(another unusual creation by Mr. Nagahara -- which is very entertaining)
I'll just come right out and say that I'm a big fan of Sailor. I've found their products to be very consistent in quality and extremely engaging. So when I was presented with the opportunity to buy this Naginata Concord for a good price, I snapped it up. This body is the Professional Gear with gold trim, which I guess means it has flat ends. This nib is referred to affectionately as the "Bird Beak" nib. Obviously, this is because, when viewed from the side, the Naginata Concord looks something like a bird's beak.
The point, however, of the "Bird Beak" nib, isn't immediately apparent. The idea of the thing is that you write fine with the bent-down tip, and then flip the whole thing over on its flat side to make a bold... almost paintbrush line. Furthermore, when using the flatside "top" of the nib, the thickness of the line can be changed by rocking the pen towards vertical.
There are already quite a few reviews of Sailor Professional Gear pens, and a handful of reviews of other Sailor Nagahara nibs. I plan to focus mainly on the nib, so here's a rundown of existing reviews and how they compare:
Sailor 1911 Realo, Naginata Cross Concord Emperor Nib by Kessel
The nib in Kessel's review is two steps up from mine, and the pen body is also quite a bit better. The "Emperor" refers to a bar added to the top of the nib to increase ink flow. The "Cross" is an additional, horizontalish slit on the nib. It's a "Realo" which means it's a piston fill, rather than a c/c like mine. I like what Kessel wrote here and most of this review sounds like it applies to my pen. I just hope to add my perspective on the lower level version of the Concord.
Sailor 1911 Realo by Jandrese
Featuring a Naginata Concord Emperor, this review appears to be the closest nib to mine. Emperor Realo make it decidedly different, however. Again, I agree with this review and feel that it applies to my pen. One difference, which may be partly speculative, seems to be that Jandrese's pen writes a little wet when using the 'fine mode', and that's definitely NOT true of mine.
Sailor Concord Cross by Zenpen
It's a bit of a stretch to compare this nib to my Concord, but I've included it because it may come up in searches. The two pens are similar in that they write very differently when held upside down.
Sailor 1911 L with a Cross Concord Emperor by Shinichiro
Unfortunately, the pictures for this review have vanished. I generally agree with what was said though; and I think it applies to this pen.
Now down to brass tacks:
- Fit & Finish: 10 / 10 Once again, as has been the case with other Sailor pens, I can't find a single thing wrong with the specimen. Anyone who knows me knows that I generally can find a flaw with almost anything, but, man, this pen is just some high quality manufacturing. Everything fits together right and there are no gaps or flaws. It has many nice touches, like the way that the barrel screws in to the nib section with such a solid and machined feel until, as it closes the final part of the gap, it slows against a rubber gasket leaving no room to wonder if it's closed. The plastic the pen is made out of seems heavier and more 'metal-like' than other, similarly priced pens.
- Style: 7 / 10 It's a bit gaudy. I'm not generally a fan of gold dipping, and this pen does have some obviously gold-dipped appointments. The band around the cap is especially jarring for me, as is the clip. I do like the flat topped style of the pen, and I generally appreciate the classic silhouette. At 129mm long, it's kind of stubby, though rather thick around the middle... a fact which, oddly, doesn't bother me.
- C/C Design / Filling: 5 / 10 I've run out of things to say about pens that use cartridge converters. At a certain price point, a feel a little cheated being handed a C/C, and this one really doesn't hold much. I've taken one point of my normal C/C score, however, because this pen really goes through the ink, and with a wittow C/C, you find yourself filling the thing often.
- Nib: 8 / 10 This is a difficult nib to review. It's a blast. It's really fun to have in your collection. It's a joy to play with. Very entertaining. But there are some drawbacks. One notable observation... though not necessarily a criticism, is the huge discrepancy between the width of line you get writing with it top versus bottom. It's really a large difference. You go from a Japanese fine to like a triple or quadruple broad. There's no real in-between. Some would say, well, you raise the pen more towards vertical on the upside-down side and you get a finer line. That's true, but... but, the QUALITY of the line is totally different. The upside down way of writing yields what can only be described as a paintbrush effect. The thing about upside-down-mode is that its difficult to control and hard to get an even flow. Writing an entire letter in the paintbrush mode is frustrating. The fine side, however, is an excellent Sailor fine. No flow problems at all. It can be a bit disconcerting to write with if you're used to seeing the point of the nib, but basically it's a great fine nib. It's not terribly entertaining and it doesn't have any flex or line variation, but it's good. I guess, in summary, I would say that while this pen is fun, I doubt it would ever be my primary daily carry (thought it signs receipts very well). The fact is, the nib isn't quite wet enough and doesn't have enough soul in the 'normal' right-side-up mode to be a true daily for me.
- Price: 7 / 10 I've started to hesitate every time I go to rate the price, because i never know whether to rate the pen at the price I paid, or at the retail price. This pen is currently 357 at nibs.com. At this price, I would give it a seven. I basically think the pen is worth the money, but at that price I'm not sure it would be my first choice. However, I'd give it a 10 / 10 if you can get it for $160 new like I did. Absolutely no hesitation.
Compared to a Pilot Limited Edition Custom Heritage 91 (read Custom 74 with flat ends) and my Omas Milord Cruise:
Full page of writing (and I'm not going to keep apologizing to the folks in the handwriting forums for this either). Right is right-side-up:
Look how awesome the paintbrush style writing is:
As a fine nib it's not bad either. No line variation but a bit of shading with this Iroshizuku Kiri-Same:
Here is some writing I did later after I got more used to the nib (excuse the photo -- it's a cellphone in a restaurant). As you can see, I'm doing better with the nib in paintbrush mode, and I'm finally starting to get some line variation by moving the pen ever so slightly towards vertical:
Conclusion: This nib is unique and interesting and unlike anything else. These unusual Sailor nibs are wonderful and belong in any collection. I think that, in balance, this pen would probably be easier to manage in the paintbrush mode if it had the Emperor feed. For this reason, I would say that if you're considering paying full price for a Concord, spring for the Emperor. For that matter, you might as well spring for the realo too and get some more ink capacity. This feller eats ink for breakfast.
However, if you get offered a deal on this pen, like I did, don't hesitate. It's more fun to play with than almost anything else, and it adheres to Sailor's very high quality.