FPGeeks ScoreCard Pilot Stealth Vanishing Point

Review Specificaitons

 

Pen Class: Standard ($100 to $199)
MSRP: $175.00
Street Price:: $140.00

Body Material: Metal
Nib Material: 18k Rhodium Plated Gold
Nib Size: Fine, Medium, Broad
Cap Type: N/A
Post-able: N/A
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / Converter
Ink Capacity: Cartridge: 1.0mL // CON-50 Converter: 0.5mL
Overall Weight: 30 g / 1.06 oz
Cap Weight: N/A
Overall Length w/Nib Retracted: 141 mm / 5.55 in
Overall Length w/Nib Extended: 138 mm / 5.43 in
Nib Length: 8 mm / 0.32 in
Body Diameter w/o Clip: 13 mm / 0.51 in
Body Diameter w/Clip: 16 mm / 0.63 in

If this pen were a movie, it would be…

Fade To Black (2006)

Review Dealer Prep

Dan: 9.5 – I thought the packaging for the Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point was fantastic! It’s not so much that it’s extravagant as it is original and just plain freaking awesome! It’s like a magical picture frame that suspends your pen in mid air. The front and back of the frame is hinged together at the bottom and a magnetic flap folds over the top to clasp it closed. Two thin, somewhat pliable sheets of I-dont-know-what face back-to-back and hold the pen securely in place. It looks so good it makes me want to hang it on the wall.

Eric: 8.5 – The packaging of the Pilot Black Matte Vanishing Point is by far the most interesting of all pens previously subjected to our Awesome Review. The box, thin-ish and presented in two tones of black, is understated and classy. Inside, the pen literally floats in mid-air, invisibly held in place by two thin sheets of Antigravitatium™ stretched within a hinged black frame.

Yes, this is definitely wall mounting worthy.

Review Filler Up

Dan: 5.5 – The Vanishing Point utilizes the cartridge / converter filling system and comes with one cartridge, a metal cover for the cartridge, and the CON-50 twist converter. If you’re looking for a pen with a massive ink capacity then you should look elsewhere. The most you’ll get from the VP is by using the cartridge, which holds about 1mL. The CON-50 only holds about 0.5mL, which is pretty pathetic if you ask me. I typically use the CON-20 squeeze converter, which you’ll have to buy separately, because it holds more ink than the CON-50 and is easier to fill than filling the cartridge using a syringe.

The low ink capacity of the Vanishing Point isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. I often complain about most pens holding too much ink and never having the opportunity to change colors. I like this aspect of the Vanishing Point because it allows me to switch inks more often. But, I’m guessing most people who don’t carry 20 inked fountain pens would like a little more capacity. The real downside to the VP’s filling system is that the cartridges and converters are proprietary, so you can’t just use one of probably several you have lying around.

Eric: 4.0 – Of all the pens in my collection, the Pilot Black Matte VP is the one that runs out of ink mid-sentence most often. Ok, maybe the dip pens run out more frequently, but I’m talking specifically about self-filling fountain pens.

The filling system, proprietary cartridge / converter, isn’t my favorite, but I understand that it’s necessitated by the push-button convenience of the pen’s operation. I have found that if I fill the pen each morning, I avoid running out of ink for that day. Also, like Dan, it can be nice to have a pen run out of ink daily because it gives you the perfect excuse and opportunity to change color.

Review Test Drive

Dan: 9.0 – I’m guessing it had been 8-10 months or more since I last used a modern Vanishing Point and I when I first picked up the Stealth I thought it was smaller and lighter than my other modern Vanishing Points. In reality, they’re the exact same size with the Stealth weighing in 2 grams less than my other two, but I don’t think I actually noticed that minuscule difference. Still, something felt different; it felt good. It took me a while to figure out that it was the black finish that had made the difference. Not only does it make the pen look freaking awesome, it also gives it something of a soft-touch finish.

