU embossed on the front and 336 embossed on the back.
Although the accents are a little on the ornate side, they’re not obnoxious. I think the gold really goes well with the amber resin, and the overall effect is pretty classy.
Build Quality (5/5):
I am so impressed with the quality of this pen. It’s largely made of metal, so it has some heft, although I wouldn’t call it heavy. Kaigelu designed in several nice touches that I think really take this pen to the next level. First, the section is made of metal, which usually allows for a better coupling with the barrel. With this pen, the threads are machined perfectly, allowing the section to screw into and out of the barrel very smoothly. There is no catching, scraping, or other friction. It really leads to a premium feel when assembling and disassembling the pen.
The next feature that I really appreciate is that the converter screws into the section. You almost never see that with inexpensive–or even mid-range–pens. So you never have to worry about the converter dislodging if you drop the pen, spilling ink all over the place.
Almost the entire pen is metal or resin. The only obvious plastic part (aside from the converter) is the end-cap. But considering its only purpose is for decoration, it’s not anything you really notice.
This pen was made for posting. The end-cap is shaped so that the cap snaps right onto it. It snaps on securely so you don’t have to worry about it falling off when you’re writing, but it’s also easy to remove. The cap snaps very securely onto the pen. It’s not difficult to remove the cap, but it does take a little effort. Regardless of which end the cap is snapped onto, it’s not going anywhere.
And the last feature I’d like to mention in this section is the clip. It’s very springy and easy to open, but it will certainly hold the pen in your pocket with enough grip to prevent it from flying out when you bend over.
All-in-all, I don’t have a single complaint about the quality of this pen. It’s probably among the nicest pens I have, and I would put the construction quality at about the same level as my Monteverde Invincia.
I’ve used a couple different inks with this pen, and the ink flows nicely. I experienced almost no skipping or hard starts. I did find that if I write fast with Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan ink, that the line breaks up a little. But that’s only with fast writing. I also used Noodler’s Walnut and did not have this experience. The pen wrote like a dream with the Walnut ink. Kiowa Pecan seems a bit drier than Walnut, so I think the issue might be more due to the the ink rather than the pen’s ink flow ability. With normal writing, the pen kept up wonderfully.
The line the pen puts down is very consistent. And it’s definitely a medium grade. I really wish these manufacturers would ship these pens with F, EF, or Italic nibs. And that’s really the only complaint I can come up with for it. I can’t use a medium as an everyday writer. If I could get this pen in a F or EF, it would probably be my everyday carry.
If writing un-posted, the pen is a little front-heavy. If writing posted, it’s a little back-heavy. The lightweight plastic end-cap helps keep the weight down in the back, but it’s still back-heavy. So I have to dock the pen a half-point for a lack of balance. However, I wrote several pages with this pen and suffered no hand cramps or other discomfort. Despite the imbalance, it was still very comfortable to write with.
The rear half of the section is slightly grooved to give it some grip. If your hand sweats when you write, a metal section can get a little slippery, so the added grip provided by these grooves alleviates this potential issue. It’s just another really nice touch Kaigelu designed into the pen to give us an exceptionally nice writing experience.
Writing Experience (4.5/5):
I love everything about this pen except that the nib is a little to0 broad for my tastes. The nib is incredibly smooth: there’s practically no feedback whatsoever. Also, as I was writing, I couldn’t help but notice a whispering sound coming from the nib as it was gliding across the Rhodia paper. It’s not as musical as the “singing” that comes from my Invincia stub, but it’s pretty unique in its own right.
The ink flow is smooth and the line is consistent. It’s a great pen for shading inks, as you can see in the writing sample below. I was able to write for an extended period of time without discomfort, so the pen is appropriate for just about any type of writing you want to do.
If my handwriting was a little bigger or if this pen was offered with a finer nib, then I would happily use the pen for everyday use.
You just can’t argue with the value of this pen. At $20, it’s more expensive than the majority of other Chinese pens on the market. But the beautiful aesthetics, overall quality, and excellent writing experience you get from it are more than worth the price of admission. This pen is worth every penny of that $20 and I would not hesitate to add another one to my collection (they do make this pen in a blue resin that looks every bit as awesome as the amber one).
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 24/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Excellent quality (esp. the metal section + metal barrel coupler)||Balance is off both posted & un-posted|
|It's gorgeous!||I wish the pen was offered in EF or Italic|
|Converter screws into section||…|
If this pen had a finer nib, it would easily be my favorite pen. I love writing with it. And quite honestly, I love just looking at it. The amber resin is a little translucent and sparkles a bit when you turn the pen under a light. Seriously, the pictures in this review and those on the Internet don’t do it justice. It’s just a beautiful pen to see in person.
During my recent bender of stocking up on various “cheap” Chinese pens, I’ve found a few duds, a few gems, and a few pens in between. The Kaigelu 336 is an absolute gem, and so far, the highlight of the whole experiment. I emphatically recommend this pen to anyone who prefers a medium or broad nib.