A few weeks ago I was contacted by Kate Dmitrieva, the co-founder of Benu, a pen company located in Moscow, Russia, asking whether I'd be interested in reviewing some of their products. Intrigued by the unique designs and some really cool looking materials, I agreed and a couple weeks later the pens arrived at my door. Overall, I'm very impressed with the design and the quality of the writing experience, though many might consider the price point a touch high. Benu will be launching a Kickstarter for a new collection at some point in the future, so be on the lookout.
Design and Build
Benu bills their products as "casual chic writing instruments for work and leisure," that are "designed to surprise and delight." There's definitely a certain playfulness to these pens that make them fun to use, somewhat reminiscent of the many different variations Kaweco has released in its "Sport" line. The compact size, light weight, and streamlined "bullet" shape makes these pens a good choice for pocket carry. Benu pens sells its pens in two "collections": the "MINIMA" collection, which is more of a true pocket pen, cartridge-only, and does not post, and the "Essence" collection, which is slightly larger, accepts an international converter, and does post. (Comparison photos are available in the gallery below.)
Benu describes their pens as handmade from a variety of interesting "pearlescent" and "adventurescent" acrylic resins, and certain designs feature intricate etchings such as geometric and skull patterns. The four pens I was sent for review include the Classic Black Skull with gold trim and Mystical Green Silver from the MINIMA collection, and the "Silver Galaxy" and "Purple Night Silver" from the Essence collection. All of the acrylics are eye-catching with lots of depth, and I found the detailing on the Skull Pen to be very attractive.
Nibs and Overall Writing Experience
Benu uses high quality stainless steel nibs from Schmidt. To be honest, the Schmidt nibs surprised me with how well they wrote directly out of the box. The broad nib I tested could almost qualify as a stub, and laid down a thick wet line of ink, while the fine nib wrote equally as smooth.
The first thing some people might notice is that the section features a relatively large "step down" from the barrel, but this should end up being a non-issue for most people unless they grip the pen very high. The long section offers plenty of room for a variety of grip styles, and never caused me any problems.
While both the "Essence" and the "MINIMA" pens were quite comfortable to hold, I found the slightly larger "Essence" pen to be the most practical for longer writing sessions, due to just the touch of added length, better balance, and the ability to post the cap.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
I've enjoyed using the Benu pens for the past few weeks, and I can definitely see them entering my "pocket fountain pen" rotation. The skull pen was an especially pleasant surprise, as I found the somewhat "wild" design to be more understated in person. Benu has been making the rounds lately on the pen blogs, so I'd expect to see more of them in the future as they expand their line and increase availability. The one potential sticking point I see is the relatively high price point (discussed further below), which might intimidate some potential buyers, since Benu is an newer brand that sells exclusively online and doesn't yet have much of a track record in the larger pen community.
Currently, you can only purchase Benu pens directly from the company's website, though I've also been informed that there will be a Kickstarter project to launch a new collection at some point in the future. Pricing on the Benu Pens ranges from $80-120 for the MINIMA fountain pen collection, and $90-120 for the Essence fountain pen collection. The MINIMA is also available as a ballpoint for $90, and the Essence as a rollerball for $95.
While this price point seems high, it's comparable to pricing on the Kaweco Art Sport, which is Kaweco's higher-end collection that periodically features unique resins and acrylics. From what I can tell, however, the Art Sports are limited-run pens that don't seem to be part of Kaweco's permanent lineup, which gives Kaweco a bit more pricing leeway. Over the long term, I'd like to see the pricing on the Benu pens come down by about $15-20, which would make these pens competitive, given the relative lack of serious competition in the $50-100 price range and how well these Benu nibs write. That said, I have no idea how expensive/labor intensive it is to make this particular pen design, especially with some of the crazier materials like Silver Galaxy or the detailing on the Skull Pen.
Last But Not Least - Two Pens to Give Away!
Benu was kind enough to send me multiple pens to review, and I will be giving away two to readers: one MINIMA Fountain Pen in "Mystical Green", and one Essence Fountain Pen in "Purple Night". Giveaway Rules and Conditions are as follows:
- In order to enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this blog post indicating which pen you want. While you don't need to provide your full name, be sure to leave at least some identifying information. (A first or last name plus an initial is generally sufficient.) I've included links to the Benu website in order to provide details on each pen, including pictures and retail value.
- The giveaway will end at 11:59pm Central Time on Sunday, May 28, 2017.
- At the close of the giveaway, I will assign each entry a number and pick two winners using a random number generator. I likely won't be able to ship the pens until early June, since I will be traveling over the next couple of weeks, but I will announce the winners on the blog the following Monday or Tuesday and give each winner exactly one week to contact me to provide a shipping address. Information submitted by entrants and/or winners will be used by me solely to ship your item and will not be sold or otherwise provided to Benu or any other sponsor. In the event more than one person indicates a preference for the same pen, the person who reaches out to me first to claim their prize will have first refusal.
- Limit one entry and one prize per person. Your odds of winning are directly proportionate to how many people enter. This giveaway is open to everyone, non-U.S. residents included, though I will have to use the cheapest shipping option available, which may not include tracking.
Disclaimer: I was sent the pens featured in this post free of charge by Benu Pens for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated for this review. This post may contain affiliate links.