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Salior 21K Vs 14K Line Thickness


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Hello everyone,


I am currently investigating before getting a Sailor 1911 and since I do not have access at the moment to some pen shop that has Sailor pens for testing, I kindly ask fellow fountain pen enthusiasts here to help me decide and perhaps someone kind enough to provide some writing samples as described below:


Same paper, same ink, same phrase written in turn with a Salior 21K Medium nib, Sailor 14K Medium nib, and if possible to better help me gauge their relative width, follow these by either a Sailor 14K Fine or a Pilot Vanishing Point Fine.


And of course any additional "subjective" observations of how they differ would be extremely welcome. I am expressing my gratitude in advance :)


Now... the long boring, background story ( feel free to skip if it gets boring ) :


I have three Sailor Sapporo 14K rhodium plated H-F fountain pens and they indeed are wonderful pens. The nib although is not butter smooth, it is smooth and responsive at the same time; the Sailor feedback which many people appreciate, like writing with a pencil. Someone called it "paperiness".


Since I discovered the Sailor Kiwa Guro and Sei Boku inks, they are exclusively the only inks I ever use. (well, maybe not. I also love Noodler's, Rohrer & Klingner (iron galls), J. Herbin, Iroshizuku, Parker Quink, Pelikan 4001s).


The Kiwa Guro has no feathering and no bleedthrough even on the worst Moleskine paper out there and has a very black and well behaved line. Sei Boku follows close but does have some minor bleeding on cheaper papers. And I usually write on Moleskine. I used iron-gall inks before as they also have absolutely no bleeding, however I had issues with them (not clogging, but other things) so I gave up.


Now, the Sapporo H-F that I have has a very constant line, with no line variation, and is indeed a very hard nail-like nib. Exactly what I needed (I bought it from nibs.com so I believe Mr. Mottishaw took a look at the nib before shipping it as to ensure it is properly adjusted). However the nib is too fine for my everyday writing. It appears even a tad finer than my Pilot Vanishing Point F. It's great for small writing and more technical stuff, such as Mathematics or when you want to write in a pocket journal. But given that Kiwa Guro is a dry ink (relatively speaking), it writes even finer with it, like a Japanese EF. Now THAT is tiny. Like a needle, especially on high gloss paper such as Rhodia.


I also have a Pilot Metropolitan M which writes at exactly the perfect line width I want and also a Pelikan M400 EF which is almost identical to the Pilot Metropolitan M except all M400 EF nibs I bought for it had issues.


I fancy buying the 1911 full size with a 21K nib because I heard it's smoother than the 14K and also adds a bit more "variation" to the writing, although it's not a soft nib. It may well still have the typical Sailor feedback and slight tooth, but less so. Maybe it is a bit more springy than the 14K. Maybe because the nib is larger? Who knows. I don't. However as I vaguely remember testing a Sailor with 14K Fine against a Pro Gear with 21K Extra Fine (Paris a few years ago at a very nice pen shop), the nibs had totally different line widths and behavior. They wrote about the same thickness (notice it's an EF vs an F here) and yet the 21K had much more variation with slight pressure, making the writing beautiful and artistic.






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The 21k gold is softer than 14k. The nib will have a little more give to it. But, the built in sailor feedback remains the same. From my experience I find that the 14k nibs have less drag/feedback. As you know the sailor feedback is more the sensation that the nib is a suction cup attached to the paper. I found it more pronounced on the 21k nibs , this effect kind of throws me off, so I tend to prefer to use my 14k nibs

I have both 21 & 14k nibs in EXF, F, M. And one 14k B that I found used on the bay. A Sailor Broad nib is anything but "broad". They are very hard to find but I highly recommend looking for one. they are truly a dream to write with. The ink line on a sailor broad nib is somewhere between a Pelikan XF & F, but with the free flowing well defined, wet ink line that only Sailor Pens can give. It's that little extre line width and wetness you wish your M pilot metropolitan could give you.

I don't think there is a great ink line thickness difference between the 21k and 14k nibs. But because of the nature of the softer metal in the 21k you can produce some slight line width variation. Don't expect much, but the 21k has a tiny bit more spring to it.

My preference is the 14k for everyday writing, but I also love the feel of the 21k nibs. I'm just always afraid I'm going to damage them as I tug against their feedback.

My recommendation to you is to look for a broad nib in 14k. This may address all your concerns.

I would never try to steer you away from either of the 14 or 18 k nibs, both are beautiful in their own way. I don't think you can make a mistake whichever way you choose. Hope this helped. Good luck. Let us know what you decide.

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Thank you so much Old Salt for the very insightful and detailed description. I've not yet decided but will write back here as soon as I decide (and also maybe add a small review after I get the pen)

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Over a period time, I do share similar bits & pieces of experience as you concerning Sailor pens. Some of the nibs I had ended up with mostly range from being scratchy to having a higher degree of feedback to nibs coupled with poor flow. However, the one pro gear sigma (reviewed here) I had had a beautiful 2-colour nib with a wet flow. The width was H-M, which ran more like a pelikan 14k XF nib. This had a tiny bit of spring to it, perhaps a tad lesser than a regular H-M 21k nib. The width seems more or less the same for both 14k & 21k nibs.


I suggest you to also look at the option of a NMF or NM nib, usually with an angle-tip variation which is again not much in-terms of flex. It's tuned by Nagahara jr and would not end up with major problems. Here is a review which might interest you.

Edited by sannidh

You have come to earth to entertain and to be entertained - P.Y


Some Pen & Paraphernalia Reviews

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I have a 14k 1911 (the smaller version) in a medium and I find that it has more give to it than my fine 21k full size black luster. I can eek out significantly more variation from the medium 14k nib and I don't feel like I'm pushing the nib too hard to do so (which I do feel a little with the full size). They're both incredibly pleasant and you can't go wrong. However, the full size 1911 is a really good size for me because I have slightly larger hands. If I were to buy another Sailor I would get a Pro Gear 2 Realo with a Fine/Medium 21k two tone nib.


Writing sample


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