I have the sense that buying fountain pens from Chinese brands is frowned upon by some in this hobby.
It may be a combination of things. One factor may be that they are sold heavily on Amazon, to which many of us would like to give less of our money. And I get that.
But as a noob to this game, my handful of Jinhao pens have given me the chance to try different nib widths and sizes, including going beyond the #5 nibs that are in most of the pens I own. It’s also helped me hone in on what writing experiences I tend to prefer.
With that said, here’s my short review of the Jinhao x750, Jinhao x450, Jinhai 922 Translucent, and the Jinhao 159.
The first one I got was the Jinhao x750 in the Shimmering Sands finish. Importantly I immediately flushed it before use, which is not something I was doing at the beggining of my fountain pen journey.
It’s the first model I had that feels and looks like what one would think of as a traditional fountain pen. It’s dark and a bit heavy and stocky. But what I liked the most is the larger #6 nib. I find that the larger nib size allows for more expressive movements when sketching or writing.
The nibs is an area of somewhat righteous indignation against these pens. I placed a Goulet #6 1.5 stub nib to replace the Jinhao’s stock “medium-schmedium” nib. This made the pen much more fun to use.
I then got the Jinhao X450 in Gold and Green Marble, which also has a nice heft and passable nib. One main difference with the x750 is the ribbed grip, which I like. Knock on wood: I have not had any issues with leaks or outright terrible nibs with these pens. I’ve kept the sock bicolor nib on the x450.
I kept pushing my luck so I got then got the Jinhao 992 demonstrator. This has a very smooth medium-ish nib but the pen itself feels every bit as cheap as the eight bucks it costs. The barrel is also thinner than I tend to prefer, so it has not been as fun to use. It is good to just toss in a pocket along with a pocket pad.
Finally I have the Jinhao 159, which is a shorter, stocky pen that is pretty plump down through the nib. I love the bright red color I got. But this is where things got a bit funny.
At first I was having ink flow issues, even after I had given it a flush before inking it up. I emptied it out and washed it again, this time using a drop of dishwashing soap. The flow seemed to improve but I was still having issues with skipped lines.
I finally replaced the nib with the one that came with the x750—and the improvement was dramatic and immediate. Flow is now really good and the skipped lines are gone.
So this is the deal: If you’re willing to adapt and change out nibs you can make these work for you. You can test out different nib widths and test out heft and feel similar to more expensive pens.
On the other hand, shouldn’t one focus instead on getting one or two pens you really love—even if they’re more expensive—rather than trying out a bunch of cheap pens? We’ll talk about that next time.