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PenBBS 323 - Fine Curves and a Smooth Finish


EDC
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Mostly pens
706   2  
2019/02/25


The 323 was an early PenBBS model, coming to market in late 2017 - a bit before PenBBS came on my radar. 

Was the 323, after the 266, the second pen PenBBS released? Drop some knowledge in the comments. It's hard to find background info on PenBBS!

Image: Taobao

The shape didn't strike my fancy, so I didn't pay much attention. I'd never been a big fan of the way the TWSBI Vac 700 flares out at the end. PenBBS had more interesting pens.

The shape never grew on me

But it seemed like everybody who tried the pen raved about how comfortable it was as a writer. The positive comments made an impression.

So when @beini_zheng, the social media voice for PenBBS, announced an aluminum version, I paid note. She called it the "hardcore 323."

(@beini_zheng) on Instagram: “perfect shape for writing, now perfect weight also” Instagram

After my terrific experience with the PenBBS 380, another new aluminum pen, I was excited for the release. I placed an order the first day it popped up on taobao.

Steel (玄铁) - the powder coat makes for a handsome pen

The pen is also offered in two other colors.

Lilac (丁香) and Mocha (摩卡) Image: Taobao

I especially liked how PenBBS had moved the cap threads to the top of the section like the Asa Nauka. That promised to make the writing experience even better. Hold the pen anywhere!

Asa Nauka Ebonite eyedropper
Tipping the Scales

Unposted, the PenBBS 323 is the same size as the PenBBS 380. It's bigger than the PenBBS 350 but smaller than either the PenBBS 355 or 456.

  • Capped: 140mm
  • Uncapped 130mm
  • Barrel max. diameter: 14.3mm

Capped the PenBBS 323 is a couple of grams lighter than the PenBBS 380. Uncapped, it is about half a gram heavier.

I got the pen with a traditional fine nib. I like PenBBS's new "round" nibs. The round M nibs have performed perfectly out of the box. The round fine in my PenBBS 471, however, need tuning to write well.

The fine nib with the PenBBS 323 also needed work. I opened the gap between the tines with my (now very handy) nib flossing tool and all was right with the world. The nib was already smooth and didn't need any micromesh attention.

Coming to Grips

So we arrive. For all the aluminum PenBBS 323 has going for it, there's one big flaw. It is disappointingly slippery. All the grip has to come from you. It's work to maintain to a positive hold on the thing. If your hands are dry, good luck.

The extra effort to keep the pen in check is tiring. It also presents a barrier to getting ideas from your brain to paper. You need to pay attention to that thing in your hand. Not fun.

But this isn't my only aluminum pen. Why is the 323 any different? Sadly, it's because it's so smooth. And relatively heavy.

Gentle contours, a smooth finish and mass make a tough combo

The PenBBS 380 has the same powder coating but it also has the edges of the facets for needed grip. So does the TSWBI Precision. The barrel of the PenBBS 350 is smooth but the pen is lighter.

The other surprise with this pen is that edges around the base of the section are rather sharp! The gain of moving the threads to the end of the section is lost by those two steps. Oops.

It's a shame. I like the size and weight. And I'm starting to come around to the shape. But in the course of thinking about this pen I picked up a bunch of other fountain pens. Many smaller. A few larger. But none hit the same trifecta.

I haven't dropped a pen in a good long while. This is the candidate. I have to be careful.

This pen was just over US$16 plus shipping on taobao.

Green ink? Well, I've been reading the original Ian Fleming Bond series. Two guesses what color "M" writes with. The ink is SKB Stone Green (石綠). The paper is a Kaco A5 notebook.


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Created at: 2019/02/25, updated at 2019/07/09.


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More often that not, my desk is my pocket. But everyday desk items doesn't have the same ring.




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cr
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Long time fountain pen user, sci-fi reader & tennis player
2019/02/26

I should receive the 2 I ordered in a few days.  I have some resin 323 that I enjoy.  They are very ergonomic.  The end threads are like those on some Franklin-Christoph models.  We have different views on the 380 so maybe I'll like the metal 323.

EDC
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Mostly pens
2019/02/26

@cr It will be interesting to see your take. Having resin models to compare is a plus. 

I'm still stuck on the 380. I keep thinking the big step should be an issue but it never turns out to be for me.

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