About the One in Black Lacquer and Red Powder
This pen follows a classic cigar-shaped design. I suspect it appeals to the widest audience, and I'm okay with that, but if I really could choose, I'd prefer a more cylindrical shape, like Pelikan's Souverän series.
The lacquer on this pen is probably only one layer, definitely no more than two. Embedded in the lacquer are some blotches of metallic red powder, which is reflective, but not shimmery. From a distance, this pen would look solid black; at about 10 feet away, one would notice the red blotches. Below is a close-up of one of the blotches, made from a scanner.
It would appear that there is only red powder at the blotches. Actually, every inch of this pen is covered with the red metallic powder, but one can only see the red powder (besides the powder that forms the blotches) from less than a foot away.
There are two gold-plated steel bands on the cap: one where the clip attaches to the cap, and a thick band at the cap opening. "Jinhao" and "X450" are engraved on this band, with "Jinhao" centered next to the clip and "X450" opposite the clip.
The clip itself is a two-tone, selectively gold-plated folded steel sheet. The plating quality is pretty good. There is only about a half millimeter of overflow on one corner of the steel-colored portion. Upon uncapping, one sees that there are two more gold bands, on both sides of the section.
This pen is the same size as a Montblanc 146, but due to the brass body, it is very heavy. At 1.6 ounces total, and 1 ounce without the cap, it weighs twice as much as a 146, and more than triple a Lamy Safari. Some might have problems with this. I myself am not bothered by weight.
The section has three patches of ridges: one under the pen for the middle finger, and two on top for the index finger and thumb. These patches or ridges do not create any sharp corners on the section, so if one doesn't use a grip suggested by these patches, the section doesn't become uncomfortable (unlike the Lamy Safari, where one is forced to grip according to the section's shape).
This pen cannot be posted. The pen is long enough that most people would not need to.
This uses a cartridge or convertor. A convertor is included with the pen.
The nib on this pen is selectively gold-plated steel, with gold inside and outside, leaving some exposed steel between the gold. The plating quality is inaccurate; it seems that the plating was shifted down and left a little. However, the plating eccentricity is only noticeable from close up. There are some ornate engravings on the nib along the exposed steel area. In the center, "Jinhao" and "18KGP" is engraved. (Like I care what the gold content of the plating is.)
The tip of the nib is bent up like a Sailor Superscript nib, and the tipping material is flattened. The vendor calls this a "calligraphy nib."
At a normal writing angle, it writes like a normal fine point. As the angle of the pen is lowered, the stroke gets thicker. At the normal writing angle, I wouldn't call this a smooth nib. At lower writing angles, it feels too awkward to be practical. Below are writing samples. Both are made with Pelikan Brilliant Black. The first one demonstrates the increasing line thickness as the angle is lowered. The second one is my attempt to get fei bai out of this.
The ability to make fine and broad strokes from the same nib might be convenient, but I see no use for it. It doesn't emulate a brush very well either. There is no fei bai from this, unless it skips. This nib has a special place somewhere, but not with me.
About the One in Black Matte
Most of what applies to the lacquered X450 also applies to the matte one. Unlike the lacquered X450, the matte one has a textured surface, which repels fingerprints to an extent. The nib on this one is a normal fine nib, and the gold plating is much better, although not perfect.
The tip is as smooth as a post-Chartpak Pelikan, and I think that's smooth enough for most people. At first I found this to be a little too dry. All it took was some spreading of the tines, and it was perfect. Also, it took a little time for me to adjust to the long distance between the section and the tip; the nib is about an inch long. Below is a writing sample, made with Private Reserve American Blue.
These nibs are, of course, interchangeable. I'll probably never use the Superscript-style nib, but I can switch the other one between the bodies depending on how I feel.
I found these two as a set on eBay for $23 plus shipping. Mmmmm…that's nice.
For the price, I have no complaints; except that the weight might bother some. There are aesthetic imperfections, such as the inaccurate plating, but those are only noticeable if one looks for them.
My vast collection now consists of 5 pens! (These two, Pelikan M620 Stockholm, Lamy Safari, Reform Skywalker) Either one of these Jinhao X450's nicely serves as an all-purpose pen (if I put the normal nib on it); I can take it anywhere without worrying about losing or damaging it. It wouldn't look out of place on a tuxedo either. This was the gap I wished to fill when I bought these. It is now nicely filled.
Edited by Renzhe, 18 August 2007 - 22:18.