I had a great first session with the Matte Black Vanishing Point. Along with the purchase of the pen I received a free bottle of Pilot’s Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun aka General Frost (Bluish Dark Gray). Since I had never used this color before I decided to ink up the 18k rhodium plated nib using a CON-20 squeeze converter I had sitting around. The fine nib was smooth with good flow and made for a very happy Daniel.

Eric: 6.0 – I inked the Vanishing Point, using the converter, with J Herbin Cacao du Brésil. The broad nib was wonderful, the flow was perfect, the feel and balance of the pen was superb, yet something was odd. After a minute or two of investigation and experimentation, I discovered that the oddness factor was caused by the pen’s clip.

When writing, the pen’s clip sits between my thumb and index finger. Well, I had never noticed before, but my thumb and index finger like to be touching (or very nearly touching) each other as I write. The clip prevents this togetherness, resulting in not discomfort, not pain, not un-usability, but oddness. I had to wait for the Test Drive to determine whether that oddness was a deal breaker.

Review Under the Hood

 

Dan: 9.75 – One of the reasons the nib scored so well is because it’s so basic. The nib is tiny, which is to be expected due to the design of the pen. Only the bare necessities are stamped on the nib which include “Pilot”, “18k750”, and “<F>”, each one beneath the other. There’s also a date code on each nib as well. But none of that can be seen when the nib is in the pen and in the extended writing position. All you see is the nib and nothing else that might detract from its appearance.

The other reason it scored so well is because of how universal it is. You can take one nib and drop it into a Pilot Vanishing Point, a Decimo, a Fermo, or even a Vanishing Point made more than 20 years ago! Or you can have one pen with multiple nibs and swap them in seconds. It’s a fantastic system and has become so popular that you can easily buy just the nib from a retailer or even a custom pre-ground nib from several nib meisters.

Speaking specifically of the nib that came in my pen, the fine, rhodium plated nib wrote flawlessly out of the box, just like every other VP nib I’ve used.

Eric: 8.75 – I’m not generally a fan of small nibs. I’m not generally a fan of hooded or semi-hooded nibs. For the most part, I like a nib that is large and shaped like a nib because it adds to my writing pleasure as I watch it in action. A small, somewhat hidden nib usually takes away from my enjoyment of a pen.

However, there are exceptions to every rule, right? And the Pilot Vanishing Point nib “system” more than qualifies for amnesty. The Pilot VP nibs are outstanding performers and incredibly versatile when it comes to swapping.

You could, conceivably, create a large collection of Vanishing Point bodies and have just one nib unit that you move from body to body (like changing clothes) as you rotate through your collection. That’s actually not a bad idea!

Review Performance

Dan: 9.25 – I never had a bad experience with the Vanishing Point the entire time I used it. The fine nib was good but the next time I see Mike Masuyama I’ll have him smooth it. Maybe even narrow it a bit. From the first time I filled it the flow was just a tad on the dry side, but very usable. It was always consistent and never gave any problems. It was ready to write as soon as the nib touched the paper.

Eric: 10.0 – Not once did the pen disappoint me. Every time I reached for it, it was ready, willing and more than able. If every pen in my collection performed as well as the Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point, I’d be a happy man. I’d be bored with extra time on my hands, but I’d be happy.

I had no choice but to give this pen a perfect 10 in the performance category. If you want to know how a fountain pen should perform, just get your hands on one of these.

Review Design Notes

The Vanishing Point nib unit paired with the optional CON-20 squeeze converter.

Dan: 9.0 – If convenience is king, there’s no better pen for you, unless you can’t get over the placement of the clip, but I’ll get into that later. There’s a reason ballpoint and gel rollers use the push-button mechanism and it’s wonderful to see that design implemented so well in a fountain pen.

The Vanishing Point has a strong spring that gives good resistance when extending the nib and the click generated by the process is metallic and satisfying. It is by far the easiest fountain pen to use with one hand.

The barrel separates into two pieces with only 2.5 rotations to give quick access to the nib unit, which simply slides in and out of the barrel. I much prefer this method over threading the unit into place like on the Lamy Dialog 3. There’s also a locating knob on the nib unit which does a fantastic job in preventing misalignment when inserting the unit.

