Sailor makes great looking pens, and the pens that make up Sailor's "Imperial Black" series are some of the best, IMHO. The Imperial Black Professional Gear fountain pen has long been a stalwart in my collection, and gets regular use. Despite it's high MSRP outside of Japan, it's still one of the pens that I regularly recommend, and I consider it to be the premiere "stealth pen" available. As it turns out, Sailor has expanded the Imperial Black lineup to include both a multifunction pen and a ballpoint at much lower and more readily accessible price points. If you like the look of the Imperial Black pens, but aren't quite ready to make the investment in the Pro Gear fountain pen, you should consider adding the multi pen to your collection. (I can't personally speak to the ballpoint, as I don't own it, but in light of my positive experiences with the other two pens you can probably assume it's good as well.)
Given the wide disparity in price points, I expected the Imperial Black multi pen to look cheap compared to the fountain pen, and for there to be a noticeable difference in the build quality. Not the case. The black ion-plated clip and trim are the same as on the fountain pen, and the matte black finish is equally well-applied. (Note: Nearly four years later, the matte finish on my Imperial Black fountain pen has become a bit glossy and worn from use. I expect the same from the multi pen, and from any "matte black" pen for that matter. It's normal and gives the pen a nice wabi-sabi effect.) Photographed together, these two pens look stunning. Sailor should consider selling these as a two or three-pen set.
The Imperial Black fountain pen is a relatively light and compact writing instrument that's easily carried in a shirt pocket. The multi pen also makes a great daily carry tool, but it's heftier than its fountain pen equivalent. While the fountain pen is made from matte-black acrylic, the multi pen appears to be coated brass. The metal construction gives the pen some weight, though I still find it to be well-balanced and very comfortable to use. The pen is almost exactly the same length as the Lamy 2000 four-color ballpoint, but slimmer around the middle.
In my recent Guide to Multifunction Pens, I noted that one of the big decision points when selecting a multi pen is the price/availability of the refills. Fortunately, this pen uses the non-proprietary D1 refill, which is relatively easy to find and available in a wide range of ink types. (There's even a highlighter refill made by Lamy, which I've been using a fair bit.) I will say that Sailor's "Chalana"-brand D1 ballpoint refills have impressed me. I'd compare them to the Uniball Jetstream refills in terms of smoothness, even in the "fine" or "extra fine" tip size. Like the Jetstream, there's not a wide range of colors - you're restricted to black, blue, and red - but they can be shockingly inexpensive for how good they are. Pen Chalet currently has the blue and the black in stock at less than $1.50 each.
So if I had to make a recommendation between this and the Lamy 2000 multi pen, what would I go with? That's a tough one. For me, it comes down to two things: (1) weight, and (2) whether you need a mechanical pencil function. While I don't consider the Imperial Black multi pen too heavy to use, it's definitely heavier than the Lamy 2000, so anyone particularly sensitive to that sort of thing should be advised. The Sailor also has a built-in .5mm mechanical pencil taking up one of it's four slots, whereas the Lamy is strictly a 4-color pen. Since I use pencils a lot during the workday, I find my self reaching more and more for the Sailor, and if I'm only carrying one pen, more often than not it's the Imperial Black that goes into my shirt pocket. Either one is excellent, however, and what you ultimately choose should determined by your personal needs and preferences.
Where to Buy
As far as I can tell, neither the Imperial Black Multifunction Pen and the Imperial Black Ballpoint (which I have not tried) are available outside Japan, so you have to order both pens from a Japanese vendor. With respect to the multi pen, there are multiple Amazon sources you can purchase from, but as is common with overseas vendors, both price and availability can vary. Shop around.
Disclaimer: I purchased the pen featured in this review with my own funds, for my own personal collection. This post contains affiliate links.