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Introduction The sniper is a pen with very interesting history and one that has very close ties with FPN. The pen was launched as a group buy back in February 2015 by as a collaboration between ASApens and Vaibhav (@Mehandiratta) as just a concept without any drawing or prototype. Many enthusiastic FPNers rallied behind the concept of a hooded nib hand-made pen and the momentum was formed. We got to see the initial prototypes and the evolution of the design till the final shape took place and the pen was launched as a product. So in many ways this is a pen that has been conceived in, laboured within and delivered from the womb of FPN. Because of a variety of reasons the principal of which being my ignorance, I had not got the pen at the time. I had been meaning to remedy this for quite some time and when the opportunity arose earlier this year, I decided to go for it and get one sniper for myself. Design Much has already been written about the Sniper’s Lamy 2000 inspired design already. The key USP of this pen is a semi hooded/covered nib that looks strikingly similar to the way Lamy 2000’s nib is covered. Beyond this superficial similarity however, the pens are very different. It doesn’t use a proprietary and model specific nib like the Lamy and instead is designed to accommodate any Jowo/Win #5 open nib. This gives us a range of nib tips to choose from (EF, F, M, B, 1.1 and 1.4 italics) as well an option to have gold nibs instead of steel ones should your wallet so allow. For my personal pen, I opted to use a pair of purple twist blanks obtained from theturnersworkshop.co.uk to add a touch of exclusivity to my pen. Besides, I already had most of the standard ebonite colours in my other pens and wanted something different. Size and Balance At 152.5mm capped, this is clearly a full-sized / oversized pen. Normally such pens tend to be heavy and are meant for signing or occasional brief use for their heft. Thankfully the Sniper is not a heavy pen that imposes such restrictions on regular usage. Part of this lightness bonanza comes from it’s miserly usage of metal in it’s construction. It is a completely kitless pen with no metal other than in the nib and the clip. The pen overall is nicely balanced and the section design is sublime which adds to the comfort factor. The pen can be written both posted and unposted, but I prefer to use the pen unposted since posting does add a small element of rearward weight bias. To summarize this is a nicely balanced and light writing instrument designed to provide comfortable writing for extended periods. Nib The pen is designed to accept Jowo/Win #5 nib units. I believe the right SKU number is either 5-42 or 5-11. Since I have already have a small collection of Jowo nib units including everything from EF to 1.5mm italic nibs, I opted to get the one nib which I didn’t have, which is the 1.4mm italic nib. It’s a polished steel nib which is largely hidden from view by the hood of the section, except for the tines and the tip which obviously need to be exposed. Filling Mechanism It’s a cartridge converter pen that accepts standard international cartridges and compatible convertors. In my opinion, this is the best possible filling system and gives the best proposition around value, system longevity, convenience and widespread compatibility. Build Quality Being the current flagship model from ASApens, the pen obvious exudes the finest in quality that the marque has to offer. The general fit and finish and the tolerances are impeccable for a handmade pen and the joints are seamless. Attention has evidently been put into polishing and buffing to ensure a very high quality of the finish. Keep in mind however that this is an entirely hand-made pen and there is likely to be some fine trace marks under minute inspections. There was one small finishing issue on my pen however and that is the alignment of the nib with the hood. For whatever reasons, the alignment is just off by a couple of degrees and the result irritates my obsessive compulsive nature. I fully intend to reach out to ASA and request them to rectify this. Writing Experience By design, Italic nibs are supposed to have sharp edges and tricky to use unless you have the absolute right grip and hold the pen at the exact angle. Thankfully, this nib isn’t one of those cursive italic nibs and despite having no tipping, it is quite smooth. More than any technical aspect, what I would like stress upon is the fun aspect of writing with it. It gives your penmanship (or in my case lack of it) a flair that just begs to be experienced. You would smile after writing with this nib and it will encourage you to write more as you keep getting surprised how your own handwriting looks like. Beyond such simple pleasures, this is a highly competent calligraphic pen that helps in a host of writing styles such as Italic and Gothic. I am however not competent in any form of calligraphy and I would leave it to the experts to weigh in with their thoughts and opinions. Price and Value The Sniper is the current flagship of ASApens’ stellar collection. I find this entire series priced very attractively since the entire ASA line is such an affordable manner. The price is fully justified given the effort that goes into making each pen and that no compromises were made in using components within the constraints of what’s available in Chennai especially the nib which is the most important component. To summarize, the pen represents great value at an affordable price point. Specifications My usual disclaimer applies. The measurements in this section have not been taken with any precision instrument or laboratory techniques but should suffice to give you a fair idea of the size of the instrument. Length (capped) – 152.5 mm Length (uncapped) – 134.5 mm Length (cap) – 66 mm Length (section) – 37 mm Maximum width – 13 mm Minimum width – 8.5 mm Maximum section width – 5.5 mm (at the root of the exposed part of the feed) Minimum section width – 8.25 mm Conclusion The sniper is a beautiful looking handmade pen that exhibits a unique design. It is very light, comfortable and comes with a fabulous nib with a wide choice of tipping options. There is very little not to like in this pen and the price is just right. No wonder then that I strongly recommend this model to other connoisseurs of handmade fountain pens. Useful Links Purple Twist blanks from www.theturnersworkshop.co.uk Pen made by www.asapens.in
I recently broke 'the insides' of my ASA Sniper. Now, surely I could get replacement parts for it from ASA, but I'd rather not. Instead I now have a clear acrylic body and cap to give away to one of you. - The item is without structural defects, - Clip is good - No personalisation of any kind, - Very minor signs of use, - Some ink residue in the inner threads. You can probably still soak that out. - Free and open for/to anyone. - Will choose a winner randomly, let's say on Tuesday morning, Nov.3rd. - Due to international shipping it will take 1-2 weeks to reach you though. Best wishes mike