The Jinhao 991 Is a Wolf in Uni-ball’s Clothing

Sometimes a pen is just a pen. And sometimes a pen looks just like another pen, a rollerball pen, a pen made by a famous company, but when you take that pen in your hand and uncap it, you discover that it’s actually a fountain pen with a certain chariot logo stamped on its nib.

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, Little Red Riding Hood. It’s not a Uni-ball Vision — it’s a Jinhao 991. (Or as I like to do: take a deep breath, throw my head back, and howl “JINHAOOOOOOOOOOOO!” into the sky.)

I won’t call the Uni-ball Vision an iconic pen, but it’s ubiquitous enough that even I recognized the 991 as a rip-off as soon as I opened the mailing envelope it arrived in. (This 991 was part of the same order as the Jinhao 992 I reviewed a while back, so I failed doubly so at my stated goal of avoiding clone pens. I really need to look at the pictures in these eBay listings more closely!)

Since this is a clone pen, I’m not going to bother commenting on the design aspects of the Jinhao 991 other than to say it’s a plastic pen with a metal clip and a steel nib. The proportions of the pen are long and slim, and it’s comparable in size to the Lamy Safari.

L to R: Kaweco Sport, Jinhao 991, Lamy Vista/Safari
L to R: Kaweco Sport, Jinhao 991, Lamy Vista/Safari
L to R: Kaweco Sport, Jinhao 991, Lamy Vista/Safari

The 991 is available in a variety of colors, both solid and translucent. I chose the clear frosted version. The plastic feels nice and sturdy, and I didn’t find any bubbles or blemishes other than some faint molding marks. There were no cracks of any kind when I received the pen, nor have any cracks appeared in the several months since.

The cap snaps on and off from the barrel, and it can be easily and securely posted. A “Jinhao” wordmark is stamped on the clip.

There’s a liner within the cap to help keep the nib from drying out.

The 991 is a cartridge/converter pen that comes with a piston-style converter. The included converter appears to be standard international size, but I can’t confirm that as I haven’t tried converters from other brands in this particular pen. Jinhao converters have performed well for me, and this one is no exception.

There are no metal parts in the section or barrel and the barrel is watertight, so the 991 is a candidate for an eyedropper conversion.

The section is slim, on par with the Pilot Metropolitan. It’s round in shape and has a slight lip where the nib meets the feed. The section is generous in length and smooth overall, so it should be suitable for those who like to hold their pens higher up. As someone with a standard tripod grip and small hands, I found the 991 to be very comfortable, and nicely balanced despite its light weight. When I use it unposted, as is my preference, the pen is the perfect length.

Let’s discuss the business end of the pen: the nib. The 991 shares the same nib as the 992, and I’m happy to report that the nib on this 991 is just as good as the ones on the 992s I’ve tried. It might be a steel nib on a cheap pen, but it’s a lovely writer: smooth, with excellent ink flow. The nib comes in two sizes, EF and F. The F nib on my pen produces a line between a Japanese and Western fine, with no line variation due to the round tipping on the nib.

While doing research for this post, I discovered that there’s another version of the 991 with a hooded nib. If you have this hooded 991, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.

I purchased my 991 on eBay for $3.60, including shipping. Suffice to say, the nib itself is worth the price of admission.

The JINHAOOOOOOOOOOOO 991 is howlingly good nib trapped in a meh body. If you can get over the fact that it’s a clone, it’s a nice, all-purpose pen, suitable for writing a long letter, loaning to a friend, or trying out some temperamental inks, at a price that won’t make you sad if something bad happens to it.

Dear Jinhao, if you’re reading this, please make a pen with the same nib and feed as the 991, and put it inside an original design of your own creation. All the pieces are there, just waiting for you to make something special.

This Jinhao 991 was paid for with my own funds. My opinions on this blog are always my own. Please see my review ethics statement for more details.

The Jinhao 992 Is the Clone Trooper of Pens

Consider the Clone Trooper:

Clone troopers were genetic copies of the renowned warrior Jango Fett that were produced in great numbers to fight the Galactic Republic’s battles. Unfortunately, clone troopers who survived in battle ultimately succumbed to accelerated aging, a side effect of the cloning process.

