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Sailor Or Pelikan, Based On Nib Smoothness?



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I am on the market for a new fountain pen and I have shortlisted these 2 brands: Sailor and Pelikan. My budget is around USD 500.

I like the form factor of the models under both the Sailor and the Pelikan. My deciding factor would be the nib smoothness. I understand that nib smoothness depends on several factors, like paper type and so on.

Assuming paper type is the same, which brand has the smoothest nib in my price range? There are mixed feelings about nib smoothness of each brand in the reviews I've read. This is why I am asking this question here. People who own both brands (or have tried each brand) may be of some help. In some reviews, the Sailors are claimed as having "buttery smooth" nibs! How far is that claim true?

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Two nibs from same brand with same tipping size (let's say M) on any model may surprise you regarding difference in their behavior but generally speaking Pelikan nibs are buttery smooth & quite wet as well.

 

If buying online, regardless of whatever brand you choose, get it from a retailer who offer complimentary nib testing & tuning (where required) so that you may get a buttery smooth pen right out of the box.

Edited by voltron
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I have an 18k Pelikan (fine) and a 21k (M) Sailor; the easy answer is you can't go wrong with either, they just have slightly different characters, the paper and ink will make a bigger difference. The Sailor nib seems very slightly more sharply / less blobby cut than the Pelikan, which means you need to pay slightly more attention to finding the sweet spot with the Sailor. As for smoothness, they both float on a micro pillow of ink, Hisoku (dry ink) reduces this feeling but the Pelikan would also float with more normal inks.

 

I did press slightly on the Sailor to spread the tines just a little and get a more saturated ink, makes Tsuyu Kusa look glorious.

 

I've had the Pelikan for a long time, it's my gold standard for reliabilty, the Sailor is much more recent but has never had any problems, its converter does hold less ink than the Pelikan.

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

 

B. Russell

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Obviously nibs from both brands are unique and great but if you're looking for pure smoothness, Pelikan probably comes out ahead.

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With the very limited information the OP provided, the generally true choice is Pelikan all day, every day. Sailor nibs have more defined shapes, in some cases facets, that reduce the maximum area for smoothness. Modern Pelikan tipping tends to be very rounded offering more potential angles.

 

I find both to be desirable. When you are in the sweet spot of a Sailor it, on average, will glide smoother than a Pelikan.

 

You can have any nib smoothed and tuned, but from the factory Sailor pens will have more feedback to the average user. Not all people like a buttery smooth nib.

 

For $500 why not buy 2 pens? You can get a gently used Pelikan M800 and a Sailor 1911L with just a little patience. Then you can form your opinions on an admittedly limited sample.

 

It would also be helpful to know preferred nib width.

Edited by zaddick

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sirgilbert357

Roughly 20 seconds with micro mesh / Mylar sheets can make either nib is as smooth as you want. There is a lot -- and I do mean a LOT -- of value in learning how to fine tune nibs to your own preferences. It's rather easy to do, the materials are quite cheap, and it eliminates the worry of not getting a nib that's exactly to your liking. I'd buy whichever one you want and like the best.

 

Maybe practice nib tuning on a cheap pen first though (Jinhao, Wing Sung, Hero, etc).

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I have a Sailor KoP Broad and a Pelikan M1000 Broad and Medium and M800 Medium. The Sailor is a much more precise writing pen with the long thin tines. The M1000 has more "character"... untuned is a bit unwieldy. The M800 is more nail-like of the 3 and is a fine writer. All are really good, none are "the most amazing pen ever".

 

The M800 is "hard smooth" like rubbing a hot nail on ice, the M1000 is "soft smooth" like rubbing a feather on an air hockey table, the Sailor is altogether different, like rolling a bearing down a lubricated slot. For me, the Sailor is a more controlled kind of smooth, a bit springier than the M800 and an easier technique than the M1000. They each have their time and place for use, so probably need all 3.

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BaronWulfraed

I like the form factor of the models under both the Sailor and the Pelikan. My deciding factor would be the nib smoothness. I understand that nib smoothness depends on several factors, like paper type and so on.

 

Somewhat ambiguous requirement there...

 

Every Pelikan I've encountered is basically a flat-end style (there is a slight rounding of the ends of the caps and bodies, but still a sharp edge). All but one of my Sailors is pointed end, smooth ogive from barrel to end -- the exception is my one ProGear model, which is flat-end.

 

Of course, those two shapes (mentally I think of them as Parker Duofold vs Sheaffer Balance) encompass 99% of the pens out there (things like Pilot Vanishing Point don't fit either model).

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sirgilbert357

They each have their time and place for use, so probably need all 3.

 

 

That's enabling done right, folks. :D

Edited by sirgilbert357
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I think Tseg's general comment is the best. I find Pelikan to be smooth, but for precision writing there is nothing better than a Sailor nib.

