This is my first ever review so bear with me.
For a pen that retails at $460 AUD, both Sailor pens looks great but the packaging is rather lacklustre. A Parker style plastic pen box in Blue with the Sailor Logo. The Sailor 1911 competes with the piston fillers Aurora 88 and the more expensive MB 146 (and perhaps the Pilot Custom 823).
In it's price range, there are many other offerings from many other competitors.
Fit and finish are top notch on the pen. And although the standard Sailor 1911 comes with a single tone nib, I requested the duo-tone in an extra-fine for cosmetics which adds just a touch of contrast to the pen. Included are a convertor, instructions and supposedly (I suspect my retailer pocketed these) a few cartridges.
The MB 146 comes in the standard high quality black cardboard box with the pen snuggly fitted into the felt cutout cushion. It costs almost exactly double the Sailor (market price about $540US but retails at $910 AUD). The platinum trim is slightly more expensive than the gold trim LeGrand. It scores higher than the Sailor for being a MontBlanc and having the 'M' factor!
Pelikan M600 (EF) included in photos as a standard size comparison.
If I told you the 0.90US = 1.00AUD - that gives you an idea of Australian prices!
Appearance 1911 (7.5); PG (8); MB 146 (8)
There is not much more to be said about the classic torpedo shape. Elegant, timeless. A few differences in ring placement on the cap and pen on the Sailor 1911 than the MB 146 and no white star is probably it. MB 146 is just a touch larger. See the photos below. *note: I have posted these photos elsewhere and was initially going to do a more comprehensive comparison review). Loses half a point for being too close an imitation. Unless you count the urushi, marbled or maki-e models which are beyond my budget.
Sailor are honest that it is also made out of PMMA (acrylic) resin polished to a high sheen. The fit and finish are up to what you would expect from an established Japanese manufacturer.
Flawless. Subjectively, perhaps slightly less glossy than the MB146 and it’s precious resin.
I have not read or heard of any significant reports on Sailor pens cracking or being easily damaged so if properly cared for, these pens are reasonably durable as far as acrylic goes.
Design/Size/Weight 1911 (8), PG (9), MB 146 (9)
Well you can’t fault a timeless design, other than the fact that others before it have used it before. Sailor’s 1911 has often been criticised for imitating the MB 146 perhaps a little ‘too’ closely and it’s true.
The 1911 is a very pleasantly light pen but perfectly balanced posted.
The MB 146 is slightly heavier due to the piston fill, larger ink capacity and the cap also appears to be slightly weighted, probably due to the inner screw. Although the MB146 feels wonderful unposted, it also balances nicely in the hand posted albeit with a subtle top-biased heft. I prefer the feel of the MB 146. It doesn’t post quite as securely as the Sailor 1911 and the end of the cap of the MB 146 just seems a bit thinner and I’m not game enough to push the cap hard when posting.
The Professional Gear is a significantly smaller pen with the cap off and really was designed to be used posted and is otherwise perfectly balanced and a pleasure to use. It is a more squared off pen and a lovely size for the shirt pocket. I am waiting on a new Aurora Optima Auroloide Burgundy (F) to arrive and may do a comparison when it does.
Specifications and comparisons are available from www.nibs.com and other reviews so I won’t rehash them here.
Nib 1911 (8.5), PG (9), MB 146 (9)
21k duo-tone. Gorgeous to look at. Finished perfectly on the Sailor nibs. Pretty engraving.
And a true extra-fine writing 0.30mm width or less. This nib really needs good paper (e.g. Clarefontaine) to shine or otherwise the feedback will feel ‘toothy’. You can also write upside down to achieve a true hairline 0.10mm (or thereabouts).
The nib is less curvaceous on the sides and just seems more swordlike/Japanese. I have the Sailor 1911 in an EF and the PG in a F and the fine Sailor nib is just as pleasurable to use than the MB 146.
Gold content aside, the 21k Sailor is a fantastic nib. Not quite as hard as a nail and Sailor nibs have always been considered amongst the BEST ever made. If you want a true fine or extra-fine nib, Sailor pens should definitely be one you should try. I would not advise pressing hard enough on an EF this fine to really try for line variation but there ‘is’ a bit of spring to the nib is you really want to. The Sailor EF is slightly more scratchy and obviously has a smaller sweet spot than the ‘F’ due to it’s width.
