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Sailor 1911 v ProGear v MontBlanc 146


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11 replies to this topic

#1 tanalasta

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 14:02

First Impressions Sailor 1911 (7); PG (7) ; MB (8.5)
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!

DSC_1140_01.JPG

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.

PenGroup.jpg

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!!!

PenGroup2.jpg

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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.

Conclusion
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.

In Rotation: MB 146 (EF), Noodler's Ahab bumblebee, Edison Pearl (F), Sailor ProGear (N-MF)
In storage: MB 149 (18k EF), TWSBI 540 (B), ST Dupont Olympio XL (EF), MB Dumas (B stub), Waterman Preface (ST), Edison Pearl (0.5mm CI), Noodler's Ahab clear, Pilot VP (M), Danitrio Densho (F), Aurora Optima (F), Lamy 2000 (F), Visconti Homo Sapiens (stub)

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#2 cerberusdog

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 14:38

Very nice and complete review. I really appreciate all of the photos with other pens, it helps me keep features in perspective.
Thanks for the great job.
Rick

#3 Dr Lopez

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 15:19

Excellent comparative review. I have all the pens (with different nibs) reviewed and use them in my rotation regularly. These are among the nicest daily workhorses available. Not so fancy maybe as Montegrappas or Viscontis, but they write out of the box like a dream in any nib version you get. Just a comment on the 14 vs 18 K issue. I think the response to your question is that 18KT are made for some markets (like France I think) where 18K is the minimum gold content allowed by law to be sold as gold.

Edited by Dr Lopez, 23 March 2010 - 15:20.

In my current rotation:
Pelikan 400 Brown Tortoise/14K Fine/J. Herbin Cafe des Iles
Lamy 2000/14K Medium/Lamy Blue-Black
Sailor 1911 Large burgundy/21K Naginata Togi Medium/Diamine Oxblood
Montblanc 146/14K Fine/Montblanc Racing Green
Rosetta blue/Steel Pendelton cursive italic/Pelikan Royal Blue
Delta Passion/18K Broad/Diamine Syrah

#4 Ed Ronax

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 20:40

Nice review/comparison, thanks.
And how can this be, because he is the Kwisatz Haderach.


#5 Breck

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 21:17

Terrific review and comparison. I have an MB 146 <EF> on the way to me now, and this just made the wait that much tougher! The Sailor nibs look gorgeous, and I'll definitely have to try one someday soon.

Slightly OT: The Realo seems like a great idea, but scores less than 100% in execution if what you say about the narrow piston within is true. Another reason for that design decision could be to insulate the ink chamber from hand heat, which would make it a good, practical decision from the user's standpoint, not just the manufacturer's. I'm curious, what do you think about the Realo's ink window? For me, I'm glad that they included one, but the trim rings detract from the overall look of the pen, though I do see a continuity with the section trim rings of the other Sailor models. I also wish that the window was covered by the cap, reasonable people can certainly differ on that point.

Again, great review and very useful comparison - thanks!

#6 jandrese

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 22:27

Nice review, thanks. Prices down under are intimidating.

#7 geoduc

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 06:19

Slightly OT: The Realo seems like a great idea, but scores less than 100% in execution if what you say about the narrow piston within is true. Another reason for that design decision could be to insulate the ink chamber from hand heat, which would make it a good, practical decision from the user's standpoint, not just the manufacturer's. I'm curious, what do you think about the Realo's ink window? For me, I'm glad that they included one, but the trim rings detract from the overall look of the pen, though I do see a continuity with the section trim rings of the other Sailor models. I also wish that the window was covered by the cap, reasonable people can certainly differ on that point.


I recently purchased a Realo, and I've found that the ink window bothers me a lot less than I thought it might. I've been keeping mine loaded with blue-black; once filled, the window tends to blend in with the rest of the barrel. It's also nice to just pick up the pen and check the ink color and fill level without having to take the cap off.

#8 dafei187

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 14:34

What beautiful pictures!
Thanks a lot

#9 GavH

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 14:42

Lovely pictures although I can't help but feel your review is somewhat biased towards the MB from the outset. It does nonetheless serve as an excellent comparison of these pens and for me personally, an interesting review. Many thanks.
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Current lineup in play:
PELIKAN 400NN (OB) & (F) M600 (M), AURORA 88 (M), CROSS ATX (M) TOWNSEND (M), OSMIROID 75 (M), TWSBI 530 (F),

#10 tanalasta

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 12:07

Lovely pictures although I can't help but feel your review is somewhat biased towards the MB from the outset. It does nonetheless serve as an excellent comparison of these pens and for me personally, an interesting review. Many thanks.


Many thanks. The bias is slightly towards the MontBlanc as if not for the value for money factor, it is the better writer. My modern MontBlanc nibs are lovely, smooth writers with really beautifully controlled flow that never skip and yet provide enough feedback to be an absolutely delight to write with. The ergonomics and weight of a filled MB 146 arealso better balanced than the Sailor 1911 which is slightly lighter. The standard Sailor nibs are also very, very nice... it's just that the MB is better! This is perhaps with a year's more experience with these pens and all are inked except the EF 1911 which has gone to mikeitwork to increase flow and adjust to make sure tines are aligned.

I should however update this with a brief addendum: I have just recently purchased a Professional Gear (naginata-togi medium fine) new from Engeika for <$250US (a well known eBay Japanese store ... no affiliation although I buy inks off him every so often) and it is sublime. The naginata-nibs are totally different to how my stock sailor nibs write. The naginata-MF writes closer to a Western sized nib, almost like a medium. It is a smooth, wet writer. The elongated togi nib tipping is not unlike MontBlanc and out of the box, it is one of by best writers... and I have several. I would rank my Professional Gear NMF nib up there with my MB's. A proper review will come... when I get around to doing it! I have developed a preference for nibs with moderate flow and the standard H-F Progear is a tad dry.

I asked Mike Mayusama (mikeitwork.com) if he had any spare rhodium trimmed units to swap with my 1911 and he said the only NMF he had in that colour was his own, and there is no way he was going to let it go! :roflmho:

Edited by tanalasta, 13 February 2011 - 15:06.

In Rotation: MB 146 (EF), Noodler's Ahab bumblebee, Edison Pearl (F), Sailor ProGear (N-MF)
In storage: MB 149 (18k EF), TWSBI 540 (B), ST Dupont Olympio XL (EF), MB Dumas (B stub), Waterman Preface (ST), Edison Pearl (0.5mm CI), Noodler's Ahab clear, Pilot VP (M), Danitrio Densho (F), Aurora Optima (F), Lamy 2000 (F), Visconti Homo Sapiens (stub)

#11 Skeet

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 02:55

Nice collection. I wonder how the 1911 would hold up against the Senator President?
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#12 mdbrown

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 03:09

Nice collection. I wonder how the 1911 would hold up against the Senator President?


You would have to compare it to a President with the 18k nib. I have a 14k 1911 and a steel nibbed President. I love the way the President writes but it's no match for the 1911






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