Ana and I met up this past Saturday to exchange holiday gifts, sip coffee, chat stationery and knit. She presented me with a beautifully wrapped package and the first thing I opened was a fountain pen. For a second I gasped, but then she assured me it wasn’t what I thought it was. Ana had bought me a Jinhao 82 ($8.98 on Amazon). If you don’t know anything about fountain pens, Jinhao is a series of pens from China, often made to look like other pens; i.e. knockoffs.
So I decided that today I would take the Jinhao 82 out and test it side by side with its “inspiration”: a Sailor ProGear Slim. (the Spring Rain, full review here.)
I don’t know which order I was supposed to start in, but I chose the Spring Rain first. Spring Rain was part of the Sounds of Rain series released in 2021. The body on this pen is acrylic, but don’t let it fool you – it’s full of extra details. The nib is a two-tone 21K gold nib. All the trim is in gold and the edition has special finials.
So I loaded it up with a purple ink (Diamine 150th Anniversary Purple Dream), and away we went. This one is an exquisite writer. It’s smooth and luscious against the page, it just flows. The ProGear Slim is my Sailor model of choice, fitting my small hands perfectly. And their nibs are really perfection – without compare. This one is an MF.
Next, I picked up the Jinhao 82. The body is similar though not exactly the same (a few mm difference here and there). The trim on my model is silver, although “gold” is available – I assume this is a color rather than the precious metal at an $9 price point. The trim is similar – the cap ring isn’t as hefty and the clip doesn’t contain the same striations, but they definitely look somewhat alike.
I can’t diss the writing on the Jinhao 82. The nib is a steel one in Medium (although other sizes are available) and so it isn’t nearly as light as the gold one. It’s stiffer with less variation. But it’s still pretty darn smooth across the page. Really it gives a much better performance than I would expect of an $9 pen (and it exceeds the Jinhao Shark pen!). Ana and I had a good chuckle that the very cheap knockoff comes with an ink converter, whereas in the original you have to buy the converter separately.
Are the two pens the same? Heck no. There is definitely a big difference in quality between the two. But there’s also a HUGE price difference. For someone getting into the hobby, or even someone who loves collecting pens, Sailor ProGear Slims are a $3-400 minimum investment, and that’s before you upgrade nibs. Conversely, I don’t think the Jinhao 82 really takes anything away from Sailor. Although it’s a “knockoff,” the logo on the cap ring and nib is Jinhao – they’re not trying to pass themselves off as Sailors. I think they write pretty well and I’d totally recommend them to someone who loves the look, but not the price, of Sailors.
What do you think?
- Papers: Baron Fig Mastermind Desk Pad (Standard, $16)
- Pens: Jinhao 82 ($8.98 on Amazon) and Sailor ProGear Slim Spring Rain ($360 at Jetpens)
- Inks: Diamine 150th Anniversary Purple Dream (40ml for $18) and Kala Nostalgia Star Garnet (30mL for $16)
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