Thus far I have reviewed two Ranga pens on my blog, the Model 3 and Bamboo. Both pens were well made and offered a great user experience. The Model 3 is a nice everyday pen I use for writing and the Bamboo quickly became my daily drawing pen. And as my enthusiasm and appreciation for Ranga pens grew, I decided to contact them again. By now you probably well know that I am an avid fan of Ebonite as a pen material. And ever since I first saw the Mottled Tan finish years ago I wanted to have a pen made from this material. And so I did.

ranga 4c fountain pen
ranga 4c fountain pen

Contents

Quick Facts

  • Manufacturer, model name and country of origin:
    Ranga, 4C, hand made in India
  • Price:
    my price US $60 (nib unit not included)
    from US $77.99 on the Ranga Ebay store
  • Material:
    Polished olive/black mottled Ebonite (available in other colors and finishes too)
  • Trim:
    silver colored
  • Nib:
    Accepts JOWO nib units – custom ordered without one;
    Reviewed with a #6 size Franklin-Christoph “Christoph” 1.9mm Music nib;
    Plastic feed
  • Filling system:
    Cartridge/converter filled (also available as eyedropper filler – priced differently)
  • Dimensions:
    capped 146 mm
    barrel itself 112 mm (134 mm with a nib)
    posted 183 mm
    body diameter 11 mm – 15 mm
    section diameter 10 mm – 12 mm
  • Where to buy:
    Available at ‘rangahandmadepens’ Ebay store (no affiliation)

Outside

The pen is beautiful. Really beautiful. But I’m biased. I’d been dreaming about this mottled olive Ebonite for years and now that I finally got it I am not disappointed.

Note that the Ebonite color is not as striking and saturated as is on the images here. I use studio lighting for my images which intensifies the colors and brings forth the detail, pattern and depth of the material. In regular daylight it may seem a bit different, more subdued and paler. It is still very beautiful though.

ranga 4c fountain pen – cap and barrel proportions
ranga 4c fountain pen – cap and barrel proportions

As you can see, the pen body and cap are flush when the pen is closed. And when closed, you almost can’t feel the point where the cap and body meet. Very well done. I really appreciate that. The swirly pattern does not match though, but it’s close enough and really is rather complex so it doesn’t detract from the aesthetics of the finish.

This flush design solution, however, creates a very pronounced step down from the barrel to the section.

ranga 4c section
ranga 4c section

The section is pretty long. The step down therefore is not as bothersome as may seem. But having said that, it is a bit in the way. I can feel it when I hold the pen which is not the most pleasant experience.

ranga 4c finial detail
ranga 4c finial detail

The C in Model 4C means that this is a rounded top pen as opposed to flat top Model 4. This is of course a matter of personal preference but to my eye the round ends work for this pen much better than the flat ends do.

The way the finial is set on the cap is not perfect. It is good enough but it’s slightly off to the side so when you go over the seam with your fingers you can distinctly feel the step. And again, it’s quite sharp. This doesn’t bother me as much personally but I would expect this not to be an issue on a high quality pen.

ranga clip, subtle and elegant – silver colored
ranga clip, subtle and elegant – silver colored

The clip is all right, relatively stiff but I only selected a clip to function as a roll stop. I don’t clip my pens hardly ever and so can’t comment on its longevity. Design wise though it’s pretty unobtrusive and I like it. It’s small enough to be out of the way but not ridiculously so as to throw off the overall balance.

barrel finish detail
barrel finish detail

This is one of the better finished pens, if not one of the best, as far as Indian handmade pens that I own go. There are some tooling marks but really nothing too obvious and the pattern of the Ebonite covers those pretty well.

On these images the pen looks exceptionally nice and shiny but in reality the polish is not as perfect. It’s not even. Some parts are beautifully polished and some are not, they are slightly more matte. But you have to really focus on this to be able to observe it. All in all, what I said above stands, this is one of the best handmade Indian pens, as far as finish goes.

cap detail – there is a small chip in the Ebonite on the inside of the cap
cap detail – there is a small chip in the Ebonite on the inside of the cap

The cap requires 4 and half turns to open or close! That’s a bit too much I think and I don’t enjoy operating the cap for this reason.

The operation is smooth, the threads are well done, although the inside of the cap is a bit too large. This doesn’t causes any failure in functionality but the cap is quite loose until tightened.

There is also a material defect but thus far I have not observed it causing any issues so I really don’t care.

