The Baoer 517 fountain pen from China joins the line-up of affordable fountain pens that found their way into my collection, and which I will be evaluating over a period of time. The Baoer 517 is available in four metallic colours, red, black, blue and orange. The finish displays a light, black cloudy pattern. Since I will buy anything as long as it is orange, it goes without saying that the pen I bought was orange… The “orange” however, turned out to be a pleasant bronze!
Weighing in at 31 grams, with a total capped length of 138mm long, I regard this as being on the heavy end of the scale for my preference. I tend to lean towards lighter pens. I often wondered whether this could be because of my large handwriting and the fact that I write quite fast? After all, it takes far less energy to maneuver a lighter object than a heavier one! The length of the pen alone is 115mm and posted 150mm. The pen balances slightly over the halfway mark towards the back. The iridium tipped nib on my test pen was a medium. I was surprised to find that it was more or less what I expected of a medium. Manufacturer specifications list it as writing a 0.7mm line, the same as other “fine ”nibs! Most often Chinese pen manufacturers size their nibs slightly smaller than their European counterparts. The nib is gold coloured with a silver coloured “smile ” two parallel half moons, connected by a number of lines. “Baoer” is engraved on the nib.
My Baoer is not what I would describe as an easy writer. I constantly felt as if I had to work a little to get the pen to write. There was a fair amount of drag on the nib, although not scratchy at all. It certainly didn’t give the impression that is wants to run away from you, as is the sometimes found I didn’t experience this as negative, though. It forces me to write slightly slower, with a marked improvement in my handwriting! This pen was definitely more paper-sensitive than many of my other pens. On lesser quality paper the line quality was inconsistent, but when changing over to a good quality paper, the lines were full, wet and continuous.
The very end of the cap is finished off in a black plastic that is separated from the rest of the cap by a chrome coloured ring. The transition between these three areas is not as smooth and even as you will find in more expensive pens. In a very interesting arrangement, the cap clip goes right over the top of the cap, very much like the plume on top of a Roman helmet. The clip has a very solid and well finished appearance to it. Unlike most pens, the clip does not bend, but is spring-loaded for opening. The action is very smooth, and it slips easily over the leather rim of my pocket organizer. At the open end the cap has a broad chrome coloured ring. Most manufacturers would use this space to display their name, however in this specific instance the ring is blank. The cap fits on the barrel with a very positive “click”. This is one pen that is not going to lose its cap in your handbag or top pocket!
The section (grip area), is black plastic, ending in a raised chrome plated ring before the nib starts. I prefer plastic sections, they are so much easier to grip than metal, which tends to be too slippery. The bronze coloured barrel is also metal. It ends in a very pleasant, traditional round point, consisting of a black plastic section and a silver coloured ring. When capped, the overall shape of the pen is progressively thinner from the top of the cap to the end of the barrel. Personally I find the overall shape pleasing, although I would prefer less of a difference in thickness between the end of the cap and the end of the barrel.
Ink storage is in a screw type converter, but it is compatible with a short (38mm) International Standard cartridge. I have found the converter to be effective, filling about 75% of the volume when fully screwed out. If you need more ink, turn it upside down, allowing the ink to settle away from the nib, screw he plunger up to expel al the air, and suck up some more ink, until full. I had to rinse the nib and converter out with soapy water because during the first filling I found the ink to be contaminated with an oily substance.
With a price tag of little over 7AU, a good finish and interesting little details, I regard the Baoer 517 as a worthy everyday writing pen.