Favorite 5: Modern Fountain Pens

It’s been over 6 months so it’s time for me to update my Favorite 5 lists, starting with my Favorite 5 Modern Fountain Pens. The rules are the same as when I lasted updated the favorite 5 modern pens list in May. First, the fountain pen has to have been used since the last list update. Second, to be a modern fountain pen it has to have been manufactured after I was born. So in my accumulation that puts the Sheaffer PFM I’s in the transition period and I classify those as vintage since they were probably manufactured before I was born. One of them could have been used to sign my birth certificate, none of the ones listed here could have.

I dropped two pens from May’s list. None of my KarasKustoms Inks have been used since May, so they’re off the list. This surprised me but it was undeniable. The Pelikan M805 Stresemann also left the list and this was a tough decision as it’s been continuously inked since I got it. My recent ink notes cover the reasons why. In short –  I just can’t get past the width of the nib. I go back and forth about getting it ground to either a truer extra fine or even a left oblique. I’m now leaning towards getting it ground and if I did it would probably return to the list.

This is a strictly personal list, I’m not claiming these are the best modern fountain pens, but they are my favorite. On to the pens…

1. Sheaffer Balance Aspen SE

Sheaffer Balance Aspen LE medium nib with Montblanc Permanent Grey ink bottle

The Sheaffer Balance Aspen enters its second year as my favorite fountain pen. It’s gorgeous and has a terrific nib. (I did have to have a problematic feed fixed by Mike Masuyama and the nib was tuned at the same time.) Even though it’s officially a medium nib, it’s a very thin medium. Review

2. Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo (Left Oblique nib)

Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo with medium left oblique nib and Pilot Blue ink (cartridge, not the bottle shown)

This is a new addition to my accumulation and debuts as my second favorite modern fountain pen. While the red bamboo isn’t really bamboo (and not called bamboo in some markets) I can get past that because the pen is gorgeous and feels comfortable in my hand. I enjoy the warm feel of the wooden Vanishing Points over the cold metal versions. The left oblique nib is perfectly suited to the grip of the Vanishing Point, at least for me.

The pen has that new pen glow and the nib benefits from being uncommon in my collection (except for some Easterbrook nibs). This helped it make the list but it’s still a solid choice. This Just In article

3. Pilot Custom 823

Pilot Custom 823 not posted

The Pilot Custom 823 dropped a spot but it is a solid member of my Fav 5 list. I like the classic cigar shape which is comfortable in my hand. The rest of the design is just “meh” for me and I am getting tired of it. Even though I like brown I’m not a fan of colored demonstrators or gold trim, which pretty much describes this pen. Yet, when I use the pen I forget all that and just enjoy it. The fine nib is a Japanese (read: thin) fine with some spring to it, making it a soft touch. This provides a nearly perfect writing experience. Review

4. Edison Huron Grande

Edison Huron Grande Extra Fine Nib and R&K Blau-Schwarz LE ink

This is my only custom pen. It’s huge and hold about 5 ml of ink. It’s big and bright with a extra fine nib. It’s too big to be a regular carry, but it’s usually at my desk filled with one of my favorite inks. This Just In article

5. Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe extra fine with R&K Blau-Schwarz LE

Another new fountain pen that made the list. The Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe joined my accumulation back in July. It’s heavier than my first Pro Gear which is a plus in my book. The thin line of the extra fine nib limits the inks I can use since with my aging eyes the ink has to be dark enough for me to see. Even so, I would not change the nib.

The new pen glow helped this pen make the list. I have to admit its hold on the #5 slot is tenuous and it may be replaced by one of the runners up.

Wrapping Up

There were a couple fountain pens that were close runner ups. The Franklin-Christoph Model 20 was a strong contender, especially the one with the stub nib. The Regency Stripe beat it out because while all these are unlinked, I’m most anxious to ink up the Regency Stripe.

I have two more Sheaffer Balance IIs, either of which could have made the list. They are the same as the Aspen except for the acrylic. They all share the thin medium nib that I like.

Every time I compile this list I wonder why I have 150 fountain pens in my accumulation. If I can pick 5 I should be able to get down to a dozen or so. Nah!

2 thoughts on “Favorite 5: Modern Fountain Pens

  1. Ooooh. Nice selection. Here’s my take on your Top-5:

    1. Sheaffer Balance Aspen SE

    These are often termed Balance-II’s. The colored versions are NOTORIOUS for cracked cap lips. Also, the white dots are prone to yellowing. The black version is pretty reliable by comparison. There are two nib styles for these pens, two-tone and single tone. Both are solid gold. I have a black version with a Fine single tone nib. The single-tone nibs are reported to have more flex. My single-tone certainly does have a bit of flex to it.

    2. Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo (Left Oblique nib)

    I can’t get past having the clip in the way when I hold the pen.

    3. Pilot Custom 823

    This pen is difficult to fully disassemble and clean. Also, you have to write with the filler knob unscrewed if you write more than a page or so. This is because without the filler knob unscrewed, air pressure in the barrel will not equalize and the nib will become starved for ink. All the fiddliness of the Pilot 823 plus (for some inexplicable reason) Pilot REFUSES to sell the 823 with the semi-flex FA nib, prompted me to turn to the similar sized Pilot 743 with FA nib, which is a cartridge/converter (CON-70) filler. I’m much happier with the 743 and rarely use my 823 any more.

    4. Edison Huron Grande

    The Grays make wonderful pens. It is hard to say anything negative about any of their pens. But one Edison pen I avoid like the plague is the Collier – it doesn’t post. Pens that don’t post properly are not for me.

    5. Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe

    I like some of Sailor’s pens, the full-sized 1911 and King of Pen for example. Sailor’s specialty nibs are unique. I can’t speak to the Pro Gear Regency Stripe in particular since I’ve never used one.

    • Hi David, Thanks for the detailed comment and information. I can’t argue with anything but luckily I’m not affected or bothered by the caveats.

      The Sailor Pro Gears are smaller than the full size 1911. I don’t post my pens and the Pro Gears are just barely long enough for me. I’m not a fan of specialty nibs in general (I just don’t benefit from them) and sold off my 1911s which had the music and zoom nibs.

      Thanks for reading,

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