Tough Love: Pilot Falcon Edition
The Pilot Falcon is a pen I lusted after for a long time before finally purchasing one. It’s a clean understated pen that’s light in the hand and offers a unique writing experience if you manage to find one that works out of the box.
Pen In Hand
I’m not someone who pays much attention to pen weights, but I consider the Falcon to be a normal weight pen. Throw in a Con-50 and a bit of ink and the combo weighs in at 19.8 grams. You can get this pen in a metal version but it’s substantially more expensive and considering what I went through to have a working specimen, I’m glad I bought the resin one.
The Falcon is a typical length pen similar to the Platinum 3776, Lamy 2000, or Karas Kustoms Ink. I find pens this size fit my hand well without posting, and even better when posted.
The Falcon has a nice strong clip that will cling to your shirt pocket or wherever you might fancy without any worry of slipping out-of-place.
The section tapers down slightly toward the nib and provides a good amount of grip area between the nib and threads. Depending how you hold your pen, you might place your fingers on the threads but they’re not sharp or bothersome so no worries there.
The Falcon can be posted and it’s comfortable in both scenarios. I prefer it posted but it feels well-balanced either way.
The resin pen comes in 2 trim colors: gold and rhodium. The body is available in black or red but the gold trim is only an option in the black version. Other than color, they’re exactly the same. I bought the rhodium trim and I think it looks the best but if gold is your jam, they have that covered. Either way, it’s pretty darn classy.
The Filling System
The Falcon can use a Pilot cartridge or the Con-20, or Con-50 converters. If you have the metal version, add the Con-70 to that list and enjoy with the increased ink capacity.
I lean toward the Con-50 as a personal preference although I’ve tried all of them in the past. I’ve read the cartridge holds more ink but I like twist converters. I’d choose the cartridge before a Con-20 though; squeeze converters aren’t something I care for.
The Falcon has one of the more recognized nibs in the market. Thanks to the unique design and the “soft” designation, this nib is on a lot of wish lists, mine included. It’s available in all sizes from extra fine to broad, all of them soft. I chose the fine nib because I wanted a decent amount of variation but I didn’t think I could stomach an EF nib.
Of course, when you set your sights high, you increase the chances for disappointment and that’s exactly what happened to me. The Falcon I dreamed of for so long showed up and refused to work. The feed would go dry while writing, it couldn’t flow enough ink to handle a bit of flex, and every time I tried to cross a T, it skipped. Talk about a huge let down!
Based on my research, this isn’t rare behavior. I searched far and wide and came up with a list of fixes that revolved around the filling system. Besides flushing repeatedly with cold water and Goulet pen flush, I also tried all the different filling systems (cartridge, Con-20, and Con-50), and a number of inks. Nothing changed and the pen continued to disappoint.
Here’s where I screwed up: I tried to fix the pen myself. A pen that retails for $144 should work out of the box but I got impatient and started messing with it. Somewhere in my fiddling, I either sprung the nib or nudged something to make it even worse.
Eventually I realized what I had done and sent it to Pilot for repair. After inspection, they determined I’d damaged the nib and wanted $75 to fix it. I thought about letting the pen go and writing it off as a loss but I really wanted a Falcon so I broke down and paid for the repair. If I had sent it to Pilot immediately, the warranty would have covered the repair. Live and learn I guess.
When the pen came back from service, it was a completely different experience. Now it writes perfectly every time, with none of the problems from before. This is the pen I dreamed of and all I had to do was pay a lot more than it was worth. After a few minutes with this pen, I forget about the extra cost and I fall in love with it every time I use it.
So about that nib, I bet you’re wondering about the flex. You probably watched this video on YouTube and now you want one. Yeah, me too but this isn’t how the Falcon performs.
If you read the description, you’ll see his pen was modified by John Mottishaw of Nibs.com and this is nothing like the factory nib. Does it flex? Sure, a little. Can you get crazy with it? Nope. Be very careful, springing the nib is a one time trip.
What’s the Falcon nib really like? It’s a soft nib but not a flex nib, be sure you understand the difference. Properly used, the Falcon has a nice amount of spring and can offer plenty of line variation. As long as you know what to expect, this nib will deliver.
Learn from my mistake, if you buy a Pilot Falcon and it doesn’t work after a good flushing or with any of the Pilot filling systems, immediately contact Pilot and let them fix it. Don’t be a dummy like I was!
My Final Thoughts
I’m not someone who uses a fine nib voluntarily but I’ll make an exception for a soft nib since the line variation is worth the trouble. I don’t think this pen has been empty since it came home from repair, I love it that much.
The Falcon is a fun pen, very different from most, and fantastic if it works. But that’s the problem, it should work out of the box but my unscientific estimation based on my research is that this pen carries a 50/50 chance of having problems. That’s not a ratio anyone would want from a pen that costs this much.
On that note, I don’t know if I can recommend this pen to anyone but the most seasoned of fountain pen users. If you buy one, there’s a good chance it will need a trip to Pilot so be ready for that possibility. If it works out of the box, buy a lotto ticket and hope your luck continues. Otherwise, prepare to be separated from your new pen while Pilot makes it work like it should have.
What a sad sentence to end a review on.