Pilot Explorer Fountain Pen Review

In this 4K video I review the Pilot Explorer Fountain Pen. This affordable fountain pen features a matte black resin body and a modern design.

Pilot Explorer Fountain Pen

The Pilot Explorer is an affordable fountain pen that competes directly with Pilot’s own Metropolitan fountain pen as well as other entry level pens like the Lamy Safari and TWSBI Swipe. Compared to the Metropolitan, the Explorer is more modern and masculine in appearance. It has a long slender body with rings at the end of the cap and the body that almost look like threading.

The snap cap features a large Pilot logo. Normally I don’t like big logos but on this pen the blind debossed logo looks great. There are two holes in the outer material of the cap. I am not sure if these are supposed to look like the windows on a ship or what but it is a distinctive look that adds to the industrial appearance of the pen. The clip is a black coated metal and blends very well with the cap and body resin material. The clip feels strong and robust. I do not think it is spring loaded.

The stainless steel nib is the same as you get on a Pilot Metropolitan and comes in Medium and Fine. I opted for the fine. These nibs tend to write one grade finer; a medium is more like a western fine and a fine is more like a western extra fine. It is possible to use Plumix nibs on these pens if you wanted a wider italic nib. The writing performance is excellent. I had no issues with skipping or hard starting. It was a perfect performer in the three weeks I’ve been using the pen.

The grip section is a translucent smoke colored plastic. You can see the feed through the section which looks great. Compared to the Metropolitan, the grip section is a little longer. The Explorer comes with a Con-B converter and an ink cartridge. Like all Pilot C/C pens they use their proprietary system but you do get a lot of options for converters as well as 7 ink cartridge colors to choose from.

When posted the pen does get long but it only weighs about 15 grams so there is no issue with the pen feeling top heavy. By comparison the Pilot Metropolitan with its metal body weighs around 25 grams. I found the Explorer to be very comfortable to write with.

Both the Metropolitan and Explorer retail for just under $30 and their street prices are under $24. So the question is which is better the Metropolitan or the Explorer? It is a tough call. I personally prefer the Explorer because I think it looks better and its lighter weight makes it more comfortable but for people wanting a more premium feeling pen the Metropolitan is hard to beat.

I received this pen free of charge from Pen Chalet for the purposes of this review. I was not compensated monetarily for my review. All views and opinions in this review are my own. The links in this review are not affiliate links.

Conklin All American Demo Gunmetal Fountain Pen Review

In this 4K video I review the Conklin All American Demo Gunmetal Fountain Pen. This fountain pen features a full size demonstrator body with matching gunmetal trim and a #6 Jowo nib.

Conklin All American Demo Gunmetal Fountain Pen

Conklin All American Fountain Pen

The Conklin All American Demo Gunmetal fountain pen is the first modern Conklin I have had in over a decade. I’ve been using the All American Demo the last couple weeks and I have really been enjoying it. It has a nice full-sized body made of a thick clear resin.

This Demo version is a limited edition model with only 898 pens produced. They selected this number because Conklin was founded in 1898 in Toledo, Ohio. The original Conklin company went out of business in the middle of the 20th century and the current brand is now owned by Yafa (the company behind Monteverde). The original All American was a budget model that was produced in the 1930s and in truth, doesn’t much resemble this modern version. The original was a celluloid level filler with two gold plated cap rings and had a very simple looking gold nib.

The modern All American that we see here is a larger pen and better looking pen. The gunmetal trim is very nicely done. They matched the nib, the clip, the section threading, and even the converter in this gunmetal finish. The result is a striking full-sized demonstrator pen. The pen is quite comfortable to write with and while it can be posted it becomes quite long and doesn’t always post perfectly straight onto the barrel.

I do not know where these pens are made because the materials that come with the pen do not say and I cannot find this information on the Conklin website. I emailed Conklin and did not get reply. Previous modern Conklin pens were made in Italy. The product description for this pen states that it is “Crafted from handmade European high-grade resin”, so perhaps these pens are still made in Europe. I find this somewhat disappointing for a historical American brand, let alone a model called the “All American”.

