First, this isn’t my pen. It’s my wife’s pen. She adores it.
I’m not a huge fan of Sailor. I think my review of the Sailor 1911 Large was a bit harsh, but I stand by it. For the most part.
The Pro Gear Classic–henceforth Pro Gear–is, basically, a 1911 Large with flat ends. Sailor isn’t the only brand that does that–the Aurora Optima is essentially a flat-top 88, for example–but something magical happens when a manufacturer flattens those elegant, round ends. By taking 14mm off of the total length of the Pro Gear, Sailor created a pen that fits perfectly in a pocket but feels just as substantial in the hand. This pen is beautifully proportioned.
It’s hard for me not to draw comparisons between the Pro Gear and the equally beautiful and perfectly proportioned Aurora Optima. They are quite similar in many ways, and while I generally find Sailor pens to be overpriced, the Pro Gear is still a lot cheaper than an Aurora Optima. Users that are not concerned about ebonite feeds, piston fillers, and such things may very well find the Sailor Pro Gear to be a suitable substitute for the Aurora Optima.
The pen fills via Sailor’s proprietary cartridge converter system, which is functional enough. For $80 more, one can purchase the Pro Gear Realo version, which fills via piston. My understanding is that the Realo version’s ink capacity isn’t that much more than the cartridge/converter pen–especially if one is using cartridges. In general, the major advantage of a piston filler is increased ink capacity at the cost of the pen being more expensive, more difficult to clean, and ultimately harder to service. Because of these deficiencies, I’m not sure I’d go with the Realo version of the Pro Gear, but I can see the appeal. Piston fillers are sweet.
The nib on this pen is an extra fine, and extra fine it is. Like I said in my 1911L review, I don’t like the way Sailor nibs feel–it’s as if they’re not rigid enough–and that makes writing with this very fine nib somewhat tricky. It takes a very light, delicate touch. This is likely what separates die hard Sailor fans from those of us who don’t get them. Users willing to master the touch required for this nib are rewarded with a heavenly writing experience: high precision with a perfect level of feedback. I like Platinum’s and Aurora’s nibs more, but I can appreciate what Sailor’s doing.
Simply forcing myself to write a single page with my wife’s Pro Gear has changed my mind a little bit. Sailor pens are well made and attractive, and they write beautifully. If I were going to give Sailor another chance, I’d probably go with a Pro Gear, and I’d take my time to learn how to write with the thing.
The Pro Gear is an immensely popular pen, so there really isn’t that much more I can add. I think I’m starting to understand the Sailor hype a little bit more.
- Lovely size.
- Perfectly balanced.
- Beautiful writer.
- I still think they cost too much. It’s still just a cartridge/converter pen. Sailor would have my interest if the Pro Gear were $200. They’d have my full attention at $150. But the street price is $272 and is approaching the price of custom pens, used/vintage Montblanc/Aurora/Pelikan/Montegrappa/OMAS/whatever. It’s good, just not $272 good.
- The gray market price is much closer to what I think this pen’s worth.
- Twist to remove. Push to post.
- 1.5 turns to remove.
- Proprietary 21K Sailor nib. Either polished gold or rhodium plated to match the pen’s trim. Some models have a very pretty two tone nib.
- Available in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium-Fine, Medium, Broad, Music, and Zoom.
- Historically, specialty bespoke nibs were available. If one finds one for sale, it will likely be for a huge amount of money.
- Ivory resin.
- There’s a boat load of different colors of resin available for the Pro Gear.
- Filling System:
- Sailor’s proprietary cartridge/converter.
- Capacity when filled with a converter is 0.7mL.
- A piston filled-version called the Realo is available for more money.
- Capped: 130mm
- Uncapped: 127mm
- Posted: 150mm
- Total: 24g
- Pen: 16g
- Cap: 8g
- Section diameter:
- Obviously the Aurora Optima or Sailor 1911L
- The Pro Gear Slim is widely available and much cheaper.
- The Pilot Custom Heritage 92 and Custom 912 are similar, and less expensive.
- Sailor literally makes nibs for Taccia, and their pens are cheaper than Sailor’s pens. Taccia’s two tone 14k nibs are gorgeous, too.