First off, let’s run through how these two rollerball pens are similar and different, focusing on their features and selling points.
How Are The Squire And Tornado Alike?
Both of these pens:
- are made of all-metal
- have twist-to-extend mechanism at the top
- use branded Schmidt refills that are one of their main selling points
- are often sold in limited edition models
- arrive in cylindrical cardboard gift “boxes” that are nice shelf pieces
- are popular “EDC” or everyday carry pens
How Are The Squire And Tornado Different?
There are some notable differences as well. The most obvious is the shape and size, which we’ll cover next.
The next is the price. The Tornado generally sells for about $30 through pen retailers, but more like $20 from Amazon and other large online retailers. The Squire only sells through Baron Fig, and goes for about $55-$100. Based models are made of aluminum while more expensive models are made of copper, steel, and brass. So materials are also quite different (Retro 51 doesn’t know which type of metal their pens are made of.)
Another big difference is that the Squire has no clip! The Retro 51 has a rather good clip, but this feature altogether.
Shape and Dimensions
While the two pens are similar in length, the Retro 51 appears to be decidedly larger. The Retro 51 is more voluminous thanks to a wider top half. It does taper aggressively to the writing point, giving it almost a spike shape. This makes the pen very top heavy, which turns off some writers.
The Squire is the opposite: it is basically cylindrical but its widest point is at the the grip. This makes the pen feels bottom heavy, which is generally preferable for accurate writing.
Baron Fig Squire Dimensions
- Length: 128 mm
- Widest point: 10.5 mm
- Grip diameter: 10.5 mm
- Weight: 23.3 grams (aluminum model)
Retro 51 Tornado Dimensions
- Length: 126 mm
- Widest point: 11.9 mm
- Grip diameter: 10.3 mm
- Weight: 27.6 grams
- Tornado Stealth Rollerball : $24
- Tornado Stainless Steel Rollerball: $22
- Tornado Vintage Metalsmith: $40
- Squire (Aluminum, base model): $55
- Squire (Brass): $75
- Squire (Copper): $85
- Squire (Steel): $95
Sometimes it’s nice to get a pen and pencil set. In this category Retro 51 has a big lead on Baron Fig.
Baron Fig has very limited options if you want a fountain pen or pencil to go along with your rollerball. The company does has a retractable ballpoint, but it’s while it’s styled like the Squire and the colors definitely won’t match because the ballpoint isn’t sold in special editions. There is a desk set which includes the Squire, a stand, a leather case, and some refills, but no companion writing utensils.
The Tornado is sold in very nice matching pen and pencil sets. Sets like the Smithsonian, Stealth, Vintage Metalsmith Dr. Gray, and Vintage Metalsmith Dmitri pair a rollerball with a mechanical pens, both of which come in the same gift tube and have matching graphics. The pencil has a large eraser and a 1.15 mm lead.
Both of these pens are very good writers thanks to that fantastic Schmidt refill. If you like an evenly distributed weight then you’ll probably like the Squire and if you like a pen that is back heavy than the Tornado will be for you. The Squire has a matte or machined finish that feels nicer than most of the Tornado designs.
The Tornado is a comfortable enough pen, but it’s heavily tapered so you need to grip it further back in order to get a reasonable diameter area and not make it feel to back heavy. If you are a forward gripper, this pen is not for you.
One plus of the Tornado is that the piece you twist to extend the writing tip is large and knurled, making it easy to do. The Squire’s rotary knob on the tip is tiny and rounded, so it can be a challenge to grip in gloves, it’s hard to operate one-handed, and it’ll tough if you have any problems with grip.
Overall the Squire is the better writer though. It’s a really enjoyable pen to write with.
Squire vs. Tornado: Which to Buy?
Obviously there is a lot of personal preference here, and both of these are good pens. They also both have excellent refills. So you can’t go too far off with either one. That noted, here’s our take:
If you simply want a pen that uses the excellent Schmidt P refills (P8126, P8127, P8120) then get the Tornado. If you hunt around you can get the Stealth all-black model for about $20. This is an excellent value.
If you want the best writing experience and the higher quality, more unique product then get the Squire. This pen is about twice the price of the Tornado — which will understandably be a dealbreaker for some — but it’s a pleasant pen to write with and it has a nice, refined look.