Neither cold nor heat nor grease nor zero gravity shall keep me from writing: A Review of the Fisher Space Pen

I had a Fisher Space Pen YEARS ago. It was a silver-colored retractable and though I thought the concept was cool, writing with it was not. The ink was so blobby that my letters and notes (and fingers) looked like I’d dabbled in a bit of tar while writing. Not a good memory.  And as one does when one has a bad experience, I shunned the product. Ick, I’d think, when I saw them on the rack at Staples, then I’d have a bunch of smeared finger flashbacks. *shudder*

But then the Fisher Space Pen (FSP…much quicker to type) started cropping up in a bunch of respected and discerning pen review blogs (Hi, penaddict.com!). Since decades have passed since I wallowed in the tar, I plunked down a little birthday money and picked up the FSB (black matte bullet model).

What a difference a handful of decades makes.  This FSP is a blast to use…very minimalist and compact. Because it’s clipless, it can roll off  of a desk or counter, but I really like the stripped down look. I think a clip would get in the way, visually.

The pen came with a medium black refill which wrote fine (I mean, okay), but was a little broader than I like. After a few weeks, I swapped out that refill for a fine point and am happier with the writing experience (though fine feels like medium, which is probably why medium felt like broad.) I plan to stick with the fine refills from here on out.

The pen feels sturdy and well-made, and even though I’ve been carrying it around in my pocket with change and keys and a pocket knife, the finish is still pristine.

The back of the FSP package gives a brief history of the pen, as well as a view of its “guts.” This is where you can read about the gas plug and sliding float, the thixotropic ink, and the ultra-hard tungsten carbide ball, if you’re into such things.

From the package: When astronauts began to explore the reaches of outer space, Paul Fisher realized that there was no existing pen which could perform in its freezing cold, boiling hot vacuum. [Sounds like my house throughout the seasons.]

Countless experiments and a common sense approach to findings resulted in the invention of the sealed and pressurized Fisher Space Pen cartridge and in 1967, after 18 months of rigorous testing by NASA, the Space Pen was selected for use by the astronauts.

The packaging goes on to say that if you’re not satisfied (Lifetime Guarantee!), return the pen directly to Paul C. Fisher for repair or replacement. See?

Turns out Paul C. Fisher passed away in 2006, so mailing it “directly” to him is a little tricky (what’s the zip?!), but you get the drift.

Now for the best part…the writing experience. Gone are the thick blobs that so plagued my memory of this pen. The line is smoother and darker than I remember, and definitely cleaner.

I’m now a fan.

Not only is the writing experience on plain old paper very good, but the pen ALSO promises to write in all kinds of extreme conditions…from -30 to +250 degrees, through greasy, wet, or zero-gravity conditions, even upside-down. Writing letters on a trapeze, in the rain, while eating french fries, on a hot summer day? No problem.

Reliable, is what it is.

So while I may never be THAT hot or THAT cold or lacking gravity, I may find myself in a chilly car or writing at a weird angle and for those times, I have the go-to pen.

Having a plain old luke-warm, full-gravity day? Well, it’s fine for that, too.

Paul C. Fisher, I salute you, wherever you are.

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10 thoughts on “Neither cold nor heat nor grease nor zero gravity shall keep me from writing: A Review of the Fisher Space Pen

  1. Enjoyed your review. I started using the X-Mark Bullet Space Pen several months ago. I went with that model because it has a clip and the shape is a little different from the regular bullet model. Like you I switched to the fine point and loved the way it wrote. Then I discovered that the Fisher refill worked perfectly in my Ballograf Epoca pen body and I was in every-day-pen heaven.

    Or so I thought. One experience I’ve had with the Space pen is that after a few weeks, the tip of the pen starts to ooze a tiny blob of ink, so that when you first start writing you get this big black spot that takes forever to dry. Every refill I’ve used so far does this. It got so annoying that I retired the Space pen from my rotation. I started using a Parker Jotter with the new Quink Flow refill, and I’m very happy with it. I don’t think it writes as well as the Fisher, but then I don’t have the blob to worry about.

    Still, I’m kind of heartbroken about the Fisher. I loved having a pen I could slip into a jeans pocket easily and write with regardless of the circumstances. Maybe you could do a follow-up post after you’ve been using the Fisher and let us know if you encountered the “blob.”

    • Thanks, and will do. I soooo hope that the blob issue doesn’t crop up for me because I’m really pleased with its performance so far, especially given my early memories of super-blobbage. Time will tell.

  2. Great review! +1 on their “fine” refills — the blue is very nice also!

    I have a bullet pen (brushed finish) that turns ten this month (I should probably blog about it) that is smashed and dinged — but it still does the trick. The AG-7 is a hell of pen, too, nice and heavy, but surprisingly small for its style. :)

  3. Pingback: Monday Morning Review Round-up « European Paper Company

  4. I really enjoyed this review. I’ve never been able to get into the FSP (shorter to type, right?) because the writing wasn’t smooth, but you described a different experience so I may have to pick one up and see if it has changed since I tried it last. Good job!

  5. I found this great FAQ that addresses various questions regarding the FSP, including the dreaded blob:

    http://thewritersedge.com/faq.cfm

    Here is the relevant passage:

    When a space refill begins to run out of ink, the “”oozing”” becomes more pronounced.

    The “”oozing”” phenomenon is characteristic of a space pen refill that is sealing itself yet in a small amount – not a large blob that requires wiping before every writing situation.  With 40psi of constant pressure forcing the space pens visco-elastic ink to the point, the point tolerances of a space pen are very precise. Within these tight tolerances, there needs to be just enough “”room”” if you will, to allow the ink to attach itself to the ball that distributes the ink to the writing surface.

    Now the real weird part.  Not unlike human blood clotting, the thixotropic ink must “”seal itself”” quickly (and most often not noticeable to the user) with a small amount if residual ink at the point.  This way, you won’t have a pocket-full of ink.  If this “”sealing”” process produces amounts of ink too large on the ball point, then something must have been wrong with the viscosity (or thickness) of the batch of ink that was used in your refill.  

  6. Pingback: Monday Morning Review Round-up | The European Paper Company

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