Pen Review: Ranga Model 3 Oversize
- Material: Ebonite
- Nib: Steel. 1.1mm Stub
- Appointments: Gold-colored
- Filling System: Standard International Cartridge/Converter/Eyedropper
- Length (Capped): 148mm
- Length (Uncapped): 137mm
- Length (Posted): 173mm
- Section Diameter: 11.7mm
- Barrel Max Diameter: 14mm
- Cap Max Diameter: 15.7mm
- Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter): 26g
- Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 16g
Up to this point in my use of fountain pens, I have had the opportunity to use a few different brands of Indian-made pens. I have found nearly all of them to fall somewhere on the spectrum between lacking and unusable. In general, the quality of the workmanship is poor, the materials are cheap, and the nibs atrocious. When compared to inexpensive pens from China, I think most of the Indian fountain pen industry still has a way to grow before they can meet even the same quality levels and pens from Hero, Jinhao, Duke, etc.
(Now, to be clear, I have not tried all Indian pen brands, and I’m sure there are brands out there that make quality writing instruments. My experience up to this point, however, has not been favorable.)
I do, however, have a dip pen from an Indian company called Ranga that I purchased very early in my pen-purchasing days. It uses a standard #5-sized fountain pen nib, and comes with an ebonite feed. As is common with Indian pens, the nib was very poor, but I replaced the nib with an Edison #5-sized steel nib, and I still use that dip pen today for ink sampling. It’s well-made and works wonderfully.
So, when I saw that Ranga was now making pens that utilized German-made Jowo nib units (in the standard #6 size), I decided to give their fountain pens a go. Jowo manufactures nibs for Edison Pens, TWSBI, Franklin-Christoph, and Goulet Pens…all pens and nibs whose performances I quite like. So, knowing that I would be able to avoid a poor experience with an Indian-made nib, I decided to take a chance and order the Ranga #3 Oversize in Red Ripple Ebonite from Peyton Street Pens. (You can also order the pen directly from Ranga on eBay, if you are so inclined.)
The Model 3 is inspired by the Parker Duofold, with a flat top and bottom. It comes in a wide variety of colors, in both Ripple and Mottled patterns, and in both polished and matte finishes. It’s a massive pen, comparable in size to the Visconti Homo Spapiens Bronze Age Maxi or the Edison Collier. The pen can come with either a gold-colored or a silver-colored clip. And, I believe the nibs come in both steel and two-toned steel options. There are a lot of potential variations to customize the pen for the user.
I really enjoy the experience of handling pens manufactured from ebonite. You often hear pen collectors talk about the “warmth” of the material, and it’s true; there’s just something about the feel of an ebonite pen that lacks the cool hardness of an acrylic pen. Plus, ebonite is very much a throwback to the heyday of the fountain pen, when many manufacturers used Ebonite as the main manufacturing material. My only other experienced with ebonite fountain pens have been with a couple of Vintage Waterman pens. So, I was excited to get ahold of a modern Ebonite fountain pen.
Of all of the Indian-made pens I have tried, I have found the pens from Ranga to be the most well-built–although this Model #3 does still lack some of the attention to detail you might expect in a pen of this price range. The pen is nicely turned and polished, but the material does have a little bit of pitting that shows through. I suspect this is a manufacturing flaw in the ebonite more than it is a flaw in the manufacturing. The threads are well-cut, but they hadn’t been cleaned when, and felt just a little “gummy.” (This was resolved with a light scrubbing and the application of a bit of silicone grease.) These are minor complaints that you’d only notice if you’re getting nit-picky.
The biggest issue for me was the top of the cap. The section above the clip was turned/cut separately from the bulk of the cap. Unfortunately, when assembled, it doesn’t line up perfectly, and there is a visible ridge between the two parts where the clip attaches. It is missing, say, the clean attention to detail you might notice from an Edison pen. (It’s also half the cost of any of the Edison production line pens–which don’t come in ebonite.) Nothing in the build quality of the Ranga is terrible, or even moderately bad. It’s just not quite as well-built as I would hope for an $80 pen.
The pen uses standard international cartridges and converters (both short and long), and can also be converted into an eyedropper. Due to the size of this pen, if you do decide to convert it to an eyedropper, you’d have enough ink to last you for a very, very long writing session. I haven’t measured it, but my estimate is that you could easily fit 4-6 ml of ink in the barrel of this pen.
I ordered this Model #3 with a 1.1mm Steel Stub nib. I’m not a huge fan of un-tipped stub nibs, so I’m not entirely sure why that was the nib unit I picked, other than perhaps I wanted to give stub nibs another chance. The tines were only slightly out of alignment, but it worked just fine after resolving that issue. Ink flow was moderate, as is common in Jowo nibs. I ran into no issues with hard starts, skipping, or ink starvation. I did eventually swap out the stock nib for a Goulet Medium nib, which brought the pen more in alignment with my personal preferences. If I had to do it over again, I would probably have just bought the pen with either the Medium or Broad nib
Writing with the pen was an enjoyable experience. I did not use it posted (as doing so would have turned it from a pen into a baseball bat). The pen is quite light, and I found that writing with it for long swaths of time didn’t cause any fatigue. The ergonomics of the section are just a little bit off for my hand, though. I really like hourglass-shaped sections. This section is more conical, and tapers down to the very end of the section, where it flares out again rapidly. It’s not uncomfortable by any stretch of the imagination, but if I could make one recommendation, it would be to even out the transitions of the section just a little bit to make for a more gradual transition in the grip.
Final Verdict: I like this pen a lot. I like it enough that I bought one for my Father for Christmas. (He always wanted to have an ebonite pen, and this was a great, affordable option.) I’m thrilled that Ranga is starting to build in such a way that Jowo nib units can be used in their pens. I just don’t feel like most Indian-made nibs are up-to-snuff. There are a couple of small details that keep me from fully loving this pen, but this one falls into my “strong like” category. And it’s one that I would happily recommend. I’ve enjoyed it enough, I’ve also got my eye on a few additional pens from Ranga…’cuz I love me some ebonite.