Pen Class: Economy ($25 and under)
Street Price:: $15.00
Body Material: Unknown Metal
Nib Material: Stainless Steel
Nib Size: Medium (only)
Cap Type: Slip/Snap On/Off
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge (International)
Ink Capacity: 0.75 ml / 0.025 oz Cartridge
Overall Weight: 20 g / 0.71 oz
Cap Weight: 6 g / 0.21 oz
Body Weight: 14 g / 0.50 oz
Overall Length Capped: 138 m / 5.43 in
Overall Length Posted: 152 mm / 6.00 in
Body Length (not including nib): 105 mm / 4.13 in
Nib Length: 16 mm / 0.63 in
Body Length (including nib): 121 mm / 0.47 in
Cap Diameter w/o Clip: 12 mm / 0.47 in
Cap Diameter w/Clip: 15 mm / 0.59 in
Body Diameter near Section: 12 mm / 0.47 in
Body Diameter at Barrel’s End: 6 mm / 0.24 in
If this pen were a movie, it would be…
Glorious Technicolor (1998)
Eric: 6 – I doubt that better packaging exists for an Economy Class pen. A white, protective outer slip-box protects the attractive, black box that holds the pen. The top of the black box announces the maker’s name and a gigantic, plastic picture-window allows you to see the pen inside, which rests in a white, peach-fuzz covered, plastic bed and is held in place by a white ribbon. Very attractive presentation. I’ve seen (even purchased) much more expensive pens without half the presentation of this pen.
Under the peach-fuzz covered, plastic pen bed, I find two international ink cartridges along with a very nice Use & Care Guide. This 22 page guide is 4.5 inches long by 1.5 inches tall and puts the “guide” that came with my Aurora 88 to shame.
If Montblanc sold $15 pens, this is the packaging they would use.
Dan: 6 - Between the video and Eric’s description there’s nothing more I can add. For some reason I can’t stop laughing at the idea of a $15 Montblanc.
Eric: 1 – I cannot muster any excitement about the filling “system” on this Sheaffer. It accepts only a cartridge. I agree with Mr. Noodler and believe that the fountain pen community should shun cartridges whenever possible. As if being forced to use a cartridge in this pen weren’t enough, there is no room in the barrel for a spare cartridge. If I run out of ink, I also run out of luck. I don’t believe a poorer filling system could have been created.
Dan: 3 – Eric is right on here. In addition to what he stated I’ll add that I doubt that you’d be able to fit a converter inside the incredibly small diameter barrel, but I’ve not tried it yet. Unfortunately, I also don’t think converting the VFM into an eye dropper is a possibility because the plastic threads of the section just don’t create that great of a seal with the metal threads of the barrel.
I am happy that Sheaffer decided to go with the international sized cartridge instead of their proprietary cartridge. I’d never buy a pen that I’d have to buy special cartridges for and won’t allow me to use other cartridges I already have in my collection.
Eric: 5.5 – The pen worked right out of the gate. Ink flow was perfect, the nib a very average medium. I wouldn’t say the nib was smooth, but I wouldn’t call it scratchy, either. It’s completely middle-of-the-road. I took the pen non-posted for a spin around the alphabet and it seemed a tad light. I tried again while posted and it seemed top heavy. The pen did everything I asked of it (which did not include any flexing) in an all-together utilitarian manner. Nothing fancy, nothing horrid.
Dan: 7 - My initial writing experience with the VFM was very good. I loaded the cartridge, waited about an hour, and it was good to go. It laid down a consistent line that was neither wet nor dry. The nib felt smooth with enough feedback that I’d say this nib definitely has character. The pen also felt really good in the hand due to its weight and finish.
Eric: 6 - The stainless steel nib is attractive in a less-is-more sort of way. It is shiny and bright, has the brand and nib size (M) neatly engraved, and looks ready for work. The feed has a modern look, curves back toward the underbelly of the nib, and gets the job done.
Dan: 6.5 - The nib on the VFM is very simple, but pleasing to look at. It’s very similar to the Noodler’s Piston Fill nib but for some reason I enjoy the look of the VFM’s nib so much more. It finally dawned on me that it’s the shape of the nib that makes the difference. There’s much more of a sweeping shoulder to the VFM that gives it that traditional fountain pen nib shape. A shape I prefer. Other than that, the nib and feed performed flawlessly.
