Edit: Public Service Announcement: Always check your pockets before doing laundry. In loving memory of Mat’s Pilot E95s, 2017-2021. RIP, my sweet prince.
Update: It’s back from the dead but it was a huge PITA; basically a complete restoration. The nib was bent up and not attached to the pen. Ink and scuffs everywhere. It was a nightmare, but now IT LIVES. Don’t put your pens through the laundry.
Update 2: These pens aren’t really fixable because of how they’re built–once the nib is removed, it’s basically toast. I just bought a new one. Don’t wash and dry your pens, kids.
Pilot is among my favorite pen makers. They’re by the far the largest of the Japanese pen companies and have a massive selection of writing instruments for any taste or budget, ranging from a few dollars to tens of thousands of dollars in their Namiki line.
The E95s, or Elite 95, is an underrated gem.
It’s modeled after the Japanese pocket pens of the 1960’s, which were designed to be short when capped and full sized when posted. They usually had semi-hooded or inset nibs, appealing to the streamlined, futuristic tastes of the time. Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum all made pens in this style, as did other now-defunct or obscure companies like Morison. I’m sure that other companies made pens in this style as well.
The E95 feels like a standard-sized pen that was designed to be smaller when stowed, unlike other pocket pens that are either intentionally small and designed to be larger when in use or are merely scaled-down variants of bigger pens. It’s not nearly as compact because of this but it’s more comfortable in use, at least to me.
My E95 is the black version and it is made from plastic with some metal components inside that do not affect the pen’s balance. The cap is a soft metal, lacquered black on my model. The burgundy model has a brushed appearance, but I do not have that one to compare. The clip is spring-loaded and works well. The cap is somewhat hard to describe: it is a pseudo-clutch-type mechanism that stays tight whether the pen is capped or posted. In any case, it’s unique, effective, and satisfying to use.
The 14 carat gold nib is inset, which I personally like but not everyone does. It comes in extra fine, fine, and medium; mine is a fine. The nib is stiff enough to be a practical and a smooth writer but isn’t so stiff as to feel lifeless. It was a flawless performer out of the box with a lovely balance of wetness, smoothness, and feedback. The line produced by this fine nib is about what one would expect out of a Pilot–a bit finer than an equivalent German nib, but not a needle point.
The soft metal cap is easily dented, so I don’t consider this a hard-use pocket pen like a Kaweco Sport or similar. This pen uses Pilot’s proprietary cartridge/converter system and the only converter that officially fits is the Pilot Con-40. The converter rattles, has a low capacity, and the pen’s design makes it impossible to check your ink level while it’s installed. I hope Pilot re-visits their small pen converter, but for the time being it will allow the pen to fill from a bottle. The now discontinued Con-20 also fits. Pilot’s cartridges work perfectly in this pen and would be my choice if this were going to be my one and only everyday pen due to their better capacity and Pilot’s high quality ink. Pilot cartridges are becoming increasingly available at office supply stores and they allow one to monitor the ink level in this pen while holding up well to refill and reuse. Edit: Pilot is now selling the Con-B, which is the old “cleaning converter” that comes with the Parallel, MR line, and probably a few others. It is perfectly adequate for this pen and would be my preference in lieu of the Con-40, although both do what they’re supposed to. Anyone with a latex allergy would need to avoid the Con-B, though.
The E95s retails in the United States for $136–which is a very attractive price in the competitive sub-$200 category. Anyone looking for a “step-up” pen should strongly consider this pen.
- Clever design.
- Light and well balanced.
- Fits in a shirt pocket but isn’t too small in use.
- Flawless performance.
- Great value.
- The Con-40 is trash, so a user would have to live with it or use cartridges.
- Edit: Or get a Con-B. Or source an old Con-20, but those are going for 10x more than the Con-B right now.
- Not as robust as some pocket pens. This should be considered a “shirt pocket” pen, not a “jeans pocket” pen.
- Postable aluminum sliding cap with spring-loaded clip.
- 14k inset fine.
- Also available in extra fine and medium.
- Polished black resin.
- Also available in burgundy.
- Filling system:
- Pilot Con-40 or cartridge.
- Con-40 capacity is 0.4mL by my calculations.
- Cartridge capacity is around 1.1mL.
- The discontinued Con-20 works in the pen, as does the “cleaning converter” that comes with some Pilot pens. edit: AKA the Con-B, now available for sale.
- Capped: 121mm
- Uncapped: 114mm
- Posted: 149mm
- Total: 15g
- Pen: 10g
- Cap: 5g
- Section diameter: 9-12mm.