 

Erick

 

Using right now:

Recife Traveler "M" nib running PR Blue Suede

Tibaldi Infrangible "F" nib running PR Infinity Red

Diplomat Excellence A+ "EF" nib running Noodler's Heart of Darkness

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Both of them make amazing pen, but for smoothness, I'd have to give an edge to the Pelikan. Their nibs are more wet and are smoother than the Sailor nibs.

Although you can't go wrong with either.

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Honeybadgers

Pelikan will be dramatically smoother. Sailor is like a finely sharpened 2B pencil.

 

Think of them like car suspension. The Pelikan is a luxury car with soft suspension intended to isolate you from the surface. The Sailor is a finely tuned sports car, meant to give you tactile feedback.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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Pelikan seems smoother to me.

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And then you can get a Sailor Realo for about $250 - a piston filler like the Pelikan and just a little over your budget! :D

 

Erick

 

Using right now:

Recife Traveler "M" nib running PR Blue Suede

Tibaldi Infrangible "F" nib running PR Infinity Red

Diplomat Excellence A+ "EF" nib running Noodler's Heart of Darkness

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My three Sailors were scratchy and required work. My five new Pelikans were all smooth. Nonetheless, I had wonderful CIs made from all of them, except the Sailor pro Gear Slim, with EF nib. I now like them all, but especially the Pelikan. I also prefer the feel of Pelikan barrels over Sailor. Sailor plastic is very hard. Pelikans are not. Choice is easy.

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Pelikan will be dramatically smoother. Sailor is like a finely sharpened 2B pencil.

 

Think of them like car suspension. The Pelikan is a luxury car with soft suspension intended to isolate you from the surface. The Sailor is a finely tuned sports car, meant to give you tactile feedback.

 

+1. This is also my experience, vividly described.

 

Zicitron:

 

You're getting some great insight, in this thread. I found myself nodding at many of the posts.

 

No one has yet mentioned it -- and you may already know well -- but Japanese nib grades (EF, F, M, B, etc tend to be finer than "Western" grades -- and often finer by quite a bit. So, comparing two F nibs, for example, you're likely to get a great deal of difference, and one of the perceptual differences will be smoothness, as finer nibs *tend* to provide more feedback than broader nibs, all other things being equal.

 

I have several Sailors and several Pelikans. If I compare Sailor's B nib and Pelikan's B nib, the two put down lines that look 2 or more grades different.

 

Another factor to take into account: You didn't mention which models you're looking at, but the nibs can be very different depending on pen model. As was implicit in Tseg's description, the nibs on the different Pelikan models have very different characters. One might assume that the M1000 and M800 nibs write the same. They don't.

 

My experience of the Idiosyncrasies of each:

 

Modern Pelikans have a reputation in some circles for shipping with baby bottom on the broader nibs (B and above), esp in the 800s. That has been my experience, also, but it doesn't bother me, as 60 seconds of tuning will solve it. And the Pelikan B nibs are just such beautiful writers, I don't mind. (To be clear, I'm not asserting that all Pelikan Bs have baby bottom. I'm sure many are delights right out of the box.)

 

Whenever I pick up one of my Sailors, I have to remind myself to lighten up -- in other words, not to press as hard as I do with some of my other nibs. If I press down on my Sailor nibs, they can feel scratchy. But if I just let them float on the page, they are incredibly, almost disconcertingly smooth. And I've never had a flow issue that has required me to press. To use Honeybadgers' analogy, this is akin to the difference in how you'd treat the accelerator pedal in those two cars. A lighter touch in the sports car, because the thing is so responsive.

 

Lastly -- and often not discussed when considering nib smoothness -- it's worth mentioning that your ink and paper choice, in combination with nib grade and brand, will make a lot of difference. A dry-flowing F nib using a dry ink on cruddy paper won't be smooth. Swap that out for a wet B nib using a lubricious ink on Rhodia or Tomoe River, and it almost doesn't matter what brand the pen is. It's pretty sure to skate.

 

The reason I own several of each brand is that I love writing with them. They're both outstanding, as several others have said. You can't go wrong on nib smoothness between them, but the qualitative characteristics of each, in the hand and on the page, are so different, this would be a difficult decision to make confidently unless you write-tested both brands.

 

Good luck. They're wonderful pens.

Edited by Houston
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ParkerDuofold

Hi there,

 

For absolute butter smoothness... you really can't beat Pelikan.

 

The only other brand that rivals them for Lexus-like smoothness, would be Graf/Faber-Castell's nibs.

 

Be well. :)

 

 

- Anthony

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Thank you all for your replies! Really great opinions here. To be on the "safe" side, I'll go with the Pelikan. :)

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