Brian’s Top 5 Fountain Pens for Newbies

Even though it’s been 7 years since I was a complete newbie in the fountain pen world, I still remember very distinctly how incredibly overwhelming all of the options seemed. Especially if you’re shopping online, all of the different pens and their features all sort of seem to blend together and it can be paralyzing. Fountain pens are such a personal thing, and while you don’t always know what will be the ultimate perfect pen for you, it’s best to start out with a reliable writer that is a good introduction to the hobby.
After years of experience using hundreds of different pens and talking with thousands of customers, I have compiled my personal list of what I feel are 5 of the best pens to consider for the newbie just getting into the hobby. While I didn’t use any scientific reasoning, the main criteria I used were value, reliability (especially in writing), and positive reputation.
Here is a bullet-point style run down of my 5 favorite fountain pens for newbies:
Price: ~$18.50
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Pilot Metropolitan
Pros:
  • Converter is included
  • Incredible value
  • Nibs write very fine, finer than other brands of the same size designation
  • Reliable writer
  • Many color choices
  • Durable
  • Nice case included, great for gifting

Cons:

  • Included converter does not show ink level
  • Limited nib options (fine and medium)
Price: ~$3.95
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Platinum Preppy
Pros:
  • Cartridge/converter is easy to use
  • Eyedropper convertible for large ink capacity
  • Affordable
  • Reliable writer
  • Cap seals great (better than many much more expensive pens)
  • Clear body shows ink level without having to open it up
Cons:
  • Proprietary Platinum cartridge/converter
  • Expensive converter, costs almost twice what the pen does
  • Plastic can break if dropped hard
  • Limited nib options (fine and medium)
  • No case/box included with pen

 

Price: ~$3
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Pilot Varsity

Pros:

  • Great performers
  • Convenient, no need to ink up/refill
  • Easiest FP in the world to use, no knowledge required

Cons:

  • Not refillable (unless hacked)
  • Limited ink color options, prefilled
  • Only one nib size (somewhere around a medium)
  • No case/box included with pen
 
Price: ~$9.90
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Jinhao x750

Pros:

  • Converter included
  • Standard international converter/carts, easier to find/replace
  • #6 size nib fits nibs from other brands like Goulet, Noodler’s, Edison, Monteverde
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Included converter isn’t fantastic, can be replaced with standard international
  • Heavy pen
  • Limited nib options purchased with the pen, additional nibs must be bought to swap
  • Limited color options
  • No case/box included with pen
 
Price: ~$29
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Lamy Safari
Pros:
  • Workhorse/durable
  • Reliable
  • Ink window means you can see ink level without opening pen
  • Cartridge/converter
  • Swappable nibs, huge range of sizes (EF, F, M, B, 1.1, 1.5, 1.9)
  • Lots of fun colors

Cons:

  • Most expensive of this group
  • Converter is not included
  • Proprietary Lamy Z24 cartridge/converter
  • Triangular grip is polarizing, some love it and some hate it

 

While there are many other pens that I absolutely enjoy, these ones are the go-to pens that I find best to recommend as an introduction into the fountain pen world. You personally may love or hate them, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them in the comments below. Do you have any other pens you find are great to start out with? I’d love to hear that, too.
Write On,
Brian Goulet

 

2018-02-14T08:42:10+00:00 August 5th, 2014|Shopping Guides, Top 10 Lists|74 Comments