A long time ago, back in November of 2011, I posted a very short snippet about a new fountain pen that I acquired. Since these types of pens are not very mainstream (to my knowledge), I turned this into a game by masking the photo and asking my readers if they can identify it. It didn't take long for the pen to be identified. I guess I did a poor job at obfuscating it. Anyway, that pen, and the subject of today's review, is a Chinese Jinhao X750 with a broad nib.
It took me this long to review the pen because I've been using it for several weeks with multiple inks.
This was an unplanned purchase but while I was browsing the web a few months ago I came upon these Chinese pens and noticed that brands like Jinhao and Hero have a huge variety of designs. After much research I settled upon a Jinhao. The X750 model seemed decent enough and it was one of the few that offered a broad nib. I picked a checkerboard pattern design.
These pens can be bought for very little from eBay. I bought mine for about $8, shipped. I didn't have much faith that it would write incredibly well but I thought it was worth a shot for the price. I also decided that I would take it to work and use it on a daily basis, something that I am hesitant to do with my more "expensive" pens, or at least those that cost more than $20.
The X750 comes in a blue cardboard box but you might as well throw it away because it's rather cheap-looking.
Body and materials
The Jinhao X750 is the first pen I laid hands on that's made entirely out of brass. The pen itself has a very solid construction and it feels weighty and ponderous in your hand. There are many imperfections in the checkerboard pattern: some of the squares seem faded, others overlap awkwardly, some of them are smudged and so on. Still, the pattern is ingrained in the metal of the body and cap and I don't envision it coming off any time soon. It is definitely not painted on. It could be anodized but I'm no expert.
The X750 has a torpedo shape and both ends are rounded. At each end there's a black plastic finial with a thin piece of silver trim underneath.
The cap features a thick band of silver trim which is real metal and is embossed with "Jinhao" on one side and "X750" on another, with a tribal-like design in between. A little bit gaudy if you ask me but overall the pen is not too kitschy.
One of the things I don't like about the cap is the clip. While decent enough in form and shape, it is extremely stiff. Slipping it over anything is an exercise in strength. In fact I wouldn't even recommend clipping this pen to something sensitive, like a shirt pocket, because you'll end up ripping it to pieces.
Removing the cap and moving to the inside, the first large piece of plastic is finally revealed. I'm referring to the section, which seems to be made from some type of tough plastic but the thread which connects it to the barrel is, once again, brass.
One of the first things you'll notice once you take the cap off is the nib. This is one humongous nib. It is easily the biggest nib in my collection and the only ones that match it are probably the nibs from a Pelikan M1000 or other such high-end fountain pen. I will talk more about the nib and feed further into the review.
Dimensions and weight
As mentioned, the Jinhao X750 is on the large side, both in dimensions and weight. I decided to compare it to my TWSBI Diamond 530 which used to be my largest pen, and the sizes are very similar. Capped, they are almost identical in length.
Uncapped, the TWSBI is longer but the Jinhao has the larger nib. For the uncapped comparison I aligned the two pens by the end of the section, where the nib starts.
Here are some hard numbers for you.
Length capped: 142mm / 5.6in
Length uncapped and un-posted: 127mm / 5in
Length of cap: 62mm / 2.4in
Length of nib: 23mm / 0.9in
Length with cap posted: 162mm / 6.4in
As for weight, this is the heaviest fountain pen I have used. It but it comes close to being uncomfortably so. The balance is good as long as you don't post the cap but if you do, most of the weight will be shifted to the top which makes it very awkward to hold. As a whole, I much rather prefer the TWSBI's weight.
Speaking of the cap, it is a snap-on type and it closes with a very firm CLICK. I much prefer the Pilot Prera's snapping action which is incredibly smooth and cushioned but the Jinhao's snap is very definite and gives you plenty of confidence that the cap will stay put. Indeed, the cap closes very securely and it doesn't wobble in any direction.
The Jinhao X750 has a dual-filling system in the sense that it comes with a piston converter which can be replaced with an international cartridge. The converter is fairly cheap looking and it didn't work great for me so I switched to a cartridge. I tried several inks with the X750 and the cartridge handled well. I am of a mind to give the converter a second chance because the inks I used didn't flow very well, so perhaps an ink which flows more easily will work better in it.
One last thing about the converter. There's a small spring inside the converter, between the piston gasket and the opening. I don't know what role it serves, except perhaps to prevent surface tensioning in the ink. I just wish it wasn't there because it has a nasty habit of trapping drops of ink.
Nib and feed
The Jinhao X750's nib is the biggest I've used. I chose the broad version even though Asian broad nibs aren't very common.
Here's a random comparison between a Pilot Prera nib and the Jinhao X750 nib. You can see just how enormous the latter is, compared to the much more delicate Japanese nib. On the other hand, the feeds are about the same size.
Here's another comparison between my 3 broad nibs: Jinhao X750, TWSBI Diamond 530 and Kaweco Classic Sport. You can notice immediately how big the Jinhao nib is, compared to the other two.
The nib is nice looking, with a floral design and the words "Jinhao" and "18kgp" embossed. The "18kgp" I assume means "18 karat gold plated" which, in my opinion, is ridiculous. This is a regular, rhodium-plated nib, there's no gold in it whatsoever.
The feed is plastic with many fins. It looks well made.
Both nib and feed easily slide in and out of the section, with little effort required. This makes it very easy to clean the pen.
So how does this pen stand up to some real-life use? Not very well I'm afraid. For one thing, flow wasn't great from the start. I flushed it well with ammonia solution and that seemed to make a small improvement. Still, I used about 4-5 different inks in this pen and none of them flowed well. The one which did best was Waterman Havana Brown which is also one of my favorite inks. On the other hand, this particular ink likes to flow really well so it's understandable that it performed well in the Jinhao.
Maybe it's the broad nib or this particular nib or poor quality control in general (though I suspect it's the latter) but I constantly struggled with this pen. It would dry up from one day to the next so I had to "exercise" it every time I picked it up in the morning. It would also dry up slightly between uses which made it skip for the first few words.
After a couple of words it would let up but it still had problems with certain letters, most notably the downstroke on lowercase letter "l" (for Larry).
In its defense, I did use a bunch of waterproof Noodler's inks (to be reviewed soon) which were kind of slow flowing and quick drying but I also tried Noodler's Navajo Turquoise a few days ago and the pen would barely write.
In the Jinhao's defense, it did write better on smooth, good quality paper such as Rhodia or Clairefontaine but that's not a big excuse because I really enjoy a fountain pen which writes well on any type of paper.
The other thing that I didn't really enjoy about the Jinhao X750 is the weight of it. That brass is heavy! Though the pen feels very solid, my fingers and hand start to tire after using it a while. It is simply too heavy for long sessions of comfortable writing.
In the end I just gave up on this pen.
As you can see, the Jinhao X750 has some great potential but it is let down by poor quality control and the cumbersome weight of its body. I have no doubt that, were you to buy one, you would have different luck than me. I'm also tempted to try a medium or fine nib but I'm not sure I want to sink more money in these pens, no matter how cheap they are. For $8 shipped, the Jinhao X750 was not a bad experiment. It just didn't work out for me. There are plenty of people who've had good experiences with Jinhao fountain pens. If you are one of them, please drop me a line.
Here's a writing sample on Clairefontaine 90g paper, in Waterman Havana Brown ink.