The only thing I can complain about is the clip. But, unlike some who find its placement to be problematic, its appearance is what bothers me the most. I very much prefer the design of the older Pilot / Namiki Capless pens where the clip and hood are one piece. The smooth transition from clip to hood is much more pleasing than the current two piece design. The placement of the clip is actually something you should take into consideration before purchasing this pen, especially if you’ve never used one before. My recommendation would be to find out your retailer’s return policy, online or off, before buying this pen.

Eric: 6.0 – I can only echo Dan’s list of Pilot Stealth VP virtues. There is much to admire. And then there one glaring blunder; the clip.

For the way I hold a pen, the clip of this pen is simply in the way. It would be a deal breaker for me if I intended to use the pen for long writing sessions. Frankly, I would not use this pen for writing anything more than a very short note or letter. For anything longer, I would use a pen that allows me to place my fingers where they want to be.

The upside is that if you crave convenience in a pen that you’ll use to note only a few words at a time, nothing beats the Pilot Vanishing Point (except perhaps the Pilot/Namiki Faceted Vanishing Points of yesteryear with the same convenience and a clip that’s not in the way).

It pains me not to provide the pen with a higher score in this category, but the clip’s placement prevents it. I will follow in Dan’s footsteps and highly recommend that you either test a Vanishing Point before purchase or ensure that the pen can be returned should it not fit well with your hand.

Review Detailing

Here you can see the groove where the locating knob slides into to achieve perfect alignment when inserting the nib unit.

Dan: 9.25 – The Pilot Vanishing Point has been finished very well. The black coating on the Stealth is uniform and covers 100% of the pen. I’m not too concerned about the durability of the finish because I haven’t noticed any areas where the coating has worn away. While I’ve only used this pen for a couple of weeks, it’s still more than I can say about another all black, retractable nib pen I’ve been using.

The metal body goes a long way in making the pen feel good in the hand. It adds just the right amount of weight, but unlike most other metal pens it doesn’t have that cold, unnatural feel to it.

The two halves of the barrel screw together nicely with no wiggle between the halves when fully attached. The push-knob always has tension on it whether the nib is extended or retracted. This prevents the knob from wobbling and removes any sense of cheapness from the pen.

Eric: 9.5 – What great attention to detail. Pilot knows what they’re doing. Everything that should be smooth is smooth. Everything that should be black is black. Everything that should fit together does so very nicely.

If I examine the pen with a 10x loupe, I find some very minor imperfections at the end of the barrel where it meets with the “cap.” Also, the way in which the clip is attached is not as sleek as with the Vanishing Points of old. Integrate the old clip design, Pilot, and you may just have the perfect pen.

Review 21 Minute Road Trip

Dan: 8.5 – The Pilot Vanishing Point is a writing machine! One thing that I love about this pen is the push mechanism. I found myself repeatedly clicking it open and closed while thinking of the next sentence to write. I’m sure I was a little annoying to those sitting around me, but whatever.

The VP felt excellent in my hand and not once did begin to feel any fatigue. Using the pen for 21 consecutive minutes did reveal to me that the clip might be a bit intrusive. Not so much that it’s like that person who stands way too close to you when they talk, but more like that overly chatty co-worker who kind of invades your bubble and you’d just like to take a step back. It definitely wasn’t uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t mind a revision.

Eric: 6.5 – For me, the Pilot Matte Black Vanishing Point is a pen better suited to short jaunts than to road trips. I started the Road Trip thinking my thumb, index finger and I would all simply adapt to the clip’s interference. Adaptation proved impossible. The longer I wrote, the more bothersome became the clip.

The pen never skipped, never hesitated, never even thought of hard starting. As previously scored, the pen is a fantastic performer. Other hands may not find the clip to be annoying. I can certainly live with the clip when only writing for a few short moments.

