Kaweco AL Sport Stonewashed (Black)
Length Capped: 106mm
Length Posted: 131mm
Length Uncapped: 100mm
Section at Thinnest Point: 9mm
Section at Widest Point: 9.5mm
Weight with Cartridge: 21.2g
Fast Writing: Keeps up decently, couple of skips
Line Variation: Not much at all; not practical.
Upside Down Writing: Very scratchy, but doable. Hard to read.
Wetness: Fairly dry, but not bad.
Pros: Nib writes well, very cool "distressed" body, decent nib
Cons: Converter options
Kaweco continues to do an incredible job of doing unique things with their fountain pen designs. The "stonewashed" version of their AL Sport is something I've not seen other companies do. Though Kaweco is a German company, this stonewashed pen reminds me of the Japanese concept of "wabi-sabi," in which the aesthetic value of an object increases with wear and tear from use. Nakaya uses this idea in the design of some of their pens by introducing cracks to the finish; in my opinion it really adds to their appeal.
Parts of the Pen
Like all Kaweco Sport models, the pen features a fairly long cap with an octagonal facets. The body is cylindrical with a step down at the end leading to an end cap with a rounded top and a dimple in the middle. The section is tapered and flared, and has a small grouping of threads at the top where the cap screws on - the threads with this specific pen I've noticed have not squeaked when unscrewing the cap . I suspect this is due to the process of distressing the pen, but can't say for certain. Finally, the finial is very slightly conical and features the 3-syllable Kaweco logo.
Kaweco likens this design as a "used look that perfectly matches your favorite pair of jeans." According to their site, they treat the pens with a very similar procedure to that used in jeans manufacturing. The result is an amazingly deceiving design which would have you believe this pen has been around for years and has produced many a page of written thought.
I've seen some people say that they don't like how even and uniform the wear marks on the pen are; I can understand that, as a pen that's been around for years may not wear as evenly. I still like the design of the pen, because they've not worn the entire finish off, but instead have focused on the high edges, which would be the first to wear on an old pen. Their idea is to mimic a worn pair of jeans, and to that end, I think they've done it perfectly.
The AL Sport Stonewashed edition is obviously the same pen as its non-distressed AL Sport counterpart, so the basic usability and functionality remains the same. The pen is well balanced, both posted and unposted. Due to its fairly short length, I prefer to write posted - the balance is unaffected by this as the cap adds negligible back weight.
The Kaweco steel nib is a fairly smooth writer with a touch of feedback. Being a steel nib, you get minimal line variation, though you can squeeze out the tiniest bit if you're determined to do so. Just be sure not to overdo it, because you'll probably spring the nib. Upside down writing is possible but I noticed the nib tends to catch on the paper and you'll have a hard time reading it. I've found the Kawecos tend to run a little on the dry side and this one was no exception - that could also be attributed to the finer nib size as well.
One thing that will always be an issue with the Kaweco Sport pens is the converter options. Since the pen is aluminum, eyedropper conversion isn't an option sadly. The pen takes Standard International short cartridges, and most full sized converters will not fit in the body of the pen. That leaves you with a few options: use only prefilled Standard International Cartridges, refill a used cartridge with a bottled ink and a syringe, or pick up one of the few converter options. The Monteverde Mini Converter, which is a plunger style, will fit in the sport pen but I believe that the plunger cannot be pulled out all the way. I've also heard that people have had issues with it not fitting the back of the feed properly, so there is the potential for leakage. Your second option is the Kaweco squeeze converter which is made specifically for the Kaweco Sport pens. It was recently redesigned to fit better in the new Sports, but a lot of people have issues getting a full fill with the squeeze mechanism. Another option is to fill the Squeeze Converter with a syringe, saving you the hassle of buying cartridges to refill, and avoiding the issue of getting a full fill. Finally, you may remember me mentioning the Templar Mini Converter when I reviewed the regular Kaweco AL Sport - I have since purchased one, and sadly discovered that they do no fit properly on the Kaweco feed. I spoke to Richard Croft about it, and he said that even though the Kaweco pens take a Standard International cartridge, the nipple on the back of the feed is skinnier and therefore the SI converters will not fit snugly. This likely explains why the Monteverde Mini Converter doesn't fit well either. Richard is developing a new style of converter just for the Sport pens, and is going to send me one of those to try. Until then, I'm still refilling my old cartridges.
All in all, I really dig this pen. Despite the converter issues, the unique distressed design keeps me coming back to it. It's a pen you'll never have to worry about scratching, as that has already been done for you! Of course the extra effort in manufacturing is going to add a little to the price, so the AL Sport Stonewashed sells for $90 from most of the US vendors. The pen comes in both a black and blue option currently, though I'd really love to see them add more color options down the road - a Stonewashed anthracite or silver would be awesome!
Thanks for reading!
(Kaweco has provided this product at no charge to The Desk for the purpose of review - I have since chosen to purchase the pen from them. My opinions are honest and without bias - visit the About Me page for more details).