The PenBBS 456 is what the TWSBI Vac 700 could have been. Great size. Great weight. Great balance. This has got to be the best pen PenBBS makes right now.
Not to knock TWSBI. I love my TWSBI Vac mini. It holds pride of place as the longest continuously-inked pen in my collection. If PenBBS is thinking about making a mini version of the 456, they'll have stiff competition.
The PenBBS 456 takes the affordable, full-sized vac-filling pen to a new level. Does it rival the the much more expensive Pilot Custom 823? Share your thoughts in the comments!
The filling system works impeccably. Pull out the plunger, put the nib in ink and push the plunger back in. The vacuum released as plunger reaches the bottom draws ink neatly into the barrel. The pen holds a very generous amount of ink.
Repeating the filling action gets the pen as full as I need. I've never been much for trying to get it absolutely to the top, but I understand it can be done.
One thing that bothered me about the TWSBI Vac 700 was the need to keep the plunger backed off to maintain ink flow to the feed. I'd be writing and the line would grow faint. It bugged me. I wound up removing the seal at the front of the plunger as a kludge.
The PenBBS 456 solves this via a mini reservoir between the main ink chamber and the feed. The chamber holds plenty of ink to write a good long while and it's easy to see when it starts getting low. Filling it up again is a snap: back the plunger off a turn, point the nib down and the chamber is full once more.
At 30g posted, the pen doesn't feel heavy thanks to well-designed balance.
Unposted, the pen rings the bell at the 20g sweetspot. My favorite pen weight these days.
The slight concave to the section, smooth metal threads, very minor step between the barrel and section and the taper at the filler cap all add up to a pen that feels as good as any in the hand. The balance is excellent, posted or unposted.
With a JoWo #6 nib, my pen is a little longer than the stock version.
My only gripe with the PenBBS 456 is that it comes with PenBBS's old-style bent nib. Fortunately, I lucked out just before the pen arrived and landed a #6 JoWo M nib from Opus 88.
I swapped out the original nib before I inked the pen the first time and haven't looked back since.
PenBBS gets full marks for making a pen that disassembles and goes back together so nicely. Everything fits perfectly
At first glance, I want to like the PenBBS 355 more than the 456. I'm not in love with the way the pen tapers at the ends. Somehow, the PenBBS 355 looks like how a pen should look.
But in use the PenBBS 456 wins. It's a degree more comfortable and a touch more agile as a writer. It stands up to extended writing sessions better. Less fatiguing. Of the two, it's the one I reach for more often.
So far, I've tried two inks in the pen, SKB Ocher-Plum (赭梅) and Taiwan Bird Ink (台灣鳥墨水) Taiwan Wren-babbler (台灣鷦眉). Both are a great match.
My PenBBS 456-16SF was just over US$23 plus shipping during the December 12.12 taobao sale. The standard price is slightly under US$30 for similar models. More for fancy acrylics.
Is the 456 your favorite PenBBS pen? It very well could be.
More often that not, my desk is my pocket. But everyday desk items doesn't have the same ring.