Pen Trends: Dip Nib Mania

A few weeks ago while browsing Yoseka Stationery, I noticed they had an MD Dip Pen (from Midori) listed. Curious about it, I added one to my cart to try. When I mentioned it to Ana, she noted she had both a Pilot Iro-Utushi and a Sailor Hocoro she was planning to review. I picked them up from her last week and so my review is a little compare and contrast of three new-ish dip nib pens on the market.

Dip nibs are not a new concept. In fact, they much more closely resemble some of the original quills and pens that didn’t have ink reservoirs from which to draw from. Imagine the old-time writer dipping a nib in ink, writing a few letters or words, and dipping again. Today, many folks use dip nibs to test a variety of inks, play with new nibs, or do quick sketches or drawings. I’m not aware of anyone who uses dip nibs as their primary writing instrument (maybe Michael Sull with his Spencerian Script).

So today I’ll be looking at three pens:

  • MD Dip Pen ($28, purchased with my own funds from Yoseka Stationery)
  • Pilot Iro-Utushi (retails for $11-$26, given to Ana by Pilot USA)
  • Sailor Hocoro ($16.00, purchased with Ana’s funds from Yoseka Stationery)

MD Dip Pen

At the most expensive and weighty end of the spectrum, this all started with the MD Dip Pen from Midori. The pen is only available in a Medium nib as far as I can tell, and it isn’t removable. The pen body is plastic and weighs the most of the pens I tested at 11g. The length is comparable to the others.

The Pros: I like the weight of this one – though I know many prefer lighter pens, this one feels really lovely in my hand. It was probably middle of the road in terms of being able to write at length – sometimes I managed to get through a whole line, sometimes I needed to re-dip fairly quickly.

The Cons: The price. You can get the other dip nib pens for a bit cheaper, and even get some additional choice and functionality.

Pilot Iro-Utushi

This pen was the longest, and the tapered body was interesting looking. The pen is available with two nibs and two body choices. Opt for plastic for $11, or upgrade to wood at $26. The nib is not removable.

Pros: With two nibs and two body types to choose from (and a few colors available in each) you have some choice with this one. The plastic body puts it at the cheapest of the three models, and the nib was my favorite out of the three to write with.

Cons: The only con on this one for me is that the nib isn’t removable. It’s not unique in that, but if I could put other Pilot nibs in this body, I’d probably be inclined to invest in this one.

Sailor Hocoro

The Sailor Hocoro was the most interesting option that I tested. It’s available in 4 different nib types, including calligraphy nibs, which I tried. The most unique part of this pen is that the nibs are interchangeable. And they pop out and can be inverted (the nib fits into the hollow barrel) for storage. That makes this one the most versatile of your dip pen options I tried.

The Pros: The combo of the price and the versatility make this pen my top choice of the three I tested. It’s cute, provides easy on-the-go storage and is comfortable in the hand.

The Cons: The calligraphy nib was fun to play with but they most frustrating to use of all the nibs I tested. I think this is because it’s basically a stub nib, and lays down quite a bit of ink. It means that the ink was very inconsistent, and it ran out quite quickly, requiring lots of dipping. I’d love to test out the fine or fude nib.

My overall conclusion is that I have a limited use case for dip nib pens. I use them most often when doing ink reviews, as it allows me to show how the ink would appear in a variety of thicknesses, and exhibit shading and sheening if it has any. I have tested a few dip nibs in the past, and tend to stick with my tried and true Delike Glass Signature Pen (spoiler: it’s not really glass). What I love about it is the ability to switch the nibs out, and that the glass nib holds a bunch of ink, meaning I don’t have to dip as frequently.

DISCLAIMER: Some of these items in this post were purchased with my own funds, others were provided for free or at discounted cost for the purposes of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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4 comments / Add your comment below

    1. They’re only optional on the fine and 1.0 nibs. They come with the Fude and 2.0 which I also find interesting but you can remove it from those and transfer as needed. I ended up just buying so I had 1 per nib rather than changing them out.

  1. So with the Hocoro, one thing worth it to note is that the Fine and 1.0 stub nibs lack something that the Fude and 2.0 have. An ink reservoir. You can purchase it separately for like $3 or so and I would highly suggest it. I dunno if it will help with the inconsistency of the ink but for me, it definitely helps with not having to dip anywhere near as much and for such a small price, I’m happy I got an extra. You can also easily pop one out of the Fude or 2.0 and attach it to the other nibs as needed if you have those. I feel like mine was deifnitely well worth the investment and I have 3 out of the 4 nibs.

  2. What is this… dip… nib… you say? Woooow.

    I have the MD pen. The nib comes out easily, although if I put the nib in a plastic slit type holder, it tends to wiggle out while writing. The holder part is as far as I can tell a standard nib holder, with the same metal prong type
    holder that my Speedball Signature Series has. The holder is made of “mapka” which is a resin made with paper fiber apparently. Ive noticed ink kind of wants to stain it. But Ive been using the MD holder with tons of different nibs just fine.

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