The nib is a steel Jowo #6 nib. These nibs are made in Germany and are excellent performers. I have the 1.1mm stub nib and it’s writing performance if flawless. I really like that these nibs are very nicely branded and feature a Crescent shaped breather hole. A lot of pens with Jowo nibs just use their stock decoration with an etched brand logo (Opus 88 and Wancher come mind). I also like that they give you lots of a nib options all in the matching gunmetal trim. You have EF, F, M, B, Stub, and Omni-flex options.

In the box you get a converter, two international short cartridges (a black and a blue), as well as an eyedropper. You can use a cartridge or converter or you can use what Conklin calls the “direct filling” method, essentially you just remove the converter and fill the barrel with ink. You can hold a massive 5ml of ink when filled this way. I am not a huge fan of using this pen as an eyedropper because the threading on the section is metal and I would worry that ink might corrode the metal, I am not saying that it will happen, but I think best practice to not to have metal where ink is stored. If you do go for the direct fill, I would make sure you have a tight seal to avoid leaks and it might be useful to use a bit of silicon grease on the threads to really make sure ink cannot escape.

In terms of overall building quality, I think this pen is pretty good but not flawless. I really like the quality of the finish on the gunmetal parts and the rocker clip is particularly nice with the Conklin logo. The European resin is thick and feels quite nice in hand but just as a summer suit doesn’t have a lining to hide loose threads, a demonstrator fountain pen with all clear parts cannot hide any imperfections. With the All American, I do see air bubbles on the inner metal ring just below the finial. There is also a grease or adhesive on the inside barrel just below threading. None of these “issues” bothered me while I was using the pen almost non-stop the last two weeks but upon initial inspection I did notice them and these are things I have not seen on similarly priced demonstrators from TWSBI and Opus 88.

Overall, I am quite happy with the All American Demo. I’ve definitely enjoyed using it and it feels like a premium pen. I think $115 retail is definitely on the higher side for this pen when you compare it to the Taiwanese alternatives from Opus 88 and TWSBI, that said, this pen does have a historical American brand name, an omni-flex nib option, and a more attractive design.

I received this pen free of charge from Pen Chalet for the purposes of this review. I was not compensated monetarily for my review. All views and opinions in this review are my own. The links in this review are not affiliate links.

Namiki Yukari Royale Vermilion Fountain Pen Review

Namiki Yukari Royale

The Yukari Royale is an oversize fountain pen similar in size and shape to a Montblanc 149. Despite it’s oversize form the Yukari Royale sits mid-pack in the Namiki line-up; there is the standard full-size Yukari and the comically enormous Emperor.

Namiki Yukari Royale with Namiki Nippon Art (same size as a non-Royale Yukari)
Namiki Yukari Royale with Namiki Nippon Art (same size as a non-Royale Yukari)

Earlier this year in Japan I tried both the Yukari Royale and the Emperor in person. I quickly ruled out the baseball-bat-sized Emperor but the Yukari Royale I struggled with for a little while.  I thought “how could a pen so big and heavy be so comfortable?”; ultimately I decided not to take the risk on such an expensive pen and I bought a Platinum Izumo Yagumonuri instead.

Fast forward a few months and I was still thinking about the Yukari Royale and at the same time feeling disenchanted with the Izumo (the Izumo has a long section with a large step down that causes me discomfort in long writing sessions).

I ended up going for the Yukari Royale (thank you to Pen Chalet for making this possible).

The Yukari Royale has a large brass torpedo-shape body covered in vermilion (red) urushi lacquer (also available in black). The cap has Namiki’s (Pilot’s) ball clip and a very thin gold band at the end of the cap. The simple shape and minimal trim make for a very elegant pen.

Namiki Yukari Royale

The fit and finish of this pen is flawless. It really is perfect to the point where I genuinely question if it is in fact hand painted. Next to a Nakaya the difference is night and day. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with a Nakaya, there isn’t, a Nakaya has more of an organic beauty.

This pen weighs a hefty 45 grams but it is so well balanced in my hand that I don’t feel any fatigue from its weight. My other Namiki pens, a Nippon Art and a Yukari (non-Royale) share this same wonderful balance.

