Pilot Vanishing Point Review


Pilot Vanishing Point Specifications

Brand: Pilot
Model: Vanishing Point (known as the Capless in some countries) 
Body Material: Metal
Color: The Vanishing point comes in a plethora of colors, some of which aren't available in the U.S. To see a sampling of the available colors, visit the Amazon page.
Trim: PVD Matte Black
Length (nib retracted): 141 mm / 5.55 in
Length (nib extended): 138 mm / 5.43 in
Nib Sizes: Available in EF, F, M, and B (Mine has a medium nib.)
Nib material: 18k gold
Interchangeable Nibs: Yes, $61 each
Overall Weight: 30 grams / 1.06 ounces
Barrel design: Round
Filling type: Cartridge/ converter
Clip: Not a spring-loaded clip
Ink Capacity: .5 mL for the converter; approximately 1mL for the Pilot cartridges
MSRP: $175 for the regular Vanishing Points; 230€ for the edition reviewed here
Actual Price: $140 for the regular Vanishing Points; 230€ for the edition reviewed here
Where to buy: AmazonAnderson Pens, Colorado PenGoulet Pens, JetPensLevengerNibs.com, and Pen Chalet. The "stormtrooper" finish is only available in Europe and Japan, so you'll have to order it from Cult Pens if you're in the Americas.*
*Not affiliated with any of these websites


Packaging

Pilot Vanishing Point "Stormtrooper" Review

Although this Capless isn't a limited edition, it arrives in one of the greatest boxes I have ever seen. The sides and  insert are completely transparent, giving the futuristic illusion that the pen is floating. It suits the pen perfectly and helps to justify the much higher price compared to buying a VP in the U.S.

Pilot Vanishing Point "Stormtrooper" Review
The contents of the box
Remove the insert holding the pen, and underneath you'll find a black felt rectangle containing the cartridge, cartridge cap (more on how that works later), manual, and a warranty card. I purchased this Capless from Styl' Honore in Paris, so note that a pen purchased in the U.S. will come with a lackluster clamshell box and a generic Namiki booklet.  

Design

Pilot Vanishing Point "Stormtrooper" Review
A scan from the manual showing how the retractable nib works
The convenience of the retractable nib had always been appealing to me, but none of the other colors looked perfect for my use: the matte black accumulated scratches and fingerprints; I don't like gold trim; and the rhodium trim looked odd on a pen like the VP. Then, I  saw this "stormtrooper"* finish on FPGeeks and knew I had found the perfect every-day-carry pen. After a few months, I almost entirely forgot this pen existed, until I saw one on display at Styl' Honore. It was expensive but would be cheaper there than online, so I finally bought it.

This Black & White finish  is sadly exclusive to Europe and Japan, and Pilot has no intentions of exporting it to the U.S. as Goulet Pen Company revealed here. The white finish is apparently one of the less popular colors, so Pilot doesn't wish to take the risk with this color. Read the comments on my Reddit post about it, the FPGeeks post linked above, or the ones on any Instagram picture showing this VP, and you'll see that there clearly is a demand for this pen in the U.S. 

The retractable nib allows me to use a fountain pen in roles which were previously fulfilled by Pilot G-2: quick note-taking, times when a fountain pen would attract unwanted attention, and  general use. Now I don't need to carry a G-2 alongside a fountain pen; I carry the Capless by itself.

The retracting mechanism works flawlessly with little resistance and prevents the pen from drying out. I left it inked for a week without any use, and it started immediately with no skipping.

One concern with potential owners is whether the clip will interfere with their grip. I use a standard tripod grip and find the clip position to be comfortable. A great test to see whether it will bother you is to hold a Bic Cristal (the ballpoint pen seen everywhere) upside-down. If the clip placement is troublesome, this might not be a great pen for you.

*In reference to the fictional characters from the Star Wars movies, not the German specialist soldiers in WWI.

Size and Weight


The Vanishing Point feels perfect in my hand. It's expertly weighted and longer than most unposted pens. Compared to posted pens, the VP is actually shorter than most.

