This was the first pen I managed to convince my parents to get after a debacle where I managed to lose 3 Parker Sonnets (2 RBs and a FP), 2 IM rollerballs and a whole load of other stationery when I foolishly misplaced my pen case.
Note: When there are 2 ratings, the top is for my satisfaction, while the lower is for how much it could do, for that particular category. For example, I might be extremely satisfied with a stiff nib (5/5) but the lower rating would be (1/5) since it couldn’t flex at all. The ratings are not included in the final score.
Box and Instructions (4/10)
The fact that this came in a box at all was a surprise. It’s a standard cardboard/leatherette box which, frankly, smelled rather like glue. It felt cheap, but for the price of the pen I didn’t expect much else. Instructions weren’t included at all with the pen.
The pen was rather small and built from metal, which gave it a decent weight for its size. The surface coating was a matte black, and was applied very well. I have used/abused it for just over a year, and none of the coating had scratched/worn off, even though I’ve dropped and dented the metal barrel at least twice.
The chrome silver plating gave a modern and stylish look, albeit a rather conventional design. The plating tarnished easily, and a week after I had bought it I realised that a patina was developing. Since I used it everywhere, even in the school lab, I may or may not have exposed the pen to more than it should have. However, a week of normal usage definitely was not expected to make this effect, and I was somewhat confused at why this was happening. It did go away eventually, after a month of usage.
The chrome section was shiny, and picked up fingerprints easily. The cap created a rather drastic step up from the barrel when closed, which I felt was not the best of design choices. The chrome “jewels” were quite pleasant, but suffered from how easily it tarnished.
Initial Feel (6/10)
The pen had a solid feel and a hefty weight that alluded to a higher quality pen than what the price for it was. The liberal use of metals made the small pen surprisingly heavy, but still compact and fit well in the hand. The chromed section is often debated, with some saying that it detracts from the ergonomics, but I had no real issue with using it.
The cap, although snapping off and on with an authoritative sound, still had room to move when closed. This was frankly annoying, and subtracted from the overall experience.
The pen came with a proprietary Sheaffer converter, which was poorly built. The plastic piston handle rattled and was extremely stiff. There was no support for the converter, and it had to stick haphazardly onto a small metal nub, which caused me great concern.
The steel nib was remarkably smooth and evidently well-polished. The medium nib is pretty standard by European terms, but felt a little finer due to the stiff nature. A large sweet spot was present, due to the well-polished tipping of the tip which I did not expect from a cheaper pen. There is still some feedback on the nib, which is not entirely unexpected.
This nib is actually very impressive, and writes smoother than a lot of more expensive nibs I own.
Being a steel nib, there is no flex at all. Not surprising and I was certainly not expecting any from a pen from this price range.
The pen is moderately dry, which was of no issue since the nib did not demand too much ink. So far, it’s a reliable flow which has rarely skipped. Hard starting is not a big issue, and only present if it’s been left alone for over a week. And even then, I only need to retrace one or two letters in order to get the flow going again.
General reliability (15/20)
The pen itself is quite reliable, and doesn’t skip. It is a hard starter after sitting a few days idle, but the issue is not exactly unheard of. I have used the pen extensively two years ago, since this was the first “serious” fountain pen I got after a year or so hiatus. The performance is nothing extraordinary, but works most of the time.
The converter, on the other hand, is a pain to fill. The piston is extremely stiff, and feels like it could fall apart at any point. After first using one in my Sheaffer Targa, I decided to find another squeeze converter, which my dad luckily found amongst a stash of used ballpoint refills in a flea market. There is an obvious improvement and now the pen is much easier to maintain.
Construction and Ergonomics
Components of the pen are built solidly out of metal (I’m assuming brass) and fit together firmly, except the cap, which moves a lot when closed, and the converter securing system (or the lack of one). This makes opening the barrel a risky task, since the converter may decide to fall off the shallow nipple at any time.
The clip is a rather simple but stylish design, with a cutout running down the middle of the piece. It is extremely stiff and very hard to get on a pocket, but definitely won’t fall off easily. The fact that it needs two determined hands to operate gives the pen a low score in this section.
The pen is still fairly useable when posted, mostly due to its compact size. The balance does not shift too dramatically, since the cap posts quite deep and the fact that the pen is a small size keeps most of the weight within my hand anyways.
Miscellaneous (Extra thoughts)
Value for money (9/10)
I paid approximately $25 for this pen, and have been very satisfied by it, mainly by how it compares to the Lamy Safari, which I am less impressed by. For this price, I didn’t expect much, but the product delivered a very smooth nib with a reliable system that does not fail when maintained properly.
The design is not innovative in any sense, since it’s a proprietary C/C system in a brass pen with a classic design. It’s not a pen people would gravitate towards, but rather one that you can use without feeling pretentious and uptight. There is nothing new or special about this pen.
Image and Advertising (1/5)
As a lower end pen, this isn’t well advertised either on the internet or out in the streets. The Sheaffer Ferrari 100 pens are much more prominent amongst the marketing of the company.
Buying experience (3/5)
I bought this pen at a Sheaffer kiosk. There isn’t much to expect while buying a cheaper product, but the saleswoman included 4 free cartridges in addition to the free converter and the pack of Sheaffer Skrip black cartridges that I bought alongside it. For a $25 pen, this was a nice and unexpected touch.
To conclude, I think that this pen is a steal for how much it sells for in my country (a bit cheaper than overseas, it seems). This is a classy yet affordable pen, at least when compared to the Safari. A friend of mine remarked how he thought a pen like the 100 would be many times more expensive than the Safari, considering the liberal use of metals which seems to create an impression of quality.
The pen, for me, is nowhere near perfect. It has many flaws, which do add up, but is still a better, if not then at least comparable, product in the Safari price range. The Sheaffer 100 can be seen as a step-up from the Metropolitan/Pelikano-type starter pens. All in all, it’s a rather good value for what it cost, but don’t expect much from it except for a steady performance.