So this is my first ever real pen review. Go easy on me. 🙂 Lisa and I just got in a batch of lovely Sheaffer’s and a couple are fairly new to market pens not discussed much such as the Sheaffer 300. I guess this makes it an easy opportunity to scoop them all up for ourselves, but wait, that’s not the idea (or so Lisa tells me).
The Review Philosophy
We’ve all read fountain pen reviews and when Lisa and I decided to undertake the most responsible task of doing this for some quite otherwise unknown pens, we had a long conversation on how it should be. Should it be a scientific approach, with a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of each writing instrument, along with a detailed spreadsheet giving dimensions down to the thousands of an inch using a precision digital micrometer? Or should we just ink up a pen and use it in our daily affairs and see how it responds and write about that? Should there be a rating system, and if so, how many points should be assigned and how should we assign them?
Now don’t get me wrong, I like detailed reviews about pens, but sometimes it’s a bit too regimented for me. I’m bound to forget one step in the process and then people will wonder if the 8.5/10 I rated pen A really compares to the 8/10 I rated for pen B. The problem is, how can you really rate two pens, unless they are the exact same pen? Everyone is going to have a different perspective on what makes an excellent pen and how they use it will be different. And let me also say that just because I sell these pens doesn’t mean I’m going to give them the Levenger stamp of approval. If there’s something I don’t like about them I’ll tell you and why.
Our approach then will be simple. Ink up the pens just as our customers would and use them. This means no pre-flush with water and ammonia or other ultrasonic pre-clean of the nib and feed. We’ll write with the pens as daily users to give them a good run for their money. Until I am satisfied I will not use another pen. *gasp*
The Sheaffer 300 – Initial Views
So, taking this all with a grain of salt, let’s just dive in. The Sheaffer 300 is a relatively new member in the Sheaffer lineup and I first discovered this pen in Baltimore a few weeks back. I immediately was drawn to it’s attractive shape, a classic flat top in appearance, but tapered in both the barrel end and slightly at the cap. It was a fresh look to me, and one of the reasons I find myself attracted to the Sheaffer lineup. They aren’t milking the same design over and over for decades as their only pen. This pen starts at $75 and goes to $80 for some of the models. The model I
have kept for myself reviewed is the straight line chased all metal version. I have a thing for all metal pens or those with overlays, so this was naturally my first choice.
The Sheaffer 300 is substantial in size, but almost deceptively so. In fact, I didn’t realize how big this pen was until I started to compare it to other pens in my collection. It is 5 1/2″ long capped and 6″ long posted. That means it’s the size of a Duofold Sr., or a Waterman 56, and is actually even longer than the flagship Legacy line of pens. I think the deception comes from the taper of the section and the taper of the barrel end. Couple that with the setting of the nib and it doesn’t seem as big as it looks.
This Sheaffer 300 has a number of features which interest me before even loading it up with ink. First off, the clip. I love it. I’ve always loved the spring clips Sheaffer used on the Legacy and PFM pens and was glad to see it present on this pen. It is practically impossible to bend a clip of this style. That also means it will always grab your shirt pocket tightly. It also has the most pleasant “click” sound when pulling it out of your pocket, meaning it was tightly grasping your shirt before being removed.
Second, the friction fit cap closes with a solid and convincing “snap”. There is no play in the cap and when it closes you know it is there to stay. Lisa and I have this (almost) joke about S.T. Dupont pens in that the sound of the cap clicking on to the barrel makes the pen. Well, this is the same way.
To finish off the fine qualities of the cap is the fact it actually posts on the barrel securely. You will notice there is a small nub on the back end that securely attaches itself to the back end of the inner cap. You can actually feel the cap posting on the barrel. Despite the heft of a metal cap, once it’s securely on the barrel, it’s not coming off accidentally. Sheaffer thought out this cap design thoroughly and then graced it with the white dot to finish it off.
The Sheaffer 300 is a cartridge convertor and the barrel is a nice tight fit around the end of the convertor. I like this, as there doesn’t seem any way this convertor is going to get loose. The section is a cheaper plastic and you can see the seam. While not my favorite quality about the pen, I hold my pens further back on the barrel so it doesn’t bother me. Once you ink up the pen and put nib to paper you forget all about the section altogether.
Getting to the heart of the matter I inked it up the Sheaffer 300 and used it right away. I couldn’t wait to put this nice pen to paper. The all metal chased pen I tested may be a bit heavy for some, but the other plastic and plastic/metal versions are lighter. I found the weight to be substantial, but the balance of the pen is right where the pen rests on my hand, if not a hair higher making it perfect for me. Since the pen is long, uncapped could be nice for those with smaller hands, thus reducing some of the weight. My pen had a medium steel nib and it was very smooth. The plastic multi-combed feed kept up with all I could deliver throughout my work day and through the evening, also providing satisfying dry out performance when left uncapped for several minutes. It did dry out at one occasion, but it was about fifteen minutes after being left uncapped, an occurrence that doesn’t happen too often for me. However, once put to paper, it quickly regained ink flow and was on its way. Always being a first time starter made me happy as well.
All nibs in the 300 series are steel, and the black 300 with gold filled trim has a two tone steel nib, making it a very smart looking pen. While the design on the nib is a far cry from some of the beautiful nibs of days past, it is neither over done, nor too simple as can be found on some other steel nibs.
The Sheaffer 300 comes in a number of finishes, all with chrome trim and clips except for the black with gold filled version and brushed steel with gold filled trim. Two marbled barrel options were offered (now discontinued, but in limited supply), one in a blue, the other a dark red. I think it is a very distinguished looking pen that seems like it would hold its own going into a board meeting or for signing some important papers.
My only wish for this pen would be for them to come out with a gold filled cap version on a black barrel. Charge me extra, I don’t care, I think it would be a fantastic looking pen and I’d get one in a heartbeat. Give me a gold nib option on that pen too, but I could see how they might not, as it would drive the price way out of the range of the rest of the line. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to suggest at least the gold filled cap to Sheaffer though. What a pen that would be!
Overall, I couldn’t be more impressed with the Sheaffer 300. It is a large pen, so I found some of my “modern” shirt pockets weren’t quite deep enough for it, but then I have that problem when using larger vintage pens too. Shirts just aren’t made the way they used to be. The only other problem is I don’t know how I’m going to get around to using any other pens without feeling guilty about leaving this sit idle. Maybe I’ll have to perform a real rotation, but then that seems like a lot of obsessive compulsive work. 🙂
So there we have it, the Sheaffer 300. I hope you can enjoy one soon!
Brian & Lisa