Review: Caran d'Ache Dunas

Capped Caran d'Ache Dunas uncapped on pen stand

I pulled the Caran d’Ache Dunas from long term storage (a.k.a. – out of sight, out of mind) so I could give it a spin and a quick review. I can’t remember the last time I used this fountain pen. That’s not due to a bad memory, it’s been years since I inked up this pen. I didn’t find it on the Caran d’Ache website and it’s not produced anymore. I did find it listed as in stock from Pen Boutique and I found some forum comments saying it was purchased this year, so it does still seem to be around at some retailers. Current prices are just under $100. Recent eBay sales ranged from $71 to $125 although those were for different finishes.

Why I Got It

I bought the pen in late 2005, about two years after I got the Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe which was my first Caran d’Ache fountain pen and one of my first really nice (read that as “expensive”) fountain pens. While it is nothing like the much more expensive Ivanhoe, I had already picked up a second Caran d’Ache (a Geneve) which was also a great writer. I had high hopes for a budget priced Caran d’Ache. At the time the pen was $68, which is only budget when considering the Caran d’Ache premium.
I also liked the red finish which was unique in my accumulation at the time. The design was just different enough to catch my eye.

What I Got

Uncapped Caran d'Ache Dunas uncapped on pen stand

While described as a high quality resin, my shiny red Dunas has a very cheap plastic feel. And yes, “shiny red” is the official color name. Despite the plastic feel the pen is solidly built.
The cap and barrel have a hexagonal shape although the barrel becomes more rounded towards the end. The shapes prevents the pen from rolling. The cap end is flattened, angled and has the Caran d’Ache logo emblazoned on it. A band around the barrel has the Caran d’Ache name engraved. It’s a nice looking design that elevates itself above the cheap feel of the pen.
It’s a snap on cap and while it seals tightly it easily rotates on the barrel when capped. The cap doesn’t post securely unless it’s pushed down hard on the barrel. Very hard which might eventually crack the cap since there’s no cap band. This isn’t a concern since I don’t post my pens. I believe the pen has Caran d’Ache’s lifetime warranty although I don’t have the original paperwork so this may not be a concern for anyone. It’s a little strange that it doesn’t post very well since the barrel is round where the cap posts.
It’s a medium steel nib and as far as I can tell, a medium nib is the only option. It may have been offered in other nib widths, but I’ve only ever seen medium and it was the only option when I bought mine. The nib is silver with the Caran d’Ache logo engraved on it along with some other ornamentation. All the furniture is also silver.
I don’t remember much about the packaging, but a converter was included. From some forum posts or reviews a converter isn’t always included.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.4085″ (137.37 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 4.79″ (121.67 mm)
  • Length Posted: 5.9600″ (151.38 mm)
  • Section Length: 0.9150″ (23.24 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.3215″ (8.16 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below barrel): 0.395″ (9.99 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.3530″ (8.96 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.46″ (11.69 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.4610″ (11.71 mm)
  • Weight: 16g (no ink or converter)
  • Weight (body only): 1g (no ink or converter)

Writing With The Pen

Dunas nib closeup

The snap on cap does seal securely but the pen can still be uncapped with one hand. The clip has a little spring to it and it slides easily into and out of most of my pockets. I usually require two hands to slip the pen into my pocket since the clip is a bit stiff and sits right against the cap.
The pen is just a little small for my comfort since I generally like larger pens. It’s not what I would consider a small pen, it’s just I prefer larger pens.
The section is long enough for my grip but my thumb just touches the step between the barrel and the section. The step isn’t sharp so it’s not noticeable.
The pen is much too light for my tastes and a little on the thin side. Pens with both these attributes usually become quickly uncomfortable when I use them. This pen is no different although it did seem to last longer than most, probably because of the nib.
And what a nib it is. The medium steel nib is extremely smooth and it certainly enhances the writing experience that this pen delivers. I didn’t experience any skipping or false starts. It is a stiff nib but that’s a benefit for me.
The only problem I had was ink clinging to the converter when I stored the pen nib up for over a day. Well, the ink always clung to the converter but storing nib up seemed to get enough out of the feed to cause starting problems when I picked up the pen after a couple days.

Inks Used & Cleaning the Pen

I used Waterman Black while using the pen for this review. There’ weren’t any problems and it was easily flushed from the pen. It’s been a very long time since I previously use the pen and I have no idea what inks I used in the past. But I don’t have any memories of problems with the pen.
I did have the previously mentioned problem with the ink clinging to the converter. This was only a problem if the pen was stored nib up for a couple of days. When it was I had to help the ink saturate the feed as gravity wasn’t doing it fast enough for me.

Wrapping Up

There’s nothing fatally wrong with the Caran d’Ache Dunas fountain pen. It’s got a great, smooth nib and the design is a little different than other pens which gives the Dunas some appeal. Despite this it’s not a keeper.
The pen has a cheap feel to it even though it’s actually solidly built. But the fatal flaws, at least for me, are that it’s too small and too light.
The value of this pen is debatable. While this pen has one of the best steel nibs I’ve used, if not the best, and has a lifetime warranty, it seems far too expensive at the $90+ prices I’ve seen currently. Recent eBay sales of around $70 are more reasonable (and close to what I paid 9 years ago), but these days there are some very nice pens and nibs for about half the price. The Faber-Castell Basic has a comparable nib and sells for around $35. Even though I say the pen feels cheap (and it does) it is in fact well built, with a good fit and finish, so it will last a long time. That certainly justifies a higher price.
Even though it isn’t a keeper for me, if you have small hands (or like smallish pens) and like extremely light pens you won’t be disappointed with the Caran d’Ache Dunas.

Additional Reading

Caran d’Ache Dunas Review – The Fountain Pen Network

2 thoughts on “Review: Caran d'Ache Dunas

  1. Pingback: Link Love: Virtual Letter Writing Social on Saturday! | The Well-Appointed Desk

  2. The original Dunas Desert series had beautiful ivory and sand color matte finishes. Felt better to the touch and looked as solid as it was built.

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