The Yukari Royale measures 5.8” capped. You can post this pen but it becomes too long for me. The grip section is about .4” in diameter which is thick but not as thick as a Montblanc 149s which measures over half an inch.

Namiki Yukari Royale
Yukari Royale next to Montblanc 149 (notice how much fatter the Montblanc section is)

Here you can see the Royale with a variety of Pilot/Namiki pens:

Namiki Yukari Royale
Left to right: Namik Yukari Royale, Pilot Custom 845, Namiki Yukari Nightline, Namiki Custom Impressions (same dimensions as Pilot Custom 74)

The Yukari Royale is the only pen pictured above to feature an urushi painted metal section.  All of the other pens (even the more expensive Yukari Nightline) have unpainted plastic sections with visible seams.

The Yukari Royale (using Pilot’s sizes) is a #20.

Namiki Yukari Royale

Interestingly, it is the same size as a Pilot #15 but with a different shape and an oblong breather hole as well as a red plastic feed.

Nibs left to right: Pilot/Namiki #20, #15, #10, #5
Nibs left to right: Pilot/Namiki #20, #15, #10, #5

The nib is made of 18kt gold and is quite soft.  The performance is excellent.  No skipping no hard starting; this pen just works.  Out of all of my modern pens this is by far my favorite stock nib in my collection; it’s character is unique and lovely. Compared to my other Pilot and Namiki medium nibs which are butter smooth, the number 20 has a small amount of feedback which I love. It sort of reminds me of the feedback from an Aurora Optima nib with the softness of a Montblanc 149 nib…in other words this is a dream nib (for me at least).

With it’s large nib and feed this is a thirsty pen.

Namiki Yukari Royale

It uses a Con-70 converter that holds 1.1ml of ink and even with this large capacity I find that I run out of ink rather quickly. I also must admit that I am not as huge a fan of the Con-70 as I once was.

Namiki Yukari Royale

While it holds a lot of ink, it is the most difficult to use and the most difficult to clean converter on the market. I fill and clean mine with a blunt tip syringe.

So what about the price?

As I said earlier this is an expensive pen. The street price is $1,200 ($1,500 full retail).  I get a lot of enjoyment of the Yukari Royale and while I have a lot of wonderful pens this is the only one that I have refilled six times in a row…I just don’t want to put it away and to date I haven’t yet.

Is it worth it for you? Rationalizing a pen this expensive is a fool’s errand (though I have tried in past reviews, see Nakaya Naka-ai).

Namiki Yukari Royale

The Yukari Royale is a wonderful jewel of a pen to behold.

A special thank you once again to Pen Chalet for making this review possible.  If you buy a pen as nice as this you will want to purchase from a reputable authorized dealer with great customer service like Pen Chalet.

Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen Review

Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen The Delta Horsepower is the first Delta pen I have had my hands on and I have to say that I am impressed.  Thank you to my new friends at Pen Chalet for the opportunity to test this beautiful pen.


When you look the Horsepower the first thing you notice is the cap.   I have been told that it is supposed to look like a birds eye view of a Formula 1 car.  None of the Delta materials that came with the pen explicitly say anything about the cap design.  That is a strange omission if you ask me. Here is a picture of a Williams Mercedes F1 car from last weekends Austrian Grand Prix:

My father and brother were lucky enough to be invited to the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend as guests of Red Bull.
My father and brother attended the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend as guests of Red Bull and I was lucky enough to get some of their pictures 🙂

Can you see the resemblance?
Can you see the resemblance?

