Pilot Elite 95

Quietly amazing, this gem remains under-recognised.

Nonetheless, there is a small group of fans who express their unwavering love to it on r/fountainpens. When I saw it at a good deal, I just checked my cart out without hesitation. I purchased this from Amazon Japan; thanks to the exchange rate, it came out to cost around S$80 before shipping – an absolute bargain for a gold nib.

The Pilot Elite 95 has gone through a few iterations over the years. It was launched originally in 1968 as the “Elite S”, with production later stopping for a while. At Pilot’s 95th year anniversary in 2013, the modern version (which we know as the Elite 95 now) was released once again.

Nomenclature: Elite 95, or E95S?

You may have seen this pen referred to by either of these model names, and both are valid. In Japan / outside of the US, it is known as the Elite 95, which is the original name. However, Pilot had to rename it as the Pilot E95S in the US market due to trade name conflicts. And it’s not just a name change – the markings on the pen body reflects this difference as well.

What’s In The Box

I had read that the Japanese versions came with a converter (the listing alluded to it too), but unfortunately (or fortunately ..) this wasn’t the case when I opened it. It came in a simple Pilot box – utilitarian, just to protect the pen and nothing to shout about. Inside are:

  • The pen
  • 1 cartridge (black ink)

The Pen In Detail

The pen, capped. It looks like half a pen.

The Pilot Elite 95 comes in 2 colours: black, and deep red.

The black version is completely, well, black and has gold trims. The deep red one actually has 2 different colours – the body is maroon, while the cap is a pearly champagne/silver in colour, also with gold trims.

At first glance, about 60% of the pen is made of the cap. On my Japanese version, the word “Elite” is printed on the cap. The clip is spring-loaded, so it clips on very securely to a shirt pocket.


The body itself is very short and stubby – it looks like half a pen, and reminds me of the mola-mola fish (which looks like half a fish). It tapers very, very slightly towards the nib area. Although it is made of plastic, the grip feels secure in the hand and not slippery at all.

The pen is rather slim, and I was really pleased to find that it will fit into the Traveler’s Company leather pen loop. The trick is to insert the pen cap-first. You can push it all the way down to below the clip where it will hold (that’s where the thickest part of the cap is). Personally, I actually push it midway down the pen clip – this makes for a really snug fit.

Capping & Posting

The Pilot Elite 95 must be posted in order to be used comfortably. (Unless you have Hobbit hands, that is). This remains quite an experience each time I use the pen – almost like magic, this runt of a pen suddenly turns into a full-length writing instrument.

And voila! After posting, it turns into a full-sized pen. It is even longer than the Sailor Progear Slim. The Visconti will be even larger when posted, of course.

The cap goes on in a sliding motion, and there is a nice tactile feel to it. You don’t feel like you are jamming the cap on via friction; instead, it almost feels like there is a foam-like, cushioned quality to it during the process.

Filling Mechanism

This is a cartridge/converter pen. Only the smaller CON-40 converter fits; alas, this is one of the worst converters in the market. It is impossible to fill properly, and has a tiny ink capacity of 0.4ml. Yes, you read that right – zero point four mililitres. Given how Pilot is actually perfectly capable of good engineering, I do not understand why they choose to torment us with the existence of the CON-40.

As such, I refuse to mess around with converters, and go with the cartridges instead. Pilot uses a proprietary cartridge, but what I do is to keep the empty cartridges and refill them using a blunt syringe. In this way, I am not limited by the colour options from pilot. You may still need to buy new cartridges from time to time though, as the plastic may fail over time.

Using the original Pilot cartridge

Nib & Feed

This pen comes with a 14K gold nib, in extra-fine, fine or medium; in my case, I opted for the medium nib. Why is there no broad nib? Well, I’m guessing that with this being a pocket pen and the CON-40’s miniscule ink capacity, that converter’s probably going to last a couple of sentences in a broad nib.

This is an inset nib – glued permanently in place. So please do not try to tug it out for whatever reason! Because of this, I would not recommend using shimmer inks or other inks that may clog the feed. Pigment inks like the Platinum Carbon Black may be alright, but only if you use it frequently and flush it out periodically. In addition, this means that I can’t really adjust the ink flow. Thankfully, it wrote perfectly out of the box – something that has beenThe nib looks beautiful, and rather vintage-looking too.

It looks really elegant and vintage.

Writing Experience

When capped, the pen fits comfortably in my hand. In terms of overall weight, you can hardly tell that you’re holding a pen sometimes. The grip section of this pen tapers elegantly down, and there is enough traction for it not to be slippery.

The nib was smooth and flawless right out of the box. It glides smoothly over paper, with no discernible feedback.

I got mine with a nib size in Japanese M – just a hair finer than western medium nibs. It is rather wet using Pilot blue-black ink – I’d describe it as “juicy”.

Being an inlaid nib, I did not expect any bounce to it at all, though the nib isn’t hard as a nail either. It lays down a slightly thicker line with pressure, but it is by no means a flex nib so don’t over-do it.

My Thoughts


  • Subtle, but classy.
  • Inexpensive for a 14K gold nib.
  • Small enough as a travel or pocket pen, but transforms into a full-length pen.
  • Fits the Traveler’s Company leather pen loop perfectly.
  • Perfect writing experience from the get-go.


  • Nib and feed are not removable for servicing / tinkering with.
  • The only converter option is the notorious Pilot CON-40.

Overall, this is a gem of a pen, and often an under-appreciated one. I can see why it seems to have somewhat of a fan club; within 2 months of buying this, I already find myself checking Amazon Japan listings for a good price, in order to get a second one – this time in black, and with a fine nib. In the meantime, my current red one has found a permanent home sitting in the pen loop of my Traveler’s Notebook.