Review The Checkered Flag

Pros:
˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜
Nib swapability
So. Much. Black.
One handed use
Cons:
˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜
Clip placement
Ink Capacity

Famous Last Words:

Dan: Pilot has done an amazing job with the Matte Black Vanishing Point. If you can’t get your hands on the older, faceted, Stealth VP then this is the way to go. It’s one of the few pens I feel good about paying full price for. You get what you pay for in terms of quality, design, and convenience. Not only can you easily buy multiple nib units but you can just as easily buy multiple bodies without the nib. You can mix and match to your heart’s content. This is probably the only pen that I’d recommend to people looking to spend more than $100, other than the Lamy 2000. It’s that good.

Eric: There’s a faceted Stealth VP from days gone by? Lovely. Add that to my never ending list.

For quality, performance and convenience, a Pilot Vanishing Point truly deserves a place in your collection. It is the perfect pen to reach for when you need to write for just a moment. Grab, click, write. It’s that easy and once you become accustomed to the convenience, your other pens will start to feel neglected.


This pen was purchased for review.

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  • R.Swenson

    Mine has a broad stub grind from Mottishaw. The nib has the feel of a full sized nib. I agree with you, this is a great pen. I would also agree that the Lamy 2000 is a great pen. My lamy has a NOS 1950s Lamy 99 medium stubby nib, directly swappable. Thanks for the great review.

  • http://penanddesign.blogspot.com Mac Laslak

    Great review! But has the paint started to chip off?

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      Not on mine.

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      After 2 months the black coating is still in perfect condition. But, I do keep it in a case when I’m not using it. I’m sure how durable it would be if you just tossed it in a bag or a pants pockets with keys and change and whatnot.

  • Melissa59

    “And then there one glaring blunder; the clip.”
    I totally agree. Then again, where else could they put it? This style might be best clipless (aka: Eric style). I do think it’s cool to have a click-style fountain pen and I really like the matte black appearance.

  • Mike

    I love my Stealth VP. I have a broad nib that is a dream to write with, it literally sings when I write on Rhodia/ Clairefontaine. It’s the smoothest factory nib in my collection. The clip doesn’t bother me but I still mostly use the pen in short note taking bursts. I always smile when I use my VP.

  • Gordon Tillman

    As always, thanks for the great review!

    I bought one of these (with fine nib) from Goulet back in January and it has been part of my EDC since. Been running it with Noodler’s Bad Belted Kingfisher for the last couple of months.

    Clip placement has not been a problem for me and I’ve had no issues at all with the finish chipping off, but I do agree that ink capacity could be better.

    –g

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      Thanks for the feedback, Gordon. I’ve put a positive spin on the low ink capacity by viewing it as an opportunity to try out different inks more often. Although, it is inconvenient if you run out of ink while out and about.

  • David

    I agree, the old Pilot Capless design was far superior when it comes to the clip issue. What makes it worse is the clip seems cheaply crimped on – a technique used on dollar pens.

    Also, if you write with a (properly) low nib angle, the bulbous section may pose a problem. Again, this is an area where the old Capless pen was better designed.

  • Andrew

    Richard Binder offers the VPs with clip removed, but not, unfortunately on the matte black stealth.

  • youstruckgold

    I’m happy with mine; and the clip is not a problem although I’d agree with your comments about design – the old clips integration with the hood looked better. So many complain about the clip placement (don’t buy it!); but I do wonder why Pilot doesn’t experiment with the clip in the way that Stipula uses it in their Da Vinci’s (i.e. so that it can be rotated to where-ever best suits you.

  • Tamara

    Love my VPs. Don’t have the stealth model, but have several others and an italic nib from Richard Binder that I can put in any body :)

  • Stephen Brown

    I’m not a fan of retractable nib fountain pens, but this one–WOW! That matte black is beautiful. Great review guys!

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      Thanks Stephen! I think this pen should go on your list of “must haves” for DC. How long is that list now???

  • http://writetomeoften.blogspot.com write to me often

    I am a great fan of Pilot Pens even though their distributor in Turkey is a mess but I would really like vanishing points even though I have a hesitation that they might have dried easily.

