Pen Review: Sailor 1911 Large


When it comes to fountain pens, there are few things that make me start to yawn faster than a black, cigar-shaped fountain pen. They’re just so boring. I get people who want a classic, understated look–I am just not one of those people. If I’m going to use these esoteric (and expensive) writing instruments, then I want pens that are going to make me excited to use them, not pens that could easily disappear into a drawer and be forgotten for the rest of my life.

I’ve reviewed several of these dark, torpedo-shaped sleeping pills in the last year and a half. In fact, one of my very first reviews was of a Montblanc 149…the granddaddy of boring, stuffy pens. As a writer, I like the pen a lot. But it’s not very interesting to look at. The Platinum 3776 Century in Chartres Blue avoided being labeled a boring, black pen by dint of its stunning blue resin. The Sailor Professional Gear was slightly different in that it looked like a cigar-shaped pen that had its ends chopped off. And the Black Platinum 3776 Century was dull to look at, but it had a fun music nib.

Despite my apathy toward this style of pen, I have been urged repeatedly by folks to try more Sailor pens. Sailor, as a Japanese manufacturer, specializes in either understated pens using understated materials, or wildly expensive presentation pieces with amazing levels of intricate handmade artwork. There’s not a lot of in-between with them.


I purchased this Sailor 1911 Large from a Japanese eBay seller at a very steep discount from what I would have been able to get it in the states. It saved me a lot of money, but it’s important to note that if something goes wrong with the pen, chances are that you will not be covered under warranty repair. Just keep that in mind.

As expected, the Sailor 1911 Large is a standard, black, cigar-shaped pen. For size comparisons, it is almost identical in size to the Platinum 3776 and the Jinhao x450. I ordered the version with the Rhodium-plated trim rather than the gold-plated trim. The pen’s acrylic is polished to a piano-black shine, and is glossy and smooth to the touch. The clip is streamlined and solid, and does its job well without drawing much attention to the pen. Perhaps the most “blingy” portion of the pen is the small metal band around the bottom of the cap that has the brand and model text engraved into it.

While there is nothing particularly exciting about the pen, Sailor has made sure that they treat the understated materials with the utmost respect, and turn out a fine quality product as a result. The pen feels very well-made. The threads are cut with precision, and glide smoothly. The fit and finish of every part seems quite nice.

The pen utilizes the cartridge/converter filling system, and uses Sailor’s proprietary cartridge and converter formats. The pen does comes with two cartridges (one blue, one black), and an included converter.

Many of Sailors pens come with 21k Gold nibs, which is rather unusual in the industry. I’m not certain of the reasoning behind this, as the higher purity of the gold would seem to indicate a higher cost without any benefit of which I am aware. That being said, Sailor’s nibs are lovely to look at.


I ordered the Hard-Medium/Fine nib with my Sailor. At the time, my thought was that I wanted to have at least one very fine nib in my collection so that I had one available if I ever needed it. This was probably a mistake for me. As someone who prefers a western medium nib, the Sailor MF nib was far too fine a point for me to use regularly. It writes well, but doesn’t lay down enough ink to show off the ink’s character. If I had it to do over again, I’d probably order a broad, and have a nibmeister ground it down to a stub or an oblique.

The nib can be coaxed to provide a bit of line variation, but as a “hard” or rigid nib, it’s not really designed for any sort of flex or even bounciness, despite being 21k gold.

Despite my personal preference for a wider nib, the writing experience of the nib isn’t bad. The tines on my pen were out of alignment. With such a fine point on the nib, I found that getting them re-aligned was a bit trickier than it has been on some of my other pens, but I was eventually able to get it there, and smooth it out a bit. The nib still has a bit more feedback than I prefer, but again, I suspect that has more to do with the narrowness of the writing tip than with a poor polish job from the factory. I had no ink flow issues, skips, or hard starts.

Overall, if you’re the kind of person who likes the understated look of a black, cigar-shaped pen, then the Sailor 1911 is a very nice one. I personally prefer the feel of the Platinum 3776 over the Sailor 1911, but the difference is very minor. Both perform admirably.

  • Gordon

    Hi Matt, thanks for yet another engaging review – even if the pen itself didn’t thrill you, at least you keep your viewers awake! I too have far more ‘boring black’ pens than I know what to do with – though most of mine are of the cheap Chinese variety, rather than Sailors or Montblancs…

    I sympathise with your ambivalence re fine / extra-fine pens – the more interested I become in inks, the more I enjoy trying them out in “fatter” pens (usually stubs rather than Broad nibs) to bring out the colour. My problem is, I’m naturally inclined towards very small writing – probably a throw-back to my student days when I wanted to avoid spending too much on paper! – so I really struggle with Medium and Broad nibs. Fine and Extra-Fine end up being my go-to pens for work situations (I have two TWSBIs with EF nibs), and I pull out the stub nibs and/or calligraphy pens when I want to get fancy.

