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Kaweco Student: Underrated Gem? (Blue, M Nib)



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**This is my first pen review! Feedback definitely encouraged, but please be gentle with me, I'm new :D**

 

I started using fountain pens a couple of years ago, and since that first Lamy Safari, I've learned a lot about what I like, dislike, want, don't want, prefer to have, and can live without. At first, my pen purchases were somewhat haphazard - "hey, I've heard of Lamy - let's get one of those! Oooh, I'd fancy having a RED pen, better grab that as well" - a problem which I suspect is relatively common to newbies (and even a few oldbies).

 

Lately, however, I've started thinking out my purchases a bit better, and after seeing Stephen Brown's review on YouTube, I became curious about the Kaweco Student.

 

The first thing I noticed is that it seems to be somewhat difficult to find experience with this pen. There's Stephen's review, two that I could dig up here on FPN, and a handful of other mentions out on the web: but broadly speaking, search for it and you come up with a big fat "Did you mean KAWECO SPORT?"

 

No, internet, I did not mean Kaweco Sport. And I'm puzzled by this seeming lack of Students in the wild, because after taking the plunge at my local B&M about a month ago and using the Student heavily since then, I'm here to tell you that I think this pen is absolutely tremendous. I bought it out of curiosity, and it is now my all-around favorite pen that I own.

 

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This is not going to be a review packed with fastidious measurements and loupe details. I'm going for a more narrative review based on what I now consider to be adequate real-world experience, trying to give you something beyond a "first impression." So let's dig in!

 

THE BASICS

 

The Student is a mostly acrylic plastic C&C and eyedropper-ready (!) pen which costs between $50 and $60. It is available in four colors: opaque black, white, and red, and translucent blue. I have the blue one, and it can look a bit violet in some light (***ONE NOTE: in the photos here, the pen will mostly look much darker than it actually is, because I have it filled as an eyedropper right now***).

 

The pen is packaged in that nifty, retro Kaweco tin, which is both sturdy and quite handy. A nice touch for the price point. It is supplied with a short cartridge and, depending on where you buy it, usually a converter as well: most online vendors I've looked at include a converter, but the local B&M where I bought mine sold it separately.

 

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THE BUILD

 

The pen, as mentioned, is mostly plastic. The screw-on cap and solid barrel are all plastic. The simple but very strong clip is metal, and the hourglass grip section is metal as well ("chromed brass," according to Kaweco).

 

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The finial bears a small, metallic three-sectioned Kaweco logo. Just below the finial and on the reverse side from where the clip attaches, the words "Kaweco Student Germany" are etched into the cap. There is a single metal ring around the cap where it screws on to the pen, which bears the words "KAWECO" and "GERMANY" along with a series of dots.

 

That's the extent of the decoration on the pen itself. It has a very streamlined, unobtrusive, classic - almost retro - look that I really enjoy.

 

The stainless steel nib, which I believe is made by Bock, bears some scrollwork along the tines over the words "Germany" on the left tine and "since 1883" on the right, the Kaweco logo below the breather hole, and the nib size below the logo. The logo is also found on the feed, which, as Stephen Brown mentions, is somewhat unusual and a nice touch.

 

The Student takes the standard Kaweco "nib replacement 060." These are the screw-in nib replacement units that include the combined nib and feed assembly housed in a plastic sleeve. In other words, for not too much money, you can have an easily-swapped-out range of nib sizes from EF to double-broad: just unscrew the whole unit and screw the new one in.

 

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This is not a very large pen, but it isn't tiny either. The mostly-plastic build means it is pretty lightweight. The cap posts well, not deeply but very securely (though I wouldn't jam it on there too hard since this is a plastic body). I find the pen to be better balanced when it is posted. That metal section is quite heavy and tends to tug the pen forward and down a bit, if that makes sense, so posting provides a bit of counterweight and better overall balance.

 

As for length, the pen fits beautifully into my small-to-medium size hands when posted, but just on the right side of "too short" without posting. I cannot stand using small pens (which is why this model is my first Kaweco rather than one of their more popular smaller builds), and I prefer to post for the most part. The Student hits a definite sweet spot for me as far as size and weight.

 

The overall impression is of solid engineering and very good build quality. The threads for the screw-on grip section and the cap are smooth and secure, the clip is very tight (but well designed to make it easy to slip in and out of a pocket), and all in all the pen feels like a workhorse.

 

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In day-to-day use over the past month, I haven't exactly babied it, and it is holding up well. One quibble is that the acrylic picks up scratches rather easily, though that's to be expected in this material. On my blue...I guess I'd call this a semi-demonstrator?...model, the barrel is starting to cloud very slightly in some specific places, particularly a ring around where the cap sits when posted.

 

Then again, since this is a relatively affordable pen and an EDC for me, I think it is holding up fine. It feels like a pen that will be with me for a good long while. Those who like the model but want more durability can step up to the metal Allrounder, with the understanding that you'll lose the possibility for eyedropper filling.

 

 

THE NIB

 

Kaweco nibs seem to be a little bit hit or miss. Stephen Brown's review mentions that his Student (mirroring his general Kaweco experiences) wrote bone-dry out of the box. Some other Kaweco reviewers have mentioned quite a variety of first impressions with their Kaweco nibs.

 

All I can tell you is this: maybe I was very lucky, but the medium nib on my Student is flawlessly, utterly, abso-freakin-lutely fantastic. It's the best stainless steel nib I have. As far as smoothness, it runs neck and neck with my Faber-Castell e-motion - possibly even edges it out - and, though definitely not a gusher, I'd say it writes about as wet as the e-motion. I would say the line is on the finer side of medium. It has never had a hard start, never skipped, never faltered. It just writes, and writes well.

