Saturday, March 26, 2016


Sailor is a well-established name within the fountain pen community. It's the first brand that comes to mind when most people think about luxury Japanese fountain pens. Their high-end fountain pens are right up there with other great brands like Montblanc, Pelikan... And to top it off, their in-house nibmeisters produce some of the finest and most unique nibs in the world!

But of course their premium pens, come at a premium price! Particularly the specialty nibs can add hundreds of dollars to the price of their pens. Well, that's where the Sailor 1911 Fude De Mannen steps in! It's basically a stripped-down version of the Sailor 1911 fountain pen with a really special steel nib, and at a particularly interesting price point!
Designwise, it's -as I said- quite similar to the regular 1911 and 1911 large. But differences in price show in terms of build quality and detail. For example, injection-molded plastic was used, instead of the more 'luxurious' cast resin on their more expensive pens. Trims are also less elaborate, the cap band was reduced to just one ring, and has less detailed engraving on it. Decorative rings around the clip and at the back of the barrel are also gone.
It won't win any beauty contest, but it does the job, and from a distance it looks more expensive than it really is. Construction isn't as precise, there are still some seams visible on the plastic, and the cap fineal doesn't sit completely flush. Other than that it's a pretty solid pen, while still remaining very light because of the plastic construction.
Dimensionwise, it's also rather similar to the more expensive classic 1911 (not the 1911 Large). It measures 13.5cm closed (5.25in), and 11.5 open unposted (4.5in). It's a small pen for my taste, I use it posted more often than not, also because this gives more control over the nib. It posts comfortably at around 14.5cm (5.75in), and the cap doesn't weigh it down. In fact, the whole pen is rather light. The injection molded plastic clearly isn't as thick as the resin on the more expensive Sailors, which takes away the quality feel. I know it's unfair to compare the fude with a pen ten times its price, but just so you know: this isn't the kind of pen you'd buy for the look and feel!
Which brings me straight to the reason you WOULD actually want to buy this pen: the nib of course! 

Aesthetically, it's a really strange thing. It's a rather flat piece of gold-plated steel, with less of the curved profile you'd find on most other nibs (however, the gold Sailor nibs are also somewhat more flat than other brands' nibs!). The tines, instead of being nice and straight, bend at a 60° angle, at about 2mm from the tip. This is the 'Fude' part in the name of the pen. Fude refers to a brush-like drawing medium, and usually you'll find brush-tip markers labeled fude. This nib basically recreates the effect a 'fude' brush pen creates, which gives expressive, bold strokes. Useful for example, when you would write japanese 'kanji' symbols, but also just fun to mess around with.
Depending on the angle you hold the pen, it's possible to create a range of strokes, from very fine when holding the pen at a 90° angle, to a 2mm wide stroke when holding it at the 60° sweetspot. It's a fun nib to experiment with. If I was somewhat good at calligraphy or drawing, I'm sure that would create nice effects too. This is one of those 'fun but impractical' pens, if you're looking for an EDC writer and nothing more, you'll have to look elsewhere. 
Because of the rather unusual shape of the nib, I expected it to have some issues right out of the box. But in reality, it's really quite a good performer! It's a well-tuned nib with a wet flow, given that I used it with a rather wet ink (Iroshizuku Yama-Budo). It's quite responsive, especially given the fact that you're putting a bent piece of metal to the paper. It didn't skip or cause trouble so far, and it starts up right away, even after a few days of being unused!
Raise your hand if you like to mess around with pen and ink, and if you like doodling or drawing with your pens... If you just put your hand in the air, then yes, there might be a reason for you to buy this pen! The Sailor Fude is somewhat equivalent to the ever-so popular Pilot parallel pens: it's a powerful tool in the right hands, but it's also just good fun to mess around with for people like me who have no artistic skill whatsoever. The 1911 Fude goes for around 31 EUR (For non-EU residents: 28 USD without VAT at The PenCompany!), which is a fair price all things considered.

Note: This product was provided free of charge by The Pen Company, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared here are completely my own! This review does not contain any affilate links.

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