Nib – Fine Steel
Body – Metal
Cap – Metal
Ink Source – Cartridge or converter (provided)
Length – Capped =13.6cm – Uncapped = 12.4cm – Posted = 15.4cm
Diameter – 11mm at widest point
Price – £4.27 ($6.93)
The 388 is undoubtedly one of the best fountain pens you can buy for lest than £5. Produced by Baoer, one of China’s three biggest fountain pen makers it is sold globally and has received universal acclaim from many users. The 388 is a very obvious copy of the well known and well loved Parker Sonnet.
The first thing you notice when you handle it is the weight, coming it at just over 33g it weighs about the same as the Lamy Studio. This provides a well balanced pen that does not feel dissimilar to much more expensive pens.
Aesthetically speaking the 388 is hard not to like. The gold and silver, while not to my taste, gives a very understated classic look and the well copied Parker arrow clip is well sprung and completes the classy look. The thick gold band at the bottom of the cap reads ‘Baoer’ and ‘388’ and the top it set with a gold top and black gloss plastic insert, these set the cap off well without being at all flashy. Removing the cap takes quite a tug, like many Chinese pens it is well secured and when replacing gives a lovely reassuring click, I would have no fear of the cap become dislodged in my pocket.
Once removed you are presented with the section and nib. Again continuing the theme, the nib is a two-tone gold and silver steel nib. It is a fine and writes plenty well for the price bracket but does not quite compare to more expensive nibs as it is rather stiff and can be dry at times. Despite this is it is a very competent nib. The section is a hard gloss plastic that provides enough grip but is not massively comfortable. The barrel is brushed silver and matches the cap. Once the section is unscrewed the metal threads become apparent, this feature is normally reserved for much more expensive pens. The 388 can be filled by international standard cartridges or by the converter that is provided.
Looks – 9/10 – While I have never been a fan of silver and gold, the 388 pulls it off well. I dislike the thick gold band and noticeable step between body and cap.
Build Quality – 10/10 – One of the best built pens I have ever encountered, easily equals Lamy build quality. I have full confidence that this pen will out live me and still keep on writing.
Price – 9/10 – Just under a fiver is a great price for a pen and when you consider the quality it really is great value for money.
Performance – 8/10 – The nib is too dry and stiff for me, luckily the pen uses the common #5 nib so to replace it would not be an issue
Overall – 9/10 – Unrivalled when it comes to quality, the 388 is a definite recommendation to all pen enthusiasts, new or old.
Cheers for reading guys, a package of six pens from China should turn up soon so I’ll try to do one a week.