 

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I know that sounds crazy. Really, I do! I promise, though, that I'm not exaggerating. I know that Kaweco is well-liked but not exactly legendary as far as nibs go. I hear ya. I had only reasonable expectations for this pen when I bought it, but wow. It has totally won me over.

 

 

THE WRITING EXPERIENCE - AND EYEDROPPER CONVERSION!

 

In the beginning, I thought maybe it was the ink. I first inked up with a sample of Noodlers Cactus Fruit Eel, and we know that's an especially smooth, wet, juicy ink. I jotted down a note to a friend on some Clairefontaine Triomphe stationery, and it was like writing on glass with melted butter. Gosh, this thing glides! Obviously that combo of ink and paper was always going to be somewhat glassy, but this nib felt great right away.

 

Once I used up the Cactus Fruit, I decided to try something I've never tried with any of my pens, and use the Student as an eyedropper fill. This was a major reason that I purchased the pen, after Stephen mentioned the potential in his review.

 

One FPN user mentioned that s/he had done it with good results, and I know other Kaweco models have been used as eyedroppers. I was, and remain, slightly concerned about the metal grip section. There is exposed metal where it screws in to the body. Others, though, have said that this isn't a massive problem, and that concerns about corrosion can be mitigated by using a well-behaved ink.

 

Well behaved ink? What else, then, but ol' faithful: Waterman [serenity/Florida/whatever it's called today] blue. Which, incidentally, matches the blue color of the pen itself rather well. I filled it up - OMG so much ink! - and I've hardly been able to set the pen down since.

 

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It wasn't just the Cactus Fruit. It wasn't just the Triomphe. This is simply a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant little writer. No matter what I throw at it, the Student cheerfully (this is a cheerful pen) does its thing without question. It behaves well in my sometimes-finicky Leuchtturm pocket journal and skates across Rhodia/Clairefontaine.

 

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Best of all, a few days ago I used it to write a six-page letter on some Crane monarch sheets. Holy moley. I just couldn't stop. The way this thing felt on that paper...wow. Fountain pen nirvana.

 

 

LIVING WITH IT AND FINAL THOUGHTS

 

It didn't take very long for me to fall in love with this pen, and now I always have it on me. I've had zero issues so far with using it as an eyedropper. That speaks well to total fit/finish, but of course I'll be keeping an eye on it longer term to see if the metal of the section starts developing problems later as a result of the eyedropper usage.

 

One gripe I have is with the section. It is very smooth, and while the hourglass shape helps a bit as far as maintaining grip, it can get a bit slippery. And the section might be just a touch too narrow for me for comfort over very long periods of uninterrupted usage. By the end of that monster 6-page letter, my fingers were screaming, but that was also a lot of writing for me in one sitting.

 

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When I first got the pen, the section was screwed on very tightly. I mean the thing felt glued. It took a painful amount of force to unscrew the thing, which was not helped by the smoothness of the finish. Now that I'm using it as an eyedropper, this level of fit is something I obviously appreciate, but if you pick one up and find the section is screwed on almost impossibly tight, you aren't the first. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just something to be aware of.

 

Here's the thing. I would, in a heartbeat, recommend MY Kaweco Student to absolutely anybody. I mean MY champion-class writer, with a nib that just sang right out of the box. There is, however, that nagging sense that I may be really, really lucky. I mentioned, earlier in the review, that some others have had issues with their Kaweco nibs, issues that may go beyond the typical "different strokes for different folks" subjectivity of fountain pen users' opinions and point to some QC problems. Given that, can I recommend the pen on the whole?

 

Absolutely! Though with the obvious and standard caveat that your mileage may vary. That uncertainty alone may be enough to turn some people off, and understandably so. Most of us don't bring unlimited budgets to this hobby, and a $50-60 pen isn't throwaway money like a Preppy. I'd hate to see somebody come in expecting a dream writer like mine and get a bone-dry, scratchy, skippy mess.

 

However, if you want to take the chance, and pull the trigger on a $50 eyedropper-ready workhorse with a nice retro look and largely excellent build quality, you may just end up surprised with what you get. I know I am.

 

**EDITED IMMEDIATELY AFTER POSTING FOR A FEW TYPOS AND GRAMMATICAL ISSUES I NOTICED AS SOON AS IT POSTED. ...NATURALLY**

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Edited by NomadSteve
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Joe in Seattle

Very nice review of a pen I had never heard of before. I do have the sport model and I agree that the nib is one of the very best. Hearty congratulations on the publication of your first review.

"how do I know what I think until I write it down?"

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Nice review :)

I was torn between the Student and the Allrounder but in the end settled for the Allrounder as it looked a lot tougher and I was rather worried about the grip section on the Student. Overall I'm very impressed with Kaweco and think their pens are brilliant! One of the nicest nibs I've ever had the pleasure of using :D

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I'm a big fan of Kaweco in general, although I think they need to step up a little for their higher range. There's a lot of competition once you approach and cross the $100 range.

 

Nice review.

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  • 1 year later...

A few weeks ago, I took advantage of the strength of the dollar against the euro (it's still pretty strong, but not as much so as at that time) to buy a Kaweco Student with medium nib from a vendor in Germany. I like the acrylic body and the details very much, but the nib is a skipper. I cannot see any baby's bottoming in the point (using a loupe) but it certainly behaves as if it has some. If I use a certain amount of pressure, as I often do, the pen doesn't skip; but if I drag the pen over a piece of paper using just gravity, it will not leave so much as a drop of ink.

 

This is my second Kaweco. My first was (is) an All-Sport with a scratchy nib.

 

So I am definitely not a fan of this brand and this Student is definitely not going to be a favorite pen of mine.

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  • 1 month later...
Scribble Monboddo

I've just put out a side-by-side comparison of this and the similar All-rounder model here. As a writer, I thought the Student won too!

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