The one thing I am not so sure about is the fact that the cap doesn’t feature a band of any kind (though I like it from the design point of view), similarly to the Bamboo design. I just hope this won’t cause cracking in the future. I am careful about tightening the pen just enough and so far I have not had issues.

the nib unit fits perfectly into the section
the nib unit fits perfectly into the section

As you may know by now, I prefer my pens to be equipped with Ebonite feeds, so I can adjust the flow and use whatever nib I want. This time around, however, I ordered a section accepting JOWO nib units. I talk in more detail about this system later in the review but for now I want to say the fit is perfect. The JOWO nib units have a specific threading that holds the unit in the section. The fit in the section is excellent. Perfectly holds in place. Tight enough but not overly. Very well done I’m happy to say.

the nib unit fits perfectly into the section
the nib unit fits perfectly into the section
ranga 4c in the hand
ranga 4c in the hand

As for the size and comfort of holding the pen in the hand, I like it, though the pen barrel is too thick and the balance is somewhat thrown off by the fact that there is quite a difference in the diameter of the section as compared to the barrel. Overall though I am not disappointed, but it’s not the most comfortable pen I own.

ranga 4c in the hand
ranga 4c in the hand

The pen doesn’t post but the length unposted is sufficient even for larger hands.

several capped pens for comparison, from top to bottom: gama supreme, asa pens i can, ranga duofold, ranga 4c, lamy 2000
several capped pens for comparison, from top to bottom: gama supreme, asa pens i can, ranga duofold, ranga 4c, lamy 2000
several uncapped pens for comparison, from top to bottom: gama supreme, asa pens i can, ranga duofold, ranga 4c, lamy 2000
several uncapped pens for comparison, from top to bottom: gama supreme, asa pens i can, ranga duofold, ranga 4c, lamy 2000

Here you can see the pen as compared to other Indian pens as well as Lamy 2000 and on the images below are the three of my Ranga pens.

capped selection of ranga pens for comparison. from top to bottom: ranga bamboo, ranga duofold, ranga 4c
capped selection of ranga pens for comparison. from top to bottom: ranga bamboo, ranga duofold, ranga 4c
 uncapped selection of ranga pens for comparison. from top to bottom: ranga bamboo, ranga duofold, ranga 4c
uncapped selection of ranga pens for comparison. from top to bottom: ranga bamboo, ranga duofold, ranga 4c

Inside

threaded to accept whole nibs units from jowo
threaded to accept whole nibs units from jowo

As I mentioned, this time around I opted for a JOWO nib unit configuration. JOWO is the name of one of the large German fountain pen nib manufacturers. They make steel and gold nibs. Many smaller pen manufacturers use their nib units for their consistent high quality and ease of implementation in the manufacturing process. They offer large variety of nib sizes. They even make flex gold nibs accompanied with Ebonite feeds. I haven’t tried those yet for their relatively high price but one day I’m sure I will have the opportunity and I really do look forward to it.

In this case, however, I paired the pen with my Franklin-Christoph (a pen manufacturer located in the US) “Christop” music nib. This is their custom JOWO nib that is very flat and wide. It has three tines as the original vintage music nibs had. Music nib was originally designed for musicians for writing musical notes with more ease and convenience. Today it’s really just a novelty (as are fountain pens themselves). The “Christoph” nib is 1.9mm wide. It is a really unique nib. Lamy too has a 1.9mm nib but that is an Italic variation with the standard two tines and the nib is not nearly as wet and the line is not as wide as is the case with the F-C nib.

the feed is made of plastic and supplied with the nib together in a nib collar
the feed is made of plastic and supplied with the nib together in a nib collar

JOWO nibs are supplied with plastic feeds. This is the case with the F-C nib as well. This is the only true downside of the JOWO nib units for me. It is, however, a standard practice for 99% of today’s pens to have a plastic feeds.

accepts jowo nib units and schmidt international converters
accepts jowo nib units and schmidt international converters

JOWO nib units are compatible with standard international cartridges or converters. I used a Schmidt converter for this review but personally I don’t use either. I just fill the barrel with ink, which gives me freer flow of ink and more ink capacity. The capacity is not as much of an issue for me as is the restricted flow. The JOWO feeds are fairly dry as compared to my preferences. Eyedropper filling helps with this and makes the inkflow a bit wetter, while the design of the feed keeps the pen from burping and leaking.

eyedropper fill possible
eyedropper fill possible

The section threads are smooth and well done again. When used as an eyedropper filler I’ve not had any problems with leakage but I did use silicone grease on the threads to seal the barrel. I always do so when filling the whole barrel with ink.

can be filled with cartridge, converter or eyedropper converted
can be filled with cartridge, converter or eyedropper converted

Performance

I filled the pen with the recently introduced special edition ink from Sailor’s Jentle line, Rikyu-Cha. This is such a wonderful and interesting color that I ordered two bottles just to be sure it lasts me at least till the end of 2017. The ink is pleasant to use, flows well and is smooth. I find it just a touch drier than expected. The ink has an amazing shading properties, especially with a nib like the “Christop” music. The most interesting thing about the ink is that the hue of the ink not only changes from wet to dry but it reacts differently to different types of paper. The hue shift ranges from green to cool brown all the way to very warm brown. It’s really fascinating and I encourage you give this ink a try if you can.

