Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 379

Stepping away from fountain pens in today's blog post ... Here's a nice Pilot 'Axiom' ballpoint in Matte Black that I got for $21.35 CDN via Amazon.ca's Warehouse Deals section a few months ago. It's a well-made pen but it's a bit of a sleeper, so I thought it deserved a full review here .... and without further ado, let's kick it off!

(please click on images to enlarge)

The regular price is currently $25.60 CDN, but I took a chance on this one because it was listed as being in "USED-VERY GOOD" condition (and because seeing unsold pens in the Warehouse tortures me lol)

The Amazon Warehouse listing said: "Accessories may have cosmetic damage. Item will come in original packaging. Packaging will be damaged" ...and they were right about the packaging -- one end of the cardboard box was missing its flap (courtesy of an overeager buyer?!). The inner Pilot box is hinged and made of black metal with a clear plastic window. It and the pen itself were both in very good condition. The pen had one very small cosmetic flaw--more on that further down the review...

My 'Axiom' is a handsome, all-black, brushed metal retractable ballpoint with a nice heft (16.1 grams) to it. I weighed my two Parker Jotter XL (the larger Jotters) ballpoints and they weighed 11.6 grams and 12.6 grams each, so the 'Axiom' is about 30-40% heavier, but it's not what I'd call a heavy ballpoint. It's actually very comfortable to hold and use, well-balanced and generally feels really good in the hand.

The 'Axiom''s length is 14 cm and its section diameter is 1.1 cm, according to some cheap calipers I recently got at Canadian Tire for my pen reviews.

Now, let's look at a few of its features....
This elegant ballpoint pen was made in Japan and currently comes in Cherry Red, Cobalt Blue, Pearl White, Gloss Black and Matte Black (mine) colour options. Only the Matte Black model has a black nosecone, though; the rest have silver-coloured ones. I think this is what drew me to this particular pen, because I think it's a very cool, stealth-like look.

"PILOT JAPAN" is silk-screened in grey onto the back of the pen, just above the gripping area. There is no model name on the pen anywhere that I can see.

I love that the entire pen is brushed black metal, down to the clip and clicker; they could have made them polished black, but I'm glad they kept the finish consistent throughout the pen. The pen clips to a small sheaf of paper very well and the clicker is nice and bouncy---I own some ballpoints that require more pressure to engage their retracting mechanisms but, happily, this pen isn't one of them.

Here's the little cosmetic flaw that I mentioned at the start of my review--five short, thin lines (almost like tiny brushstrokes) of black paint-like material, at right angles to the clip. Actually, the fourth photo in this review shows the lines, as well
To see super-close-ups of the photos, left-click on a photo, then right-click & select "Open image in new tab" or "View image", then left-click on the image in the new tab).

I don't know if this flaw originated at the factory level or not (because the pen was sold as "used"), but the lines are barely noticeable and don't bother me at all. If the lines were scratches, that would bug me, but there's no actual damage to the metal. I could try to scrape the black stuff off, but I don't want to risk damaging the surface and creating a bigger cosmetic issue. As for the durability of the brushed metal material over time, I can't tell yet, but so far, so good..

I haven't read too many reviews for this model, so I thought I'd snap some photos of the so-called "traction dimples" (as some resellers, including Amazon, describe it) on the gripping area because...

...I took a good look at them (through a 30X loupe) and I couldn't find any dimples...but there were 99 tiny raised grey bumps (dots), so it's definitely not dimpled! That which is dimpled must have concavity (that sounds a bit like an axiom 😆), right?

The brushed metal body isn't slippery to hold, but the dots do provide a bit more traction (not nearly as much as the Faber-Castell 'Grip' ballpoint's more prominent bumps). I think the grey dot pattern looks really good against the matte black metal (and it imparts a modern/space age vibe to the pen), so even if they don't enhance the user's grip that much, the dots get style points from me.

It's certainly not a flaw, but Pilot could have made the profile of the pen (when its refill is extended) just a bit smoother; the paint-like drops on the barrel don't bug me, but I'm picky about stuff like that!

On the positive side, design-wise, the pen has two inner springs -- one inside the nosecone and another near the back of the barrel--that provide extra stability for the refill. The springs prevent that annoying side-to-side movement of the refill that some cheap pens have, and they also keep the refill from rattling around inside the barrel when it's retracted. Nice job, Pilot!

Now, here's why some people might balk at buying this really nice ballpoint--its refill. It's a short, odd-looking Pilot refill that says "PILOT BRFN-10M - JAPAN 2101" on it. The warranty card that came with the pen says:"Use of Pilot BCGR2 (Dr. Grip Center of Gravity) refills is recommended to ensure proper mechanical functioning of Pilot ball point pens."

I'd been looking for information on the type of blue ink inside the refill, and someone on Reddit said that it was the Pilot Acroball Hybrid ink. What is hybrid ink, you ask? Well, according to The Well-Appointed Desk blog, it's "a
modified ballpoint ink crossed with the newer gel inks to create a smoother, quick-drying ink made to be easier flowing while maintaining the waterproof characteristics." Other terms for this type of ink are "low-viscosity" or "emulsion" ink (there's a good guide to them on JetPens.com here; if you're a left-handed writer, this type of ink might be of special interest to you!)

The ink in my refill was a nice bright shade of blue and it didn't smear on the (non-glossy) paper I used. When I dropped some water onto the notes I'd written, the ink didn't run, either. Wow, smear-resistant and water-resistant--I'm impressed! (why did I not switch to using this type of ink much earlier?!?)

Back to the odd-looking short Pilot refill in my pen...When I bought the pen, I didn't realize it took a short refill (because it's not a short pen!) so I was a bit worried about finding refills for it, at some point down the road....BUT there is a hack! Keep reading...

Many thanks to the Redditor who posted that a Pentel 'Energel' rollerball refill (the top refill in the photo above) could be cut down and used in the Pilot 'Axiom! I haven't done this yet, but the Pentel refill does fit perfectly inside the Pilot's nosecone. I also tried a Uniball 'Signo' refill in it, but it wouldn't fit, and neither would a Pilot 'G2' refill (go figure). I'll hang onto the original 'Axiom' refill when it runs out because it has a little plastic cap (on its open end) that I'll put on the Pentel refill after I trim it down.

Ok, I just found a different Reddit post
where someone hacked a Uniball 'Jetstream' refill to fit a Pilot 'Axiom', so that looks like another option. I don't think the Pentel 'Energel' refill is currently available with hybrid ink, but the Uniball 'Jetstream' refill is.

In summary: I highly recommend this pen! The Pilot 'Axiom' is a sturdy, stylish, well-made ballpoint with a nice heft to it. It's well-balanced in the hand, comfortable to hold and use...and it comes with a wonderful hybrid ink! I think it's a great everyday writing instrument, but it also wouldn't look out of place in a more formal office setting.

(Photos & review by Maja)

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