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Parker Reflex vs Sheaffer Javelin


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22 replies to this topic

#1 aircraft_electrician

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 20:31

I don't see many cheap...err, uh, I mean inexpensive pens reviewed here, so after recently aquiring a couple of entry level offerings from Sheaffer and Parker I decided to post a comparison.

I bought a nice transparent amber Sheaffer Javelin as an introductory pen for my wife, and just ran across a Parker Reflex in blue at a discount department store the other day. Never one to walk away from a fountain pen I can afford, I bought it. Both pens were the same price, $7.99 US, so I figured why not see which is the better performer.

At first glance, they are very different pens, but when looking closer, the similarities abound. Both are all plastic with metal pocket clips and rubberized grip sections. They are strikingly close in overall weight and length, as well as girth. While the Reflex has a very classic shape, the Javelin has a decidedly Sheaffer look to it, much like a modern take on the classic Imperial.

Parker's rubberized grip section is, in my opinion, a bit overdone, taking up a third of the overall length of the pen. The Sheaffer has a more classic look to the grip section and nib, while the Parker's nib is a bit more contemporary looking, and similar to that of a Parker 45. Both nibs are steel, as is expected in this price range.

Though both nibs are mediums, the Javelin writes a bit finer. The Reflex writes a touch drier than the Javelin, and both nibs are quite smooth for pens of this price range.

I personally prefer the feel of the Javelin's grip in my hands, though both are equally comfortable for hours of writing. Both are cartridge fillers, though each manufacturer's standard converters will fit, but are not included. Be prepared to spend as much for the converter as you spend on the pen. When using the converter in the Reflex, however, the section comes up rather high and blocks the view of ink, so there is no way of knowing how much ink remains.

The Sheaffer's one piece plastic barrel could easily be converted to an eyedropper filler for a huge ink supply, but the two piece construction of the Parker's barrel looks like it would become a leaky mess. One should be careful not to use highly pigmented inks directly in the Javelin's barrel, as its translucent plastic might become stained.

The Javelin has a nice springloaded pocket clip, a feature Parker added to the Reflex line in 2001. The Reflex's clip is mounted lower on the cap, so it rides a bit higher and prouder in the pocket than the Javelin.

While I prefer the look and feel of Sheaffer's entry level Javelin, Parker's Reflex is also a very nice pen for the money. Both would make great introductions to an addiction to fountain pens or good knock-around, everyday writers for those of us who prefer to keep our more valuable pens safe at home. Regardless of your occupation, there is no need to carry a cheap ballpoint! Put one of these pens in your pocket!

I must apologize for the lack of pictures, but I currently don't have any extra space on my server. The Sheaffer can be seen here at Jim Mamoulides' site:
http://www.penhero.c...erJavelinCO.htm
Mr. Mamoulides also has a great page on the Parker here: http://www.penhero.c...arkerReflex.htm

Please feel free to add your comments on these two entry level pens, as well as your criticism of this review. This is my first written review, let me know what you think!

Tom
A pen is a good deal like a rifle; much depends on the man behind it. Paraphrased from John Philip Souza

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#2 Maja

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 22:21

Hi Tom,
I think this was an excellent review! I like how you compared two entry-level fountain pens in terms of design and writing experience. Oftentimes, we get people (such as myself!) asking how pen A compares to pen B, if they are interested in purchasing a pen...so this kind of review is very useful. :)

I have two Sheaffer Javelins (both gifts--one from Jim M's FPN Sheaffer quiz and another from FPNer "Keith with a Capital K") and they write very well and are solidly built. I have a Parker Reflex too, but I don't use it as much. Not to knock Parker or anything, but the plastic material it is made of it not the most durable. I had a Reflex ballpoint ( :blush: ) break at the top above the clip...after a couple of days of ordinary use. :(

Anyway, keep up the great reviews and thanks again,
~Maja

Edited by Maja, 13 November 2005 - 22:22.

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#3 BobR

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 00:40

Thanks for the great review. I have an amber Javelin as well and it's used frequently. It's comfortable and as you say, it's great for taking along. I have a fine nib, which runs a bit dry, and initially the pen would skip when I made a stroke going from right to left. With use, both issues have disappeared and I'm delighted with it.

#4 Dillo

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 00:45

Hi,

I have seven Reflexes and Velma sent me a Javelin to regrind the nib. I only had 10 minutes to test the Javelin, but it is HUGE. I had a hard time with both pens because my maximum grip size is M200 sized. Both are great pens. One of my Reflexes with a standard nib is buttery smooth like my Sailor with a 14k nib. My other Reflexes are not as smooth.

