As with every collecting based hobby there fads in the fountain pen world, many accidental and most to the surprise of the creator. Such was the situation a year and a half back when Ian Schon launched a machined pocket pen based around a size 6 nib. Selling online and at pen shows his new range attracted the attention of a number of ‘penablers’ who brought the Pocket6 to the fore. By early 2020 this became a must have pen. The fact that online reviewers still use their Pocket6 pens and more than a few have bought additional does infer it is a good writing implement, question is do I get on with the pen and what are my personal views.
Disclaimer time. I’ve been leant this pen by the guys and gals at United Inkdom and this article will contribute towards the future meta review posted there.
Back in mid 2019 Ian Schon opened a new studio and started designing a new pen. His aim was to produce something compact but still able to house a size #6 nib, with the pen being made out of aluminium, copper or brass. As popularity for the pen picked up he experimented and started to produce limited edition runs of interesting coloured pattens. By mid 2020 facets appeared along with an alternate option for the nib curved section, being straight, longer, grooved, and with the nib more inset.
The pen I’ve been leant is an original brass model, so with the shorter curved section and a medium nib. It’s ink supply is through a standard short international cartridge as the pen is too small to take a converter (with the possible exception of a Kaweco squeeze variant).
This is not my first pocket pen and also not my first designed to ‘just fit’ a nib, but I was surprised just how small the Pocket6 is when capped. I think I’ve mentioned the PenTiTan Kickstarter project from 2016 in previous small/pocket pen reviews, a pen with a size #4 nib which was as small as could possible be made and a useful comparison for the Pocket6. Little did I know or expect that dimension wise they would be near identical. This does mean the packaging of the Schon DSGN pen is really impressive and does make me wonder just how tight a tolerance there is with the space between the nib tip and the inside of the end of the cap. Certainly you do not hear complaints of damaged tipping so Ian must have got this spot on.
Comfort and handling wise you do have to bare in mind this is a pocket pen and so compromises have been made to keep the size down. Sure the cap screws on to the end of the barrel to provide a full length writing experience, but some people find having those threads at the barrel end to be unsightly. Not an issue for me, and this design means that people with large hands will still be able to use a Pocket6 without finding it to be too short.
Being brass I know some of the other reviewers have found this pen to be on the heavy side, but for me it was not an issue. Sure you feel the weight but I find the brass Pocket6 to be well balanced. It must be remembered the pen is also made in aluminium for someone wanting something a little lighter, and arguably the coloured limited editions are more attractive. Additionally you would not normally be using a pocket pen for long writing sessions, these are more for carrying around in a purse, pocket or hand bag and taking notes.
So far so good, but I do have a couple of issues which combine, both based on my preferences and how I hold the pen, so quite possibly not problems for you the reader. The first is the section. I find the short pinched in form factor causes me to pull my fingers in, making holding the pen uncomfortable for even a short period. It should be noted I have the same issue with the Pelikan Souveran range and this is the main reason why I do not own a M1000. With the longer straight grip section (available as an alternative option) I might find the pen more comfortable to hold. I did say might as my second issue is the pen is a bit too narrow for me.
Thing is while I do have the above issues, those only really come in to effect if this pen were to be used as a desk writer not when just making quick notes, and this must be remembered. You use the appropriate tool for the job in question, and a pocket pen will always have been designed for being used for short periods while on the move. Having said that, be aware if you’re going to pull a Pocket6 out of your pocket to cross items off a shopping list, as I was doing, then the section is too short and awkward to use by itself and assembling the pen in a supermarket can seem a bit of a faff for a few seconds usage but then the same situation exists for the likes of the Kaweco Sport; Pilot E95S/Elite; and virtually any other pen that requires the cap attaching to the barrel to give a usable length.
Writing wise it is as expected for a medium JoWo nib. When ordering you do get to choose between JoWo and Bock, which is a nice option to have especially if you’re eyeing up speciality nibs to use. Additionally, for those so inclined, you can buy a section with a roller ball fitting which still takes a cartridge. I assume this is from Schmidt as I’m not aware either Bock or JoWo make them and I do have a similar adapter for my PenTiTan. I’d actually say this particular pen writes on the dry side, but then it is not mine and so I am not going to fiddle with it. Better to be on the dry side than too wet as it is comparatively easy to safely make the ink flow better with a nib and a lot harder to make one drier.
One issue I did have with writing I think was actually down to me as I’ve suffered similar on other fountain pens where you can not use a converter. This is where you syringe fill the cartridge as I really struggled to get the ink to flow, even with priming the nib. I think in reality I just over filled the cart as removing it and flicking some ink out seemed to fix things. In hindsight I’ve had similar problems with the Kaweco Sport and Franklin Christoph 45 you see in some of the comparison photos below.
