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View Full Version : Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen Review



heath
October 17th, 2013, 04:54 PM
I'm giving away these pens on my blog so I decided to do a full review before I sent them out. You can view the full review with ~50 photos and a writing clip here: http://penpaperinkletter.com/pilot-varsity-fountain-pen-review/ (http://penpaperinkletter.com/pilot-varsity-fountain-pen-review/)

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For some people this pen is seen as the perfect entry into the world of fountain pens due to their low price point. For others its a disgrace to the fountain pen name. Im going in letting you know I was already in the first camp. Another thing that should be mentioned is that these are disposable fountain pens and cannot be taken apart and refilled. Some people have hacked them to refill them with other inks but it is not an overly practical practice. So you now know that if you are getting into fountain pens solely for the ink selection youll not be very satisfied here. That being said, the multicolored seven pack of these pens might be a good place to start if you want a selection of colors but are overwhelmed with the hundreds of ink choices available in the bottle. (All images from this review are also in a gallery at the end of the post.)

Aesthetics

Overall I think these look great for what they are. The ones I reviewed are an updated diamondesce pattern that I think is much improved from the older lined models. The biggest gripe I have on the aesthetics would be that the caps are quite bland and look to have no styling whatsoever. Also, the green colored tips on the green inked pen are a muted mint color even though it is a standard green ink.

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Performance

This pen will work well for anyone wanting a solid wet writer. For those making a jump from ball or gel pens I think this is a good step. There is no line variation to speak of, as in there is no point in a line where it fluctuated in size, and there is no particularly interesting ink characteristics to worry with. Overall the Pilot Varsity is a well made plastic disposable fountain pen.

Color Choices

The Pilot Varsity comes in seven colors:


Black An average black to grey black
Purple A true dark purple (The imagine isnt representing it perfectly)
Blue A professional traditional blue
Red Bright red
Green A true green just that might lean a bit to a lighter green
Teal Exactly what I think of when I think of teal (Edit: Apparently Pilot calls this Turquoise)
Pink A vibrant color with some pop


Feathering & Bleed-through

For the most part these handled quite well. There was show-through on almost all paper but the only obvious bleed-through was on the field notes paper. There was some feathering on the Stone paper but only in the green ink version.

Papers Tested

I tested these pens on 6 papers: (Images below with front and back shots)


Office Depot yellow pad
Scout Book
Field Notes
TWSBI Notebook
Moleskine
Oxford Stone Paper Notebook


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Jeph
October 18th, 2013, 03:21 AM
That is a nice review and very well written.
Honestly, I was a little disturbed about how well these wrote when I tried them. They are not great, but also they are not bad. They write very well, and for the money they make an excellent introduction.
I have already given all of mine away in acts of penvangilism and I plan on getting more for the same purpose.

WirsPlm
October 18th, 2013, 08:32 AM
Just chiming in to say that these pens are surprisingly good, and have made me a definite fan of Pilot. They're perfect low-stress low-value ways to spread FPs to new people, and they look much more like normal pens than the Platinum Preppy.

KrazyIvan
October 18th, 2013, 08:38 AM
Just want to add that they are good nib grinding practice fodder and if you are careful, you can refill them with the ink of your choice.

heath
October 18th, 2013, 08:48 AM
Just want to add that they are good nib grinding practice fodder and if you are careful, you can refill them with the ink of your choice.

I hadn't thought about the grinding angle but as far as refilling I didn't want to encourage it to much for non-fountain pen people and then have them get frustrated.

Robert
October 18th, 2013, 04:52 PM
Before retiring I worked for many years in the legal department of an NYSE company, and several of us used the Varsity pens in-house. The pink ones were great for correcting/editing documents.

Senecabud
October 23rd, 2013, 08:30 AM
These pens are my "worry-free, go anywhere" pens. I bring one along when I'm concerned about losing or abusing one of my Lamys or Flex pens.

They perform amazingly well for the price. The nib seems to be somewhere between Fine and Medium, and I prefer 1.1 - 1.9 or flex nibs, but I can't complain considering the price. The ink supply is pretty generous as well IMO.

heath
October 23rd, 2013, 08:33 AM
These pens are my "worry-free, go anywhere" pens. I bring one along when I'm concerned about losing or abusing one of my Lamys or Flex pens.

They perform amazingly well for the price. The nib seems to be somewhere between Fine and Medium, and I prefer 1.1 - 1.9 or flex nibs, but I can't complain considering the price. The ink supply is pretty generous as well IMO.

I also really like flex nubs and I also have a 1.9 on a safari I love but do you use an italic for everyday writing or am I reading you wrong?

ThirdeYe
October 24th, 2013, 08:18 AM
The Varsities are the best pens you can buy for the price, IMO. I've given a number of them away to FP newbies and they all seem to enjoy them.

mommalisa
October 30th, 2013, 06:24 PM
I sometimes give these out when shopping- Maybe one young person will join the madness.

Titivillus
October 30th, 2013, 07:19 PM
Got a black old style in an airport gift shop and did enjoy how it wrote. Sad to say that for at least on triple digit pen the Varsity wrote better out of the box!