Pen Review: Sailor 1911 Large Ringless Epinard

Sailor 1911 Large Ringless Epinard

That is the Sailor 1911 Large “ringless” Epinard, a special US edition, that Dan Smith the Nibsmith sent me, and probably wishes he had back now. Unfortunately for both of us, this pen is hard to give up.

It has really grown on me. In fact, now I think I like it best of any Sailor I’ve seen over the past two years, except for the blue Professional Gear I bought in Chicago this year.

The Epinard 1911 Large is one of Sailor’s many fountain pen releases, this one limited to North America. What sets it apart are the color, a very dark army green, and the lack of a cap band. It’s the first full-size Sailor 1911 for the US without the cap band, or “ringless,” to use the official term.

Well. Normally I’d be against that.

The Epinard color is very dark, and hard to put across in photos. Think “dark army green.” Its darkness is accentuated by the black-plated trim rings and clip, and the lack of cap band. And that’s the whole effect.

At first my reaction was, “Okay that’s nice. And?”

But now, after living with it for weeks, my reaction is, “Okay, that’s nice. Damn.”

This pen is a grow-er, not a show-er. It’s anti-bling. Which makes it fairly different, in fountain-pen land. It doesn’t try to impress. It’s sure of itself. It’s quiet. If it were an actor, it would be Sam Elliott.

Sailor 1911 ringless Epinard clip and nib

But there are two things I don’t love about the Epinard 1911, and one is right up there in that photo. The nib is rhodium-plated, not black-plated. You can see the difference between nib and clip.

I kind of wish Sailor had given this a cool, black-plated nib. That seems like a lost opportunity. But maybe there were reasons. And maybe one reason is the cost, since price is already my second quibble.

The Ringless Epinard is $360. That’s higher than others in the 1911 Large line. $312 buys the 1911 Large in US special colors Fresca Blue and Key Lime. Or you could buy a 1911 Large in one of the regular color for $272. So $360 is pricey.

But maybe this costs more to manufacture, or maybe they are making fewer. In any event, the price is the price, and there’s nothing for it.

The thing is, it’s a very cool pen.

13 thoughts on “Pen Review: Sailor 1911 Large Ringless Epinard

  1. Thanks for the review. My initial reaction on seeing this pen was that it resembled a cut-price King of Pen, although I like the ‘sort-of-ebonite’ look and the colour is intriguing. It’s a shame about the mismatch in finish between the nib and the rest of the furniture. You’d hope that the higher price relative to other 1911s would have allowed for this.

    Of course, this does give me another opportunity to whinge about the lack of similar special edition Sailors in Europe. We got the Earth, Ocean etc Pro Gears, but so did everyone else. Maybe European sales are way below those in North America, but it would be nice to think we might see some sort of ‘exclusives’ one day. I can’t believe there wouldn’t be a market for them. I still have a hankering for a 1911 Large in Royal Tangerine, but the cost of shipping and general import charges is a bit off-putting. 🙀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That might be it, although I thought the Imperial Black Pro Gear had just such a nib. My very brief search didn’t throw up swathes of pitchfork-wielding reviews complaining about the quality of the finish, which suggests Sailor didn’T make a complete mess of it. 😀. Who knows? Maybe someone thought it looked good?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ugh, then I am flummoxed. As you rightly said, with a pen that’s more expensive you’d think they’d go the extra mile with that. I mean, it’s a really obvious difference, that every single person to whom I’ve shown the pen, mentions. “I thought the nib would be black, too.” And, “I don’t like that the nib isn’t black.”

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this piece. I have not seen this army green edition before. Your review was very timely as I have been pondering recently over whether to buy myself a Sailor 1911 Large. I do not yet own a ProGear (shock!) although I liked the Earth and the Ocean colours and now the Fire. As for the 1911 Large, I would be happy with a a regular black. I have seen pictures of the ringless black version, supposedly more like an Urushi pen (in terms of lack of cap ring) but my impression was that it looked a bit awkward when posted, so I still prefer the standard, ringed version. I am still undecided on which nib to chose. Ideally a slightly wet, fine italic would be nice but its hard to chose when you don’t get to try them first. Black with rhodium plated nib would be perfect. I am not sure which actor that would be though. (A ProGear Fire would be Salma Hayek).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting that you mention urushi, because that does come to mind, or did — that without the cap band, the shiny pen body did look a little urushi-like. Except for course the pen body has a trim ring, which I like, for balance with the clip.

