Pilot Petit1

Material: Plastic
Nib: Steel Fine Nib
Appointments: Ha!
Filling System: Pilot Petit1 Proprietary
Length (Capped): 107.7mm
Length (Uncapped): 94.5mm
Length (Posted): 132.3mm
Section Diameter: 10.8mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 13.4mm
Cap Max Diameter: 13.4mm
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 7g
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter): 10g

I don’t understand “disposable” fountain pens at all. You get all of the hassles of fountain pens without any of the benefits. For me, fountain pens are fine writing instruments. They’re supposed to be nicer, result in a better writing experience, than you can get with any off-the-shelf drug store pen. I mean, let’s be honest: part of fountain pens (for me) is the feeling of smug elitism you get from writing with a perfectly tuned nib on premium paper while watching others attempt to manhandle cheap plastic pens across an equally-as-cheap yellow legal pad. I came into this hobby believing that fountain pens are/should be high-quality tools meant to last for years or decades, not cheap office supply store fodder in blister packs. They should be something more than the same old plastic they give away for free at your bank.

That’s one of the reasons why I have never been tempted to “review” super low-end fountain pens. What’s the point? How the pen writes is almost irrelevant. But as is often the case when I have a firmly-held (if somewhat ignorant) opinion, expanding my horizons often forces me to re-evaluate my position and change it slightly. That’s what happened when I received a pack of Pilot Petit1 Pens from a couple of Pen Habit viewer.


I’m not sure it’s possible to design a pen less likely to appeal to me. The Petit1 is a very inexpensive ($3.80 from Jetpens) pocket pen in nauseating candy-colored plastic more at home with the Hello Kitty set than with me. They are ridiculously small, sickeningly “cute”, and scream of all that is wrong with “disposable” pens. To make matters worse, not only do they take proprietary cartridges, but their cartridges are proprietary to that pen only. There is not a whiff of class or distinction about them.


The short little Petit1 has a torpedo-shaped profile. The cap of the pen is made of transparent plastic. The pen’s color comes from its barrel and matching plastic clip, which are also made of transparent plastic, with just a tint of the My Little Pony color palette thrown in. The pen’s clip is flimsy and easily breakable, but would do the job of holding the pen in place on a pen loop or shirt pocket. (Although putting this pen on your dress shirt pocket would be ridiculous-looking.) The cap and the barrel are flush with each other. The colored barrel has the words “Pilot Petit1” printed in white.


The cap pops off the pen to reveal a clear plastic section with a clear feed and a visually underwhelming nib. The cylindrical section unscrews from the barrel on big block threads. In theory, the Petit1 can be used as an eyedropper pen, but I had…let’s just say…“limited” success with that attempt. If you’re going to try to convert this pen to an eyedropper, my suggestion is that you slather the threads with silicone grease. Block threads are never ideal for eyedropper conversion, in my option, as they are rarely as tight or secure as regular threads.


If you decide the risk of eyedroppering this pen isn’t worth the potential rewards, you’re stuck with cartridges. (There is no converter for this pen.) As mentioned above, the Petit1 uses its own proprietary cartridges which I found rather difficult to track down. This is not a popular pen in the fountain pen community, so finding retailers that carry the Petit1 carts, especially here in the U.S., can be difficult. The cartridges come in a limited range of colors, which (for better or for worse) match the colors of the pens themselves. (Apple Green, Apricot Orange, Baby Pink [gag], Black, Blue, Blue-Black, Clear Blue, and Red.)


I think it’s pretty clear that I hate these pens, aesthetically at least. While they are technically fountain pens, they aren’t really fountain pens (if you know what I mean. Where’s the class? Where’s the over-inflated sense of self-worth that comes from knowing I’m better than everyone else because I’m using a fine writing instrument and not just a flimsy, disposable pen?  I was expecting to hate writing with them as much as I hated looking at them. What I was not expecting was how well they wrote.

Disposable or inexpensive pens usually have one thing on common: inconsistency. Like Forrest Gumps’ box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Tuning a fountain pen nib is an expensive process because there’s no great way to do it by machine. (Heck, based on some of the nibs I’ve received of late from some of the premium pen manufacturers, there’s not even a great way to do it with a human being.) But somehow, Pilot managed to make a really good, consistent nib in a $4 pen.


As far as I can determine, the Petit1 only comes with a Fine nib. This is not, however, a “Japanese” fine. It’s more in keeping with a fine nib on a European or American pen. It’s moderately wet, with consistent ink flow. The tines are perfectly in alignment, and the nib is smooth. It does maintain its middle-of-the-road feedback (a 5-6 on the MAFS), but it’s not an unpleasant feedback. There was nary a problem with the way this pen wrote.


Even more than the nib itself, though, I was flabbergasted by the ergonomics of the pen. I usually have a deep dislike for pocket pens. Even when posted, they’re often too small or too narrow for me to use comfortably. Unposted, the Petit1 falls into the unusable category for me. It’s minuscule. Posted though, it becomes a really comfortable writer. The section is nearly 11mm in width: much wider than most other pocket pens I’ve used. The balance of the pen is nice, and the extremely light weight means that you can use the pen for long periods of time without getting cramped.