Interchangeable with the ProGear (full size) given it’s c/c design. The fine 21k Sailor nib is definitely one of the best I have used. Silky smooth, a bit of spring and wonderful feedback on standard work paper. It actually doesn’t write that ‘wet’ – I don’t know if that’s because it’s a fine and a few of the other reviews on FPN are of wider nibs.
I have the MB 146 with an EF 18k nib. Why 18k (cf 14k on the MB website) I don’t know given it was purchased new from the FPH (they had to order it in so I know it’s current 2010 stock). I can’t compare it to the modern 14k nib but it writes smooth, wet with just a touch of feedback and significantly wider than my Sailor equivalents. Probably just a bit finer or on par with a Lamy EF or Pilot ‘fine’. Perfect, out of the box. Unlike the Sailor, you cannot write upside down with the MB nib. It’s horribly scratchy if you do. I am somewhat disappointed the underneath of the MB nib isn’t polished!!!
Filling System 1911/PG (7); MB 146 (8.5)
The Sailors I have are cartridge or convertor only. However, the convertor is a pleasure to use in that it’s smooth and easily operated. I manage to use it with a Visconti Travelling Inkpot without difficulty.
And the convertor is easily taken apart and not expensive to replace or clean.
No way to check the filling capacity without unscrewing the nib section.
But it’s not a piston filler and the capacity suffers somewhat from it. Roughly 0.9mL.
As an aside, both the 1911 and PG now come in piston fillers, the ‘Realo’. I was also disappointed the Realo piston ink cylinder diameter seems significantly less than the diameter of the pen which is why its capacity is less compared to its competitors but that’s a different story. I suspect it has to do with mass production using existing equipment.
The MB 146 is a piston filler and slightly tight compared to the Pelikan piston (for which I would score a 9). But holds substantially more ink (I think 1.6mL but check nibs.com or other reviews). Easy to use. I have heard of some problems such as leaking piston caps, broken piston screws etc… but that may be due to publication bias and vintage pens that perhaps have not been used, stored or otherwise treated properly.
Cost and Value – subjective -
Australian retail is VERY poor value for money. John Mottishaw and many other online retailers sell Sailor at significantly less. Value compared to a piston-filler MB 146 - very good if you can forego the capacity and filling system.
But at ‘true’ US market price of $200 to $248US, the Sailor models competes very well with the Aurora 88 and the MB 146. Both Sailors are simply one of the best, classic elegant resin pens you can buy on the market with a quality nib and writing experience.
That said, it’s no celluloid pen or precious metal pen and is significantly more expensive than a Lamy 2000, Pelikan 200/400 or others that may also write very well.
It depends what you compare it against.
MontBlanc may only have a 2 year warranty but have a ‘fixed’ service price. Meaning 20 years down the track, trash and break your pen and they will fix it at the going service price (who knows if the policy will change in 20 years though, other than upwards in price) and they will restore your pen to ‘as new’ using current parts at the time. So perhaps you pay for that, the marketing and the brand. Worth having at least one in your collection though. They ARE good pens.
The Sailor 1911 is a lot like the MB146 and other than ease of production, I don’t understand ‘why’ they didn’t release this as a proper piston pen in the first place. But I have the c/c version and that means it’s often in a pen wrap, flushed and stored rather than my MB 146 which is in my current rotation.
But faults aside, both Sailors are an elegant, durable and classic shaped pen with a ‘legendary’ nib according to one reputable nibmeister. And the Sailor fine and extra-fine nibs are truly unique and amazingly smooth with a nice feedback on the right paper and a hint of spring given how fine they really write. The Japanese make as good are fountain pen as the Germans and Italians.
And the MB? Well – people form their own opinion. I wish the MB star wasn’t quite so prominent or well recognized as many have formed an opinion of MB without ever having owned one and not all of it positive. But I love mine. It’s expensive (the Aurora Optima comes close though) and I’m not sure I will ever buy another. But it is at the moment my favourite writer, a timeless classic with a wonderful piston filler and nib.
*addendum: Photos were taken with a Nikon D90, outdoors on a glass table with natural lighting and with a 35mm f/1.8 lens. I have posted the photos prematurely elsewhere in other posts until I got around to writing this review. Pens inked with J'Herbin Perle Noir*
Edited by tanalasta, 23 March 2010 - 14:31.