Dillon

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

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#5 Roger

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 01:37

Good one, Tom!

FYI and all the others here with Javelins. They make terrific eye droppers! :D

I take a $5.00 plus S&H Javelin from Jim M. and spend about 1 minute with it on the 0.3 micron mylar smoothing film (makes a world of difference) yank out the cart if there's one in there and fill it to within 3/8 inch of the top of the barrel and screw it up. Voila! As good and smooth a writing pen as any regardless of price! :D

You could put a tiny bit of pure silicone grease on the section threads, but it's not necessary. Mine have been totally ink tight without it. I take a cursory look at the nib with the loupe, but the tines have been in good alignment right out of Jim's plastic bag. The slots have not required any attention either, being a proper width and shape for whichever nib you have: F or M.

It might not write any better than a Pelikan GO, but it's cheaper and, in many eyes, better looking. :D
Roger
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#6 southpaw

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 16:35

Thanks for the great comparison. Have a Javelin I'm planning on converting to an ED real soon.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#7 randyholhut

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 17:51

Having used both, the Javelin is a better pen, but it's almost unfair to compare them.

I got my first Javelin new in 1998 and it cost $15, or roughly double the retail price of the Reflex. The quality of the pen reflects the higher price. I recently turned it into an ED and it works great. It's nib is indeed finer than a Reflex, and seems better made.

I bought my first Reflex in 2000 when they had just come out. I thought they were attractive looking and quite a departure in style for Parker, but they never really felt right or wrote right and that rubberized grip got ink stained when you filled from a bottle.

The best Reflex, I think, is the stainless ball pen -- It's sturdy and more comfortable than a Jotter and writes great with the gel refills.

Now that it is a close out, the Javelin is a great value. They're worth seeking out as an example of Sheaffer's last good cheap fountain pen.

#8 Ann Finley

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 22:33

Tom, you did a terrific job on the review. I have neither of those pens, but since inexpensive pens are usually what I can afford, I've been thinking of getting an amber Javelin and am even more inclined to do so after reading your review and the follow up comments by others. I hadn't thought of getting a Parker Reflex, but looking at Jim's great photos, the red one is looking mighty good. :)

Really appreciate the detailed info you shared.

Best, Ann

#9 aircraft_electrician

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 04:32

Thanks all for the kind words. I appreciate the encouragement.

Regarding the Reflex, I must say that I agree with Maja. I didn't want to publicly blast Parker, and being a Sheaffer fan I thought I might have been a bit biased, so I was hesitant to say at first, but compared to the Javelin the Reflex just feels cheap. The chrome pocket clip is a bit cheesy and the plastic doesn't feel as sturdy. I still like the pen, it beats carrying a ball point in my pocket at work, but I definitely like my wife's Javelin better. I've got to see about getting my own, maybe one of the laquered ones...

Thanks again,
Tom
A pen is a good deal like a rifle; much depends on the man behind it. Paraphrased from John Philip Souza

#10 nmb

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 13:35

This review made for strong temptation to buy a Javelin. With Jim M's sale right now ($5) it was a difficult struggle not to buy, but I made it through. I will definitely keep this pen in mind for another everyday user eyedropper (a role currently played by a Kaweco Sport). Does anyone else think that it's hard to buy pens online that are too inexpensive because of the fraction of the purchase price that is shipping and handling? $8 is a great price for a pen like this, but 38% shipping and handling is hard for me to handle. Not faulting Jim's pricing in any way, just moaning about the realities of the world.

#11 Roger

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 15:46

This review made for strong temptation to buy a Javelin. With Jim M's sale right now ($5) it was a difficult struggle not to buy, but I made it through. I will definitely keep this pen in mind for another everyday user eyedropper (a role currently played by a Kaweco Sport). Does anyone else think that it's hard to buy pens online that are too inexpensive because of the fraction of the purchase price that is shipping and handling? $8 is a great price for a pen like this, but 38% shipping and handling is hard for me to handle. Not faulting Jim's pricing in any way, just moaning about the realities of the world.

Buy 4-5 of Jim's Javelins at a time. Jim combines shipping so 4-5 costs the same, (what is it 4 or 5 bucks?) to ship. I feel a lot better when practicing my rudimentary nib skills on a 5 dollar pen rather than a hundred dollar Pel.
Roger
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#12 Maja

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 20:52

Does anyone else think that it's hard to buy pens online that are too inexpensive because of the fraction of the purchase price that is shipping and handling?  $8 is a great price for a pen like this, but 38% shipping and handling is hard for me to handle.  Not faulting Jim's pricing in any way, just moaning about the realities of the world.

