Review: Jinhao 992
Jinhao has always been hit or miss for me. I've ordered several Jinhaos from eBay and I've found that its batting average for me is about 50%. The Jinhao 992 *would've been* a big hit! I was actually in the middle of writing a glowing review when my pen broke! (So I had to edit this first paragraph, haha.) Nevertheless, it's a good writer. Just keep in mind that it might not last long!
Like most Jinhao fountain pens, the 992 is quite inexpensive and is easily available on eBay from sellers in China and Hong Kong. A single pen could be bought for under 2 USD (with free shipping!). They are also available in packs of 6 or 15. The 992 comes in 12 colors: half are transparent (clear, black/grey, light orange, light green, blue/turquoise, and brown) while the other half are opaque (white, black, grey, red, green, and blue). I ordered the brown one, as I've had a hankering for brown pens lately.
The pen arrived packed in bubble wrap and a plastic bag. It didn't come with a case. (Sorry, I don't have pictures of the packaging since I've had this pen for a few weeks now.) It took quite a while to make the trek from China, but it arrived safe and sound. This is a converter filling pen, and I am very pleased to note that the converter it came with seems a lot sturdier that the previous converters I had received with my other Jinhaos. It seats securely in the section of the pen.
My first impression was that this is a very light pen! It's probably one of the lightest I own, if not the lightest. All the other Jinhaos I have are quite heavy, as they are made of metal. The 992 is made of plastic and has minimal chrome trimming. Below is a comparison with the Jinhao X750 Shimmering Sands, a hefty pen that feels good to write with.
The 992 is also a small pen, as can be seen in this comparison with the Pilot Metropolitan, TWSBI Eco, and the Lamy Vista.
Despite being light, it's actually quite pleasant to write with. It would be easy to use on long writing sessions. It may not be as comfortable to use for people with bigger hands though. How does it write? Very well! When I said above that Jinhaos are hit and miss for me, what usually bothers me is the writing experience. Some pens are terribly scratchy out of the box (or out of the bubble wrap). Others write decently and I've managed to improve them with a bit of tuning. The 992, however, wrote more than decently -- it wrote smoothly with minimal feedback. It was certainly better than I expected from a 2-dollar pen! Mine is a fine nib, but I find that it writes more like a medium, as far as Asian nibs go.
So, now comes the big let down! As I was writing this review, I tested the clip on the cap to see if it works well. I don't usually clip my pens, so I had to test the tension. I veeeeery slightly pulled the clip away from the cap when I suddenly ended up with the entire clip in my hand! There was no cracking sound or any warning that it was about to break. It just suddenly separated from the rest of the pen! It was a clean break! Well, that had me in a laughing fit. I suppose it's true what they say, you get what you pay for.
I've heard about cracking issues with this model, particularly with the brown one. Now, I take care of my pens very well so I was certain that mine would remain pristine for a long time. I had imagined bragging to my grandkids: "I got this pen here for 2 dollars back in the day! And look at it now, still shining, shimmering, splendid!" Well, there goes that dream. So would I recommend this pen? Yes, but with reservation. The most important thing is that it writes well. But, please be aware that it isn't sturdy at all. I wouldn't recommend it as someone's first fountain pen as it would be disappointing to have it break. There are other inexpensive options for an entry-level pen which are more durable. I will still use this pen as is. I truly enjoy how it writes, and it's my only brown pen at the moment. That means I now own a clipless fountain pen. Lucky me! Update - a day after: I decided to superglue the parts together so I won't have the pen rolling around the table. The pen seems to be holding up okay, but I ended up gluing my fingers together in the process! And just after I told myself to be careful not to get glue on myself. Hahaha! I'm not usually this clumsy, I swear! Thankfully, I was able to separate my fingers with acetone.