So is it a good pen and is it worth it? Actually the answer is not so straight forwards. Engineering wise it is really good. How Ian has managed to keep the pen so small and manage to fit a size #6 nib in it is amazing (especially when you compare it with the PenTiTan in the pictures, which only managed a size #4). As a pocket fountain pen it is hard to find anything else which can slip in to a pocket or purse yet also offers a full sized writing experience when the cap is posted (the Kaweco Sport, Franklin Christoph 45 and P66, and Pilot E95S/Elite are noticeably larger). However if doing anything more than short note taking then the compromises in the design come to the fore. Sure having the alternate longer straight section may have improved things for me, but I can use the Franklin Christoph P66 (even without posting the cap) and Pilot Elite (E95S in the USA) for long writing sessions with no issues, not so with the Pocket6.
Cost wise I think the Pocket6 in it’s ‘solid’ form is actually good value. Sure compared to the brass products from Kaweco this might be twice the price but the writing experience is far superior (assuming Kaweco have sorted out the consistency issues with their smaller nibs), however when you consider Ian is working by himself with small production numbers, being able to keep the cost the same as the Franklin Christoph 45 (for the aluminium Pocket6) and cheaper than the P66, is impressive. Note I have not mentioned the Faceted Pocket6. I know a lot more work goes in to this and taking that in to account the cost balances out, but at the price you pay this one really is just for collectors and fans, not something you could really recommend to someone who just wants a fountain pen they can throw in to a purse and not worry about it taking knocks.
So is this a pen I would recommend to others? Yes, I think so. As pocket pens these are robust and well made, if a little weighty in brass and copper form. With the aluminium versions there are additionally lots of patterns to choose from, though being limited runs you may need to wait a while to find one you particularly like, plus these sets are either with the curved or straight sections, from what I’ve seen Ian does not do a mix, presumably as this would bring too much complication in to the process.
Is this a pen for me? Putting aside the PenTiTan (which was a limited run project only available in 2016 through Kickstarter), I’m not so sure. Certainly not with the curved section as it does not work with the way I grip and hold a pen. With the straight section my views may change and it would be interesting to try one at some point. Part of the problem though is I already have a few pocket pens and in all honesty I find the Franklin Christoph model P66 more comfortable to hold and use, does not need the cap posting, and offers the same nib. Having said that I’m not sure I’d throw a P66 in to a bag without being in a case, and certainly not into a pocket, where as I would hold no such fears with a Pocket6.
- High quality pen.
- Very small when capped.
- Full length fountain pen writing experience when posted.
- Available in aluminium, brass and copper, plus with the ability to mix and match.
- Attractive ‘water dip’ patterns for the aluminium pens.
- Additional roller ball section available.
- Size #6 nib.
- Longer straight option for the grip section now available.
- Pen may be too thin for some people.
- Fans have lots of variants to collect.
- Price of the solid pen is good for the collector, but high for the casual buyer if they’ve seen the price of rivals from the likes of Kaweco.
- For many the pen does will work for longer writing sessions, however it is fine for note taking. Net result is it might not be suitable for travel pen usage.
- Some people may be put off by the exposed threads at the end of the barrel though these are essential for this design to work.
- The faceted versions of the pen are expensive (though the cost of the work probably justifies the difference) and are really just for collectors.
I was unsure whether to compare the Pocket6 with the PenTiTan as the latter was only available for a short time and only through a Kickstarter project, however as I have and use one I decided to put this right at the end where it can be ignored by those who think it is unfair to compare the Pocket6 with a pen that can no longer be obtained except maybe through the second hand marker.
Even adjusting for inflation, the PenTiTan was considerably cheaper and made of titanium (hence the name), however it is believed the creator lost money on every one made as he ended up using a more expensive higher grade of the material post testing (as the original grade of titanium was shown to scratch and dent too easily). Both pens were designed to be as small as possible while allowing a fountain pen nib to be installed and connected to a standard international short cartridge. Ian Schon’s aim was to fit a size #6 nib (and give both Bock and JoWo options), which is a very popular size in the pen community, where as Yaroslaw Kaminskiy was only able squeeze in a Schmidt size #4 and due to the limited run and to keep costs down, only with fine tipping. Capped the pens are near identical size wise with few visual differences, and posted the Pocket6 is actually every so slightly shorter. However, the writing experience of the nibs is very similar and the longer section of the PenTiTan makes it more comfortable to hold. Additionally Schmidt also make a roller ball unit to replace a size #4 nib and Yaroslav included this for free (and it is actually presently in use with my PenTiTan). Having said that Ian does offer a complete roller ball section (cartridge using) for the Pocket6 for just $30, and I would suggest any Pocket6 collector to have at least one of these to give the option for where fountain pens can’t be used. The net result is, with the curved section in this Pocket6, if I could only use/keep one of these pens it would be the PenTiTan. With the longer section in the Pocket6 my decision may be reversed, and as under 300 PenTiTans were made, there are not many people out there who would be in the position to choose between the two.