Fountain Pen Review: Pilot Vanishing Point, Raden Stripe

Review by Laura Cameron

Aesthetically, I’ve never like the look of the Pilot Vanishing Points and Pilot Decimos.  Until recently, I never understood the need to have a retractable fountain pen, and I thought the clip just looked odd in the middle of the pen.

Then I attended a conference and had to take notes in a seminar.  Each time I had to write something down I had to unscrew my pen cap, and then screw it back on when I was done writing, or else my nib would dry out sitting open for too long.  I found the experience frustrating and suddenly understood the need for a retractable fountain pen.

And so I set out on a quest to buy a pen I didn’t have in my collection: a retractable one.  I looked at Vanishing Points and Decimos and then came upon the Raden collection.  Rumor has it that Pilot is discontinuing the Raden collection, so the pens are now a hot item.  I couldn’t find a Raden Galaxy, which was my first choice, but I did find a Raden Stripe on eBay for a reasonable price and spent a lot of time staring at it. Ana cautioned me to wait and try out both the Vanishing Point and the Decimo at a pen show because she thought the Decimo is better sized for my hand, but then eBay had a 20% off coupon and I pounced. And so a Vanishing Point came to live with me for my 40th birthday.

Pilot VP Raden Stripe

Pilot VP Raden Stripe

The Vanishing Point is a full size pen with a diameter of 0.5″ (13 mm), a length of 5.5″ (140 mm) and a weight of 1.1 oz (30 g). It has a black lacquered body, with delicate abalone shell hand-placed in stripes around the middle of the pen. All accents are rhodium and the nib is a rhodium-plated 18k gold nib. The craftsmanship on this pen is really amazing.

Pilot VP Raden Stripe

For my first use, I inked my Raden up with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama Budo, and I wasn’t disappointed. I have a medium nib on this pen and while it’s larger than I usually use, it creates such a thick beautiful line that I love (although this does mean I need to use it with thicker paper to avoid bleeding through to the other side). The nib itself is very springy, but at the same time it just glides across the page. The diameter of the pen is probably just on the edge of comfortable for me to use. In truth, the Decimo is probably a better fit for my small hand, but I just couldn’t resist the Vanishing Point. I’m also grudgingly forced to admit that even though I still don’t like the look of the clip, it doesn’t bother me at all holding the pen to write.

Pilot VP Raden Stripe

So I guess the lessons here are never say never, try every pen you can get your hands on, and keep an eye out for good deals on eBay!

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6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I had a parallel experience. I didn’t like the look, didn’t understand the concept, etc.
    Then I tried a Decimo. I liked it. A lot.
    Then I saw a Raden VP. I got it. I like it. A lot.
    To make the pair even more special, I put cursive-ish nibs on them.
    I like them. A lot.

  2. I am not at all surprised by your reaction. VPs are fabulous writing instruments, and the Raden… so beautiful! Hope you have many happy years with it! AND – Happy Birthday!

    1. I should say I don’t think the Radens are overpriced because they have amazing craftsmanship. That said, the MSRP for the Raden Stripe is $800, and Goulet has it listed for $640. I found this one on eBay for $400 and with the coupon got the price down to $350. I didn’t have $640 or $800 in my budget at this point, but with that kind of deal I jumped at it.

  3. I feel the same way about the VP! I was worried about the clip based on what I heard, but when they announced they were discontinuing the metallic series I finally took the plunge. (I hate when I get fingerprints on the metal of my shiny-trimmed pens, so the rhodium trim would be a major downside for me.) And the clip turned out to be a positive feature, at least in my case. I tend to have a death-grip on my pens when I write, so the clip actually gives me something to rest my fingers against so that I loosen up my hand and write more comfortably. I wish I could afford a raden one, though–or for Pilot to bring out more/different raden VPs, more along the lines of the galaxy that are striking but more affordable.

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