Levenger is one of those brands that gets curiously little attention from the fountain pen community. Though Levenger sells fountain pens from other manufacturers, they also have their own line of branded fountain pens, most notably the True Writer series. To make myself more familiar with the brand, I decided to pick one up.
Materials & Construction
This Camouflage edition of the True Writer makes use of a resin barrel that Levenger describes as “deep olive and black peppered by pearlescent flakes.” That description is generally apt, and the combination is surprisingly pleasing. I’ll be honest: when I originally purchased this pen, I wasn’t sure I would like this material. Levenger was having a sale, and this Camouflage version was already significantly marked down before applying the additional discount, which is why I opted for it. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to use it in person, I’m actually quite taken with it. I’m not normally a fan of the camo look, but Levenger’s crafted the material in such a way that it feels more classy than military.
The clip and trim on the pen are made of titanium and pair well with the camouflage resin. The titanium has a bit of a darker hue, which adds to the stealthy look. The clip is very stiff, and I’ve found it does make it a bit difficult to clip the True Writer to thicker pieces of fabric.
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Build quality on the True Writer is beyond acceptable. The threads that pair the cap to the barrel are polished smooth, yet still mesh cleanly every time. The same is true of the threads connecting the section and barrel. In general, tolerances are tight, nothing squeaks or rattles, and I don’t really have any complaints about this pen’s construction.
The True Writer accepts cartridges or converters, and one cartridge and a converter are both included with the pen.
The design of the True Writer is somewhat conventional, but executed well. The cap has a domed, jeweled finial in the same camouflage material as the rest of the pen. The clip is flat with broad shoulders that taper down toward a more narrow point. The cap band has “LEVENGER” inscribed in all caps on one side, while “True Writer” is etched in an italic, scripted font on the other side.
On the opposite end of the pen, the barrel has another resin jewel, but this one is less domed than the one that appears on the cap. The barrel has a gentle taper that gets wider toward the middle of the pen, with a gentle step down to the section threads. The section also has a soft taper that ultimately flares out toward the nib.
In the Hand
The True Writer is extremely comfortable in the hand. It’s pleasingly lightweight and is a great candidate for extended writing sessions. The balance point is almost exactly midway down the barrel when the pen is uncapped, and you can feel that great balance when you write with it.
The cap will post and does so securely. Personally I find it a bit long and tend not to use the True Writer posted, but I forced myself to use it posted for this review and it never felt too unnatural. The cap takes around two and a half turns to uncap, which is slightly more than I would prefer, but doesn’t bother me all that much.
Material & Design
The nib on the True Writer is stainless steel and Levenger makes it available in fine, medium, and broad sizes. I opted for the broad version and I would say it runs true to my expectation of a Western broad. It’s coated in a stealthy black finish, and I’m a fan of that decision, as it pairs nicely with the flecks of black in the camouflage material.
The “LEVENGER” wordmark appears below the nib slit. One thing I find less than pleasing is that the “L” and “R” in the wordmark spill over to the nib’s shoulders. Moreover, I’m not that in love with the scrollwork on the nib: a bland diamond-ish shape with a pair of flanking lines. Notably, there is no breather hole in this nib, but I haven’t found that to affect performance. Finally, the nib designation is inscribed at the bottom of the nib along with the word “GERMANY,” which both appear in a semicircular extension of the scrollwork.
My writing experience with the True Writer got off to a rocky start. Out of the box, the nib skipped a bit on the first stroke after being unused for some time (more often on downstrokes than upstrokes). However, that issue quickly worked itself out just by continuing to use the pen. I didn’t do anything to tune it, as is my general practice when writing these reviews. The skipping issue only lasted the first two or three days, and I have not experienced it since.
With that issue worked out, the pen offers a wonderful writing experience. The steel nib is rigid, which some may not appreciate, but I actually prefer that in my steel nibs. The feed keeps up well and has not given me any issues with ink starvation or hard starting. It writes on the wetter side, which really brings life to the inks I’ve paired with it. I recently discovered Sailor Shikiori Rikyucha, which pairs exquisitely with this pen, and the broad nib on the True Writer just makes it sing. When I find an ink that pairs perfectly with a pen, I tend to stick with it, and I’m not sure any other ink will be used with the True Writer.
As of the time of this writing, the full retail price of the True Writer is $89 via Levenger. Though I wasn’t prepared to pay that at the time I ordered my pen, I think I would be OK with paying that price now that I know how much I’ve come to enjoy it.
Fortunately, however, you likely won’t have to pay that much. Levenger frequently has True Writers on markdown, and as I write this the Camouflage version of the pen is on sale for $62. Moreover, Levenger frequently has further discounts available, sometimes up to 20% off. I took advantage of one such sale when I ordered my pen and was able to snag it for $44. At that price, the True Writer is a tremendous value, and I wish I had picked up another one in a different color and nib size.
Final Thoughts & Score
- striking camouflage material that doesn’t feel unnecessarily macho
- comfortable ergonomics and great balance
- great value if you can take advantage of Levenger’s frequent markdowns and discounts
- boring, uninspiring nib design
- nib skipped on initial strokes at first (but has since worked itself out)
- clip is quite stiff