This pen's diameter is almost equal to a Montblanc 146's, which I find to be the optimal girth for my hands. For those with smaller hands, Pilot produces the thinner and lighter Capless Decimo. 


Click to enlarge the photographs. From left to right, the pens are a Pilot G-2, a Faber Castell Ondoro, a Pelikan M200, a Sailor 1911S, a Montblanc 146, a Pilot Vanishing Point, and a Lamy Safari.

Pilot Vanishing Point Size Comparison

Pilot Vanishing Point Size Comparison












Filling System


Pilot Vanishing Point Review
Another scan from the booklet demonstrating disassembly and filling
The Vanishing point uses a proprietary cartridge/converter system, so only Pilot cartridges and converters will fit in this pen. Pilot's supplied Con-50 converter holds a minuscule .5mL of ink, so I have to refill it everyday. Without a retractable nib, I don't think I would see the use in a pen with such a diminutive ink capacity. To solve this issue, I may begin refilling empty cartridges with a syringe.

If you decide to use a cartridge, first place it inside the cartridge cap; then, slide the assembly into the nib unit as in the picture above. The cartridge alone is too short for the retractable nib mechanism to function, hence the need for a cartridge cap.

Pilot Vanishing Point Review

The Writing Experience

Pilot Vanishing Point Review

My VP has a wet, broad medium nib which is wonderfully smooth.  I would have chosen one of my typical fine or extra-fine nibs, but Styl' Honore only had  the medium in matte black at the time of purchase. The medium nib writes much broader than I would like; it's closer to a German medium than a Japanese medium. Pilot doesn't offer a true Japanese medium or German fine, which is disappointing if it's your ideal nib width. 

The interchangeable nibs for this pen are almost miraculous. For only $61, you can purchase a nib unit with an 18k gold nib, a Pilot Con-50 converter, and the assembly itself. 

Even changing nibs is easy: remove one nib unit and insert the other. No other pen has such easily interchangeable nibs. You could buy one pen and several nib units or one nib unit and several bodies. It would only take seconds to change nibs, so rotating a nib from one body to the next every day is actually feasible.




Writing Sample



Pilot Vanishing Point Writing Sample

Pilot Vanishing Point Writing Sample
Pilot Vanishing Point Writing Sample 










Pros

  • Convenience of a ballpoint in a fountain pen
  • Sturdy construction
  • Plethora of colors to choose from
  • Interchangeable nibs available
  • Very easy to switch nibs- remove one nib unit and insert the other
Cons

  • Clip placement may bother those with grips other than a standard tripod grip.
  • Low converter capacity (.5mL)
  • "Stormtrooper" finish not widely available


Closing Thoughts

This is easily my favorite pen under $200: nibs are smooth and quickly interchangeable; the retractable nib is perfect for everyday use; and there's a color to suit almost everyone. If Pilot would reconsider the decision not to export the Black & White to the U.S., I might find another Vanishing Point in my accumulation someday. 


Pilot Vanishing Point Review



Gallery


Pilot Vanishing Point Review
Pilot Vanishing Point Review







Pilot Vanishing Point Review
Pilot Vanishing Point Review



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4 comments:

  1. just got this pen for Christmas, and I agree-- the pen writes beautifully! thanks for the review-- it was really insightful.

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you liked the review, Kaila. Thanks for reading and enjoy your new Vanishing Point!

      Delete
  2. I carried this pen daily for several years, its a smooth writer but skips on photocopy paper. The clip placement forces your forefinger to remain in one place, that's on the right side of clip and it aches if its going to be there for a long while. Ok to take short notes but I didn't find it all that good for pages of writing. Make sure not to leave it unattended, people might mistook it for a ballpoint and start twisting it like one.

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  3. Hi there Travis! I was wondering how the finish of the Stormtropper has lasted over the years... Is the black plating coming off at all with normal use? or even the white? Thanks so much.

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