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Penbbs 380 - Spiral Facets Metal Pen

chinese pens aluminum pens facets

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57 replies to this topic

#1 EDC

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 07:32

 

I like the PenBBS 350 aluminum pen, especially since I swapped a #6 M nib for the standard PenBBS one. It's a great writer and very comfortable in the hand.

 

I can safely say, however, I like the PenBBS 380 even more. And it comes with a sweet M nib. No nib swapping required.

 

Where for me the PenBBS 350 is like a full-sized pocket pen, the PenBBS 380 comes off as nothing less than a luxury writing instrument.  It has the size, heft and design I associate with expensive Italian pens I don't own and probably never will.

 

Spiral Facets? Nice!

 

 

The ten facets both spiral and taper toward the end. The clip is planted squarely at the peak of two at the top but rests in the middle of one facet at it's base. When closed, the cap and body line up just as they should.

Hats off to PenBBS for designing and executing a heck of a pen.

 

 

Capped, the pen is 146mm, so just a hair shorter than the PenBBS 355 Bulkfiller. Uncapped, it's 128mm, again just a little smaller than the PenBBS 355. At 14.5mm at its widest point, it's bigger around than the 355.

 

The PenBBS 380 uses the same quality converter as the PenBBS 350 (and 309). It works very well.

To the touch the matte aluminum finish is the right combination of tactile and smooth and the bead blasted finish of the clip (which I assume is also aluminum) magically transforms it it from coffinesque to sword-like. The clip fits the design of the pen. The section, body and cap all share the same finish.

The cap comes off in just under 3 turns, which is more than some may like. The threads are relatively fine, and like the PenBBS 350 there is a plastic insert in the cap to eliminate any metal-on-metal scratchiness. So far, I haven't had any issues with the thread insert in my 350 so hopefully there will be none here either.

 

 

There is a ledge in the cap to seal the nib which may be machined or could be a plastic insert, I can't tell. The finial and clip are held in place in the cap by a very sturdy looking Philips-head screw that I don't plan to mess with.

The cap and body fit flush so there is a significant step down from the body to the section. The edges are soft enough to not feel sharp when writing. The cap does post relatively deeply and securely enough, but it makes the pen larger than I like so I'm not tempted to write with it that way.

 

 

The 380 has been released in black and silver finishes with either with either a standard (bent) PenBBS F nib or a rounded M nib.The F nib models come with a two-tone nib and a gold colored clip. The M nibs are silver, as is the clip. My guess is that the F-nib models (with gold clips) target the local China market while the M nib versions are geared more for Western consumers.

The pen also comes with a rollerball nib which adds versatility. I keep a rollerball on one end of my PenBBS 469 but that's as many as I need for now.

 

In the Hand

 

The PenBBS 380 is a great writer. It's just the right size and weight. The slightly larger barrel behind the section makes the pen feel substantial while the taper at the end gives it an agile feeling I really enjoy.

 

 

This is my second pen with a PenBBS "round" M nib. My first was the PenBBS 355. If anything, it's smoother and wetter than the 355, but that may be the Monteverde Horizon Blue ink I chose. (Shoutout to OCArt for planting the seed for this ink in this thread on favorite new inks of 2018!)

 

At just under US$30 plus shipping on Taobao, the PenBBS 380 is one of the more expensive PenBBS pens I've bought. But it feels like more. As soon as I picked it up I was struck by the feeling that with a different pedigree, it could be a very expensive pen. Its both simple and stylish, modern and in line with the great pen traditions.

 

More photos and comments here.



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#2 OCArt

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 08:19

I remember a couple of years ago when folks were asking "when will the Chinese do something original in pens," and "if only they could get the quality control up I'd gladly pay a bit more."  Well it looks to me like PenBBS has done both.  I am very happy with my 355 "bulk filler" and the 456 vacuum filler along with a handful of other PenBBS models I've purchased.  Kudos to PenBBS.

