ABE II // Levenger L-Tech 3.0 Fountain Pen [REVIEW]

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Levenger L-Tech 3.0
M, all black coated steel nib
$68USD – massdrop (retail: $109USD levenger)
Currently inked: J. Herbin Perle Noir – $14CAD (30ml) (wonderpens)

You may remember this pen being alluded to briefly in my previous ABE/All Black Everything post where I featured several of my go-to black pens, fine liners, markers, brush pens, fountain pens, etc. I have finally had time to sit down and review a pen that was actually acquired really really early on in my collecting craze, and was also my first ever mass drop purchase! I’ve had this pen for almost 2 years now, and have used it on and off when I initially got it but put it away for at least a year. I recently pulled it back out again, realizing I didn’t have an M size fountain pen inked with black for lineweighting my doodles. It’s taken on some wear over time, no longer the pristine matte ABE pen I started with, but still works great and I think I’ll keep it out for a good while longer.

Look
Does this pen look super awesome? Pretty good!

If you’ve read my ensso review (or even ABE), you’ll know I’m really into the ‘all black everything’ stealth look. So this pen wins by that category already. It is also a very professional looking pen, and as I’ve read elsewhere, takes on a lot of qualities of the rotring aesthetic that so many people love (especially technical users). The barrel is a hexagonal  shaped matte black finish — so no rolling away here. The finial, clip and butt of the pen are a polished black, but you may be able to tell in the photos that my clip is starting to show some wear. Some kind of dirty metal-ish colour. The little finial is unscrewable (to reveal the nib inside the cap lol), and can be replaced with a stylus nub, both a mesh and a rubber version included. I like to opt for no stylus since I don’t use one, which keeps the pen clean and flat on both ends.

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the pen in it’s packaging and the two stylus nubs

Unscrewing the cap reveals a thinner cylindrical grip section with a textured knurling, also in metal. You’d think that any kind of unpolished metal texture would be uncomfortable to hold, or leave pattern marks on your fingers, but this one does neither. It’s a very finely selected density of knurling which doesn’t leave a pattern, nor is it uncomfortable to hold. Above the grip we get a black clad steel M nib etched with Levenger’s logo and some simple linework.

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I likely need some better photography skills to capture something that’s all black…

The packaging was kinda neat, a metal ‘case’, complete with clasp and padding inside for the pen, a converter and the two stylus nubs. Not quite classy but not really cheap either. Interesting, but I’m less fascinated with packaging now that I have a stack of them taking up space in my bookcase. But at the very least, I can see myself repurposing this kind of case, versus a cheap plastic or awkward and blunderous box. I would much prefer something re-purposable (like this, or especially the kaweco tin cases) or just a simple carboard box that I can recycle.

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techy box

I will try to remember and do this more often, but here’s a comparison shot with some of my more commonly used pens, a TWSBI Diamond 580AL (broad nib) and the pilot penmanship with an EF nib. I’ve got grand plans to replace my everyday drawing pen, the penmanship, with something more expensive and higher quality, but of course, the pen still works great and the EF nib is hard to compete with for my tiny doodles. I’ll be sure to update if I do! But you can see here, the L-Tech is a bit longer than the 580AL, and in competition with the length of the slender penmanship. Uncapped, the penmanship is by far the longest (since it’s cap is so short!), with the TWSBI as the shortest. I’m not sure I pay enough attention to the length of the pen when I use it, because all pens seem ‘long’ in my short hands. I am usually more concerned with the barrel size, and generally opt for more slender grip sections because of my smaller hands.

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Top to bottom: TWSBI Diamond 580AL, Pilot Penmanship, Levenget L-Tech
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uncapped

Feel
You know how when writing an essay and they always teach you to sandwich your writing so that you start with something strong in the beginning, finish with something strong in the end, and save the weakest link for the middle section. Somehow I’ve done messed up and put the most important stuff in the middle! Not really relatable analogy I know, but I felt like leading with something other than “This pen is heavy!”

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trying to capture the matte black in photograph

But yes, this pen is heavy! I will admit that when I first bought the pen, I was still relatively clueless about fountain pens. I picked it because it had a stealth option and it was on sale for cheaper on massdrop. Shame shame. So when I finally looked up the pen specs for this review, I realized the reason this pen was so darn heavy is that it’s made of brass. Derp. Nothing wrong with that, and all the better that I know now so I can make proper comparisons. So yes, the pen has a brass body and cap which makes for holding the pen feel very weighty, and probably a good idea to not post the pen, though it is possible. It is surprisingly well balanced despite the weight when posting. So if you’re into super heavy pens, this may work for you.

I think this is my first and only brass fountain pen so far, but in terms of pens I have my tactile turn Mover as well as a brass version of the Baron Fig squire key version (I’ve kept my purchase of this a secret…shame shame again). Perhaps soon in the future I will do a brass pen comparison for fun!

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pinching

Anyway, using the pen has been great so far since picking it up again. I’m using it more for really loose sketching and note taking at home. It is a little cumbersome to use at work because of its weight.  I’d also like to note, before digging into the nib experience, that the unscrewing and re-screwing of the cap is extremely satisfying. There’s a bit of minor resistance at the beginning of untwisting it, and at the end of closing it, and that resistance is the satisfying part. Not only that, the threads are smooth and buttery and also minimal. Probably a good single rotation and the cap is off. If you twist both at the same time in opposite directions, that’s practically only a half-turn! It makes a big difference to me, twisting a cap forever is unpleasant.