Now consider the Jinhao 992:

The Jinhao 992, a copy of the renowned Sailor 1911 pen, is produced in great numbers in the People’s Republic of China. Unfortunately, Jinhao 992s that survive daily use ultimately succumb to cracking, a side effect of the production process.

I don’t even like clone pens, but I’m going to talk about the Jinhao 992 because I’ve had a few people ask me about it.

The Jinhao 992 (aka the Jinhao 922) is an inexpensive clone fountain pen currently being made in China. You can find these pens for sale on eBay for $1.79 including shipping to the US, which is ridiculously cheap even by Chinese pen standards.

It’s a rather small pen.

L to R: Pilot Metropolitan, Jinhao 992, Lamy Vista
L to R: Pilot Metropolitan, Jinhao 992, Lamy Vista

The 992’s small size and relative lack of metal results in a lightweight pen that fits nicely in my hand. I find this pen to be comfortable posted or unposted, which is rare for me as I prefer the balance of unposted pens.

The Jinhao 992 is a nice looking pen, but the design credit really ought to go to Sailor. I try to avoid clones as much as possible, but in my ignorance of Sailor pens, I picked up these 992s before I knew they were copies of a Sailor design. Oops.

Anyway, 992s are available in demonstrator or solid color form. They have silver-colored fittings on the cap, and a stainless steel nib that comes in one size: fine.

The section is round and measures 9mm in diameter, which makes it slightly larger than the Pilot Metropolitan’s section. The step up from the section to the barrel is gradual and the cap threads aren’t sharp. I hold my pens with a standard tripod grip and found the 992’s section to be very comfortable.

The screw-on cap takes 1.5 turns to remove, and it features a utilitarian-looking clip that’s surprisingly sturdy. The wide, silver-colored cap band is engraved with Jinhao branding.

The business end of the pen has a stainless steel nib with ball-shaped tipping. The nib is tastefully engraved with a castellated pattern and the Jinhao chariot logo. It’s a fine that writes like a Western fine. The nibs on both of my Jinhaos were excellent out of the box. They’re smooth nails, though a little on the dry side with certain inks.

The 992 comes with an international size converter, but it can easily turn into an eyedropper, as the barrel is completely sealed and the section threads come with an o-ring installed.

However, before you eyedropper a 992, you should be aware of this model’s history of cracking. There are reports that more recent 992s don’t have this cracking problem, but I can’t confirm that as fact. I can only speak to my own personal experience, which is that my blue 992 hasn’t showing any signs of cracking yet, but my clear 992 quickly developed cracks around the plug at the end of the barrel. I removed the plug in an attempt to stabilize the cracks, which seems to be working so far.

In the Star Wars universe, clone troopers were meant to be cannon fodder, and the Jinhao 992 is a cannon fodder pen. I use mine with temperamental inks like J. Herbin’s Rouge Hematite or Platinum’s new line of iron galls.

The Jinhao 992 is cheap and easily replaceable, so does it matter if it doesn’t last very long? That’s for you to decide, but for me, I’ve never liked clones much anyway so I won’t be replacing these after they’re gone. I’ll stick with pens on the light side of the Force.

This Jinhao 992 was paid for with my own funds. My opinions on this blog are always my own. Please see my review ethics statement for more details.

Maybe the Jinhao 992 Ain’t All It’s Cracked up to Be

I was ready to sing the praises of my latest ridiculously-cheap pen acquisition, the Jinhao 992 (aka the 922, aka the Spiral, aka the drunken sailor), when I glanced at my pen and spotted a curious glint at the end of the barrel…

Those would be cracks. I’ve kept this pen on my desk for the week I’ve had it, and it’s never been dropped or mishandled while in my possession. Though I can’t say for certain the cracks were there when the pen arrived, I can count three cracks today when there were only two yesterday. That’s not good.

According to this thread on FPN, I’m not the only one seeing cracking issues with their 992s, including some reports of catastrophic failures that involved caps and barrels snapping in half. This is some early-TWSBI-level crackery.

So I feel confident in saying that the Jinhao 992 is a pen you should avoid.

It’s a damn shame, since the pen is an otherwise wonderful writer with a nice, smooth nib. I guess paying $1.50 for a fountain pen (including shipping! including a converter!) really is too good to be true.