Re-Review: Pilot Varsity

Pilot Varsity

I took a lot of ribbing from readers after I reviewed the Pilot Varsity awhile back. I had a particularly bad experience so when I spied the newly repackaged Pilot Varsity ($3), I decided it was as good a reason as any to give the Varsity another try.

Pilot Varsity

The new pen design is the same shape as the original pen but features a black, grey and silver diamond pattern on the barrel and a small yellow “Varsity” logo on one side. The clip is a little larger and bulbous and too plasticky but the pen is comfortable in the hand and the cap is easily postable. The nib is labelled as a medium and its definitely equivalent of a European medium nib.

Pilot Varsity Writing Sample

I’ve been writing with this pen on and off for over a month and I’m quite pleased with its performance. It writes smoothly and starts as soon as I remove the cap. There are no hard starts or need for priming. The nib is wider than I generally prefer for an everyday writer but its a pleasing medium nib with some nice line variation and requires the lightest of touches to put ink on the page. Even writing upside down, sideways and just grabbing the pen to quickly write down a number presented no problems for me.

This is one of the best values in fountain pens. While the Platinum Preppy is available in a much finer nib and refillable, the Varsity will put a smile on anyone’s face. “Three dollars for this?!?! What a good deal!” I’m willing to admit that my previous experience with the Varsity might have been a fluke, one bad apple in the bunch. If you had a bad experience with a Varsity, I recommend you give it another shot. At $3, quality control is probably not a top priority but it also means it won’t break the bank to buy two.

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7 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I tend to agree. I heard you can refill the varsity but you need to take the nib out. There was a great similar product from marvy, the le fountain pen.

    1. There are several ways to refill the pen without taking the nib off. In youtube, search for refill pilot pen … The method works for all “disposable”

  2. These are always reliable. I can find one that has been sitting in a drawer for a year and it writes as if it were brand new. My expensive pends can’t do that!

  3. Always impressed for three dollars, the fountain pen experience and disposable not afraid to lose it convenience. Plus the new style does dress it up a bit. At least as much as you can dress up a $3 pen. Thanks for the review

  4. i like the design pattern of the old Varsity tbh. for me personally, i think this was a good starter pen, although the criticisms of this pen are obvious & valid. i am going to probably buy another round of starter fountain pens — Platinum Preppy, Pilot Petite, Plumix & Metropolitan — then get a TWSBI Eco.

  5. Like you, I purchased the Pilot Varsity to see what all the fuss was about. I bought a 6-pack (3 black, 3 blue) on Amazon for $13 + tax, definitely an inexpensive pen. My expectations were not very high and I was surprised by how nice the pens were. As you experienced, these were all very wet writers. I don’t know if it’s the ink, the nib slit width, or both, but the ink it does pour forth. I suspect this is why the pens write with a VERY light touch and move so smoothly across the paper. I looked at the nibs under a 10x loupe and saw that the hardening material on the tip seems oversized and very round. I agree with you that this medium is definitely a European medium, or maybe even a hair wider. Plusses (beyond price): 1. all 6 pens wrote consistently the same; 2. the black is a nice black, but I really like the blue color – a darkish, pure blue with good saturation; and 3. the quality of the stamped steel nibs – all are very smooth. Minuses: 1. this is a small diameter pen; 2. it’s also a short pen, you’ll probably have to post it to make it comfortable; 3. it feels like cheap, soft plastic because it is; and 4. If you use the clip (I don’t), be ready for it to say “hasta la vista, baby” after not much use. I plan to refill mine so I consider them an incredible quality/price value. I also plan to try grinding them to cursive italic shape so, after I botch the first 3 or 4 (or 6), they are inexpensive learning resources. All in all, I like these pens and will keep them in mind for future use.

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