If you’ve been using fountain pens for a while, you’ve probably heard of TWSBI. They make some of the most affordable piston and vacuum filler fountain pens available on the market. When they first came out with fountain pens, they only had the one, which I believe was the Diamond 530, but they have since expanded their line to include cost effective options like the Eco and the Go, their Classic, 580, 580 AL and 580 ALR standard pens, vacuum fillers and mini pens like this Mini Al.
The first iteration of the Mini was made of more plastic that this newer Aluminium edition and as with many TWSBI’s, there were reports that the plastic didn’t hold up well and typically cracked over time. What’s great about TWSBI is that if you do have any issues, you can email them a photo of the problem and they will happily send you replacement parts at the cost of shipping (usually <US$5). While that’s great in the long term, it doesn’t do much to help immediately when you have ink all over your hands and clothes.
TWSBI is also great about improving their line, so with the feedback from the first iteration, they came up with the aluminium edition, which primarily replaced the nib section with an aluminium sleeve. The original was prone to cracking, so this aluminium edition is an improvement on the original. Best of all, TWSBI often comes up with limited edition colours to collect.
I didn’t pick up the original TWSBI mini (with the plastic parts) but when this blue aluminium edition came out, I jumped on it. I missed out on the 580 Al edition in blue and I was determined to remedy that in the mini edition. When I purchased this pen, I’d owned a few TWSBI’s by that point, namely in the 580 size, so I knew what I was getting myself into. The main body and style of the pen is similar to the 580, only a bit smaller and so the piston, cap and body all work perfectly fine, just like the larger size.
The nib is a bit smaller as you would expect, being a mini pen and all. I think the nib writes a little bit finer than the original 580 nib, just by a hair. I think the sweet spot on this nib is also a little more sensitive, either that or the pen is just that little bit easier to over rotate (as the pen body is a bit smaller in diameter). Its barely noticeable and would be easy to adapt to over a longer stretch of use.
The pen cap posts securely on the back, thanks to the threaded piston knob, which makes it easy to use unlike Kaweco Sports where I find the cap typically works its way off the back of the pen when in use. Being a small pen, most people would need to post to use comfortably. I can just get away with it unposted, but it would be uncomfortable over a longer period of time. I find that once posted, the pen is back heavy, enough that its noticeable and slightly uncomfortable for a longer period of usage. I think for most people with larger hands, or if you use it as a pocket pen and only for the occasional note it may not be an issue.
Given that it’s a little uncomfortable for me to use in longer writing sessions, it’s a little pointless (for me) to have such a large ink capacity for a jotter pen. If you’re thinking about getting this pen and you have smaller hands or are sensitive to back heavy pens I’d suggest you try it in person first before buying. But if those aren’t issues for you, then it’s a really good little pen with a lovely nib.
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