Pen Review: Faber-Castell Ambition Pearwood

By Jessica Coles

Recently I was pushed outside of my comfort zone with pen reviews – you know, the comfort zone of the same three or four pen manufacturers that make a style and size of pen that fits, that works, that feels good. Comfortable. This time, I had the chance to review a Faber Castell pen. A pen constructed of metal, and wood, and, well, not acrylic. Something outside of my comfort zone.

But the manufacturer and material weren’t the only things outside of my zone. I also had a pen with… a medium nib.

Medium nibs are not me. I’ll allow a nib to start with a medium width if it is to be ground into an italic or stub, but I don’t do medium nibs. Ever.

The Faber-Castell Ambition pen originally pulled me in due to the combination of materials – several Ambition line wood-based pens were made with exotic woods; pearwood, coconut, walnut to name a few. I am quite familiar with acrylic, plastic, celluloid pens. However, I realized I often shy away from pens made of metal or wood. When I contemplated the reason behind this, I realized that kit pens were to blame.

For those who have not heard of kit pens, here’s a brief introduction. I relate it to my years as a model builder – model airplanes, model ships, model rockets… I’ll stop before I make myself into too much of a nerd.

Model kits are available for all of these items. Kits are made for many different skill levels, but basically kits that are not too different from Legos. Kits are made of plastic, wood, metal or a mix of materials that are intended to be put together following step-by-step instructions so the finished product looks great. But the tough steps such as cutting the wood or plastic from a blank sheet have been completed for you.

Pen kits also come with the preliminary steps completed – the barrel and section already cut out. Because they are more standardized, these kit pens have a recognizable feel. For some reason, I had acquainted wood and metal pens with these kit pens and I had stayed far away.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Picking up the Ambition pen, the first thing I though of was luxury. Rich materials, a solid pen, a well made presentation box. The pen looks impressive – a warm brown wood body and beautifully finished metal all around.

All of this absolutely changed as soon as I opened the box to the Faber Castell Ambition pen. Just picking up the pen felt luxurious – beautifully grained wood and heavy but incredibly well-balanced metal section, cap, and finial. The whole pen just felt rich. Rich with luxury, materials, goodness.

But the nib – to me, medium has always meant generic. Too many years of trying out fountain pens from the novelty section of business supply stores I suppose! The medium on the Faber Castell pen was smooth and delicious right out of the box and has yet to skip in my testing.

Let me get this straight, though. This is not a heavy pen. I could write for hours holding it – but the balance throughout the body and section of the pen just feels like it is well-made and expensive.

The Faber Castell Ambittion Pearwood pen comes in at 34g. The size (capped) is similar to a Lamy Al-Star (shown below).

However, uncapped, the Ambition is noticeable shorter and shorter than a Pilot Metro as well.

Posting the pens, the Ambition comes in between the two. I found myself preferring to use the pen unposted (small hands) but when it is posted, the cap snaps on firmly and doesn’t jiggle around.

The Ambition is a cartridge/converter fill pen and doesn’t come with a standard international converter. It did come with a short standard international cartridge – if you prefer to use cartridges, you can fit two short ones in the body for a quick change if you write the first dry.

As I noted earlier, the nib wrote very smoothly right out of the box – no smoothing or adjusting necessary. No skipping. More importantly to me, I loved the medium nib – this was not what I have experienced previously with this size. Usually a medium nib makes my handwriting look like I’m writing with a crayon – mushed together and unreadable. This pen simply felt… right. I felt like I was writing with an expensive, luxurious pen that performed its job perfectly, the first time. Isn’t that what more expensive pens should do?

But the Ambition isn’t a tremendously expensive pen, either. $88 for a high end steel-nibbed pen – compare this to recent releases from other manufacturers coming in around $150 – $200. And still, the Ambition beats all of those in writing experience.

I would not hesitate to recommend this pen to individuals who love writing, love beautiful pens or want something that lives up to the promise of luxury.

Disclaimer: Some of the items in this review were provided for free for the purpose of this review. Other items in this review were purchased by me.  For more information, visit our About page.

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5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I have one of these with a fine nib… I think I would like it better with a medium. The wood does eventually seem to be affected by hand oils, but not too badly.

    The one problem I have had with it is that the wood part is no longer firmly attached to the metal and sometimes moves a little out of place. I may have caused this myself when trying to twist open the cap… which of course is not threaded!

  2. great review Jessica… question for you… I had one of these (in basic black) and everything you said about smoothness, etc was absolutely true for that pen. I loved writing with it but ended up returning it because the converter continually got stuck in the barrel when unscrewing the nib unit. I got a replacement from the retail location (both branded FC converters) and had the same issue. Have they resolved that yet? it ruined what started out as a great pen.

  3. First I think that as a reviewer you should have an open mind. Towards nibs and towards all pens. If a kit pen is a good pen it is a good pen. Yes usually they look the part alas. Not all of their creators have the design chops to create a pen that works well and is a joy to look at. Then what about the metal thing? Montblanc has a history of creating metal pens that are quite sturdy and beautiful. Sheaffer does too. Waterman is not my style but belongs in that category too. Parker with the Flighter series. Aurora. Cross. And the list goes on and on and on. Definitely not kit pen makers. Just don’t let your aversion get in the way of trying out stuff.

    1. I think that Jesi admits she had been biased but she took a chance with the Faber-Castell Ambition and realized that her bias had kept a lot of interesting pens out of her hands. I think she’s clearly stated she’s willing to reconsider other pens now regardless of what material they are made from.

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