I was definitely not looking to acquire a new pen! But when local letter press and stationer oblation papers & press in Portland's Pearl District posted about the "new" Sailor 1911 Compass in their IG feed, I immediately decided to order one. I'm usually careful not to make impulse purchases when it comes to FPs, so why the Compass? Lots of reasons:
- First was the color, which made an immediate impression on me. Though billed as "olive," it looked to me from the picture like it was a flavor of "lime." The picture was true to the real-life color, and I was ultimately pleased to add this olive-lime (??) pen to my collection.
- I have a 1911M with a F nib and have been curious about the Medium Fine (MF)--the only nib option for the Compass, it turns out--but unsure about buying a 14k version as an experiment. This seemed to present itself as an opportunity to try the MF out with relatively little risk.
- The Compass has some interesting features, like a clear feed and a matching converter, that made this budget model especially appealing.
- Finally, I miss regular visits to oblation in these covid times. Sometimes a Saturday morning destination in its own right, sometimes an interesting and friendly stop on the way to a Thorns FC match, this PDX institution is just awesome and I was happy to find a random reason to place an order. (As an aside, I originally discovered oblation looking for a vintage typewriter and only then discovered it had a lot of pen stuff. Cool place, for sure!)
Since it was an impulse purchase, I did not immediately realize that the Compass is really just a re-branded Profit Jr. and not actually a new offering, per se. That detail doesn't really matter to me but I found it interesting. I did pay the full $49 retail, but with some additions to my order got free shipping. In addition to the afore-mentioned matching converter (interestingly, marked "lime green"), the pen also includes a couple of cartridges. Upon arrival, I was surprised to see how bulky its gift packaging was--seems like a bit of overkill, but I guess helped ensure that the pen arrived completely undamaged.
The pen itself did not disappoint: As part of Sailor's 1911 lineup, it's the exact same size as my 1911M (see photo above). The olive/lime acrylic is a really neat color and its minimalistic design is appealing. That said, there is no doubt that it's an economy model: except for the nib, clip, and thinly-plated cap band, it's an all-plastic affair. The acrylic, though beautiful, is very light and does feel..."intrinsically fragile." (Is that a euphemism for "cheap"? Yes, it is.) I have no doubt that a single careless drop will result in critical damage, and I suspect I may not have the opportunity to pass it down to future generations. This one lacks the FP heirloom factor and is reminiscent of the likes of a No-Nonsense. That said, what I feared to be a catastrophic crack in the section proved after a quick evaluation to simply be a crease in the acrylic from the molding process and, structurally speaking, quite sound.
The most interesting part of the Compass, of course, is the nib. (As it should be!) Though, again, with a simple minimalist steel design, the medium fine (MF) nib was instantly recognizable as a Sailor once I wrote with it. This was the gamble, and it totally paid off. I inked the nib using the converter and started writing: no alignment issues and really no sacrifice in writing quality that I can tell by going the steel route rather than gold. The flow is perfectly medium. (I will say that it took ~5 days to fully write the nib in, but I did not need to make any adjustments whatsoever.)
The biggest question is whether the pen is a good value for what it is. The street price puts it at ~$39, so it's directly competing with the likes of the venerable Safari and the opaque Prera (both favorites of mine), which are both solidly built pens. So with that in mind...
- Cool color! (Whether "olive" or "lime.")
- Distinctive Sailor medim fine (MF) nib.
- Clear feed.
- Solid clip.
- Matching converter included.
- Good size.
- Posts securely.
- (Likely) fragile plastic.
- Only available with MF nib.
- Thin plating on the cap band.
- Bulky extra packaging.
In conclusion, I think the Compass is a great addition to the "entry" or "student" class of FPs. It's really different than either the Prera or the Safari, with a focus on the character of the nib rather than the durability of the construction. But the overall quality of the construction is still good and I feel that attention to detail makes this a pen a surprisingly good value--definitely at street price, but I would argue even at full MSRP. I honestly have not been able to put it down since I got it. That said, I would consider it an alternative or complement to--rather than replacement for--either a Safari and/or Prera. Highly recommended!
A quick (positive) note on some inks: I've tried several inks in the Compass so far with fun results. The Compass seems to be reasonably ink-agnostic. I started with Sailor's blue-black (see brief writing sample above) but quickly branched out. I've had awesome results using Pilot's 100th Anniversary Hoteison, a saturated but nuanced green-brown ink. This ink looks unremarkable in many of my pens (which generally run wet) but is shown off to great effect when writing with the Compass. Pilot's iroshizuku Yu-yake (orange) actually looks great in the pen: you can see it in the converter and especially the clear feed. It is a perfect complement to the green acrylic and really pops!
Edited by ahtzib, 08 September 2020 - 21:04.