At 99p each on eBay with free shipping, it’s very hard to say no!
It’s always interesting to see what the Chinese companies decide to copy: the Wing Sung 659 I reviewed rips off Pilot and another popular Jinhao, the 599/599A, copies Lamy’s Safari/Al-Star line. This one is a little sneakier, and I don’t actually have a direct comparison, but it copies Sailor’s 1911 Standard. Even the pitch of the screw for the cap is identical.
The difference is very minute: the Sailors have a slightly larger inner cap and so the cap doesn’t screw down all the way. You can see the gap between the smaller inner cap of the Jinhao and the end of the Sailor 1911 section in the picture above. (It’s actually of my Nagasawa Proske, which has a slightly different nib and cap band design.)
The good thing about the Jinhao is how easily it can be taken apart. The nib size is #5 and the converter is sort of international standard, though your mileage may vary. Mine certainly did.
Build quality leaves much to be desired, and you can definitely feel that it’s a cheap pen. The top of one of my caps has already broken off, and I’ve had these for less than three months. (See photos above, where the jewel on the blue cap is missing.) The fit between the feed and the housing is also a little loose, though a slot has been cut in the housing to stop the nib from going off-centre.
The main reason I bought these is so that I could practise nib grinding. I had bought a whetstone and wanted to see exactly how much I could do with it, since I’m still not convinced I should splash out for a dremel just yet. It turns out I can do quite a lot, and the feed actually keeps up quite well even with broader grinds, like my cursive italic:
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Jinhao grind #2: Medium 0.8mm cursive italic going to @mookaka — Happy Birthday! It's so smooth… if it would leave it'd be a crying shame 😜 again done with whetstone, reference nib, micromesh, and lots of patience. Ink: Pilot Black; paper: Aurora A7 grid notepad. #fountainpens #penandink #pilot #black #inkyfingers #experiment #grinding #nib #whetstone #cursive #italic #jinhao #aurora #santana #smooth #lyrics #hobby
In fact, for how good the feed is and how acceptable the nib is, the Jinhao 992 is actually a quality budget pen. I pared one point down to EF, and here’s a comparison with the stock F (really more of a medium):
I recommend these heartily if you want a bunch of testers lying about the place, or to give away to friends as starter pens! As for me, I’ve been narrowing down the number I’ve been using, so I’ll stick largely to Pilots, Pelikans and vintage flex. Up next week: another vintage Waterman!