While I do not write too many reviews, posting this here, since I thought this is an interesting pen and there are very few reviews online, unlike the more common Jinhao models like the x450/750/159/992 etc.
- This is one of the variants of the Jinhao 650. As far as I can tell, there is another in a red wood variant.
- This pen cost me the equivalent of $15. Not the cheapest Jinhao or indeed, Chinese pen out there, but still lower than most offerings of ‘upper end’ Chinese brands like penBBS, Moonman, Kaigelu, Lorelei etc., so firmly ‘mid range’ as Chinese offerings go. The pen in this review, therefore, will be judged according to the standards expected of this price range.
- The entire pen appears to be constructed of brass. The cap has a black laquer paint with gold-color plated clip and ring; the barrel is the same black laquer paint with the signature feature of this pen – the mother of pearl and abalone strips cut in small rectangular stripes(longer side arranged along the length of the pen) and arranged neatly in rows – 3 down and 6 around – 18 in total. The section appears to be plastic coating on a brass base.
- As regards the hardware – the clip is a sword and shield design, with the shield carrying the jinhao logo of a horse drawn chariot. The shield part of the logo is chrome while the rest of the clip (basically the sword part) is gold-color plated.
- The pen is a cartridge converter and comes with a aged-brass accented converted. the clip-ring is visible. There are other gold-finsihed rings at various places in the pen - namely - bottom of cap; joint between the thicker middle portion of the barrel and the thinner tail-end, and at the top of the section. the cap is a push-to-lock/ pull to open variety.
- It has a standard #6 two tone jinhao nib with 18KGP printed and the jinhao chariot motif. The nib was advertised as a 0.7mm line (which I’d say is on the broad side of medium or a Japanese broad). However, I find it to be provide a thinner line – about 0.5mm
Now, on to the qualitative review and some comparisons.
Build quality : 3.75/5: For $15, you get a really well built tank of a pen. Nothing rattles and everything feels solid. The execution is almost at par with plus $100 except for a couple of minor points:
1) The gold plating, while otherwise very well executed, appears to scuff easily. I already have some scuff marks around the bottom of the clip despite handling the pen very gently till date. It appears that the underlying chrome/brass will eventually show through in places sometime in the future
2) The ring at the bottom the barrel rotates freely and is not fixed to the barrel. I do not know if this is by design or just my piece, but I don’t think this should be the case.
(The top finial is the same gold finish as the clip and bands. It looks pink in this picture, probably because of the uneven lighting)
Dimensions and Ergonomics 3.5/5: the pen is bloody heavy. Like really. Heavy. It is 65gms (2.2 oz) with cap on, and 36 gms (1.2 oz) without the cap. It is not overly lengthy though – at about 142mm with capped, 124mm uncapped, and 170mm posted. It posts securely but not deeply. The disappointing thing about the posting is that the cap does not travel all the way to the ring at the bottom of the barrel where there is a step up to the middle part of the barrel (see pic below). If the ring on the cap ended up flush with this step up point, I think it would have both looked neater and been a more comfortable length. As it is, I wouldn’t recommend posting as it backweights the pen too much.
Having said that, I do not find the weight overly uncomfortable (when un-posted). I like bigger (though not necessarily very heavy) pens, and while this is certainly the heaviest pen I own, it is surprisingly usable. This is mainly because the weight is mostly in the middle of the barrel (when un-posted) and this makes the pen very well balanced with the webbing between the thumb-forefinger taking the weight naturally.
Here is the pen next to the decidedly mid-sized Moonman M600s which also has the same general shape and price range (plus black finials and section). The length of the two are almost similar (with the 650 edging it slightly). But the 650 is appreciably thicker and more than twice as heavy (note that line width of the Jinhao's writing is very close to that of the 'F' nib in the Moonman - more of that later).
As you can see from the un-capped pictures - it has a short section with a step down from the barrel. However, I did not experience any discomfort in gripping the pen on this account (note: I do hold the pen quite low down - very close to the nib). It helps that it is a push to lock design and hence there are no threads. the section has a plastic feel and therefore is not very slippery. However, it can get slippery on prolonged use.
Appearance – 4.25/5 : it is an attractive design, which is bold but (in my opinion) just short of loud. The gold-accents are done extremely well for a pen of this price range. This is usually what looks cheap in most low end pens, but that is not the case here. The mother of pearl and abalone strips look the real deal – they have great depth and chatoyance and vibrancy of color – held up against the light, they look 3D – the pictures do not come close to doing them justice. It is amazing that this kind of material is being used a on $15 pen.
My only nitpick in this category is that that the drop in diameter between the middle of the barrel and the section on one end, and the bottom finial on the other, gives this almost a ‘kit pen’ type of appearance. This is personally off-putting though many won’t care. If the reduction in diameter served a purpose in helping the pen post flush with the bottom ring, it could be forgiven, but that is not the case, as discussed above.
Writing performance: 4/5 The standard #6 jinhao nib is a very smooth and wrote smoothly out of the box. The ink flow was not the wettest, but not overly or unusably dry either; just on the dryer side of medium. By this I mean, medium blues like the Lamy blue I used for this review showed up lighter than the really wet pens, but amazingly, the nib kept up very well to fast writing, never skipped; and only rarely had a false start (that too if kept uncapped for a while). If used after a couple of days, the first stroke of the first letter may be a little thinner and then the pen immediately reverts to its normal line.
Overall, I would say a really good writing experience out of the box. Jinhao feeds are known to take a bit of time to really be primed, so, as expected, it became slightly wetter (about medium wetness) in a couple of days. It also helped that I ran a razor along the slit of the feed (just once was enough). Now I feel that the nib performs just as I would like. Quite happy really.
I was considering using one of the ‘wet Taiwan nibs’ from Bobby at esty; but after a few hours of trying one, I reverted to the Jinhao. I have too many ‘gushers’ already and the line was too fat for my liking, talking of which…
As mentioned above, this nib is finer than some of the other Jinhaos I have used, which is pleasant surprise (for me- personally like a medium-fine rather than a medium-broad).
The supplied cartridge converter does not have the greatest suction – I struggle to fill the entire tube despite repeated tries, which is a pity since it doesn’t have a great capacity to begin with (I’d say about 0.8 ml). However, it seems to be supplying the feed adequately as the feed has never dried up amidst writing, which has happened in a couple of my Moonmen/penBBSes.
A small written sample is below. Notice how the Lamy blue shows up into its 'middle' darkness for most part.
Value: 4.5/5 : Are you kidding me – actual abalone and mother of pearl strips in a $15 pen and a build quality this good, makes the pen absolutely worth the money spent. I am deducting half a point since it may be a bit too heavy to be a daily writer for some and hence may find itself in a weird middle space of being too weighty for copious writing, but not a ‘posh’ enough to be a signature pen. However, as an occasional dalliance and a conversation piece (I lost count of how many colleagues asked me how expensive this pen was only to be shocked when I told them), it’s a great bargain.
Edited by TheVintagelife, 19 February 2020 - 19:46.