Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Private Reserve Invincible Black ink review

Private Reserve Invincible Black is one of those inks that seem to have vanished from the market between the time when I bought the sample and now, when I finally got the chance to review it. It's quite a shame since waterproof inks (which it is) are not in every manufacturer's portfolio. Outside of Noodler's, not many brands seem to care about this segment. Unfortunately it seems that PR has sent its Invincible inks (along with PR Invincible Aqua Blue which I fancied) along the way of the dodo.

Read the review for curiosity or nostalgia sake but I'm not sure where you'd find this ink if you wanted it.

Private Reserve Invincible Black with Pilot VP

I reviewed the sample in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: unknown
Price: unknown
Price / ml: unknown

Color and saturation

Private Reserve Invincible Black is, well, black. A very dark black in fact. Side by side with Noodler's Heart of Darkness it looks even darker.

I also compared it with Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia, just for reference, even though the latter isn't technically black.

Private Reserve Invincible Black vs Noodler's HOD vs Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia


Private Reserve Invincible Black is black as the night and thus pretty much flat.




PR Invincible Black bleeds less than I would have expected, even on cheap paper. There's evidently some ghosting but even that comes more from the contrast between the very dark ink and thin white paper than from actual penetration.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Invincible Black flows nicely and smoothly in the Pilot Vanishing Point with the broad nib unit. However, I have noticed that it likes to dry up rather quickly in the pen, within a few hours. This makes for hard starts and it's definitely not a feature I appreciate, especially in my most expensive pen.

Drying time

Here's the rub. Umm, pun not intended, but you'll see... Private Reserve Invincible Black dries reasonably fast on cheap paper and even the shinier and more expensive stuff like the Clairefontaine 90g sample. Keep reading...

Smearing when dry

Following up on the previous section, this ink is quite prone to smudging when rubbed. So even though it is technically dry, it needs a lot more time to become inert, and even then you can still get it to smear a little if you rub it hard.

Water resistance

As advertised, Private Reserve Invincible Black is completely water resistant and immune to the elements (not sure about acid rain though).


This review might have been all for nothing, considering Private Reserve Invincible Black has been discontinued, but it was interesting, nonetheless, to see how it behaves in relation to other waterproof inks. Overall it's a decently performing ink, with two exceptions: the drying up inside the pen and the fact that it likes to stain containers, including the Pilot VP's converter. Since it's extinct, if you are looking for a black water resistant ink my only option is to recommend one of many such variations that Noodler's makes, including Heart of Darkness and another black ink that I will review soon.

Following are the two samples on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

Private Reserve Invincible Black on photocopy

Private Reserve Invincible Black on Clairefontaine


  1. It still seems to be available at Fahrney's Pens and Amazon (via Fahrney's Pens), though I assume it is in limited supply.

    Two other waterproof black inks that are very good are Noodler's American Eel Black and Platinum Carbon Black.

  2. Great review thanks, I just can't seem to bring myself to purchase a black ink. I'm always interested in the review though to try and glean some tidbit of knowledge that would make me jump in.

  3. Forgot about Platinum. But Noodler's, it seems that every other ink is waterproof. I just love the brand.

  4. I know how it is. I'm almost in the same ballpark. Plain black and blue inks seem so boring, especially when there are hundreds of colors out there. But on the other hand it's worth owning reference black and blue inks.

  5. I agree. Now that I'm retired, I get to play with all of the wonderful ink colors out there for everything from shopping lists to note taking to letters to friends. However, sometimes that basic black or blue is just needed. For example, I have a friend that I write to periodically who lives in a climate that can be quite wet at certain times of the year. By addressing the envelope in Platinum Carbon Black or Noodler's American Black Eel, both of which are waterproof, I don't have to worry about the address running, becoming illegible, and my letter not being delivered.

  6. I think journaling is also worth mentioning. If you want your writings to be preserved for eternity, a waterproof (or bulletproof) ink is a must.