I like puzzles of all kinds, from crosswords to Sudoku. Even my favourite villain from batman was the Riddler… It’s a good job because today I’m reviewing a pen that in itself has turned out to be something of a conundrum. It’s another budget Chinese pen, namely the Kaigelu 316, sometimes called the ‘Century Star’, henceforth I’ll just be calling it the 316. This one is the charcoal coloured model (other lovely finishes are available). I received this for review from another UK fountain pen enthusiast (thanks Carl). I’m happy to be able to review this pen for three reasons
- It’s a great looking pen.
- It continues my theme of investigating the possibilities a good writing experience without selling the family silver.
- I gave my word that I’d review it
So let’s get to it!
Presentation: This pen came to me unboxed so I can’t really comment on this. I have seen other reviews online where the pen came in a nice looking presentation faux leather box. I think it depends on the outlet from which you buy them. They seem to vary in price up to about $35.
Description: The 316 is a hefty and visually imposing pen. It bears a striking resemblance to the Parker Duofold, a resemblance which I do not think for one minute is accidental, but there you go. I’ve heard it said that the material used for these pens is celluloid. From the finish I can well believe it. The cap and barrel are deeply lustrous and attractive. The celluloid has a striking depth and pearlescence to it. The pen is well finished and comes with nice gold coloured furniture.
The cap has the Kaigelu kangaroo logo in gold on a blue background on the acrylic domed finial which I think looks really good. It also boasts a nice, sturdy, golden plated clip. toward the base are two gold coloured rings that give the cap a nice refined look.
The barrel has similar gold rings at each end. The base cap is black as is the section. The barrel slightly widens toward the base before tapering in. The section tapers toward the nib before flaring out at the end and is finished with another gold ring.
The nib is a good-sized duo-tone steel nib emblazoned once again with the Kaigelu logo and is marked as a medium, though the one I received has been custom ground to a stub.
Dimensions: As I’ve said the 316 is no small pen. It is 128mm long uncapped, 137mm long capped and 175mm posted. It weighs in at 32g uncapped and 48g capped or posted. The section diameter is 10.1mm at its thinnest point with the barrel being 13mm in diameter at its widest point, the cap measures 15mm in diameter
On Test: I’ve used this pen over a sustained period to try to get a good idea of its potential. On the positive side it is a very attractive fountain pen with a good heft. I always used it unposted. The pen will post but in my opinion posting makes the pen too back heavy not to mention being too long.
Negatively I found that this pen was a little too heavy for prolonged use. I found that after a page or two or three I started to feel uncomfortable. It wasnt so bad that I couldn’t live with it. However the real conundrum with this pen concerns the nib. I found that this nib epitomises another villain from the Batman universe. It is something of a Harvey Dent/Two face character. One good days it works perfectly and I’ve found myself enjoying it tremendously. On other days it transforms into a real curmudgen.On these bad days the nib suffers from hard starts and skipping. It always favoured smoother papers over toothier ones and wrote best when the paper was supported on something with a little give to it. To be sure it isn’t the smoothest nib I’ve ever used and on the bad days I find when writing with it I can lack the feel I get when using my favourite pens and nibs.
Summary: The conundrum of this pen is something I’m still working through. On the one hand it is a gorgeous looking pen available for comparatively very little money. If the nib issue can be sorted or you happen to get one that really works well then it will be a great addition to a collection. As this was a gift I’ll be keeping hold of this and I’ll keep working with it because there is something about the pen I like. Today has obviously been a good day.