Sailor King of Pen Fountain Pens Explained!

Sailor King of Pen Fountain Pens Explained!

Founded in 1911 in Kure City, Hiroshima, Sailor is Japan's first fountain pen manufacturer and today continues to be one of three major Japanese fountain pen companies next to Pilot and Platinum. Over the years at Yoseka, we've spent a lot of time talking about Sailor as a company and their special fountain pens, which we happen to love. Today's blogpost is going to be on Sailor's top of the range flagship model, their King of Pen fountain pen. You may have heard of this Sailor model and perhaps you've seen this huge fountain pen and may be wondering what makes this extra large fountain pen so special and why it is on the wishlists of many fountain pen users in the community. 

Aside from the flashy name, there are a number of other reasons that make Sailor KOP a pen that is desired by many despite the expensive price tag and we'll cover those in today's blogpost. But first, a brief introduction on Sailor KOP.

Explanation of Sailor Models

Most Sailor fountain pens fall into one of two model families: Pro Gear (short for Professional Gear) and 1911 (in Japan, referred to as Pro-Fit). The differences between these two models are solely in the shape of the body of the pen. While the 1911 models have rounded tops resulting in a classic cigar-shaped fountain pen, the Pro Gear models, which were released later in 2003, come with flat tops and a Sailor anchor logo finial in the cap. As a result of the difference in shape, the models within each of these families also have slight differences in weight and size. 

Within each family, there are further models with different sizes. In the 1911 family, there is the larger 1911L with the 21k gold nib and the 1911S with the 14k gold nib. And in the Pro Gear family, there is the larger Pro Gear with the 21k gold nib and the smaller Pro Gear Slim with the 14k gold nib. 

In each of the Pro Gear and 1911 families, there is also a KOP model with a 21k gold nib that is about 1.5x the size of the 21k nib on the 1911L and Pro Gear models. 

Length (Capped) Length (Uncapped) Length (Posted) Weight
Pro Gear Slim 12.4 cm 11 cm 14.3 cm 17 g
Pro Gear  12.8 cm 11.5 cm 14.7 cm 22 g
Pro Gear King of Pen 14.2 cm 12.4 cm 16 cm 35 g
1911S 13.5 cm 11.6 cm 14.8 cm 17 g
1911L 14 cm 12.3 cm 15.3 cm 22 g 
1911 King of Pen 15.2 cm 13 cm 16.5 cm

34 g


Now that we know a bit about the different Sailor models available, you know that there are two main Sailor KOP models to choose from: Pro Gear King of Pen or 1911 King of Pen. The differences between those two are mostly aesthetic with the Pro Gear KOP model also being slightly heavier. You may also find one feels more balanced in the hand since they have slight differences in length, but that is a personal opinion.

Features of Sailor KOP

Large 21k nib 

The most attractive feature of the Sailor KOP and the main reason for its desirability is its nib. As mentioned before, the KOP comes with the largest 21k gold nib that Sailor has to offer. Being 21k gold rather than the 14k gold that usually comes on gold nibbed fountain pens means the KOP also offers an unparalleled writing experience with one of the softest smoothest nibs available on any pen. In fact, Sailor KOP only come with Medium and Broad nib options and those seeking a finer nib would only have the option of getting their nib ground down to a more fitting size.

Larger Barrel

The most obvious feature of the Sailor KOP is the larger barrel that is only available on Sailor KOP models. While the larger barrel is an aesthetic difference, it also adds more comfort for certain fountain pen users. In store, we often meet customers with arthritis whose hands cramp up and feel painful after having to hold onto a smaller pen for longer periods of writing. Since the body is made of resin as opposed to other pens in its class which may be made of heavier materials, the large yet lightweight KOP is more suited for times when they will be writing pages and pages with a fountain pen.

Pen Body Materials

While most Sailor KOP pen bodies are made of resin here in the US, in Japan and at some bespoke dealers outside of the US, you'll find some with ebonite barrels as well as Urushi lacquer and maki-e artwork along the barrels, creating another point of interest for many pen enthusiasts and collectors who appreciate traditional Japanese art techniques. Here at Yoseka, we only have one Sailor 1911 KOP with Ebonite body and Naginata nib, considered quite a rare fountain pen to track down here in the US.

Fill Mechanism/Criticism on KOP

One drawback of Sailor KOP that many users have complained about is its disappointing ink capacity. For such a large pen, the KOP is a cartridge/converter whose only compatible converter is the same standard Sailor converter that is compatible with all standard Sailor fountain pens. Paired with the Medium and Broad nibs that KOP come with, this may require a new ink-up every one to two days when writing with the KOP! 

KOP Models 

Resin-barrel KOP are most common in the US but Sailor does make available some special edition KOP bodies as well. These are available from dealers in Japan or with a handful of bespoke Sailor details here in the US. These collections include the Wabi Sabi KOP, Iro-Miyabi KOP, Color Urushi Kaga, Maki-e Shirei Series and the Brier Wood Series.

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Iro-Miyabi KOP are Urushi lacquer pens with the Urushi lacquer applied using silk cloths, resulting in a slightly textured finish on the surface of these special edition KOP. 

Color Urushi Kaga KOP are Urushi lacquer finished in bright and vibrant different colors. 

Briar Wood KOP barrels are made of elegant briar wood, an extremely hard and heat-resistant wood commonly used for cigar boxes and smoking pipes. The wood has a unique and prized grain pattern that is evident along the barrels of these KOP fountain pens. 

At our shop, some of the most popular KOP models are the classics such as the Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen in Black/Silver, but we are happy to see that KOP models in beautiful colors such as the KOP Fire, Ocean and Wicked Witch of the West are becoming more popular as well. For a complete collection of our Sailor King of Pens, feel free to check out our collection here!

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