Although the popularity of the Cross range of pens has declined in recent years, we have noticed more and more people reaching out to specifically ask for a dedicated Cross ATX review. With the ATX being one of the more popular pen models from the Cross range, we have decided to publish our own dedicated Cross ATX review in the hope that we will be able to help any of our readers who are considering adding the ATX to their stationery collection.
Now, the Cross ATX is available as the Cross ATX Ballpoint, the Cross ATX Rollerball as well as the Cross ATX Fountain Pen. Due to both the Ballpoint and Rollerball pens being pretty straight forward at this price point in the market, we are going to be focusing in on the fountain pen variant of the pen for our review as it is what we see most people reaching out for advice on.
On top of this, we will also touch on other pen models from other brands that we feel out perform the Cross ATX at various points through our article too in the hope that we are able to help ensure our readers get the absolute best pen for their needs. Due to there being stiff competition in this price bracket from a number of excellent pen brands, you may find that going with a competing model from another brand is actually the better option for you and your needs.
Our Cross ATX Review
All that said and done though, the Cross ATX is a solid pen model for its price point in the market and it has managed to earn itself a decent marketshare as well as a solid reputation amongst the community. Just like all other fountain pens at this price point in the market, it does definitely have its drawbacks but this is common due to its price point so you have to know what you need out of your pen to ensure that the ATX will be able to deliver what you need but we will explain through our review.
The Cross ATX Nib
Due to its price point in the market, you may be able to guess that the nib of the Cross ATX is made from stainless steel and this is common at this price point in the market. Although a gold nib of 14 carats or more can offer a better writing experience, this will hike the price tag of the pen up and if you are new to using a fountain pen, you may not even be able to tell the difference between a stainless steel or gold nib anyway.
Thankfully, Cross have avoided the gold plated nib that some of their competition at this price point in the market offer on their pens. Although a gold plated nib does look nice, the actual writing experience is essentially the same as a standard stainless steel nib due to the actual nib still being made from stainless steel. We see people fall for this time and time again and pay over the odds for a gold plated nib thinking it will improve their writing experience when it does little to nothing.
Although a few designs for the Cross ATX do have tinded nibs, these are still made from stainless steel. Depending on the design there are variants of the pen available that have black, rose gold, and bronze looking nibs on the pens but these are coated or tinted.
One of the main drawbacks of the Cross ATX in our opinion is that it is only available with a nib size of either fine or medium. Although medium is the most popular nib size on the market followed by fine, limiting the selection does drastically reduce the potential market share for the pen. Take the Lamy 2000 for example, it is a similar price point to the Cross ATX, has a 14 carat gold nib and is available with nib sizes of Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, and Double Broad while also offering Oblique options too.
The Lamy 2000 also has additional advantages over the Cross ATX that we will touch on later in the article so it is not surprising that the Lamy 2000 has taken the bulk of the market share and is considered to be the best fountain pen available at this price point. The prestige of having the Cross branding on a pen has faded in the last decade or so and buyers are not willing to pay the premium for the brand that they once were.
Although the bulk of the Cross pens are made in China now, the actual designing and customisation is still done in the USA. Due to this, the nib sizes of the Cross range conform to the western nib sizes and are similar to what you would get from other western pen brands for the same listed nib size. For example, a medium nibbed Cross ATX and a medium nibbed Lamy 2000 will have a very similar sized font.
If you are currently using an Asian fountain pen and are wanting to keep a similar font size when you move over to the Cross ATX then we would recommend that you upsize your nib selection though. This is due to most Asian fountain pen nib sizes being slightly smaller than their western counterparts. For example, a fine nibbed Cross ATX will have a similar writing font to a medium nibbed Pilot or Sailor pen due to them sticking to the Asian nib sizes.
Both the medium and fine nib sizes on the Cross ATX are slightly on the wetter side but they are nowhere near as wet as something like the Pelikan m200. We feel that this does score the Cross ATX some points over some competing pens on the market as its nib is wet enough to offer a silky smooth writing experience but no so wet that you will have issues with bleeding, feathering or ghosting when writing with it.
At this price point in the market, this can be a difficult thing to achieve and many pen brands do usually either have issues with a scratchy writing experience due to the nib being too dry or with bleeding and ghosting due to it being wet. That said, the nib is still probably wet enough to cause a smearing risk for anyone who is left-handed and writes fast but the smear risk is much lower than that of the wetter nibs on the market.
