This review of the Blackstone Maxim II is long overdue – I’ve had this pen in my possession now for nearly 5 months, and have been meaning to ‘write it up’ for that past few…
When the JustWrite Pen Co first started developing pen designs a few years ago, Kevin (the proprietor) was kind enough to send me some prototypes to trial, in return for honest feedback. Those original pens (which were eventually released under the name ‘Maxim’) didn’t quite fit the bill for me: I found the chrome grip sections too narrow to be comfortable for me, a little too slick. Much as I liked the look of the pen, I decided not to purchase any.
That all changes, though, when the Maxim II ‘Heavy Metal’ pen was released, in an antique brass finish. With a larger (#6) nib and a slightly larger diameter grip section, I decided to pull the trigger. And thus far, I’ve been very happy with this pen.
In the interests of full disclosure, JustWrite have provided me with free ink and pen samples in the past – usually prototypes for testing and feedback. However, this pen I purchased at full price with my own money. All opinions expressed are my own – this is my attempt to provide a (personal but) impartial review.
1. Appearance & Design
As with JustWrite’s other pens, the Maxim II is built around a fountain pen ‘kit’ – in this case, the brand of the manufacturer (Dayacom) is imprinted on the nib, and also on the underside of the clip. The ‘rustic’ / artificially aged look of the pen comes from the pen kit materials, which have been ‘married’ to a brass cap and body, machined from a solid brass bar according to the JustWrite website.
I was very impressed with the overall look and feel of the pen. There was already a patina coating the entire pen body when I received it, with some kind of ‘blackening’ of the grooves in the threaded parts of the pen. The brass body and cap look like they’ve been treated to match the colouring of the clip, finial and other ‘kit’ parts. You can tell they’re not made from the same material, but they’re a pretty close match.
2. Construction & Quality
The Maxim II Heavy Metal Pen is an absolute beast – solidly constructed, with good fit and finish. It feels very substantial in the hand, and is made from quality parts.
2. Weight & Dimensions
I said a moment ago that this pen is a ‘beast’ – and it’s a weighty one at that! Capped, the Maxim II weighs in at nearly 66g; the uncapped weight is 35.9g. For that reason, although the cap can be threaded securely onto the rear of the pen, I’d advise against it – it becomes far too heavy for comfortable writing, and significantly back-weighted. Lovers of light-weight acrylic pens won’t be thrilled by the heftiness of the Maxim II – but I quite like heavier pens, so this is not an issue for me.
The capped length of the Maxim II is 137mm; uncapped it’s an ample 131mm, while posted it’s an unwieldy 170mm.
The pen is relatively slender for its size and weight – the cap diameter is 14mm and the barrel 12mm, while the grip section is only around 8.5mm (closer to 10mm at the threads). For me, that’s a bit on the thin side – but I still find it very comfortable to hold.
4. Nib & Performance
I’ve accumulated a stash of replacement #6 nibs in recent years, so I decided to go for the cheapest option – a stainless steel OEM nib. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) it arrived with a two-tone nib – but aesthetically, that seemed like a good fit so I decided to stick with it rather than ask for a replacement.
As it turns out, the decision to go cheap was a good move for two reasons. In the first place, the two-tone Dayacom nib was a beautifully, buttery smooth writer that just glided across the page, laying a generous amount of ink.
It’s worth noting that the Maxim II grip section is designed to be compatible with the kind of screw-in #6 JoWo units that can be obtained from places like fpnibs.com, meisternibs.com, and Edison Pens. I like to ‘mix and match’ when I can, so I’ve enjoyed swapping different nibs in and out.
5. Filling System & Maintenance
The Maxim II will take standard international cartridges, but comes with a standard international converter. My larger Schmidt converters are too large (in terms of diameter) to fit inside the barrel, but the converter provided is of reasonable quality, and works just fine. I’m not overly fussed about filling systems – I like the larger reservoir provided by piston fillers (like my TWSBIs), but tend to get impatient before the ink runs out, so… the smaller ink capacity of a cartridge converter is fine by me!
5. Cost & Value
The Maxim II with standard OEM nib sells for AU$99 (incl. GST) – which translated to around US$66 ex tax on current exchange rates. It’s not cheap, but compared to the Karas Kustoms INK ($100 for the aluminium model, $155 for brass) it’s very competitive. I know that’s not comparing apples with apples (the Karas Kustoms pens are machined completely in-house), but it’s the best point of comparison I can think of.
Of the Blackstone models I’ve tried just far (I’ve also trialled the Maxim and the Axiom), I have to say this is their most appealing design to date. It’s a hefty metal pen, no doubt about it, but sits comfortably in the hand, writes well, and looks and feels great. For people who like a more ‘antique’ look to their pens – and/or who like a weightier pen – the Maxim II is definitely worth a look.