Pen Review: Pilot Vanishing Point

The Pilot Vanishing Point is another one of those iconic pens that everyone either has, had, wants, or hates.

The Vanishing Point (or VP, as I will call it from here on out) is a retractable fountain pen that comes with an 18K Gold nib. There are many colors and materials for this pen, which has been around for a long time, and even the nibs come as yellow gold, rhodium plated, or black-plated. (I’m not sure the plating metal they use for the black nibs.)  The pen has an inner cap which helps prevent the nib from drying out when it is not in use.

The VP feels very solidly made. It’s a bit heavier than you might expect (mine was 32 grams), but not unwieldily so. (Is that even a word? Unwildily? If not, ™.) It’s a good weight, and it’s well balanced. This is a pen you could (and I have) dropped on occassion, and as long as the nib isn’t extended, I wouldn’t worry about it breaking.

Set aside the VP’s retractability (which, frankly, I find to be a very nifty bit of engineering), and you’ve got a fairly generic pen–except for one thing: The clip.  In order to store the pen upright when placed in a shirt pocket, the clip for the pen is actually attached at the writing end of the pen where you grip it. That clip can take some getting used to, and if you’ve got a grip that tends to find itself on the top of the pen barrel, this pen may very quickly become unusable for you.  If people complain about this pen, it’s usually because of that clip. Unfortunately, while it turns some people off from the pen, it’s also (in my opinion) a mandatory feature. I would not want to be putting a capless pen with liquid ink nib down in a white shirt pocket. When I bought the pen, I thought that clip would bother me, but it only took a couple of minutes getting adjusted to it, and now I hardly notice that it is there.

The other thing that set the VP apart for me was the fact that it is the single smoothest writing experience I have ever had. I have not used any other VPs in my day, but I can say that when I bought my VP, I was instantly blown away by how smooth the nib was. No adjustments, no smoothing, no tuning. It worked perfectly from the instant I inked it up.

I use my VP a lot. As I mention in the video, though, if I’m going to sit down to write for extended periods of time, this is not the pen I will pull out.  Instead, I find this to be the perfect pen for things like note-taking or crossing off items on my grocery list as I’m doing my shopping–anything where I’m going to be writing often, but intermittently.

  • Bob McConnell

    Thanks for the review. I am also a VP fan for the looks and engineering piece of it. The clip is different, as you mention but I have gotten used to it for shorter writing sessions. I ended up with a Richard Binder tuned nib unit and it’s better than the original.

    • Hm. I’ve always wanted a Binder-ized nib. I’ve been a little reticent of that six-month wait, though. Ideally, I’d love to have him work on my pen during a pen show, if possible.

      • Bob McConnell

        I don’t believe Richard works on pens outside of the pen shows. I cheated and just bought another nib unit from him for my VP. The first one I had was, let’s say less than spectacular. Richard tunes everything he sells and you get it in about a week in exchange for for your 60 hard earned bucks of course

        • Hm. I didn’t realize that. Is that a new thing? I seem to remember him still offering repair services back when I first started fountain pens in Feb 2013.

          • Wolverine3660

            Matt- he stopped doing repairs sometime in early 2013. Nowadays, he refers repairs to a few people he has trained. He still attends pen shows, and he does no nib modifications, and other repairs there for all comers.

    • eatpomegranate

      What do you like to use for longer periods of writing?

      • My current favorite for longer writing is my Aurora Optima Auroloide. I also like the Classic Pens LB5. In the more affordable range, the Edison Collier is right up there for longer writing sessions.

        • eatpomegranate

          Ah! Thanks for sharing! I am going to look into those.

        • eatpomegranate

          If you had a blog about your pens, I would read it. I grew up in the British Commonwealth and we always had to write with fountain pens. I never got to into using pens beyond $200. Can you give me a crash course on pens that are one level up from there? In other words, pens of note?

      • Bob

        My daily rotation changes our frequently. In the past year or so I have gravitated to broad nibs. I enjoy the color and the flow of just more ink. Current favorite is a Shawn Newton Shinobi but I don’t think it writes any better than my much less expensive Faber-Castell Ondoro

        • eatpomegranate

          I have been loving broad-er nibs as well. I used to write with fine nibs exclusively. I looked up the pens your mentioned and really liked the Faber-Castell Ondoro’s design. Any other pens you would recommend?

  • AceJ

    I just love this pen – the fine point is my preferred for most of my writing but I also use the extra-fine nib when I have the chance to write on smooth hard paper. Of the four I own, only one suffered from ‘baby’s bottom. My test for that is writing the capital H rapidly in succession about twenty time – it should miss a best – but if it skips on the down stroke then I have found a light contact with micro-mesh eliminates the problem.

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  • Alex Putnam

    Do you know how smooth the fine or extra-fine nib sizes write in comparison to the medium? I am considering buying one but I write really small.

    • EchoRanger

      I usually gravitate towards extra-fine nibs as I write very small myself and I have to say the fine is a much smoother writer. I’ve actually got 3, 18k in F and EF and metal alloy in F, and the Fs are much smoother by far. The EF does put down an incredibly narrow line but the F is fine enough for my handwriting and much more pleasant to write with.

      • Alex Putnam

        Thanks, I’ve been using a metropolitan with a fine nib so I am used to that size. I have used some mid level pens but wanted to upgrade straight to gold.