Review: The Sailor 1911 Standard

The Sailor 1911 is a pen I bought primarily for its nib, I had heard tale of the legendary Sailor nibs and I fancied seeing if they were just as good as everyone I had said. About two years on and the short version of this review is the nib is every bit as good as the hype.

I bought this pen from a Japanese re-seller and imported it myself, from memory this cost me about £75. I did this whilst I was a student and at that time every little bit of money saved mattered, hence buying from Japan, retrospectively I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend this route, at least for Sailor. You can buy this pen from a reputable UK seller for around £115, which sounds like a £40 saving, the reality it a little different. I managed to avoid import duties, but theoretically you should pay them if you’re bringing this pen to the UK, so that’s 20% VAT plus an £8 handling fee so already you’re up to £98. Add to that shipping from Japan you’re around the £110 mark. Given that by purchasing from Japan you’ve forgone you’re warranty as well as any customer service I’d say it makes more sense to buy from the UK. Plus pen shops are a lose it or use it outfit, so in short, despite my own actions I’d recommend just buying this pen from a local retailer, it won’t cost you much, if any, more and you’ll have a warranty and supported a UK retailer. Plus if I had done it I might have got a colour more interesting than black.

It’s well executed, but it’s still just a cigar shaped pen

That leads me on nicely to design, in short the 1911 Standard really isn’t anything too radical on the design front. If you were being kind you’d say it was a tried and tested classic cigar shaped design, if you were being more harsh you’d say it was boring. The black and gold trim do go together well, but there really isn’t much new going on here, it’s very familiar ground. Having said that, Sailor do offer more colours (my Japanese seller only sold the black one, all the more reason to buy from a local retailer) the red and yellow both look quite appealing, and a bit different, even if it is still very cigar like.

The pen fills via a Sailor proprietary converter, it’s pretty standard and has worked well all the time I’ve had the pen. It might not be the most interesting filling system, but it does at least make for easy cleaning.

The Sailor 1911 S is a light pen in the hand, it’s a pen that I think it’s truly fair to call plastic, there are a few spots where you can see injection moulding lines and it really doesn’t have much heft behind it. Personally I like a light pen, so that element doesn’t bother me. As for the injection moulding lines, I won’t say I like them, they don’t particularly bother me, especially as I feel like the pen is quite good value, but if this kind of thing annoys you it’s a worthwhile consideration. The pen is small-ish, personally I like that, I’m not someone who likes to write with a big baseball bat of a pen, for me this is a size that I could happily write with for hours. In fact I’ll go one better and say I have, the 1911 S is the pen I used for all of my exams at uni, including one three hour monster in my final year. I think it’s safe to say that’s a pretty thorough test.

I mean… need I say more…

However as previously alluded to the real highlight of this pen is the nib, the nib on my pen is a 14ct gold ‘hard medium’. As you might expect this is a rigid nib, and being a Japanese medium it writes more like a fine. How it actually writes is quite difficult to explain, it does have a hint of feedback, similar to writing to with a pencil, but it still feels smooth, not butter on glass smooth, but equally not at all scratchy. The flow is excellent, it’s not super juicy, but it’s also not at all dry, I would say it is the literally definition of a happy medium, sometimes I might want a nib that’s a bit juicer or a bit softer, but a lot of the time this nib is exactly what I want, it just works for a vast proportion of the writing I do. That’s not to say it’s the nib that is my absolute favourite, or the only one I’d ever want, but it is a real workhorse. Plus a nice bonus is just how pretty Sailor make their nibs look, I mean just look at it, it’s one of the best looking nib designs I’ve come across.

So to sum up, the Sailor 1911 is a pretty good pen, the design isn’t anything too radical, and it might be a little plastic-ey, but then at £115 for an in house gold nib a little plastic-ey is ok, especially as it’s not too bad. And that really is the main reason I’d suggest buying this pen, the nib, it’s excellent, truly excellent, frankly I am quite happy to just to consider the rest of the pen as a holder for this nib.


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