Surprise Of The Year 2021

As the first month of the new year is nearly over I have spent some time considering what it was in 2021 was my ‘Surprise Of The Year’ me and I’ve reached the conclusion that it was the Faber-Castell 2011 Grip Fountain Pen; a budget cartridge/converter pen. I expected nothing from it and I was, therefore, very happily surprised by it.

I originally bought it to use as a comparison piece with the TWSBI Swipe but time passed and I decided the Grip deserved a bit more than just playing second fiddle to the Swipe; so I loaded it with ink (Diamine Sapphire – quite a wet ink) and propped it up in one of my ‘Improvised Ink Well/Pen Stand’ and left it there.

Several months have passed since I put it there and all I have done is occasionally take it out to write the odd note but not really doing anything with it and then it occurred to me that I had been doing this for quite some time and not once had I experienced any skipping or a hard start, the pen simply wrote as it did after I had first filled it.

When this revelation hit me I simply stopped and stared at the pen thinking ‘this shouldn’t happen with a pen that’s spent most of the last few months nib up vertical’. But I had to face the fact that what shouldn’t have happened had happened.

I dismantled the pen and found that the converter was still nearly full and hadn’t dried out as I had anticipated. I investigated further and found that the cap has an inner cap that covers the nib and provides a very good seal which stops the pen from drying out. But even then with the amount of time it spent vertical I would have expected a hard start or two or some skipping but there was none.

06 Disassembled Web 800hpx

So, the moral of this story is that you should never ever judge a book by its cover, I did, and I made assumptions based on my previous experiences of other budget pens and I shouldn’t have done.

Now, having said all of that it’s now time to talk about the pen itself.

It is a basic lightweight matte black snap cap pen with a silver clip and six rows of raised dots on the barrel that provide the ‘grip’.

What branding there is can be found on the cap; whilst it has no finial as such the top of the cap is concave and moulded into it is the F-C logo of two knights on horseback. And this is repeated on the side of the cap along with the company name printed in grey.

03 Branding Web 700hpx

The section is rubber coated and triangular in shape which tapers towards the nib and then flares slightly at the nib end giving you somewhere to rest your finger; interestingly at this point of the section there is a step down to where the nib is mounted. This lines up with the inner cap which then provides the excellent seal.

Size wise the pen is an average pen and whilst these measurements are not 100% accurate they should be close enough to give you a good indication of size.

Overall

Length capped -138mm

Length uncapped – 128mm

Section

Width – 10mm

Length inc. thread – 50mm

Length  without thread – 31mm

Barrel

Length – 78mm

Diameter – 13mm

Cap – 60mm

Nib – The nib is stainless steel and is, I think, a #5 and is very similar in size to a TWSBI Eco nib, I opted for a Broad nib which is a pleasure to write with.

07 Nib Web 500hpx

The writing sample below shows good even lines and a steady flow, I used Diamine Sapphire which can be a little on the wet side but the flow and saturation was excellent. F-C have an excellent and well deserved reputation for their nibs and they have extended this to their inexpensive pens which shows a genuine commitment to provide a quality product.

01 Nib Test Web 600hpx

Final thoughts: 

I chose this pen as my surprise for 2021 because it might be a basic inexpensive snap cap fountain pen but it is so much more than the sum of its parts; it’s simple, well built, comfortable to use and most of all it’s reliable.

So, if you are looking for a reliable everyday pen that isn’t fussy about how you store it but will keep chugging along for as long as it has ink in the tank then this could be the pen for you.

I would also say that because it has proved itself to be so reliable it would also make an excellent first fountain pen for someone of any age.

Finally, I believe this pen is definitely worth your pennies and I’m very happy to recommend it.

Disclaimer: The pen was purchased with my own funds at retail price. The opinions expressed in this review are my own; and I am not connected with either the retailers or manufacturers in any way.

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