The Pilot Varsity is a disposable fountain pen. I have to keep reminding myself of that fact as I review it.
It’s a disposable fountain pen, I don’t need to go too in-depth…
It’s a disposable fountain pen, maybe I should hold it to a different standard…
It’s a disposable fountain pen, isn’t that an oxymoron…
The Writing Experience
I mean, it’s designed to end up in the trash. That said, the Varsity is not an awful writer. Pilot seems to have made up for the cheapness by designing a very tolerant nib. It’s basically a ball that allows you to write from just about any angle. This is probably helpful for a newbie who’s used to holding a ballpoint pen vertically. I’ve given these to friends who write with the nib upside-down (metal facing the page) with no trouble.
But a nib that doesn’t care which way you hold it doesn’t give you much of a writing experience. There’s no line variation even when you practically press it through the page. Based on feeling alone I don’t know that I could tell the difference between a Varsity and a gel pen.
Design and Looks
Not too bad, considering it has a barcode printed on the barrel. The lines are super clean and it’s much more balanced that the Pilot Metropolitan, which costs eight times as much.
This feels like a fountain pen, not just a cheap pen with a nib at the business end of it, which is more than you can say for a lot of the more expensive models.
I’ve owned a ton of these and I’ve never had one run out of ink. But then again, I’ve never been attached enough to write one dry. There’s a lot of ink in there, I know that much. Whether it’s enough to be cheaper than buying cartridges for a non-disposable pen–I doubt it.
The Bottom Line
There’s two kinds of people who will love this pen:
Someone who thinks $2 is expensive for a pen.
Someone who refuses to use anything but a fountain pen, even for grocery lists and whatnot.
You can buy the Pilot Varsity in bulk. A seven-pack goes for $12 and a set of three is $8. You can find these at Rite Aid and Staples.