As more and more people start to upgrade the pens that they use as their every day carry for general writing, we have noticed more and more people reaching out to ask for advice on if one pen brand is better than another to try ensure they are making the best choice for their pens. We have noticed more and more questions like this being asked with each passing month so have decided to start and release content answering these questions.
As we have noticed a spike in people reaching out to ask if Parker or Sheaffer pens are better, we have decided to publish our own Parker vs Sheaffer comparison. We hope that this will help you choose the perfect pen brand for your needs and ensure that you are able to get the best possible writing experience out of your new pen.
Although we would have rated the historic pen models from both brands neck at neck until after 2009, the transfer of production for the Sheaffer 500 series to China does definitely seem to have hurt the companies reputation as a slip in production standards correlates directly with production being transferred. Although the Parker production plant in East Sussex, England has closed, their production is still based on their factories in Nantes, France and Wisconsin, The United States.
Unlike the Sheaffer pen range that has seen their reputation amongst penthusiasts decline over the last decade, the Parker pen range has continued to go from strength to strength with their reputation getting better and better amongst the community. In addition to this, the more recent Parker models released onto the market have managed to find a solid market share and see steady sales where as the newer Sheaffer models are struggling.
Are Parker Or Sheaffer Pens Better
Although this alone will be enough for many of our readers to opt to go with the Parker range of pens, some of the Sheaffer models do still have their advantages. We will be offering our full breakdown below on both pen brands going over the key points from their ranges to try and help you make the correct decision for your needs. Where required, we will also be mentioning some additional popular pen brands too where we feel our two featured pen brands fall short and our readers would be better off with an alternative.
Nib Design And Performance
It doesn’t matter if you are looking at a ballpoint, rollerball or fountain pen model from Parker or Sheaffer, the nib of the pen is the most important aspect and can easily make or break any pen model. Although the older pen models from both brands from the 1980’s and 1990’s were almost neck at neck when it came to the performance of their nibs and the writing experience they offered, the Parker pen range has pushed ahead in the last decade or so.
We are not sure if this is due to Parker trying to innovate and keep up with their competition as best as possible where as Sheaffer seem to have taken their foot off the gas or if it is due to the change in production locations. Either way, Parker have pushed ahead of Sheaffer in recent times and in our opinion, their pens do offer a better nib that results in a smoother overall writing experience.
We have to give credit to Parker as their main market share is based around their ballpoint pen range and the Japanese pen giants such as Pilot Pens and Sailor Pens have made a huge push into the western ballpoint pen markets over the last decade. Unlike many western pen brands who have lost market share to the Japanese brands coming in with their outstanding pen performance, Parker has maintained their market share in most price brackets and actually increased in the intermediate price bracket.
Pen Barrel Engineering
Just like most pens on the market, the quality of the pen barrel is going to depend on the price point of the pen as different materials are used in the pen barrels at different price points to help keep the pen model on track for its target price point. As you would expect, both Parker and Sheaffer have lower quality barrels in their entry-level pens but both surprisingly offer better than average quality when compared to their competitors.
The same remains true for the intermediate price point pens with both Parker and Sheaffer being almost neck at next with the design and build quality of their pen barrels. Not only are both brands offering a tough and robust pen barrel but they are also as lightweight as possible to ensure that their users do not suffer from fatigue when writing for longer periods of time.
When it comes to the higher price point pens from both brands, there is a definite shift where the older Sheaffer pen barrels tend to be a little better than the older Parker pen barrels but the newer Parker pen barrels take the lead over the new Sheaffer pen barrels. Although the older Sheaffer pens have a decent resale value for collectors, the majority of our readers will probably be looking for a brand new pen so we have to give the win for Parker again.
Pen Cap Systems
We know that we rant about pen cap systems when reviewing pens but both Parker and Sheaffer do offer what we would consider to be the best pen cap system at the relevant price points in the market. In our opinion, anything that is less than $100 can have a push to lock cap system without any issue but anything that is over $100 should be using a twist to lock cap system and both brands tend to stick to this.
The twist to lock cap system helps to ensure that the more expensive pens keep the barrel attached to the cap when not in used to prevent it from accidentally going missing or falling and breaking. Due to both brands having a large number of capless ballpoint pens in their range, the need for a cap is less common than with some other brands who prefer to used capped pens too. Due to this, we would call it a draw between both Sheaffer and Parker when it comes to the cap systems for their pens.
Ink Capacity And Products
When it comes to the ink options for both brands, we are actually going to reward them both a point but for different ink types. In our opinion, if you are looking for a ballpoint or rollerball pen then Parker are the way to do as their official refills tend to be cheaper, easier to source, and offer better performance than the Sheaffer ink refills on the market right now.
On the flipside of this though, if you are looking for a fountain pen then Sheaffer are the better option of the two as their bottled ink tends to perform better than the Parker bottled ink. It is usually available in a wider color range, offers a better writing experience, and usually has less issues with ghosting, feathering, and bleeding but this is both pen model and nib size dependent.
That said though, we usually recommend that any of our readers who are looking for a fountain pen simply go with the Noodlers Ink range due to their excellent performance and low price tag. Noodlers ink tends to be the cheapest premium quality, refined ink available on the market and the color selection that they offer is second to none. This is why the reputation of Noodlers ink is second to none amongst the penthusiast community and it is often chosen over much more expensive inks such as Pelikan's Edelstein Ink.
Over All Pen Range And Reputation
When it comes to the range of pens offered by both Parker and Sheaffer, we would call it a draw as both brands do have an option available for all price points and pen types. That said though, in recent years, Sheaffer does seem to be loosing favor where as Parker seems to be going from strength to strength and this is reflected in both their sales and the reputation of each brand amongst the community.
Due to stiff competition from both Pilot Pens and Sailor Pens from the Asian markets as well as brands such as Pelikan Pens and Lamy Pens, both Parker and Sheaffer will have their work cut out over the coming years. Although we are confident that Parker will be able to stand the test of time, if Sheaffer doesn’t manage to correct their issues then they may end up having to be bought out by a competing brand.
Although personal preference will come into play when choosing the pen for you, we would recommend that our readers try to stick to a pen from the Parker range rather than go with the Sheaffer range. The last decade has shown that Parker are continuing to put out pens with a quality that are expected of them where as Sheaffer does seem to have dropped the ball and let standards slip.