One other thing that surprised me about this pen was how well it did when being left alone. I did my initial review of this pen back in October of 2015. Unfortunately, I lost some of the footage so I had to re-record the review in April of 2016. I forgot I had left an ink cartridge in one of the pens (the pen I used for the video review, in fact) back in October. When I uncapped the pen seven months later, I expected I would have to clean out the dried-up ink in the feed, or perhaps squeeze the cartridge a few times to get the ink flowing again. Instead, I uncapped the pen, placed it to paper, and wrote as though I had inked it only a few hours earlier. I never had a single problem with its writing. I just didn’t dry out. For a pocket pen that could get lost in a purse or a backpack, that’s a pretty handy feature in my opinion.

Overall, the Petit1 is not for me. When I sit down to reach for a pen, I am not looking for some Candy Crush-colored confection of a writing instrument. I want something else out of my fountain pens. That being said, I can’t write off (Get it? Huh? Write?  Oh, nevermind.) the Pilot Petit1 as thoroughly as I had hoped I might be able to. Any pen that writes this well, even after seven months of neglect, and does it at a sub-$4 price point has my impressed, if grudgingly, respect.

  • EelyHovercraft

    There’s no denying that they know how to make good pens at Pilot. Honestly, from ballpoints to gel pens to fountain pens, I still haven’t come across a bad Pilot.

  • MKR

    The beginning of the video, which applies your customary montage of shots and accompanying music to this conspicuously cheap-looking plastic pen, seems almost satirical.

    This has got to be the best extremely-cheap fountain pen that is sold through regular commercial outlets (by that I exclude pens from China). I bought one of them in red. The ink turned out to be a ghastly pink color, so I washed it out and, using an ink syringe, replaced it with a red ink that I like to use (Diamine Monaco Red). Since then it has been my standard red-ink pen. I did not have such good luck with the nib as you seem to have had: mine had a very scratchy point. But a bit of application of Micromesh took care of that.

  • Ted

    I have been touting these for a year since I first bought one (I have three, and keep them in my work desk). These are better than the Varsity pens (same nibs, though). You just refill the cartridges with a syringe). They use a wicking feed, but it works well!

  • Waski the Squirrel

    I bought one for a review of my own, but mine was the green one, and the green was just too light for a writing sample. So, I set it aside and forgot about it until I watched your review tonight. I need to refill the cartridge with something else and do my review. Like you, I was quite impressed with the pen!

  • slkinsey

    This question isn’t necessarily specific to this pen, but I note in your review that you mention “block threads.” I am familiar with the style of thread often called “block threads.” But I wonder if this has any specific technical meaning as, for example, “acme threads.” Or is it just a way of saying “extra thick threads”?

    • BadassMcKill

      Pretty much just refers to thick threads when talking about fountain pens afaik

    • I’ll have to ask my machining friends to see if they know.

      • Turns out that what are called “block threads” in the FP world are technically ACME threads. The threads are trapezoid-shaped rather than triangle-shaped, which is what the regular or “unified” threads are. (There is a third type of block thread where the treads are square-shaped (Called square threads) which is not usually used on fountain pens.

        • slkinsey

          Ah ha! I thought that might be the case. Thanks for finding out!

  • Long time lurker, first or so time poster here. I was shocked when I saw your YouTube video pop up in my feed but pretty excited your reviewed a pen like this. I’ve always wanted to try a Pilot Petit. How does it compare to other pocket pens…like the Kaweco?

    • It feels much more disposable than the Kaweco. But honestly, it writes just as well as any of the Kaweco pocket pens I’ve used. (And better than some.) As long as you’re fine with a fine, non-interchangeable nibs, I prefer the Petit1 for sheer writing performance. The Kaweco looks more like a real fountain pen and less like a toy, but it’s also 7x more expensive.

  • \///

    Now I want one of these, but man, everywhere I look, shipping is like 3-4 times pen price :/

  • José Ignacio Silva

    I was surprised to hear that you liked the Petit more than the Metropolitan, I thought, that you liked that pen, at least to fair amount. My guess is that you have lost the love for Metropolitans over time, or not?
    The nib is just ungly, like the nibs on the Varsity. But they work.
    Great review.

    • I’ve never really liked the Metropolitans all that much. In fact, my review of the Metropolitan has more dislikes than almost any other review I’ve recorded except the Safari video.

      • José Ignacio Silva

        Maybe a little too many hype?

  • I’m tickled by your review. I know this pen is so not your thing but you photographed them beautifully!

    • Thanks, Ana. There is something wickedly funny about going to so much effort to review a $4 pen. 🙂

  • Thiago Jardim Pereira

    It´s always enlightening to examine our prejudices, and any pen that manages to do that is already a winner on my book. Loved your review and your selfcriticism.

  • dothgrin

    I have five of these and they are great backup writers. And yes, the mere fact that I can leave it alone for months and it hits the ground running is just another reason Pilot is my go-to for fountain pens. I syringe fill the cartridges, so my pens have had a pretty nice life! I still like having a longer pen, but as a teacher, I can leave it at school and have it readily available, while my Jinhaos tend to dry out and make me angry.

  • Dave Busse

    As always, excellent production values – and for a $4.00 pen! Very interesting review. I have seen these pens and dismissed them, but your review makes me want to try one out (if you were ordering from Jet Pens or some other vendor anyway, why not?).

    Thanks for all your reviews, the information you provide has been very helpful to me.

  • MrChips

    The PetitX (where X=1,2 or 3) are really very nice little pens. I particularly like the fountain pens and have eyedroppered a couple of them with silicone grease with no leakage problems. They’re the pens you’ll find on my desk in the mug next to the pad of post its. My more ‘adult’ pens are in the drawer in the pen rack. The Petit1 does actually write better than some of my ‘adult’ pens, doesn’t hold up to my preferred Waterman Hemisphere though.