With the F1 car context and squinting really hard I can kind of see it, but it’s a stretch.  I like the cap and I think I would like it even more if I didn’t know that it was supposed to look like an F1 car. The hand polished red resin body is beautiful.  It’s a really deep rich red.  Continuing the race car theme there is a wide band of real carbon fiber around the barrel and unlike the carbon fiber on the Kaweco AC Sport I reviewed, it is very well finished, no loose fibers here. Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen The ruthenium coated trim pairs beautifully with the carbon fiber.   The thick cap ring is imprinted with “HORSEPOWER”.  I would have preferred lettering that was a bit less bold but with the dark ruthenium trim it doesn’t jump out too much. That back of the cap is engraved “DELTA ITALY” and is numbered “0295”.  This is not a limited edition but I definitely like that the pens are numbered, it’s a nice touch that I don’t see on many pens. Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen The big arched clip is quite nice looking, especially when viewed from the side.  I do notice that it sits a bit crooked and looking at other pictures of this pen it seems to be common; it’s not a big deal but worth pointing out. Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen The nib is also ruthenium plated and features some pretty standard looking scrollwork and a Delta logo. Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen I don’t normally talk about boxes because I think they are boring but the Horsepower’s packaging was quite well done so I thought I should include some pictures: Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen All in all I really like the look of this pen.  The high quality deep red resin and carbon fiber really make for a sporty looking pen. Score: 3.5/5

Build Quality

The fit and finish is a real stand out on this pen; it is excellent.  The Delta paperwork states that the pen is entirely made in Italy.  The resin body is hand turned from a solid rod and polished by hand.  It doesn’t look or feel like the cheap plastic that many similarly priced pens are made of.

Lots of paperwork.  It's nice to have an authentication card with a serial number.
Lots of paperwork. It’s nice to have an guarantee card with a serial number.

There are no seams on the body and everything fits tightly.  Someone definitely took care in making this pen.  The only thing that is a bit off is the clip; it is slightly crooked but it doesn’t seem to affect the function of the pen. The Horsepower has a steel Bock nib that doesn’t appear to be overly modified like the Bock nibs you find on some Visconti and OMAS pens.  That’s not a knock to the build quality but it is relevant when considering how much this pen might cost to make. Score: 4/5

Size & Weight

The Horsepower measures approximately 5.6” capped and 4.6” uncapped.  It’s 0.6” in diameter at its widest point.  It’s a pretty thick pen.  With ink cartridge installed it weighs 26 grams.  The pen posts well on the body but I found it to be a bit top heavy so I prefer to use the Horsepower with the cap off. Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen I don’t usually give much thought to the shape of the grip section but the combination of a fat section with a convex shape didn’t feel ideal to me.  Most of my daily writers with fat sections have a concave shape that feels more secure to me.  It could be that I am just used to the concave shape….the Horsepower never felt like it was going to slip out of my hands and overall it is a very comfortable pen that I have enjoyed using. Score: 3.5/5


The fine ruthenium plated steel Bock nib performed flawlessly.  No hard starting or skipping, just smooth even lines.  The flow is average; I wouldn’t call it wet or dry. Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen The nib doesn’t have much in the way of character and as you would expect from a steel nib there isn’t any line variation to speak of.  If you are seeking a bit of flair, the Delta Horsepower is available with a stub nib. Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen Score: 3/5

Filling System

Delta Horsepower Fountain Pen The Horsepower takes standard international cartridges/converters and comes with one black Delta cartridge.  Interestingly, it does not come with a converter; that’s a pretty unusual thing to leave out on a pen with a $225 retail price.  A converter only costs a few dollars so while not a big deal it does make the package less complete. Score: 2/5


With a street price of $180 I do believe you get your money’s worth but it’s important to think about your priorities for a fountain pen.  In this price range there are a lot of wonderful pens.  Do you want a pen with a solid gold nib or do you want a pen with a beautifully handcrafted body? For the same money you could have a Lamy 2000, or a Platinum 3776, or a Namiki Falcon, or a Pilot Vanishing Point.  None of these pens will be able to match the look and feel of the Horsepower’s body but they all have solid gold nibs.  A gold nib is not necessarily a better nib but it can potentially be softer or more springy. The Horsepower is also available with a Delta Fusion nib for a retail price of $395.  I have no experience with Fusion nibs but it is my understanding that they are part gold and part steel.  Without trying it I cannot say if its worth the extra money. Score: 3.5/5

Bottom Line

Confusing cap design aside, the Horsepower is a beautifully made pen that performs like a champion. Final Score 19.5/30