A quick look at the Parker Reflex fountain pen.

I spotted this pen in the window of a shop selling mostly greetings cards and only a few pens, most of which were ball points. It was in a small grey Parker gift box, with the clear plastic lid and appeared to be rather dusty and in need of rescue.

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Parker Reflex fountain pen

I was surprised to see this model currently for sale. I remembered the Parker ball point pens with this distinctive rubbery grip section. I had one which has lived in my camera bag, for some 10 years or so. It was good to use outdoors, for jotting down exposure details, when using old twin lens reflex cameras. I did not remember there being a fountain pen. I have had the ball point pen for so long that I had forgotten that it was called the Reflex and had to look that up.

I decided to liberate the pen which at just £11.00, was less than I had paid for two hours’ parking at London Gatwick Airport earlier that day. I was particularly attracted to the grip section, having been thinking a lot lately about the problem I am having in gripping the slippery but otherwise enjoyable Lamy aion. I had even toyed with the idea of buying rubber thimbles, as used by clerks in post offices for counting paper.

At home, I gave the Reflex a good wash. What I had thought was dust, was actually the result of the cap and barrel having faded in the sunlight, except where the barrel had been covered by the posted cap. You can see the tan lines. I flushed out the nib section with a bulb blower.

Examining the nib under a loupe, I was delighted to find that the tines were level, that the tipping material looked symmetrical and that all looked generally well. I have often found that inexpensive modern pens do not write well straight out of the box, due to poorly finished nibs. Not so with this Reflex though.

It did not come with a converter, or even a cartridge, or any paperwork, which makes me wonder about this one’s history. There is a date code, TII on the cap. This is a bit of a puzzle. I understand that T denotes a year ending in 5 (under the QUALITYPEN system, where Q is zero). The II means that there were two quarters of the year remaining and so this was made in the second quarter. The cap is also stamped PARKER, MADE IN UK. I have read that the Newhaven factory for Parker production in the UK was closed in 2011 and so if this pen was made in the UK, in a year ending in a 5, that would suggest 2005. Could it be that this new pen had not yet been sold in 12 years?

I inserted a basic Parker converter, with the slider fill and metal agitator ball. The converter pushed in nicely, but so deeply behind the long threaded collar that the entire clear plastic reservoir area was covered. Thus you could not see how much ink it was holding.

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With Parker converter inserted, (the ink reservoir being entirely covered by the threads)

I decided on a royal blue ink to match the barrel colour and chose Aurora Blue. It wrote nicely, smooth and with ideal ink flow! That is often the gamble, part of the risk and thrill of buying a fountain pen. I enjoyed trying it out on various notebooks. At 132mm long unposted, the pen is a good length and pleasant to use. However, the cap is very light and posts securely and deeply and I prefer to use it posted, for that extra length, weight and comfort.

The rubber grip section works well. It has an unusual finish, like cross-hatched tyre treads. If you want any more grip, add snow chains!

The nib appears to be the same as in the currently available Parker Vector fountain pen. You do not expect marvels at this price level but if you are lucky enough to have a Vector style nib that performs well, it can be a real joy, with lightweight and effortless writing, if you just want a simple writing tool, to write without much flex or character.

Viewed in profile, the nib and housing are reminiscent of the Parker 45 fountain pens that I used through my secondary school years and give a very similar writing experience.

Description

This is an entry level cartridge-converter type fountain pen (although neither cartridge nor converter was supplied in my case). The pen is a good size and has a light plastic body, but features an easy to grip rubbery section. The cap simply pushes on and off with a snug fit, over the chrome ring behind the rubber grip. The pocket clip features a modern look Parker Arrow. The clip is sprung, making it easy to use. The cap is not airtight and this might be due to a design decision to reduce risk of choking, or perhaps to avoid pushing air up through the nib each time the pen is capped. The stainless steel nib in my model is a Medium. The threads on the section are plastic and very long, needing about ten twists to unscrew the barrel.

Specifications (approximate)

Length closed: 141mm

Length opened: 132mm

Length posted: 155mm

Weight, capped and with converter: 14.5g

Uncapped: 10g

Cap: 4.5g

Conclusion

The Parker Reflex is a good answer for anyone who likes the Parker Vector nib but who wishes that the body was slightly wider and that the grip was fatter, easier to hold and more comfortable. I am delighted with mine and think it was excellent value.

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Parker Reflex fountain pen, next to a Lamy Safari

12 thoughts on “A quick look at the Parker Reflex fountain pen.

  1. Excellent review. It’s always gratifying, and somewhat irksome too, when a cheap pen writes as nicely as one costing ten times the amount. And also irksome that the expensive pen can be just as much of a gamble as the cheap one when it comes to getting a useable nib!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading. Yes, I agree with you. It is less of a gamble if the pen is not expensive but all the more pleasurable if it turns out well for a small outlay. By the way, I am still much enjoying my Kaweco Dia 2, that I first became aware of through reading your review.

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      1. Exactly so. I have a few very inexpensive Chinese pens I’d never part with, and a few expensive pens whose nibs really don’t like me and I need to sell.

        And my Dia2 I will also never sell. I had an extra BB nib for it, and I’m having it ground into an architect nib. That’s one of the really good things about Kaweco: most of the pens take the same inexpensive nib unit, except the Sport Classic/Ice and the Elite.

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  2. Awww, after such a long wait, hoping to be snapped up by someone, the lonely Parker in the window has gone to a good home. It must have been waiting for you 🙂

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  3. I used to use these pens to take notes at uni lectures. While very comfortable to write with, I found that after a time the rubber grip would work loose and the caps would crack. Cheap but not very long lasting. I switched to a Lamy Safari which proved to be more durable.

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    1. Thank you. I will see how it lasts in normal use. I have already noticed what look like stress fractures around the cap, viewed with a loupe. It still fits snugly at present. If the cap should break, I have found that a Kaweco Sport cap will fit.

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  4. I once found a Parker Reflex rollerball in black that had been left behind in the unwanted pens drawer at work. I thought at first it must have been a more expensive pen just by its looks, but it already had a crack in the cap from being pushed down too hard. I wanted to replace it but had no idea what model it was. Finally figured out the model, only to find that it was likely no longer available. Then, lo and behold, I discovered that they are available, at least in the US, but the black ones are only found on eBay. The red/white/blue ones are pretty easy to find. The fountain pen in blue is selling for $5.37 with shipping on eBay right now or $7.99 with Prime shipping on Amazon. I’d rather have the black version, but I might get a blue anyway. I love and collect less expensive fountain pens.

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    1. Thank you for reading. Yes I have found that the Parker Reflex fountain pens are available on Amazon. I hear that cracking of the plastic cap can be an issue but I am less worried about that, having found some other pen caps that would fit, if my cap broke and I wanted to go on using the pen.

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