      I can add a photo of the pen posted if you like. I just tried posting, and it seems to work posted just fine, without awkwardness. Maybe it’s just that you’d notice the gleaming rhodium-plated nib more? Because you would. On the other hand, the 1911 Large is a fairly large pen, to me, and larger than the full-size Professional Gear. But the good news if one likes to post is that the Ringless Epinard is lighter and more balanced without a cap band. My full-size Pro Gear Earth is 26.2 grams; this Ringless Epinard is 20.6 grams.

      So thank you! I think you’ve hit on another reason I have grown so fond of this pen. That’s right in the sweet spot for my favorite pen weight.

      On the nibs, a Sailor fine is very fine, as I’m sure you know. If you’re considering having it ground to an italic, it may be worth starting with a medium or even a broad. The nib person can always narrow it.

      I have the Pro Gear Earth. I’d say that’s more Matt Damon: great at the job, not really eye candy, per se. 😉 A black 1911 with rhodium trim? How about Kevin Bacon? (In everything.) Or for Brits, maybe the analogy is Martin Freeman (who actually annoys me, but I couldn’t say Maggie Smith, because she’s a goddess and would rate at least Maroon, perhaps Fire.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the great review, this one had really caught my eye, and — strangely — the absence of the ring seemed to add to its appeal. But then, Sailor released the Pro Gear Fire, and it was as if you had prophesied the coming of the Sailor Maggie Smith King of Pen on Fire. But, oh wow, if the Ringless Epinard is pricey at $360 US, then the Maggie Smith on Fire at about a grand is not going to help my bank manager’s nervous tic one little bit.


        1. For me, the King of Pens size is way too big, luckily. 🙂 I like the full-size Professional Gear pens, and the Fire is $312 in that size, so still less expensive than the Ringless Epinard. I love red pens, so I’m looking forward to seeing it. But the one I’ve ordered and am waiting for excitedly is the Pelikan M205 in Star Ruby, which is a sparkly ruby red/pink with chrome trim, i.e., “me.”

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I get it… actually the KoP is a bit big for me too. The 1911L is just perfect, and the Pro Gear just a fraction too short, aarrgh! Wish they produced the Fire in the 1911L 😦 And–as much as I have a newfound love for Pelikan, I’m not big on sparkles–if they did the Star Ruby in an M600 with marbling instead, I’d be waiting excitedly too. Instead, I shall wait excitedly for the FP Follies review. Who knows, you may convince me… it’s happened before.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I was very interested when I saw the pen announced. Then I saw it at Dan’s table and my reaction was “meh”. The color wasn’t exciting and the mismatch between nib and clip was a turn-off for me. Maybe you’re right and it’s a grow-er. But first it has to get my to buy it, and thus far I don’t see that happening.

    You and I so often agree, but not this time, counselor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love it! Difference is fine, and always welcome here. 🙂

      Except, maybe we do agree, in most respects? I had exactly the same “not exciting enough” reaction, at first. And it isn’t exciting. (I mean, it’s a fountain pen. But even among fountain pens, it is not exciting. It’s quiet.)

      But my August was really busy, so instead of packing up the pen and moving on (or, in your case, walking away from Dan’s table), I negligently left the darn thing sitting on my desk. Where, every once in a while, I would see it again. That’s how it snuck up on me. I accidentally saw it in a case at Atlas Stationers last week, too. Same thing.

      Yes, I still don’t love the rhodium-plated nib. Or the price. I’d be much more tempted if it had the black-plated nib, or cost $272. But once I own a pen, do I really ever look at the nib again? (No.) And can I justify $272 any more than $360? (No. It’s all too expensive.)

      Do I expect to, or want to, convince anyone? No. I am not in advertising and I have no sponsors. Which is why I can’t afford pens. 🙂 Also, a pen being quiet doesn’t, and shouldn’t, appeal to everyone. (Any more than a pen being pink does.) These sorts of reactions are just opinions. Further, mine here is an out-of-left-field opinion. And I don’t mind people saying so 🙂 Candidly, my only hope is that everyone has the same first impression as we did, and it doesn’t sell. So that at some point a fine retailer like Dan is driven to put it on closeout for $200, and someone tells me….

      Liked by 2 people

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