Here’s a color corrected image of my ink swatch card.

sailor jentle rikyu-cha fountain pen ink
sailor jentle rikyu-cha fountain pen ink

On a side note, the smell of the Sailor Jentle inks is fantastic. I grew up on Parker’s blue which too has very distinct and pleasant odor and the Jentle inks too have quite similar and pleasant smell. That’s just one of the little joys of using fountain pens, most of our senses participate in the experience of using a pen.

ranga 4c fountain pen, franklin-christoph “christoph” nib, sailor jentle rikyu-cha ink
ranga 4c fountain pen, franklin-christoph “christoph” nib, sailor jentle rikyu-cha ink

But let’s get back to the pen. I really like the Model 4C. It’s not the most comfortable pen to hold but it’s fairly good. The section is quite long so it’s easy to hold despite the huge step down.

ranga 4c fountain pen, franklin-christoph “christoph” nib, sailor jentle rikyu-cha ink
ranga 4c fountain pen, franklin-christoph “christoph” nib, sailor jentle rikyu-cha ink

The writing experience is really not a matter of the pen in this particular case. Well it is, especially if you order the pen with a nib unit installed. What I mean though is that you can get a different nib unit separately and swap it, so it’s really up to you what kind of writing experience you’re after.

In this case, I equipped the pen with Franklin-Christoph “Christoph” music nib which is a wonderful nib. It’s very well made, it’s a three tined steel nib with no tipping, but it’s really a wonderfully tuned nib. I wish more of the stubs or italics I used were half as well tuned.

ranga 4c fountain pen, franklin-christoph “christoph” nib, sailor jentle rikyu-cha ink
ranga 4c fountain pen, franklin-christoph “christoph” nib, sailor jentle rikyu-cha ink
ranga 4c fountain pen, franklin-christoph “christoph” nib, sailor jentle rikyu-cha ink
ranga 4c fountain pen, franklin-christoph “christoph” nib, sailor jentle rikyu-cha ink

The 4C is not my drawing pen and the reason for this is the plastic JOWO feed. It predisposes this pen for writing only. It simply can’t satisfy my flow requirements for a pen dedicated to drawing. But it’s still pretty capable. After all, I’ve kept it inked ever since I’ve received it, months ago. In the Ebonite feed configuration it would be an excellent choice for drawing as well, though I’m sure many of you would find the flow sufficient enough as-is.

Verdict

The pen is well made, undoubtedly. In fact, this is one of the best Indian handmade pens that I own as far as build quality and finish go.

That being said, there is a few details that detract from the overall excellent experience. The step down from the barrel to the section is the most pronounced one. To be fair this is really not something to complain about as it is one of the main design features of the pen. But I still find just a bit too pronounced and think that were the barrel diameter reduced by a slight margin, it would make a world of difference. Also the finial doesn’t fit perfectly onto the cap as it protrudes slightly to the side, which is a pity because the pen is overall beautifully finished. The threads on the pen are excellent overall but the cap threads a bit too loose which causes the cap to rattle around until completely tightened.

As for writing experience, that cannot be commented upon as decidedly. The pen accepts JOWO nib units so the writing experience itself is really not the matter of the pen. The nib unit fits the pen superbly, I’ve never experienced any leakage through the section despite it being filled as an eyedropper filler for months. What I can say is that the JOWO nib units are an excellent choice because of their high quality and you can’t go wrong with any of their nibs.

All in all, the pen is really well made, the material is beautiful and finish wonderfully done, well enough that is. The pen is, however, priced at around US $80. Is “well enough” good enough for $80? That’s the question everyone has to answer for themselves. One thing is certain though and that is that if you want to get a quality handmade pen made from Ebonite under $100, it has been my experience that Ranga is the way to go.

Let me know what you think. Any questions or comments? Please leave down below the article and feel free to share this review with your friends. Links are below the gallery. Thanks for reading.

-Daniel

Gallery

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