So here are some thoughts on my two Kanwrite Heritage pens - One in Green marbled pattern and the other in Blue marbled. One with a Fine nib (currently the blue, but it changes), and one with a medium. I will also talk a bit about writing with the KW Fine Flex nib which had brought separately for another pen (this is I think the same nib as the Noodler's flax pens).
TLRD: the pens are great value for a price of under $30; the nibs (and feeds) and ergonomics are the real stars. Filling mechanism is dependable. The body is pleasing to the eye albeit without feeling premium (but acceptable quality for this price).
Intro and Choices available.
The Kanwrite Heritage is a largish piston filler pen from Kanwrite or Kanpur Writers, a pen nib manufacturer based out of Kanpur, India. The pens come into a huge variety of colors, solids, translucents and certain marbled patterns. I find the marbled patterns the most pleasing to the eye, and out of a shortlist which also included the excellent looking red marbled variant, I chose the green and blue marbled versions (mainly because I have an OCD of matching inks to pens, and I have (and write with) a lot more of greens and blues than red. Another combination that I personally would wish to see would be one with a black cap and burnt-orange body - I think it would look great on this pen. I haven't seen one around, but if you wish, the there are black pens and burnt-orange pens readily available for a cap-swap (if you are willing to be stuck with another pen with the reverse combination...).
Kanwrite makes their own nibs, and as I will talk in detail below, they are generally very good. They have a huge variety of nibs, not only the usual F,M and B, but unusually for the sub INR 2000/USD 30 market, they also offer EF, BB, Fine flex, and an extra-fine flex also. All choices, however, may not be available with all retailers. They also have a 14K gold nib which looks very similar to an Aurora 88 and is excellent (however, I find the gold nib an overkill for a pen in this range - I would get it for a custom hand turned pen (as I have), for which there are lot of good options in India. To make matters easier, Kanwrite will send you the nib, on your request, pre-fitted into a Bock or JoWo housing.
Appearance & Design (1-10) – 8
The pens come in marbled plastic bodies with gold accents. there is a thick cap ring, a clip supported by a visible clip ring and a ring between the barrel and the cap protecting the piston knob.
Uncapping the pens, one finds an ink window (very useful since its an opaque body piston filler) rimmed by two more gold rings, cap threads and a girthy and reasonably long section that slopes down gently and flares slightly, but abruptly near the nib.
Both the marbled patterns are quite attractive, to say the least. These are injection moulded CAB plastic though, not PMMA/ acrylic, let alone hand turned, so lacks the visual depth and chatoyance of marbled resin. The marbling is on the surface itself and does not glow from within like the latter material. That said, I find it very pleasing to the eye on its own right. The marbled patterns are multi-colored (not just white, but veins of other colors too) and this creates various points of interest while looking at the pen.
From a design perspective, whether consciously or otherwise, there are some similarities wit the Aurora Optima family of pens; especially the shape of the clip and clip ring, the cap band and bands on both sides of ink window and above the piston knob, and, the size and placement of ink window itself. These are not unique design concepts however, and the pen retains enough individuality to stand apart as a unique design. For one, it is more than a full centimeter (about half an inch) larger than the Aurora (coming in at 140cm closed to the Aurora's 127) - a much nicer size for my preference. Also the piston knob cap and top finial have the same color as the rest of the body. But the most 'interesting' departure is the shape of the top of the cap - instead of a regular softly squared off design, Kanwrite has gone for a slightly weird reverse cone top sitting rather awkwardly over the clip ring - I am not sure it works as a design choice - it seems stuck on as an afterthought.
Nevertheless this is a substantial looking, attractive pen. Apart from that off-putting cap-top, everything comes together very well. the choice of gold accents work well with the marbled colors. the nib is perfectly proportional to the body. the proportions of the various segments and the angles and slopes are spot on from any angle.
Interchanging the caps makes for a fun look too!
2. Construction & Quality (1-10) – 8.5
Coming back to the CAB plastic material, it doesn't feel as dense and premium as resin, but it is indeed sturdy and durable. At this price point, you are not likely to get premium materials - though some stuff out of China can feel as though they are)The same can be said of the metal trims - well if they are metal at all - apart from the clip, I am not sure. But the plating seems well done and likely to last. The pen looks like it can take rough use and that is the most important thing at this price range. None of the components or the pens as a whole, feel 'cheap' (though you probably couldn't fool anyone its high end either - unlike the case with some Moonman/PenBBS pens in the same range.
opening the cap reveals a plastic knob to activate the piston. The knob and the piston itself are clear(ish) plastic - again nothing fancy, but feels solid and up to the task.
Weight Dimensions & Ergonomics (1-10) – 9
This is a largish pen without stepping into the oversize territory. To get the numbers out of the way, these are:
Length capped = 140-141 mm (5.5")
Length uncapped = 129-130mm (5.1")
Length Posted = 161 cms (6.3")
Ink window = 5mm (0.2")
diameter at section = 11-12mm (0.4 - 0.5")
weight capped/posted = 21gms
weight uncapped = 15 gms
Here is a comparison of the pens posted and unposted:
I like pens which I can comfortably use unposted, and this usually means a sweet sweet between (capped/ uncapped) 125/135mm and 150/160mm - so this is right in the sweet spot for me. Here is a comparison with some other pens of this price range range that I find very comfortable to hold (well, probably a stretch including the TWSBI in this price range, but what the hell!)
the pens are also very light and the caps do not add much to the weight if you are fond of posting.
