In the fountain pen community, the Sailor fountain pens are often recommended for people who are looking for reliable nibs, especially the nibs that have finer grades, because such nib grades are not as easily found from the western fountain pen brands. As I was searching for a good pen with a very fine nib, I decided to pick up this Sailor 1911S Color Blue.
Fountain Pen: Sailor 1911S Color Blue
Nib: 14K gold hard fine nib
Filling System: Sailor proprietary cartridge/converter
Production: Regular edition
1. Packaging (7/10):
Sailor’s packaging for this pen is adequate but unexciting. The pen arrives in a dark blue hard shell box, wrapped by a white paper sleeve. The colour of the box is actually quite similar to the colour of the pen. Opening the box, the pen is secured by a ribbon trying to make sure that it doesn’t move around freely. Lifting the top layer presents additional ink cartridges, a converter, and documentations. Everything needed for this pen is included in the packaging, and the sturdy pen box gives good protection to the pen. But aesthetically, this box doesn’t do anything for me. It’s just a generic pen box that’s not very expensive or difficult to make, and doesn’t have too much design thought into it.
2. Pen Design (7/10):
The Sailor 1911S Color Blue has a classic cigar shape. The main body of the pen is in blue, hence the name of the pen. The two ends of the pen and the grip section are in black. Then pen is decorated with gold plated trimmings. There is one ring near each end of the pen. Another ring is at the end of the grip section. I really like this colour scheme and the placement of the coloured pieces, because no matter whether the pen is closed, posted, or not posted, it always has a symmetric black-gold-blue-gold-black colour pattern.
One of my biggest complaints about this pen is its length. When closed, the Sailor 1911S Color Blue is similar in length against pens such as the Pilot Metropolitan, Aurora 88, and Pilot Falcon. And it is slightly longer than some other pens, such as the Aurora Optima and Pelikan Souverän M400. However, without posting, the Sailor 1911S Color Blue is shorter than all of them. For some of them, the Sailor 1911S is actually significantly shorter. In fact, it is still the shortest pen when posting the cap for all of them. The pen’s grip section is actually quite comfortable to hold, and the weight balance is excellent with or without posting the cap. But its short length more or less forces me to keep the pen posted. Personally, posting a pen has never been my preference.
This pen is equipped with a 14K gold hard fine nib. The engravings on the nib is quite complex. But the patterns are pretty and the engravings are very clear. I would hope that the nib can be partially Rhodium plated. But the monotone gold nib fits well with the trimmings of the pen.
3. Filling System (7/10):
The Sailor 1911S Color Blue utilizes Sailor’s proprietary cartridge/converter filling system. I’m in general not interested in any proprietary filing system, because that means I will have to look for the spare part of that specific brand, if the converter is no longer holding up.
The Sailor converter has a large opening. It does fit very securely once it’s installed onto the pen, more securely than many of the international standard converter filling pens. Unfortunately, this converter is not very effective when it comes to having a quick full fill. It actually doesn’t hold a lot of ink either. For a fine nib pen, this is not as much of an issue, for pens with broader nibs. The users may be forced to refill this pen quite frequently.
One thing I did notice is that if I fill the ink directly with the converter, instead of through the pen (with the converter installed), then have it pushed onto the nib unit, the ink can actually work its way to the tip of the nib quite quickly. I’m not sure about how Sailor designs the feed system, but inks seem to flow more easily here. Comparing to many other pens of mine, in fact, there are only two other non-Sailor fountain pens in my collection can make the ink work its way down this fast. They are the Montblanc Bohème Blanche and the Montblanc Meisterstück Solitaire Tribute to the Mont Blanc Classique, and both happen to be cartridge only fountain pens. Personally I really enjoy filling the ink directly through the converter, because then I don’t have to dip the pen into an ink bottle, then wipe the nib and the grip section clean.
4. Nib Performance (7/10):
Before I purchased this pen, I have heard that Sailor has really high quality finer nibs, and the nib grade tends to be one level finer than the western counterparts. Therefore I chose a hard fine nib with the expectations that it will write finer than my western extra fine nibs and still give a fairly smooth writing experiences.
Overall, my experience with this nib is mixed. It writes right out of the box and there is no hard start or skipping issue. The line width is really narrow, but it is exactly what I expect it to be.
What I’m not satisfied with is the ink flow. For down strokes, the ink flow is generous. In fact it’s more generous than what I expected from a fine nib, and I definitely enjoy this. But the up stroke and side strokes are quite dry in comparison, with a lot of feedback. The ink flow gets significantly reduced. The pen writes, but the overall experience is not too great. After using the pen for a bit and trying different inks, I decided to smooth out the nib a bit. It’s a lot smoother now, but the down stroke still gives way more ink than the writings in the other directions. I had high hopes for the nib, but it’s not yet what I fully expected to see.
5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (9/10):
The Sailor 1911S Color Blue is small and lightweight. The build quality of this pen is very good. The attention to detail is even better than many other pens of higher prices. My only complaint here is that on the grip section and barrel, I can still see some seam lines not polished off, likely from the manufacturing processes. These places, plus the threads on the grip section, tends to accumulate grease or ink residual, making the pen look not as good.
Even though the pen uses the proprietary cartridge/converter filling system, I do appreciate that cleaning is usually very easy with pens using cartridges or converters.
Pen Design: 7/10
Filling System: 7/10
Nib Performance: 7/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 9/10
The Sailor 1911S Color Blue is a quality fountain pen with a classic design. However its small size is the main reason why I rarely use it. Its weight balance is actually very good with the cap posted. But when the cap is posted, the edge of the cap sits right on my hand. This often makes the cap loose when I write with it.
The nib is also not so exciting. Overall it writes just fine. But the differences of the ink flow between the down stroke and the other directions, plus the amount of feedback from the nib, make the writing experience not so enjoyable.
For the price range that the Sailor 1911S Color Blue falls in, I can’t really recommend this pen. Even though it has a gold nib, the nib is rigid and I don’t really see any advantage it has over other stainless steel nibs. There are also many good selection of finer nibs from other manufacturers. Perhaps it will be more interesting to the users with smaller hands. But this pen is not what I personally would like to use for long writing sessions.