Guide: Pilot vs. Sailor Fountain Pens

Guide: Pilot vs. Sailor Fountain Pens

Pilot and Sailor are two prominent fountain pen manufacturers from Japan with offerings to meet a variety of budgets, from those with pocket change to others looking to buy a grail pen. These two brands often compete in the same price brackets, so in this article, I'll evaluate Pilot and Sailor pens at affordable and more expensive price points to see the strengths and weaknesses of both manufacturers.

Budget: Pilot Kakuno vs. Sailor Lecoule

The two pens I will be comparing at the affordable end are the Pilot Kakuno and the Sailor Lecoule. The Kakuno is priced at $14 and the Lecoule is $25. Although the Lecoule is nearly double the price of the Kakuno, I feel these two options are roughly representative of what to expect out of Pilot and Sailor at the low-end price range.

The Pilot Kakuno is a beginner-oriented fountain pen with many quirks. Its nib features a smiley face so first-time fountain pen users know how to position the nib for writing. It has a snap-on cap for easy use, and it doesn't seem to dry out that quickly. Although the pen does feel somewhat like a toy, it is a perfect introduction to the industry with its nice nib and compatibility with Pilot converters.

The Sailor Lecoule is another lower-end fountain pen. Compared to the Kakuno, it feels much more professional and its style is more resemblant to a typical fountain. It features a screw-on cap that takes two and a quarter rotations. This pen is made of nicer plastic than the Kakuno, but the difference isn't too great.

At the lower end of fountain pens, there's not much to compare. These two pens are similar in most aspects, from nib smoothness to general feel, which makes sense given the constraints needed to be in a lower price bracket. Regardless, when buying a Sailor or Pilot fountain pen below $50, I'd say that the writing experience would be somewhat consistent regardless of what you choose.

More Expensive: Pilot Custom 743 vs. Sailor Pro Gear

In the higher price ranges, the difference between Pilot and Sailor fountain pens is much more noticeable. The pens by these two manufacturers have drastically different writing experiences with their gold nibs with distinct characteristics. Pilot pens are generally glassy-smooth and provide a wet writing experience, while Sailor pens have a noticeable feedback with a pencil-like writing experience.

These two pens are roughly the same price. They can be found for about $300 and seem to be some of the best purchases in the price range. The Pilot Custom 723 features a 14k, size 15 Pilot nib, while the Sailor Pro Gear features a 21k, medium-size nib.

Pilot and Sailor pens are drastically different, making a comparison between these two pens quite hard. While you get a lower purity of gold in the Pilot nib, the resin body feels higher quality on the Pilot compared to the Sailor. Nevertheless, the higher purity 21k two-toned nibs available on Sailor pens are very aesthetically pleasing and make up a larger part of the cost of the pen.

A last thing to note while comparing these two pens is the filling mechanism. Both these pens are cartridge converters, but Pilot and Sailor also offer other gold-nib pens with different filling mechanisms at comparable prices.

Both these brands have proprietary converters for their cartridge converter pens. However, I significantly prefer the converters of Pilot pens.

Pilot makes easy-to-fill converters with different options for refilling. These come in both traditional piston-style mechanisms and vacuum-filling converters. I've had great results from Pilot and never encountered a major issue with filling a pilot pen.

The same can't be said about Sailor converters. The selection is much smaller and the converters available don't feel the highest quality. With the higher prices of Sailor pens, having such a limited selection of converters is disappointing, especially with their high-end King of Pen still using a cartridge.

Sailor and Pilot pens serve different purposes for people with different preferences. For those looking for a glassy smooth writing experience, Pilot pens are the better option. However, for those looking for higher-purity gold and a more tactile writing experience, Sailor is the place to go. I love both these brands and these various pens bring variety to my daily writing, which is perfect for me to get any writing experience I want at any time.

Nathan Ma

Nathan Ma

Hi! I'm Nathan, and I'm a stationery enthusiast. I've been in love with anything regarding writing and have built up a huge collection that I can now share with others!