Some early thoughts on the Staedtler TRX fountain pen

This was a recent impulse buy, prompted by the pen being half price in Rymans, my not yet having a Staedtler fountain pen in my accumulation and curiosity to try the triangular body.

Construction and Appearance.

This is an aluminium pen with a brown barrel and contrasting silver coloured section and snap-on cap. The matte finish is attractive and tactile and there are blue, green and black versions available. The distinguishing feature is that the cap and barrel are of a rounded triangular cross section, vaguely like an Omas 360.

Staedtler TRX fountain pen.

It is also quite lengthy and stands tall in a pen cup and may be too long for some pockets. The pocket clip is reasonably firm and functional.

The cap, which is about a centimetre longer than it needs to be, bears the Staedtler Roman centurion logo on the top but otherwise no brand name, which instead appears along with “Germany”, on a silver coloured triangular band towards the end of the barrel.

Nice branding in an unusual place.

Being a sturdy metal cap, there is no need of a cap ring, but the rim is left rather sharp like a cookie cutter and this is another reason to avoid carrying it in a jacket pocket.

The section unscrews on metal threads. The ridge of the triangular barrel aligns with the centre of the nib, so that you grip the pen on the flat sides of the barrel. If you want to rebel and write with the nib rotated slightly, you will instead have to grip the barrel at its angular edges which is insecure and uncomfortable and so plainly not intended.

Nib and filling system.

The steel nib is a nicely rounded medium, with a small amount of spring to it if pressure is applied on the downstrokes. Mine was set up perfectly out of the box, and wrote smoothly and with good flow, starting immediately when I first inserted the cartridge, which makes for a good first impression.

Writing sample. Blue ink cartridge and a Paperchase notebook.

The pen takes standard international cartridges, with room for a spare. No converter was included.

A particularly good steel nib.

Size and Weight.

Capped, the pen is long, at around 149mm, whilst uncapped it is still a good 130mm. The whole pen with two cartridges inside weighs 27g, or 15g if unposted. The cap alone weighs around 12g.

Likes and Dislikes.

First the good news. This seems a durable pen, unusual and interesting for its triangular body and which has a very enjoyable medium steel nib which in my example, wrote perfectly. Fine and broad nibs are also available. I like the brown colour and texture. The description on the packaging, in several languages, reads “Staedtler TRX – pure understatement. A matt aluminium surface like velvet and a clever, striking design in ergonomic triangular shape meet quality MADE IN GERMANY.” The snap-on cap is quick and easy, not too tight and seems to prevent hard starts so far (although I have not yet had mine for very long).

The package also includes a triangular plastic pen case with foam grips and wrap around sides secured by a magnet. It feels a bit like a phone or tablet cover. And the price I paid of 29.99 GBP down from 59.99 GBP was very appealing.

Wrap-around triangular pen case.

On the down side however, there are a few major things I do not like. My main issue is the triangular shape which means that not only are you prevented from adjusting your grip to find a sweet spot but worse still, the grip at the lower end of the barrel is narrower because of the flattened sides. I soon began to find this uncomfortable when writing a few pages.

The triangular design also has other consequences. If capping the pen with the pocket clip in line with the face of the nib, (as I normally would), the cap alignment will clash with that of the barrel leaving sharp corners protruding over the barrel. The pen rotates freely inside the cap and so you can easily align the triangular cap and barrel but there is still a sharp step. This is the opposite of a cap which is flush with the barrel.

Sharp edged rim protrudes high above the barrel, although the inner cap seals off the nib well.

Posting the cap is not advisable because, although it will post securely, (a) it does not post very deeply and the sharp rim will rub your hand as you write; (b) the pocket clip will not align with the nib and has to be one side or another and (c) the pen becomes too long. However the pen should be long enough for most people to use unposted.

Conclusion.

Whilst the nib performs very well, I am put off by the narrowness of the grip. For me this is uncomfortable although others may not mind it. Perhaps with time I would get used to it but for now it is a relief to pick up another pen with a broader grip.

As the triangular design is the main feature of the TRX, if you do not like this, or find it uncomfortable, then the pen may not be for you.

Fortunately there is a larger option, in the Staedtler Initium in resin, wood or metal finish (Resina, Lignum or Metallum – which sounds like you are talking to the Staedtler logo Centurion). These I suppose have all the benefits of the Staedtler nib and German quality but without some of the downsides of the TRX. In hindsight, I think it would have been better to spend more and go for one of those models. Mind you, I took it along to our pen club meet today and reactions were generally favourable, so perhaps it is just me.

Packaging also includes a plastic single pen case.

Edit. I have since learned that the Staedtler logo represents Mars, the Roman God of war.

7 thoughts on “Some early thoughts on the Staedtler TRX fountain pen

    1. Good idea. It should be possible to make the cap rim less sharp, for example. However, my preferences would be to have a wider pen with round barrel and cap. But they already make a pen like that, the Initium, in a choice of materials too.

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