Review: PenBBS 323

Holy smokes! This is my first pen from PenBBS and color me impressed. For around $15, you get a smooth, reliable writer in an attractive resin body. It's such a fun pen to use and to look at. I've been using it non-stop since I received it.

Like most of the Chinese pens I’ve bought, I purchased the PenBBS 323 from eBay. It took around 3 weeks to arrive. The pen came in a simple, black, cardboard gift box.

Upon opening the box, I was struck by how pretty this pen is. The material seems luminescent, and the blue swirls twine around the pen beguilingly. It's also smooth to the touch.

The pen is bigger than I thought it would be. It’s a medium-sized pen comparable to the Lamy Safari when capped and uncapped. I thought it would be smaller, but I’m pleased to note that it’s a size that’s comfortable to write with. It's also well-balanced and its curved grip section makes it easy to hold.

The pen is very light as it's made of resin and has no metal trim. It's clip-less, so it rolls around when placed on a flat surface. That doesn’t bother me, though. In fact, its minimalist aesthetic really appeals to me. It allows the pen's material and pattern to take the spotlight.

The pen can’t be posted due to its asymmetrical design. The cap simply won't fit on the end of the barrel. This isn't an issue for me since I rarely post my pens. However, the pen is long enough to use as is.

The pen comes in a variety of colors as well as in plain black or white. It is also available as a transparent, demonstrator-style pen in several colors. The pen I ordered is a translucent white with blue swirls. The specific model number is 323-9SF. The material is simply stunning and seems to glow in sunlight.

The 323 is a cartridge/converter filler. The converter it comes with seems sturdy and well-made.

The pen sports a large #6 steel nib that comes in a screw-in nib unit. The nib's scrollwork is rather reminiscent of that of a Sailor nib. In the center, it says "Pen BBS SINCE 2005". The tip of the nib is slightly upturned, though writing with it doesn't feel different from writing with a regular nib.

The pen's cap is a screw type cap which can easily be removed in 1 3/4 turns. When closed, it fits the pen snugly and securely.

Most importantly, the PenBBS 323 is a smooth writer. It wrote very well straight out of the box. It also lays quite a wet line. It is of note, however, that while the pen I ordered was advertised as a fine (0.5 mm) nib, it writes more like a European medium. (See writing samples below.)

All in all, this pen is a solid writer. It exceeded my expectations in both function and form. Given its competitive price and its performance, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this pen to new enthusiasts and long-time fountain pen users alike.

(Update: May 2018) Since I first wrote this review, I've ordered a few more PenBBS 323s. I'm glad to report that the quality has been consistent across these pens. They are all well-made are write smoothly.

The Inky Way, 2020