Although most people tend not to care, the ink path for the Cross ATX is seamless making it very easy to clean quickly with a cheap fountain pen cleaning kit. We know most people don’t clean their fountain pens but you really should as it removes dry ink and grime from the ink path helping to ensure you get the best possible writing experience for years to come.
The Barrel Of The Cross ATX
The barrel of the Cross ATX is made from titanium breaking the standard of the competing pen brands at this price point sticking to plastic, resin, stainless steel, and brass. That said though, we are not sure the titanium barrel is actually worth it as the same advantages can often be found with a high-quality resin without having to hike the price tag of the pen up.
Thankfully though, as you would expect from titanium, the barrel of the Cross ATX is very tough as well as lightweight. This should help to ensure that the pen will be able to take any knocks or bumps without breaking while also being light enough to prevent any fatigue build up when writing with the pen for any extended writing sessions.
As you would expect from this price point in the market, the Cross ATX is based around the Cross cartridge convertor system rather than a piston filler system. At a higher price point in the market we would actually mark a pen down for this but at this price point, we are fine with cartridge converters as they keep the costs of the pens down while also offering decent storage and supply for the pens ink.
That said though, the Lamy 2000 does come with a piston filler that performs flawlessly and although it does cost a little more than the Cross ATX, it is still classed as being in the same price bracket. If you do have the budget available, want a better writing experience, and want a fountain pen that uses a piston filler system then the Lamy 2000 is the king at this price point in the market.
When it comes to the color and trim options for the barrel of the Cross ATX, there are definitely more options than the average pen model helping people who like to match as much of their stationary up as possible get the perfect color for them. That said though, depending on what you are planning to actually do with your fountain pen as well as your personal preferences, you may not care about the color of the cap and barrel of your pen anyway.
The Cap Of The Cross ATX
Although the ballpoint and rollerball variants of the Cross ATX both use a capless system, the fountain pen Cross ATX is capped and has a solid pen cap that performs well. It is light enough to be posted during use without causing any problems with the pen being back weighted and causing problems with your writing experience too.
One thing that we would mention about the cap of the Cross ATX is that it uses a push to lock system and although this is common on cheaper fountain pens, the Cross ATX does get to the price point where we would usually be recommending that our readers try to only go with twist to lock caps. The idea is that a twist to lock cap offers that additional locking system to help ensure that the barrel of the pen stays attached to the cap when not in used preventing it from going missing or falling and breaking.
Although their are more expensive pens on the market than the Cross ATX that do use a push to lock system, we usually discourage our readers from going with them as a twist to lock cap is more reliable and tends to be a better option for a more expensive pen. That said though, personal preference will be coming into play on this one so if you do really like the Cross ATX and know you will only ever be using it at your desk then a push to lock cap should not be an issue anyway.
The Cross ATX Ink Reservoir
As we touched on earlier in the article, the Cross ATX does not use a vacuum or piston filler for its ink storage and supply, it uses a cartridge convertor system so has no ink reservoir. This means that the maximum ink supply of the pen is dictated by the ink refill or ink cartridge that you opt to use with it. For the fountain pen variant, this caps out at 1.1ml coming in at just above the average maximum ink capacity for fountain pens.
Although there are a number of third-party ink cartridges that are able to mount to the Cross cartridge convertors, we would always recommend that our readers stick to the official Cross cartridges. The third-party options can have issues with leaking the ink inside the pen due to not mounting to the convertor correctly and not having a solid seal.
Although the lack of an ink view window on the Cross ATX will probably not be much of an issue for most people, it does drop the pen some points over its competition that do have an ink view window. Although the maximum ink supply for the pen is above average, it is still nice to be able to quickly and easily check your ink levels to plan your refills.
Cross ATX Writing Samples
We always like to share some writing samples with our readers for each of the pens that we feature. The video below offers some great insight into what you can expect from the Cross ATX when using it as your ever day carry pen.
That brings our ultimate Cross ATX review to an end. We hope that you have found it helpful and that we have been able to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the pen in its different areas. Although the Cross ATX can be a solid addition to your stationary collection, the Lamy 2000 is only a little bit more expensive and blows it out the water in our opinion. If you are able to stretch your budget, opt for the Lamy 2000 else the Cross ATX is a solid purchase.