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  1. I like the PenBBS 350 aluminum pen, especially since I swapped a #6 M nib for the standard PenBBS one. It's a great writer and very comfortable in the hand. I can safely say, however, I like the PenBBS 380 even more. And it comes with a sweet M nib. No nib swapping required. Where for me the PenBBS 350 is like a full-sized pocket pen, the PenBBS 380 comes off as nothing less than a luxury writing instrument. It has the size, heft and design I associate with expensive Italian pens I don't own and probably never will. Spiral Facets? Nice! The ten facets both spiral and taper toward the end. The clip is planted squarely at the peak of two at the top but rests in the middle of one facet at it's base. When closed, the cap and body line up just as they should. Hats off to PenBBS for designing and executing a heck of a pen. Capped, the pen is 146mm, so just a hair shorter than the PenBBS 355 Bulkfiller. Uncapped, it's 128mm, again just a little smaller than the PenBBS 355. At 14.5mm at its widest point, it's bigger around than the 355. The PenBBS 380 uses the same quality converter as the PenBBS 350 (and 309). It works very well. To the touch the matte aluminum finish is the right combination of tactile and smooth and the bead blasted finish of the clip (which I assume is also aluminum) magically transforms it it from coffinesque to sword-like. The clip fits the design of the pen. The section, body and cap all share the same finish. The cap comes off in just under 3 turns, which is more than some may like. The threads are relatively fine, and like the PenBBS 350 there is a plastic insert in the cap to eliminate any metal-on-metal scratchiness. So far, I haven't had any issues with the thread insert in my 350 so hopefully there will be none here either. There is a ledge in the cap to seal the nib which may be machined or could be a plastic insert, I can't tell. The finial and clip are held in place in the cap by a very sturdy looking Philips-head screw that I don't plan to mess with. The cap and body fit flush so there is a significant step down from the body to the section. The edges are soft enough to not feel sharp when writing. The cap does post relatively deeply and securely enough, but it makes the pen larger than I like so I'm not tempted to write with it that way. The 380 has been released in black and silver finishes with either with either a standard (bent) PenBBS F nib or a rounded M nib.The F nib models come with a two-tone nib and a gold colored clip. The M nibs are silver, as is the clip. My guess is that the F-nib models (with gold clips) target the local China market while the M nib versions are geared more for Western consumers. The pen also comes with a rollerball nib which adds versatility. I keep a rollerball on one end of my PenBBS 469 but that's as many as I need for now. In the Hand The PenBBS 380 is a great writer. It's just the right size and weight. The slightly larger barrel behind the section makes the pen feel substantial while the taper at the end gives it an agile feeling I really enjoy. This is my second pen with a PenBBS "round" M nib. My first was the PenBBS 355. If anything, it's smoother and wetter than the 355, but that may be the Monteverde Horizon Blue ink I chose. (Shoutout to OCArt for planting the seed for this ink in this thread on favorite new inks of 2018!) At just under US$30 plus shipping on Taobao, the PenBBS 380 is one of the more expensive PenBBS pens I've bought. But it feels like more. As soon as I picked it up I was struck by the feeling that with a different pedigree, it could be a very expensive pen. Its both simple and stylish, modern and in line with the great pen traditions. More photos and comments here.
  2. For a moment there, orange was my color of choice. I think I was coming off a sepia phase, but don't rightly recall. I got myself some Diamine Autumn Oak and took a flyer on J. Herbin Orange Indian. J. Herbin Orange Indien The Autumn Oak was a great success but I could never get the J. Herbin to work for me. None of the pens I tried would make a go of it. It was my first out-and-out ink failure. So when I unboxed the PenBBS 350, I did two things. First, I swapped out the fountain pen nib for the rollerball. Then I filled the pen with Orange Indien. I was being a little perverse. Like many, I write with a fountain pen unless I can't help it. You know the type. (You may be one yourself.) But I was impressed by the moxie PenBBS was showing by including a rollerball with the pen. They were thinking outside the box. To reward the daring, I gave the pen the hardest ink I have. To my surprise, it worked. Truth be told, I think the J. Herbin ink has darkened over time. Looking at some old notebooks, it looks a bit brighter. Conceptually, the PenBBS 350 combo hits it out of the park. I love the idea of including a rollerball in the mix. It fits the style of the pen and it writes very well. The line is satisfyingly bold and the rollerball is smooth, agile and consistent. Ergonomically, however, the rollerball isn't a complete success. The rollerball tip is much shorter than the the fountain pen nib - making the pen just that little bit smaller in the hand. The balance between the girth, length and writing experience is slightly awkward. After writing with the rollerball for a bit, I swapped in the fountain pen nib and felt much better. In its fountain pen configuration, the PenBBS 350 rocks: The size is perfect. The diameter is fat enough to be substantial and the unposted length is just right for my hand. The pen posts well enough but that's not how I use it.The weight is spot on. Weighty enough to feel intentional while remaining nimble. Long writing sessions are no problem with this pen.The texture of the pen is light but real: a matte finish with just little grip. Nice.The threads are fine and not bothersome. They work as a midpoint reference for keeping the pen oriented in the hand by touch.The cap comes off in under 1 1/4 turns making this a fast pen to cap and uncap.The cap facets keep the pen from rolling about when not in use and, of course, mean the cap is less likely to wind up on the floor when using the pen.The cap uses plastic interior threads so you don't have the potentially annoying metal-on-metal feeling when capping/uncapping the pen. The action is nicely smooth and precise.There's no clip but that's not a bother for me. I don't need one.The nib is the same PenBBS F No. 6 that comes with their other pens. It's a great nib and performed up to expectations out of the box. Given the aluminum construction and minimalist, industrial design, I put the PenBBS 350 in the workhorse camp. It's durable and functional and could easily serve as a beater pen for everyday use. It works as a full-sized pocket pen. Length capped: 130mmUncapped Rollerball: 117mmUncapped Fountain Pen: 122mmWeight capped (inked): 23.1gWeight uncapped (inked): 15.7g I like the style of the pen. It feels modern. I'm becoming a bigger fan of the PenBBS brand. It could easily be the best Chinese pen brand today. At under US$15 on Taobao, it's a heck of a value. Would I recommend this as a first fountain pen? Yes. If someone is going to catch the bug, this is as good a vector as any.Could this be someone's only fountain pen? Well, it could. If there are folks out there who can eat just one.Would this make a cool gift for a fountain pen friend? I think so. It fits the ideal of something different that lots of people might not pick for themselves.More pictures and comments here.

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