 

Edited to add:  Thanks for the review. A very interesting looking pen.  Any idea of what it will sell for?


Edited by OCArt, 27 January 2019 - 08:20.

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#3 JonSzanto

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 08:22

Edited to add:  Thanks for the review. A very interesting looking pen.  Any idea of what it will sell for?

 

After reading the review I checked to see if there were any offered up on eBay (instead of Taobao). Two listings, the lower one was priced at $50.00.


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#4 visvamitra

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 08:44

I like it!



#5 Driften

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 08:48

Looks like a nice pen and thanks for the review. I don't see it as a pen I'm going to buy, I've gone off pens with metal sections these days.



#6 mana

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 09:20

Wow, that looks... interesting and cool. :)



#7 penzel_washinkton

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 15:15

Finally, a review on this pen and it seems that it is quite a nice pen.

One thing I would have loved to see is the size comparison pictures.

 

 

The PenBBS 380 uses the same quality converter as the PenBBS 350 (and 309). It works very well.

 

Also just trying to correct something, the 309 is a piston filler no?

Probably you meant the 308



#8 EDC

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 15:26

Finally, a review on this pen and it seems that it is quite a nice pen.

One thing I would have loved to see is the size comparison pictures.

 

 

Also just trying to correct something, the 309 is a piston filler no?

Probably you meant the 308

 

Yes. That's correct! The 308 not the 309 piston filler. 

 

It also dawned on me that some may take my list as exhaustive - which it isn't. It's just those I have.

 

More pictures? Always a good idea. :)



#9 penzel_washinkton

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 15:38

 

Yes. That's correct! The 308 not the 309 piston filler. 

 

It also dawned on me that some may take my list as exhaustive - which it isn't. It's just those I have.

 

More pictures? Always a good idea. :)

 

 

Just wondering about the size to.. let's say a standard PenBBS 456 or 308.

It seems quite big in Beini's hands on her IG page so I'm curious.



#10 EDC

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 02:39

 

 

Just wondering about the size to.. let's say a standard PenBBS 456 or 308.

It seems quite big in Beini's hands on her IG page so I'm curious.

 

Here it is relative to other PenBBS pens.

 

L-R: 469, 308, 350, 456, 355 and 380

 

Uwiko9Vh.jpg-R



#11 Honeybadgers

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 04:42

I got the silver aluminum one and really, REALLY like it.

 

unlike the 355 it actually holds any nib. I bought a custom FPnibs JoWo PO XXF nib for the 355 and got it along with the 380 today - even though the PO is bent down, it's still too long for the 355 (almost nothing fits that damn pen's cap) but it fits the 380 brilliantly. The fit/finish are perfect and the facets line up perfectly. all the edges are cleanly broken and it just feels really, really nice in the hand. It can post decently, and is plenty long unposted too. the plastic cap threads make capping/uncapping smooth

 

The only thing I can see someone disliking about it are the step to the barrel (it's steep but the section is quite long) and the cap takes 2.5 turns to undo. But apart from that, I LOVE this thing. It might be the best PenBBS model yet. Simple and clean, perfectly made, perfectly balanced. Their new line of nibs are kind of disappointing though. 


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#12 JonSzanto

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 04:50

The only thing I can see someone disliking about it are the step to the barrel

 

Or the slippery grip. Can't forget that. I have an Ensso Piuma in matte black aluminum that I thought might have that problem, except that the section carries the matte finish, which really has a good tactile grip to it. Problem solved. I *do* like the look of this pen, though.


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#13 JollyCynic

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 06:40

... (almost nothing fits that damn pen's cap) ...

 

Some people have been successful in removing the finial and shortening the threads a few millimetres.  It's a step that shouldn't be necessary, and in fact some stock nibs seem to kiss the end of the cap, but a pretty harmless tinker for the Galaxy 355.  It might mess up the clear one's aesthetics.



#14 penzel_washinkton

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 13:54

 

Here it is relative to other PenBBS pens.

