The Noodler's branding is delightfully obscure. Various animals, including an Auspicious Catfish Dragon, adorn Noodler's ink and pen boxes. The Ahab comes sealed in plastic in Noodler's signature box. I ordered the Poltergeist Pumpkin version, since Halloween is my favorite holiday and it's now close enough to October 31st to celebrate without judgement from friends. I ripped open the plastic sleeve and a foul oder, somewhat reminiscent of grade school upchuck, hit me with full force. I thought that this may have been the "Poltergeist" in my pen, but it turns out that the pen is made of a biodegradable vegetal resin that has a natural stench. Fortunately, this smell goes away after a day or two, but it may be wise to turn your nose away when opening the pen. I've read about this odor in other reviews, but they didn't prepare me for just how bad the pen smells.
I was concerned that the Ahab would look/feel cheap, considering its low price, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although the pen is a bit light for my liking, its design features are polished and intentional. The clip resembles a whale fin, while the piston converter resembles a pirate's peg leg. The pen comes with a detailed letter explaining the design choices, and I'll venture to say that Noodler's is one of the most creative pen/ink brands out there. The branding may be heavy-handed to some, but I love the its quirkiness, and the Ahab delivers quirk in full force. The Poltergeist Pumpkin design may not be the most sleek or creative design of the bunch, but it's fun, and fun is really what this pen is all about.
The Noodler's Ahab is sturdy, in the sense that all of its pieces fit snuggly together, and there's no creaking or jiggling to be found. The pen can be posted and its comfortable to write with either posted or unposted.
The Ahab uses a piston filling system and is converter only. The provided converter screws snuggly into the pen body, meaning that there's little chance of leaks. Theres a tiny straw inside the converter that allows air to exit the converter, as ink moves in. The straw is small, so be careful not to lose it when cleaning! The plunger is hollow, so ink fills both the converter as well as the cavity of the plunger. This is great for ink capacity, especially for the thirsty flex nib, which lays down a thick generous line of ink on the page. Although the extra capacity is a nice touch, it's difficult to empty the excess ink out of the plunger without the use of a syringe. This is a major drawback, since I purchased this pen to try out new inks and plan to change them often.
The nib on the Noodler's Ahab is all about flex, and flex it does well. I couldn't let myself plop down $200 for a Pilot Falcon when all that I wanted to do was play with a flex nib. The Noodler's Ahab delivers substantial flex for %15 of the price of the Falcon. The nib and feed have a friction fit, which means that they can be slid in and out, independently in this case, of the pen body. Mine worked well out of the box, but it's very easy to adjust the nib and feed until a desired flow/flex balance is achieved. I would cringe at the thought of messing with the feed of a more expensive pen, but this pen begs to be played with and is easily replaceable. It's certainly not a throwaway pen, but it's nice to be able to push a pen to its limits without fear.
The Ahab's steel nib moves from a Twsbi-like fine line with little pressure to a generously wet stub-like line with a lot of pressure. The pen is a smooth writer but does tend to railroad when an excessive amount of pressure is applied. This varies with the lubrication properties of the ink used.
The Noodler's Ahab is a solid performer for the price. This pen isn't meant to be a daily workhorse, but it's an inexpensive option for those looking to doodle or practice their ink sketching or calligraphy.