    • Pascal Leers

      I also use F and EF nibs for everyday writing. My Pelikan M200 and M800 have a EF nib. But it writes like an F. (I did try a medium once. But it’s just too wide for my hand writing. ) I agree that the ink colour looks better in a broad nib. But it’s a sacrifice I,m willing to make. As my handwriting looks so much nicer in fine and extra fine.

  • Mikolaj Zacharow

    Thanks for a great review! Have you ever tried the cheapest from Pilot line – Pilot 78G?

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  • Pascal Leers

    There is one reason why I like a black pen.(Actually two reasons. I also like that classic look). Somehow it feels strange not matching the pen and ink colour.(A green pen should write green in my crazy mind.) But I don’t feel that way with a black pen. Black goes with everything. (Although I,m not saying that I don’t like coloured pens. As I love dark green demonstrator pens.)

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  • lesslighter

    I find that some of Sailor’s offering are kind of bad really my Impression on the Lecoule was short of worst it wasnt skipping but it was VERY DRY that it made a very toothy and scratchy experience and no matter how much hammering I did on the nib it doen’t want to follow I ended up with a cheaper Fude de Mannen and boy that was a fun pen but not a Sailor for me but the inks… YES THOSE BLODDY INKS THEY MAKE… beats diamine by 90 inks at the very least

  • Neil Robertson

    Hi, nice review. Please could you tell me where did you buy this pen from? Thanks, N.

    • I purchased it from a seller on eBay. I don’t remember which one. But it was purchased directly from Japan, which is how I got a good deal on it.

  • Tim L

    Looks like you have Noodler’s Apache in the pen? I find darker high shading inks to work best for F nibs. For example Diamine Oxblood.

    • It was Sailor Jentle Apricot. (I am not as enamored of Apache Sunset as most people. It’s a cool-looking ink, but not super useful for most of my writing tasks.)

      I have used darker inks in the pen as well, but even still, I find the shading on fine nibs like this to be far less pronounced than on M or B nibs.

  • Anon

    Hey Matt,

    Love the show.

    Some reasons why people need (not necessarily love) extra fine nibs.

    I spend most of my time writing on office paper that bleeds out mediums. Commenting or editing in the margins or between 11 pt single space requires thin lines… And we don’t have a budget to print on Rhodia… =p
    Add to the fact that side writing lefties will smear out on office paper with wetter inks (I’m one) – you arrive at needing super fine nibs.

    I would love to coax out character from all my inks, but my situation is such… Oh well…

  • Alex Wang

    “Smokin’ deal” means…how much?

  • Dave

    Many seller sites recommend upsizing Japanese pens to avoid the issue you had with the nib. It seems their entire pen producing industry simply has long since adopted a sizing system completely at odds with the American/Euro system.

    • Yeah, I am aware of that. I wanted to try the MF nib, because I had never seen the in-between size like that, and wanted a sense of it. So, now I know! I have a Sailor Zoom nib that I ground down to a medium-broad, and I like that pretty well now.

  • Steelblue

    I much prefer western fine nibs and heavier, larger pens but the Sailor writes so effortlessly and beautifully that this pen and the Pro Gear Imperial Black especially put all of my others to shame. The difference still impresses me daily after months of using them. In fine they are indeed very fine Japanese nibs but both of mine always lay down a perfectly smooth and consistent line no matter how fast I write. I finally understand why people kept urging me to give Sailor a try.

  • Thiago Jardim Pereira

    Hello Matt, nice review as always!
    You should try a naginata togi in MF or M, you’ll fall in love with it.

  • daystrom

    Matt, this is the perfect vid for me. The addictive pen store near me has a Sailor 1911 with a H M-F nib so I was left wondering what the writing was like until now.

  • PJ

    I have a Pro Gear fine nib that writes very fine when I use sailor jentle cartridges. However, when I used the Sailor Jentle Black bottled ink, I noticed that the line was slightly wider and nib flows smoother on the paper. This was also the case with my fine Platinum. Such nibs allow you to use wetter and more lubricated inks for work with the added benefit of improved performance (without any adjustment). Ok, I know that the Sailor Jentle black is not that wet, but one can afford to use wetter inks. Anyhow, a Japanese fine puts a 0.25mm wide line which is quite fine, while a medium is 0.5mm. For my handwriting I observed that 0.35 to 0.4 is best, which is the width of this Sailor MF. It’s a pity that the MF is not available on the 1911 Black Luster.