First impression: this is a fat pen.
And the tapered ends make it feel short, though it’s about the same size as the Pentel pocket brush when capped. The Sailor is a bit lighter though. Like the Pentel, the Sailor Pilot has a plastic body — but the Sailor also has a plastic clip, whereas the Pentel’s is metal. This makes the pen feel more on the cheap side, even with the gold accents, especially since the clip can kind of wiggle back and forth if you’re rough with it.
Second impression: why do screw caps exist!? I hate screw caps so much! Sure, it secures the cap better, but really, when was the last time you actually had a problem with a regular cap falling off a pen? Call it a pet peeve, but I really hate the extra effort and the extra time it takes to uncap a pen whose cap screws in, and I hate that it’s basically impossible to uncap the pen with one hand.
Though they’re about the same length capped, the Sailor is ~1.5cm shorter than the Pentel (and most regular sized pens) uncapped. I don’t like petite-sized pens, so I found it awkward to hold it with the cap unposted because of that.
I was also a bit surprised at how much the width of the pen ended up bothering me — it isn’t a huge difference when you look at the pen, but my hand isn’t used to it? I don’t think it affects the way I draw as much as it affects the way I write, but it’s slightly uncomfortable either way because I’m over aware of it.
Other than that, the initial test of the pen’s performance went about as expected. As another synthetic hair brush pen, it performs very similarly to the Pentel pocket brush and Kuretake #13, both of which are also about the same price as well. The Sailor is capable of a good range of line widths, has a good texture to it for broad strokes, and the ink is waterproof and alcohol-proof, which is a step up from the Kuretake.
However, the more I used the Sailor, the more it became apparent that its brush tip didn’t snap back to a good point as readily as those other two pens. The ink collected at the end of the brush in such a way that the tip was frequently split. You can sort of see it in this photo:
The Sailor’s brush is about the same length as the Pentel’s, but it’s fatter at the base, so the bristles don’t taper as gradually. This made smaller and thinner strokes much harder, and that, coupled with the tip refusing to snap back to a good point, made detail work really frustrating. Actually, I think the girth of the pen contributed to the difficulty as well — this just isn’t a pen for fine, controled details.
To be fair, most people probably aren’t going to use a pen like this for detail work anyway — a felt-tip brush pen like the Tombow Fudenosuke is a way better choice. It is, by default, much harder to control a bristle-tip brush pen… but I’ve always managed pretty well with the Pentel pocket brush, which is why it continues to be my benchmark. Being able to do both detail work and looser, rougher work with the same pen is a great advantage, but it doesn’t seem like the Sailor is quite that versatile.
It can do thinner strokes, but it’s so difficult to control them that I don’t want to risk it. Thick and rough strokes are no problem though!
Up until recently I didn’t do a lot of English brush calligraphy. I’m playing around with it more now, but I’m still not really sure what qualities I’d want in a pen for that. A brush is harder to control than a nib, haha… I think the thicker base of the brush may be a pro for calligraphy though, as it makes the brush less “flicky,” which, for joining letters together smoothly, is a good thing.
All in all, the Sailor Profit is a nice pen. In a world without the Pentel pocket brush, it could even be a great pen.
But in the battle of synthetic hair brush pens, the Pentel pocket brush is still top dog. If you don’t already have a Pentel and a Sailor comes your way — great! At $16, it’s not a bad purchase. But if you do have a Pentel, you can probably just stick with that — it can do everything the Sailor can do, isn’t weirdly short and fat, doesn’t have a screw cap, and is better for detail work if you wanna do detail work with it.
(I feel like most of my reviews of bristle-tipped brush pens just turn into another love letter to the Pentel pocket brush, but… oh well.)