Oh yeah, gotta agree with you on that count, Neil. I live in Canada and have been grossly overcharged on shipping costs many times but (I am glad to say) 99% of the time by eBay sellers, not pen dealers. Pen dealers may charge more for shipping an item, but when you get the parcel and see the actual shipping charges they paid in order to ship the item to you, it is almost always what you paid them for shipping. That's totally fine with me. Sometimes, though, I really don't feel like paying a lot to have a $20 pen shipped to me. In that case, I usually wait and see if there are other items from the same seller that I can buy to combine shipping :) (and yes, this results in more pens being bought! :rolleyes: :blush: )
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#13 Goodwhiskers

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:24

I've tried both a Sheaffer Javelin (metal body) fine point and a Parker Reflex medium point. I used one of the respective manufacturers' cartridges and then put the respective manufacturers' converters in both.

With the manufacturers' inks (Slovenian Sheaffer Skrip Jet Black in the Javelin, and Parker Quink Washable Blue in the Reflex), the pens wrote smoothly enough, the fine Javelin actually feeling smoother, even on cheap paper, and delivering a more consistent ink flow. The medium Reflex wrote as wide a line as my broad Lamy Safari AlStar! The Quink Washable Blue was too faint for my taste, and the Reflex's flow of it seemed to decrease steadily in proportion with the length of time the cap had been off, even while writing non-stop.

After inserting the converters, I put Levenger Cobalt Blue in the Javelin. The soft rubber grip surface absorbed enough of that ink that dry wiping wasn't enough; wet tissue paper was required. With that ink, the pen wrote smoothly until the flow stopped completely and I had to shake the pen, and then the same performance repeated (and repeated) until I decided to put other ink in it. My newbie effort to clean the stubborn Cobalt Blue out destroyed the Javelin.

Recommendation: Don't use a highly saturated ink in a fine-point Javelin.

The package with the Sheaffer converter included a tiny sample jar of U.S. Sheaffer Skrip Red. I put the red ink in the converter-carrying Parker Reflex. After a filling, the grip surface on the Reflex was easy to clean; just a dry wipe was enough. The Reflex gave a more consistent flow of U.S. Skrip Red than it did of Quink Washable Blue. However, "daily" use (carrying it around in my book bag) resulted in my finding ink inside the cap and on the sealed-inside portion of the grip surface each time I removed the cap. Out went the Reflex.

Edited by Goodwhiskers, 06 December 2005 - 07:29.


#14 Betty

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 19:17

May I ask what is Jim's website where the Javelins are selling for $5? Thanks!
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#15 Dillo

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 19:52

Hi,

It is http://www.penhero.com :)

Go to the store section, and you are right there. :)

Dillon

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

Dillon


#16 ScottT

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 05:21

Hi Everyone,

I'd love to try a Javelin for $5!

I checked that site that was mentioned, penhero.com and I know the last post was late last year, but to go from $5 to $17.50 in eight months for a Javelin? Or am I missing something?

Thanks!

Scott

#17 kissing

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 07:04

Many Parkers share the exact same nib as the Reflex - such as the Vector and the Jotter fountain pen.

I prefer the Jotter fountain pen and the Vector over the Reflex in terms of aesthetics (they look more stylish and sleek than the fat Reflex) and for their options of getting a Flighter model (all Jotter FPs are flighters). Furthermore, unlike the Reflex, with the Jotter and the Vector, the section does not cover the converter (thus allowing you to see how much ink you have left).
http://www.youtube.com/kissing88

#18 randyholhut

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 16:52

Scott T,

Jim sold out of his $5 plastic barrel Javelins a couple of months ago. Needless to say, they were a great deal, but they were also a factory closeout. Sheaffer isn't making those models any more.

The $17.50 Javelins are the metal barrel models. Not as dirt cheap as a $5 pen, but a decent pen for the price.

#19 Velma

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 18:54

Scott T,

Jim sold out of his $5 plastic barrel Javelins a couple of months ago. Needless to say, they were a great deal, but they were also a factory closeout. Sheaffer isn't making those models any more.

The $17.50 Javelins are the metal barrel models. Not as dirt cheap as a $5 pen, but a decent pen for the price.

I've seen the metal-body Javelins, and they're very nice. I bought two of the plastic ones, but I think the metal are nicer. I don't think you'll go wrong with it.

#20 hatherton_wood

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 21:54

My only criticism of the Javelin is the stretching of the rubber grip with time. I'vce had to recut these to size a couple of times has they have stretched. Pity they do not have the rubber finish of the Frontier which seems very tough.

John






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