Eric: 6 - Other than occasional starting problems and some minor skipping from time to time, this pen performs well. Ink flow seems a bit heavy for the medium nib. Interestingly, I notice more feedback from the pen on Rhodia paper than I do on Staples brand 28 pound bright white laser printer paper.
Dan: 8 - There’s not much to detail here. The Test Drive and Road Trip cover things pretty well and not much changed.
Eric: 7 - The Sheaffer VFM is an attractive pen made by a company that knows how to make a pen attractive. The White Dot is on the clip rather than on the cap (where it belongs), but at least it’s there. the clip is very pleasing to the eye and strikes me as something futuristic.
The finish is described by Sheaffer as satin, but it seems less satin and more matte to me. I was hoping for a bit more “umph” in the color department based on pictures found on-line. The barrel tapers significantly from the section to the end (from 12mm to 6mm), which works nicely in the aesthetics department but results in the aforementioned lack of space for a spare cartridge. The center band has the maker’s name smartly engraved three times ’round.
I appreciate that the cap is slip-on, with a nice snap to it. This pen’s best use would likely be taking quick notes when/where a screw cap would become tedious.
The section and section threads are black plastic. The threads have twice fought being reattached to the body of the pen. The nickel plated band at the nib end of the section is wider than it had to be and is rather smart looking.
Dan: 7.5 - I think many people will find the design of this pen very appealing. It slightly tapers towards both ends to large radius points that give the pen a very soft, rounded feel. The finish on the pen is a semi-gloss, almost a matte, textured feel that makes the VFM quite distinct. The colors are bright, vivid, and eye catching. The polished nickel hardware seems very well done and contrasts nicely with the solid colors available.
Eric: 7 – Sheaffer knows how to make a pen. It may not be my perfect cup of tea, but it’s nicely made and nicely put together. The nickel plated furniture is very attractive, as is the White Dot on the top of the clip. The tapered barrel and slightly rounded ends make for beautiful design lines. The clip is very firmly attached, but the attachment site is the only area on the outside of the pen that catches my eye as not quite right. It seems not as well thought out as the rest of the pen.
The rubber or plastic inner cap stops a mere 3mm shy of the cap lit itself. Being this close to the cap opening allows it to be what the contact point to the barrel when posting, thus protecting the pen’s finish from the metal of the cap. Nicely done, Sheaffer.
Dan: 8.5 - The quality and polish of the VFM is a step above anything in this price range. The finish is superb. I couldn’t find a scratch or imperfection anywhere. The nickel plated metalwork is very well done and the White Dot looks like it belongs on a several hundred dollar pen. Even the polished nib and section are top notch.
Eric: 3 – I do not find the Sheaffer VFM suitable for Road Trips. It’s fine for quick jaunts, but lengthy writing is downright painful. The pen applied ink to paper fairly well – if you ignore the two skips and four hard starts. Unfortunately, I could never find a comfortable-for-the-hand balance, posted or un-posted. My hand began complaining within the first 10 minutes and before the trip was over, even my lower back was threatening mutiny.
Dan: 6 – I know there are people who prefer to write with the pen not posted, even I do from time to time. But trying to do that with the VFM is just asking for a poor experience. For me, the Sheaffer VFM started this Road Trip very well. It performed well during the entire session and never gave me any fits. The pen is thin but has some nice weight to it due to the metal barrel and because of the finish it felt great in the hand. But, as the Road Trip started getting to the 16, 17, 18 minute mark my hand was becoming more and more fatigued. By the end I was relieved to be done. If I were to continue past this point I would require frequent pauses to let my hand rest.
- Fit and Finish
- Fun Colors
- No Room for Spare Cartridge
- Oddly Balanced
- Only One Nib Size
Famous Last Words:
Eric: When not used for extended writing, I find the Sheaffer well named: Vibrant, Fun and Modern. It’s a quality made, well designed pen that I wanted to like more than it allowed.
Dan: This is a truly outstanding pen for $15. I can whole-heartily recommend this pen to anyone looking for an affordable fountain pen and I think it would make a great gift for someone looking to get into fountain pens. I just don’t see anyway of going wrong by picking this pen.