I believe that fountain pens shouldn’t just be for the rich. So I was excited to discover a new pen from Namiki/Pilot called the Knight with a list price of $45. And it was on sale at Art Brown for only $36. What a bargain! But how does it stack up to the fountain pen competition? Find out by reading the rest of this review.
Three pens compared: Waterman Laureat on top, Pelikan M200 in the middle, Pilot Knight at the bottom.
The Pilot Knight with the cap closed.
The Knight comes in four colors: silver, black, red, and blue. I decided to go with the silver version because I like the all metal look. However, it should be noted that the outer matte silver coloring appears to be a lacquer finish over metal and not the metal itself. The color is quite nice in an understated way and the full richness of it doesn’t come across in the photo.
Because of the relative plainness of the design, probably no one will confuse it with a pen that costs more than $100, but on the other hand it looks a lot more expensive than a $1.50 Pilot Precise rollerball pen (which by the way is the best rollerball you can get for the price). I don’t think the Knight is going to win any design competitions, but then what do I know? I don’t see why anyone would pay $11.8 million for a painting of a Campbell’s soup can.
The pen appears to be entirely constructed of metal except for the shiny black plastic gripping section. The pen makes a nice metallic ring when you flick the barrel with your fingernail. It’s good that the gripping section isn’t metal because I find it very hard to write with a pen that has a metal gripping section.
Because of its metal construction, the Knight is quite heavy for its size. Novice fountain pen users will probably like that, because after writing with cheap plastic pens a heavy pen feels more substantial and expensive. But I have come to appreciate the joy of writing with the Pelikan M200, a very lightweight pen. Experienced fountain pen users mostly agree that lighter pens are less fatiguing for extended periods of writing.
The word “PILOT” appears on the cap underneath the clip. This reminds us that it’s not a “Namiki,” Pilot’s line of expensive pens, but rather a pedestrian inexpensive pen. On the back side of the cap the word “JAPAN” is written in a smaller font. There is no shame in the pen being made in Japan; the Japanese make quality products. Nevertheless, the country of Japan doesn’t seem to be associated with luxury the way the European countries are.
The Knight only comes with one size nib, “medium.” But despite the appearance of a letter “M” on the nib, this is really a fine nib. In fact it makes a finer line than the Pelikan M200 fine nib! This is good thing for first time pen buyers because the line width of the Knight is similar to the various gel and rollerball pens they’re familiar with.
I am extremely pleased by how well the pen writes. It starts right away and writes smoothly and reliably without skipping or ink leakage. Compared to the Pelikan M200, the Knight puts down a drier line and has a stiffer nib. The Knight requires a little bit more pressure to write with and is not quite as smooth. My preference is for the Pelikan, but that’s a personal thing. I can imagine some people preferring the Knight. (Although I'm favoring the Pelikan, I need to emphasize that the Knight is a quality pen that writes as well as the Waterman Laureat in the photo even though the Laureat had a list price of $85 before the model was discontinued.)
Although it writes well, the pen has two areas where it comes up short. First is the gripping section. It’s too short. I find my middle finger wandering up against the area where the metal meets the plastic, and it’s rough there. I imagine this would be irritating if writing for a long period of time unless I’d be able to adjust my grip and keep my middle finger lower down on the gripping section. The gripping section of the Knight is about the same length as the same area on the Pelikan, however the plastic threads on the barrel of the Pelikan where the cap screws on are far less irritating than the metal of the Knight (which has a pull-off cap).
My second complaint with this pen is with the aerometric converter that comes with it. The converter houses a rubber-like sac with a metal sheath on the outside that you have to squeeze and then unsqueeze to draw ink into the sac. The first time I filled the converter I drew in a pitifully small amount of ink. When the pen stopped writing after only a short period I was worried that it was broken, but it turned out that it was already out of ink! The sac is not translucent enough to see how much ink is left. This is very annoying. The Pelikan M200 has a convenient ink window, and the Waterman pens have a clear plastic converter that easily allows you to check the ink level, but I have no clue how much ink is left in the Knight.
If you can put up with these two annoyances then the Knight is a pretty good pen that’s worth the money. But it’s my opinion that if you are looking for a fountain pen that costs less than $100 rather than one that costs less than $50, and you don’t already own a Pelikan M200, then definitely the pen to buy is the Pelikan and not the Knight. (I previously wrote about the Pelikan M200 in my post on selecting a fountain pen.)