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  • Susan Long

    I have had one if these for a few months and I am sorry to say the finish is coming off on the metal band – but I still love it.

    • Andrew

      Is the finish flaking off or just wearing through?

      • Susan Long

        I think it’s more wearing through than flaking – I think I might have rubbed it against something and the finish came off.

  • Andrew

    @Dan: are you saying your Dialog 3 finish is wearing off? Is it flaking?

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      The finish is wearing off, not flaking. It’s happening in the opening where the nib extends and retracts.

  • http://monkeyphotomcr.blogspot.com/ John the Monkey

    Great review – I wish these were more readily available locally, as its the sort of pen I’d like to try before laying out money for.

    Have you seen the Raden finish? Not sure about the chrome accents, but lovely looking pen.

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  • Neels Kriek

    Hi Guys, great review as usual. I love VPs and the Stealth VP has not disappointed me. The one thing I think you HAVE to mention with VPS: Ink changes. When changing ink you HAVE to clean the trap door part where the nib emerges from the body. Over time ink collects on the trap door and this ink can influence the color of your new ink. This usually lasts only a word or two every time the nib is extended/retracted, but can be distracting. This is not a real problem, as long as you are aware of the issue.

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      This is interesting. I’ve never had this experience with any of my VPs. But thanks for the tip.

  • http://twitter.com/Francis_Rex Francis Rex

    Great review. This is known as the Capless in the Uk

    This is simply a great pen. I love the Matte Black finish although now I am tempted by the Fermo twist design and some of the other colours they do.

    It writes as soon as the nib appears. The ink flow is perfect, the nib is smooth and I love the idea of one handed operation and secure stowing of the nib.

    I do not find the clip a problem. In fact I find myself using it to navigate the pen on the paper.

    I wish I had bought a VP a long time ago.

  • George Exoo

    I am just about to place an order for a second matte black Namiki/Pilot VP. I think it was in 1999 that I purchased by first, a special treat while in Dallas, at Nieman Marcus. Price then was $100. The nib was not as charismatic as other pens I’ve had, but the performance was unequalled: no leaks, constant flow (no skipping), no ink evaporation, even after several months of unuse. Then one day in Charlotte, NC I left it in a photocopy shop. At first it was reported as found, but, as I wasn’t able to claim it quickly (I live 200 miles north of Charlotte), the pen disappeared. My only complaint is that over time (10 years or so) the black color began scraping off the clicker button, disclosing gold metal underneath. My Parker 75 has always skipped; my Montblancs break and need alsmost constant repair at outrageous prices. My Crosses and vintage Waterman do pretty well, and customer service is excellent and free of charge, but the matte black Namiki (now called Pilot) was in a class by itself. Ten stars. Highly recommended.

  • marianu95

    Recently I was extremely low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this!!! – bmb4

  • Elaine DarlingtonBrown

    Just took delivery of my matte black VP about a week ago – and, used with Iroshizuku ink, it’s performing beautifully. Still getting used to the positioning of the clip, but am sure will get used to it. LOVE IT!

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  • Kris

    Hi guys, nice review. One question: what’s the purple ink used in the video? (Conway Stewart Edgcumbe?)

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      I can’t remember what it was, but I know it wasn’t CS Edgcumbe because the video was shot way before any of the CS inks were released. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  • Jason Bedford

    I too am interested in the matte black Vanishing Point. Do you know if it comes with a ionized black nib as standard, or is that specific to some resellers?

    Most sites list it with a rhodium plated gold nib, while Goulet lists it with an ionized black nib. I like the “murdered” look of all black.

    Is this a recent change, or differentiation with specific resellers?

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      At the time we reviewed this pen the black nib wasn’t available. At all. I’m guessing it comes from the factory with the rhodium nib so that’s what most retailers put in their description, but if you asked I’m sure they’d swap it out for you.

      • Jason Bedford

        Thanks Dan, The VP and Falcon are on my next to get list… Cheers!