Ergonomics is one area, where, at least for me, the pens really excel. They just has that right combination of length and light-weight to act as an EDC. The pens balance well in the hand, whether un-posted or posted (which they do securely) and the section shape and girth are comfortable for me also. Well to nitpick, I'd have have preferred a more gentle upward curve to the rim (nib-side) instead of the slightly abrupt ridge; but this is relevant only for those, like me, who hold the gen very low. Even then, its not uncomfortable as such (since the ridge is not sharp), but you know its there.
Nib & Performance (1-10) – 9.25
The nibs are broad shouldered understatedly attractive Indian #35 (#6 type) nib and is perfectly swappable into Bock or JoWo housings (and vice versa, I would assume). In fact the same KW nibs are offered pre-fitted in Bock or JoWo housing by Kanwrite. Since there are two nibs on review, I will discuss them in turn:
The fine is about a half a size finer than a typical Jowo or Bock fine (though some Bock fines I have used are similar) - its similar to a sailor MF. It has a pleasant sort of feedback but is not scratchy or unpleasantly toothy. with very dry inks (like my Krishna Ghat Green), the sense of toothiness may increase so better to use with well lubricated inks. I really do like this KW fine very much - with a Pilot Iroshizuku or Sailor Shikiori inks, it really shines. the nib has is quite hard, though it has slightly more spring than a jowo - about same as a bock. the feedback this nib gives is excellent for a controlled handwriting.
The medium is closer to a JoWo medium but probably a hair finer; hence a more typical medium line width. It is smooth and tuned very well right out of the box. There is nothing to dislike about the medium nib
Between the two, I personally prefer the fine by a hair's width, but that is just down to writing preference. Many will prefer the medium.
Both nibs wrote well out of the box. Both pens were tuned very well for optimum wetness. The feeds are thick ebonite ones which seems to regulate flow quite well; though there are very occasional overly wet starts when the pen has been moving around int he bag (this is common and not a problem)
Nibs are easy to change out as the whole housing disengages by unscrewing it from the section. Kanwrite nibs, where available, are quite affordable.
As a case in point - I had also (earlier) separately procured a KW 'Fine Flex nib'. It is probably the same as used in Noodler's flex nibs. I wouldn't use it for these pens as it steel colored (though these are also available in two tone) while these pens have gold trims. I am currently using it in a Moonman T1 where it performs very well (though only after I adjusted the Moonman feed to supply the extra flow required). In hindsight say the extra-fine flex would have been preferable for exploring the full breadth of line variations possible...
Filling System & Maintenance (1-10) - 8.75
It is a piston filler; which while (thanks to the Chinese) is not exactly unheard at this price point these days, is nice to have. The piston works smoothly. I get about about 2ml ink into it per fill (give or take) which I think is quite optimal - more than that is probably not ideal for someone like me who has
more than one, couple of, quite a few pens inked at one time! Cleaning thoroughly is possible as disassembly is quite easy. the plastic knobs feels a little flimsy but its protected, and not something would need heavy handling.
Cost & Value (1-10) – 8.5
In India, the KW Heritage is likely to cost around INR 1700-1800 (about USD 25); but expect to pay about $5-10 more if buying outside India, which is understandable because of customs, logistics and shifting exchange rates etc. While at this price, it is most certainly a 'good' value, the exact score is a little tricky, because, frankly, getting a great value pen at around $30 is no longer unheard of (as it was a few years ago) due to the introduction was several great models at this (or even lower) price points by the likes of PenBBS, Moonman and Wing Sung (among others). For example:
1) Moonman T1 is a piston filler made of attractive anodized aluminium which feels more premium in build but is cheaper
2) The materials in PenBBS piston, vac fillers and other special-filler pens (especially the quality of acrylics used; and also metal pistons, vacuum plungers etc) such as the 309, 456, 355 and 500 feel more premium and 'high-end'
So, as a value proposition, it would not be fair to say that the KW Heritage is miles ahead of the competition.
However, and this is a big point, at least for me, I feel that the nibs in these pens are at a different class from all the Moonman & PenBBSnibs I've tried. I've had to change the nib on every, but one, of my PenBBS+Moonman pens into JoWos/ Bocks (or in the case of the T1 - the KW Fine flex!) . I found those pens to generally have dry and less than satisfactory feeds as well - no comparison to the one the one on the KW (ebonite or otherwise) in terms of flow regulation. Some may like these pens out of the box, but for those opting for a nib change, that's an added cost to be factored for these Chinese pens.
Another thing is that Kanwrite provides various nib options from EF to BB as well as F and EF in flex. Most Chinese pens at this range come only in a couple of widths (F and one of EF or M).
So, overall, considering the writing quality and nib options, this is still an extremely good value.
Conclusion (Final score, xx/6) - 8.55
I find these pens to be good looking, sturdy and comfortable to write with. They are dependable and affordable. They write very well every time. So overall, I would recommend these pens heartily as an EDC or for your collection. Some writing samples showing the line widths of the various nib sizes I have are below:
Edited by TheVintagelife, 29 March 2020 - 15:44.