I think I mentioned the Jinhao 992 some time ago when I bought a packet of five of them. They worked out about £1.50 each, perhaps the cheapest pens of all. I decided to use them for the inks I didn’t want to put in a more expensive pen. The first one was filled with red ink which famously stains pens. I don’t use red ink a lot but I’ve used up that first fill.
Another one was filled with Baystate Blue. It has been used a lot and has been refilled several times. I think I still have a couple of these pens unused in my desk drawer.
I’ve always taken an interest in Chinese pens. I think it’s fair to say that the interest was not well rewarded in the early days, ten to fifteen years ago. The pens cost very little but were still a bad deal because most of them didn’t work well at all, or fell apart within a few weeks. That began to change a few years ago and I have some good Chinese pens, though as long as they were made out of brass tubing they were a bit too heavy for me.
The 992, however, is the first Chinese pen I’ve had that can actually challenge much more expensive Japanese and European pens. It wrote, and wrote beautifully from the first fill without any flushing. It weighs nothing which suits me very well. The nib is very good – perhaps a little on the bland side, like a Pelikan, if that’s a fair criticism. I’ve never been especially fond of ‘demonstrator’ pens – they’re lacking in aesthetic quality and all look pretty much the same but I’m forced to admit it’s useful to see how much ink is left in the converter.
The shape is pretty much a small cigar, quite similar to various models made by Pilot, Platinum and Sailor. The white metal clip is unremarkable and it seems likely that it would do its job perfectly well. I don’t clip pens to my clothes so I can’t speak from experience. The broad cap ring covering the lip of the cap is what you see on many pens at the moment.
Several reviewers have commented on the little blob at the end of the barrel. To be sure, they could have made a smoother outline but it’s hardly a big deal!
The most serious criticism people have made is that cracks appear in the barrel end. I haven’t seen this in either of the 992s I use. I don’t know how serious this cracking is – whether it leads to the ultimate disintegration of the pen. On the other hand I don’t know what other people are doing with those pens. I’ve been carrying mine in my pen case several times a week but I haven’t dropped either of them. They seem quite robust to me and the fit and finish is adequate.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, and I have found these pens to be absolutely faultless, something I can’t always say about pens costing 100 times as much and more. Neither pen has ever failed to start instantly and neither has ever skipped. How many pens can you say that about? In terms of durability, time will obviously tell but at the price they are currently offered, I wouldn’t mind having to replace one every few years!