As a user of a Fisher Space Pen since about 1996 (and still having my original Fisher Space [Bullet] Pen) I was really intrigued when I read about the AirPress TomBow Pen.
Then as I read the reviews I noticed some pretty big claims were being made, the main one catching my interest being that the AirPress TomBow was a…
“Fisher Space Pen Killer.”
Personally I use a full size Fisher Space Pen every day. I also carry a Titanium Bullet Space Pen in my wallet so I always have a pen with me, and it is always a Fisher Space Pen.
Now they are not cheap. My full size pen was about £35 (they start at about £15 for a ‘Cap-o-matic’) and go into hundreds of pounds for Limited and Special Editions. My Titanium Bullet Pen came in at about £40, but in saying that in over 20 years of daily use I have never had a Space Pen let me down.
So how would a £6.50 alternative compare – would it actually be a Space Pen Killer?
AirPress TomBow Pen :
The press release for the AirPress TomBow reads as follows :
The Tombow AirPress leverages energy from each push of the cap to inject air pressure into the ink cartridge, allowing the pen to write on challenging surfaces. The pen is excellent for people involved in construction or outdoor work since it can write at extreme angles, upside down, on wet paper, and in cold weather. The rubber body is also easy to hold with wet hands or gloves. The AirPress is similar to the Uni-ball Power Tank Ballpoint Pen, except that this pen ingeniously uses the retraction method to pressurize the ink cartridge.
The AirPress has a strong, wire pocket clip and features a loop that allows you to attach it to lanyards and key chains. Multiple body colors as well as black, blue, green and red ink refills available.
Amazon keeps it a little more simple but makes the same claims, and these features do make it a direct rival for a Space Pen…
- Thanks to compressed air technology it writes overhead, in dusty environments, on damp paper and in freezing temperatures
- Rubberised grip area
There, we have it – on paper (see what I done there) it is a direct competitor for the Space Pen. It then has one major advantage – the price. You could buy at least two of these for one ‘Cap-o-matic’ Fisher Space Pen.
So how does it feel, write, function? The important stuff.
It feels good, well made, solid, sturdy construction.
Size wise it is about 3/4 of a ‘full size’ so fits well in your hand.
It is well balanced and comfortable to hold although some may find it to be too chunky. It has a nice almost rubberised feel to the entire pen’s body that gives loads of grip that would be particularly handy if outdoors, used with wet hands etc.
If you like the feel of a slimline pen – think a Parker Jotter or Bic – then this is probably too thick for you.
The ink works well, it is never going to compete with the ink flow of a premium ball point pen, although a premium ball point, won’t write effectively practically anywhere – so that is the trade off. If you only ever write at a desk, in a nice notebook, or on good paper then you probably aren’t looking for this style of pen anyway.
The only negative I have read about is that the refills don’t last very long. I can’t comment on that yet as I haven’t went through a full refill yet. However the pen is refillable and the refill cartridges can be picked up for about £ each. Space Pen refills can be purchased for about £4 each and a refill lasts on average a massive 12,000 feet, which is over 3.5km of a line of ink!
If you need to have a reliable pen that will write [almost] anywhere and is well priced then you won’t go too far wrong with this one. Just don’t rely on it slipping discreetly into your wallet – it is just too thick and a bit too long to be a decent wallet pen…
So is it a Fisher Space Pen Killer?
For me, no.
It is definitely a very good go anywhere, write [almost] anywhere example of a rugged pen. It has its place and its price point is fabulous. It is well constructed and feels sturdy and the rubberised grip means it is unlikely to slip out of your hand even in the worst conditions so where does it fail? Well it doesn’t.
It’s just not a Space Pen. After over 20 years I have become very loyal to the brand. Everything the AirPress TomBow does the Space Pen does, only the Fisher does it better. The ink is better, the cartridge [reportedly] lasts much longer. The Space Pens are better constructed, the cheapest ‘cap-o-matic’ is double the price, however it is a full size pen and is made of metal. It could actually be run over by a lorry and the worse that would happen is the paint work would get damaged.
A Space Pen will last you a life time, the AirPress comes across more as a disposable pen.
The TomBow certainly has its place, maybe as a backup pen for the car’s glove box, or as a starter pen to the rugged style, or to see if the features of a Space Pen appeal to you. You could gift a Space Pen and it would be special and treasured by someone, this – probably not so much.
In conclusion it is without doubt a very good rugged pen, it just lacks the premium finish, construction and legacy of the Fisher Space Pen. Whether you want Option [A] or [B] is up to you.