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click to enlarge!

My doodle this time features two cuties, Charlotte & Charlene. My boyfriend’s house buns. They don’t move too often unless you’re chasing them, so it’s relatively easy to catch them in photos to sketch later.  😡

Now about the nib. I chose an M nib because up until this point, I’ve been hoarding EF and F pens (namely my two pilot penmanships and the EF nib of my lamys). The M is great, it’s juicy and consistent. The ink flow is very smooth and would border on gushy. I can definitely fill in blacks very quickly and easily with this pen. On paper the nib is quite smooth, I don’t really notice any tooth, and the nib is even a little fraction springy. The overall heft of the pen probably also contributes to a smooth writing experience because I don’t have to push down as hard either to have weight on paper.

I will note that when I initially got the pen, I was so eager that I threw in the cartridge that came with the pen to start. It was an absolutely terrible and awful experience. The ink would stop flowing after leaving the pen for more than a few minutes, capped too. And I was really upset because it was one of the first larger purchases in the pen world that I made. I started researching online and found that this was extremely common, and that if I used the converter everything would be fine. And it was. I switched over to my lamy black ink and the pen ran smoothly immediately. Wonder. Of course now I have pearle noir in the converter, but by my untrained eye, the blacks are practically the same for my purposes. (both not waterproof -_-)

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cover page again

Like I wrote in my doodles page, I enjoy using the pen more for really loose sketches than anything precise. Ironic though, given that the design of the pen was based on one of the most precision instrument tools in the drafting world. But I will attune that to the weight of the pen, and how difficult it is for me to actually control a steady line to draw anything refined and precise. I am okay with this of course, as I have plenty of other options for thick lined M or B pens should I need it (namely TWSBI).

Interesting note, I have heard that a TWSBI 580 nib fits perfectly inside this pen. Have yet to try, but opens up new options! My other two TWSBI nibs are M and B, so I have less reason to make a switch. If I ever get my hands on an EF, it’ll be the first thing I will try. The loss of the ABE look might be a deterrent though.

Form over function…cough.

Value
The pen is valued at $109USD on the Levenger website. I purchased mine for just under $70. Are either of these worth purchase price points for the pen? For me in full honestly? Probably not. But, that isn’t to say I don’t like the pen either. I was concerned about the value price point for the Lucina, but that nib and pen wrote like a dream — so on second thought, the pen would have probably been worth at least the amazon price that it was selling for.

This pen writes and draws excellent too, but with the added weight of the brass body, it tends to weigh in on the less used quarter of my collection. The stealthy goodness of the pen does makes up for my trifles with it. That being said, if only the base colour options + silver accents versions were available, I would almost certainly not choose to get one. So in short, I may not put this pen up there with my workhorse/use all the time pens, but I still like it and put some value into a few of the things it is good at.

Conclusion

Pros/

  • Great writer using converter (cartridge sucked)
  • Stealth look is very sleek and attractive
  • Heft to the pen may feel nice (acquired taste)
  • Rotring inspired look is attractive as a precision instrument
  • Excellent single turn uncapping
  • Still feels relatively balanced in hand despite weight
  • Professional looking
  • Comes with stylus points for those who use it
  • Quality made brass body
  • Grip is patterned but comfortable

Cons/

  • The pen looks a little worn already, and it’s only just been in my pencilcase (likely my fault for  lack of care…)
  • Quite heavy brass body (acquired taste)
  • Quite expensive for a steel nib, but a quality made brass body

Ink
This will probably be my shortest blurb about the currently inked. Mostly because I am not reviewing inks (yet?), and I have less to say about black inks. As long as they work, are as black as can be and don’t fade, I’m quite happy. I’m not particularly sure whether the Perle Noir fades, but I picked it because jetpens recommended it as the top choice for all-purpose black ink. I also like that it is fast drying. I have some Noodler’s Heart of Darkness in some sample bottles I got from a friend which I have yet to try, but so far between Lamy Black and Perle Noir, I haven’t been too picky. I have noted that they aren’t very waterproof, so when I do my watercolour sketches in my planner, I will end up using a sakura micron or equivalent pigment pen instead.

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The bottle is nice though, albiet tiny and potentially troublesome to fill from once the ink levels get low. It’s also a little on the pricier side, being of the J.Herbin brand, $14 but for a tiny 30ml bottle. I will say though, that I do like having smaller bottles because they really take me forever to get through. I’ve only successfully drained one bottle (my first one), and am not even close to draining anything else I’ve bought. So even for inks I really like and use often, I’d rather still have a smaller bottle and buy a new one once it runs out. Just a thought, all you 60mL ink bottle manufacturers!

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Thanks for reading, and sorry for the extended delay between posts! I usually spend time on the weekend working on these, and over the past few weeks I’ve been preoccupied. I’m closing in on the one-year anni for my bloggy, so hopefully I’ll have something good to get out then!

Something new — gallery of all the images at the end~

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4 thoughts on “ABE II // Levenger L-Tech 3.0 Fountain Pen [REVIEW]

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