Pen Review: Sailor 1911 Standard Ballpoint in Ivory (Say what?!?!?)

Did you know that Sailor makes a ballpoint pen that matches the 1911 fountain pen line?  I’m as surprised as you are! At first, I thought, why would I want a fancy-pants ballpoint pen? I’m not one known for being particularly fond of ballpoint pens in general. I am still in therapy after years of gloopy, smudgy budget-priced excuses for ballpoint pens that left smears on my school term papers and on my hand so it takes a lot of convincing for me to even consider a ballpoint pen. Ron at Pen Chalet promised I would love the refill in the Sailor 1911 Ballpoint ($48) so I was willing to take a chance.

Inside the familiar navy blue, spring-loaded Sailor pen box was the ivory colored (listed as white on the web site) ballpoint pen. The pen is a twist mechanism rather than a click or capped design but otherwise looks very similar to the 1911 fountain pen. The clip is the same, the top end has the same rounded shape and the length is comparable. The barrel at the grip is a little bit narrower since its not capped.

The pen is made from the same lightweight resin plastic that the fountain pens use so its light and comfortable. It features gold tone accents.

I was really surprised at how smooth the ballpoint pen was. The ink didn’t gum up or get gloopy like ballpoint pens in the past. After using the pen for awhile, what I realized is that the refill fits snugly in the housing so there is no shimmy when writing. I know this seems like an odd comment to make but its one of the things that I notice most often using disposable ballpoint pens when signing the receipt at a restaurant — the refill in the pen always shakes around a bit in the pen housing. Its never a perfect fit. With a lot of refillable pens, I end up adding extra springs or tape on the refill to try to stabilize the refill but with the Sailor 1911, its a very precise fit.

According to the Monteverde site, the Sheaffer ballpoint refills they make will fit into Sailor pens. By that rationale, Sheaffer refills from any office supply store would also work. Helpful in a pinch however, the point here is that the SAILOR refill is far and away smoother than any other ballpoint refill I’ve used. Monteverde Softroll in Medium in a 2-pack ($8)  are available from Pen Chalet in a variety of colors. They are pretty good refills and if your penmanship is larger than mine (bigger than mosquito script) than these might be a good option. The Monteverde Softroll refills come in purple, brown, turquoise, red and pink to name the more unique ballpoint color options. Monteverde also offers Capless Gel Refills in fine that fit into the Sailor which might meet my exacting standards. A 2-pack of these refills are $8 and are available in black, blue or blue-black. If these options do not replace the original Sailor ballpoint refill, then Amazon can come to your rescue. I found original Sailor fine ballpoint refills listed there.

What hadn’t occurred to me until I was writing my conclusion is that most of the non-fountain pen reviews here have either been disposable pens or machined pens. Occasionally, we talk about Retro 51s but not everybody is interested in that particular aesthetic. And certainly machined pens aren’t to everyone’s taste. So, I’m really glad to add the Sailor 1911 ballpoint into The Well-Appointed Desk pen vault.

The 1911 ballpoint is a lovely upgrade to the everyday pen. The slim barrel is elegant and easy to hold. The only downsides I see with this particular pen is that the light color resin may stain easily if it comes into contact with ink from another pen but this design is available in several other colors — all with gold trim. The somewhat proprietary refill will make it important to stock-up on refills important.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Pen Chalet for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thank you for validating that there is a place for a quality ball point and that it makes a difference. I use my trusty 30 year old Mont Blanc bp daily and it writes well without all of the nasty traits of cheap pens… ditto for my Pelikan 800 ballpoint which is my travel pen. Love them both and know each has their place in my writing repertoire.

  2. Nice review, thanks…

    These little Sailor 1911 standard ballpoints are a square deal provided you pay less than $50 USD for one. The big problem is that they are hard to find outside of Japan (even online). So get while the gettin’s good!

    Personally, I find the Sailor’s twist mechanism to be annoying and prefer a click (or knock as they say in Japan) ballpoint mechanism instead. For me, the whole idea of a ballpoint is being able to whip it out fast-n-ready to write using only a single hand. Fiddling around with twisting the cap or barrel takes too long.

    The Pelikan K200 ballpoint wins hands-down for me in comparison with the Sailor 1911 standard ballpoint due to: 1. The clicker, 2. higher build quality (just look at that encapsulated Pelican in the end of the clicker), and 3. because it takes standard Parker compatible refills. The K200 taking standard Parker size refills opens up a world of options compared to the Sheaffer’s compatible cartridges used in the Sailor pen.

    If you bide your time and keep a sharp eye out, you should be able to snag a new or like-new K200 for $60 or less, at least for a solid or demonstrator color version (green/black or blue/black versions go for more). I paid $35 for my black/gold K200 NOS in the original box with papers!

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