in Pens

Jinhao “Missile” compact fountain pen

(Flickr slideshow)

Whilst on eBay I decided to risk the enormous sum of $4.90 on the pictured Jinhao Missile fountain pen, delivered from Hong Kong by this seller who appears to deal in smoking accessories and fountain pens. This seems like a line in stock that would be approved of by many writers, perhaps with the addition of hipflasks.

I do have a few compact fountain pens, including two OHTO Tasches (which are terrific pens). However, they all take standard international cartridges rather than filling directly. I do have quite a few cartridges around but all of my favourite inks are in bottles, and the Missile is a squeeze-filler. It is possible to fill cartridges from ink bottles using a syringe, but it’s a bit of a pain. Anyway, it wasn’t exactly a huge monetary outlay.

Like the previous pen I ordered from Hong Kong, postage took around two weeks. I’d forgotten about the order when it arrived, which made it a nice surprise. Perhaps I should order myself more products with long delivery times; it would be like having Random Stationery Birthdays.

Positive points

  • Reliable fine nib (i.e. “European” EF or finer – about the same as my Pilot Décimo). Neither particularly wet nor particularly dry. Worked well with the inks that I tried it with – Diamine Oxblood, Poppy Red and Umber – with good flow, no notable issues with drying out.
  • Definitely very compact indeed. It’s around the size of a Fisher Space Pen, and slightly slimmer. Light, but with a metal body that seems durable.
  • Attractive finish; they come in various different colours.
  • Fills directly from a bottle, which I consider a plus point. There is no cartridge-filling option, so you would have to be sure to fill it regularly, but I plan to use it with red ink for editing and annotations where it’s unlikely to run out in a hurry.
  • Filling via squeezing the bar on the metal filler sheath isn’t very effective – the sac never gets very full. However, this sheath slides off easily, and squeezing the sac itself is much more effective. Some rapid squeezes can fill it pretty much completely, with just a few small air bubbles. The nib being as fine as it is, the pen won’t get through that amount in a hurry.
  • Extremely inexpensive.

Negative points

  • Obviously, if you don’t like very fine nibs, this is not the pen you are looking for.
  • It being very small does mean that it would be a bit of a strain to write with it for any length of time. Also it won’t hold very much ink. On the other hand, tiny fountain pens aren’t meant for transcribing encyclopedias with.
  • Posting the cap, i.e. putting it on the end of the pen, has to be done quite firmly or the cap falls off in use. Not a huge problem.

Overall

A quality and very compact pen for a very good price. If you are a regular user of bottled ink – and you should be – and want a pocket pen, this would be an ideal one to try.