The Pilot Falcon is a cartridge-converter filled fountain pen fitted with a slightly-springy, semi-flexible 14K gold nib in various widths. In some parts of the world, it is called the “Elabo”, but they are really all the same. The Falcon comes in two versions – one in metal and fitted with a CON-70 converter, as well as another in plastic fitted with the CON50 converter.
When it comes to flexible / semi-flexible nibs (and when I say this, I do not mean the kind of wet noodle like vintage flex some people are referring to) the company manufactures the following:
FA – one width, fitted on Heritage 92, Custom 742 and 743
Soft – various widths, fitted on Heritage 91, 912, Custom 742, 743
Falcon – various widths, fitted on plastic and resin versions
Justus – various widths, adjustable, made for 95th Anniversary
The Pilot Falcon comes with its own unique nib, which is slender and curved at the shoulders – it can be posited that this engineering is aimed at increasing the flexibility of the nib while reducing the likelihood that the nib gets sprung when it is flexed. Some enthusiasts have raved about it and even modified the Falcon nib for Spencerian writing.
One recurring issue with the FA nib was that Pilot’s nib doctors encountered many which were found to be sprung. This was a common issue some years ago when Pilot pen doctor Atsushi Takizawa visited Singapore – there were countless FA nibs which had to be fixed and the nib doctor remarked that the FA was designed for writing Kanji, not English calligraphy.
In the case of the Falcon, the design does not lend itself to such a problem – its curvature means it is more resistant to being sprung. Instead of generating softness through cutouts at the nib shoulders, the revolutionary design of the Falcon creates flexibility through its curvature and it can be pushed (to a limited extent) in order to increase ink flow and variation.
The Falcon comes in Soft Extra Fine, Soft Fine, Soft Medium and Soft Broad widths, but SEF and SF are the most sellable. That is hardly surprising because most people who are looking to write with a Soft nib would want to get the most variation out of the pen, and would prefer fine hairlines.
I was pleased with the SEF nib – despite being really fine, ink flow was great and the tines were well aligned so there was no scratchiness whatsoever. I would imagine using the SEF or SF as a daily writer, but I would not do so of the FA because it was slightly too broad and wet. The Falcon also had a great feed which kept up well, and provided a nice and wet fine line.
Design wise, the Pilot Falcon is a workhorse pen – it comes in black and red plastic, while the metal version is available in black, red, blue and brown. It is nothing to shout about, but it has the understated elegance of a typical Japanese product.
If you like a flexible nib and you do not intend to contend with vintage pens and their temperamental filling systems, the Pilot Falcon is probably the pen for you – no lever filled sacs and all! The CON-50 is sufficient for most but those who use the pen regularly will probably do good with the metal version and a CON-70 converter.
– Great feed for perfect ink flow
– Nice line variation when flexed
– Nib not easily sprung unlike FA
– Reliable daily writer
– Plastic version does not fit CON-70
– Plastic version is light, comes in few colours
– Barrel little slim for some hands
– Prone to nib creep