 

L-R: 469, 308, 350, 456, 355 and 380

 

-R

 

Thank! So it is quite comparable in size to a 355 and 456.

That step down looks quite bothering to me though and 2.5 turns to uncap? Ouch.. Reminds me of the Wing Sung 3008



#15 Honeybadgers

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 23:31

 

Or the slippery grip. Can't forget that. I have an Ensso Piuma in matte black aluminum that I thought might have that problem, except that the section carries the matte finish, which really has a good tactile grip to it. Problem solved. I *do* like the look of this pen, though.

I wouldn't call the grip slippery at all... it isn't polished? It's got a blasted and powdercoated section.

 

I'm really sensitive to slippery grips with slightly oily fingers and this isn't even slightly slippery.

 

If the 380's grip is "slippery" the only alternative with more is a knurled pattern like a rotring 600.


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#16 JonSzanto

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 23:59

I wouldn't call the grip slippery at all... it isn't polished? It's got a blasted and powdercoated section.

 

I'm really sensitive to slippery grips with slightly oily fingers and this isn't even slightly slippery.

 

If the 380's grip is "slippery" the only alternative with more is a knurled pattern like a rotring 600.

 

Somewhere I had gotten the impression it was smooth metal but if it is similar in the blasted/matte effect on my Ensso, then it's a non-issue. I've also got fingers that don't play well with a cold, shiny metal section so I try to sus this out if I can't physically check out a pen in advance.


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#17 Honeybadgers

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Posted 30 January 2019 - 02:24

 

Somewhere I had gotten the impression it was smooth metal but if it is similar in the blasted/matte effect on my Ensso, then it's a non-issue. I've also got fingers that don't play well with a cold, shiny metal section so I try to sus this out if I can't physically check out a pen in advance.

 

Totally not smooth whatsoever. a very textured, grippy finish. I NEVER buy pens with polished metal sections for this very reason. 

 

The only issue I've seen is endemic to all blasted aluminum - it holds onto ink like a (bleep) when you ink it, so you have to wet a towel and wipe it down (or just get the black model) to get the ink all the way off the section.

 

Again, I'm just completely besotted with it, but that's largely in part due to the $50 custom PO nib I have on it. the nib just finishes off the pen perfectly. I'm not a huge fan of penbbs's new nibs. the mediums are okay, but I have four of the new fines and don't like any of them (very dry, borderline skippy, and a kind of slippery, unpleasant sort of feedback) and I actually prefer the old mediums to the new design. I'd recommend the pen to anyone, as long as they either want a medium nib or are okay switching in something - I wouldn't feel at all weird putting a 14k or titanium nib in it, it really is that premium feeling in every way. If it had a karas kustom imprint and one of their nibs in it, you'd have me dead fooled. 


Edited by Honeybadgers, 30 January 2019 - 02:26.

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#18 Lloyd

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Posted 30 January 2019 - 02:39

How do you like the XXF PO nib?


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#19 Honeybadgers

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Posted 30 January 2019 - 05:47

freaking sublime. Smooth with just the right amount of drag, about between a japanese EF or UEF.

 

It also just looks awesome. Love Pablo's work so much, the dude is worth every penny.


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#20 JonSzanto

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Posted 30 January 2019 - 06:23

Totally not smooth whatsoever. a very textured, grippy finish.

 

Ah, ok. Enough well-made metal pens that I'll skip this one for now. I've been very careful about what Chinese pens I decided to try, even though the prices are so low that the fiscal is not the limiting factor. I just have been picky up-front. Saying that, I've really noticed the uptick in quality in the last year or two, specifically Moonman and these PenBBS pens. M2, M100 and the PBBS 355 have really been positive experiences and stand on their own with any mid-level pen being made today. I just wish like hell they'd be more creative than plageristic, but that is a separate issue. They are definitely getting the core stuff down.

Hehe... I think maybe one of our local pen guys bought one of these. I'll play with his!


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