I reviewed Diamine Red Dragon in my trusty Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.
Bottle and pricingBottle capacity: 80 ml / 2.7 oz
Price / ml: $0.16
Color and saturationAs I already mentioned, Diamine Red Dragon is a very dark red ink, so dark in fact that if I were to put it under the Burgundy category, no one would bat an eyelid. As such, it is also highly saturated. To an extent, it resembles thick, coagulated blood. Or, if you will, dried dragon's blood.
To give you a better idea, I compared it with 2 other similar inks, Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses and J Herbin 1670 Rough Hematite.
ShadingBecause it's so dark Diamine Red Dragon doesn't have a lot of shading. Now, some people will say that it does, and I guess if you used a brush instead of a nib, and peered really hard, you would find a little color variation. Actually, you can see that on the Clairefontaine sample shown at the bottom. But for all practical purposes, when used in a fountain pen, even one with a broad nib, there isn't any shading to speak of.
FeatheringDiamine Red Dragon feathers a little on cheap paper, with the broad nib. No such thing happens on Clairefontaine 90g.
BleedthroughConsidering the darkness and saturation of this ink, it was expected that it would at least ghost on cheap paper. That it does, though it doesn't outright bleed through. There's no ghosting on Clairefontaine.
Flow, lubrication, and smoothnessDiamine Red Dragon is very smooth - when it flows. I'm not sure exactly what happened to cause this, but in the Pilot Vanishing Point the flow was very inconsistent. At times it would stop entirely, and cause the nib to skip. I had to press the nib hard to the point of flexing, before it would start again. The Pilot VP has been a wonderful writer with other inks so it makes me wonder whether Red Dragon has some weird property that causes this. To make it flow properly, I had to resort to twisting the piston converter. But this made the ink flow a lot darker, for a while at least, until it would slow down again, becoming lighter in color.
I'm really puzzled as to why this is happening, especially considering that it is a fairly wet ink - when it behaves.
Drying timeDrying times were pretty long on both cheap and good quality paper, but that's partly due to the broad nib, as well as the wetness of the ink.
Smearing when dryUnfortunately there's a lot of smearing going on, under certain conditions. First, Diamine Red Dragon is a slow drier. It takes its sweet time before you can turn that page, but this happens on Clairefontaine 90g. Second, you must leave it at least 24 hours before you can touch the text, or else it will smear. Even then, portions of the text where more ink has pooled will smear. It's not as bad as Diamine Syrah though.
Water resistanceThere's no water resistance at all.
ConclusionDiamine Red Dragon is a really cool looking dark red ink with a cool name and ordinary properties. I would really recommend it, with the caveat that it might (or might not) have some flow issues, and it might also smear if you are using it on good paper. If you are looking for a neutral, "true" red, this is not it, but if you want something outside the mainstream, perhaps trending towards burgundy/brown, you might want to take a look at Diamine Red Dragon.
Here are the two samples, on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g, respectively.