Appearance & Design (9): This is a basic black pen with a conservative, simple design. The blue ink window gives this pen a little colorful flair. The first models of the 342 have an outline star on the cap instead of the white star logo. The outline was one of the reasons I chose this model. Being an economy model MB, the nib is understated with basic informative imprints: Montblanc 14C 585. The piston knob holds both the model number and the nib size: 3-42.G and KF.
Construction and Quality (9): There is nothing flimsy about this pen. It's acrylic with a clean blue ink window.
Weight and Dimensions (9): This pen is for those of us who like/need small, lightweight pens. The pen is similar in size to a 1950's Pelikan 400. The pen weighs 14 grams capped and un-inked. After inking the pen weighs 16 grams. Capped, the pen is 4 7/8" long. Unposted the pen is 4 ¼" nib to barrel end. If you must post it, the pen is 5 5/8" long.
Nib and Performance (9): The flexible nib is quite manageable for someone like me who is still unsure of flex. What I didn't know until I saw the nib was that it was a KF, Kugel Fine or ball-point nib. It's meant to write smoothly at various angles. I suppose it does… all I know it is a smooth, nice writer. Good, consistent ink-flow. However, when I first inked the pen no ink flowed at all. Then I remembered what eric47 suggests about vintage ebonite feeds needing some time to saturate. Knowing the pen had sat ununused for a very long time, I soaked the nib a bit, inked it up and laid it on its side overnight. It's been writing without any issue ever since. [Update: Gary suggests that dipping this pen in ink would have been enough to saturate the feed and that perhaps there was an air pocket that needed to work its way out. While there is no definitive answer, the good news is it has been performing perfectly since the initial balking.]
Filling System and Maintenance (9): Piston-filling pen. Very easy to fill. Good ink capacity in a small pen. Similar to the 1950's Pelikan 400.
Cost and Value (9): I spent $150 for the pen from a trusted pen seller with a year's warranty. That was a reasonable price to me. Depending on where you look, you can find these pens for less or for much more. You takes your chances, folks.
Conclusion (9): The 342g is a great little vintage pen. It will serve its intended purpose: as a daily writer and for those times a discreet, basic black pen is desired when out in the world. Highly recommended!
Inked with Montblanc Bordeaux:
Edited by jde, 29 August 2010 - 22:22.