I think it’s well been established that the two most popular beginner fountain pens are the Pilot Metropolitan and Lamy Safari. While there are others worthy of contention, these two simply stand above the crowd.. The less than $25 beginner fountain pen crowd.
Being an owner and avid user of both, I’d like to share my opinions on both pens, and what I think beginners and buyers should consider before buying one or the other.
TO BE CLEAR, BOTH ARE GREAT PENS. I cannot stress this enough and I just want to share my opinion. I enjoy using both, oftentimes even more than some of the more expensive pens I’ve tried.
This is just for those who really need to pick ONE to start their fountain pen journey with.
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|Body Material||Lacquered Metal|
The Pilot Metropolitan was released in 2012 and quickly became one of the go to fountain pens for beginners. It’s not hard to wonder why once you actually get to hold it and write with.
Compared to many more expensive fountain pens, the writing experience and pen quality doesn’t really differ that much. Of course, there is a difference, all I’m saying is that you can feel the quality while you are using it.
Not to hate on the Jinhao x450, but use that and then follow it with a Pilot Metropolitan, the difference is night and day… and that Jinhao pen isn’t really bad to begin with.
One factor could be the metal body, which adds a little weight to the pen. It’s not so heavy that you can’t write with it for a prolonged period of time, but it adds that feeling of balance and substantialness to the experience.
In other words, the smooth feel of the metal and its weight feels good when you are using it. It doesn’t feel flimsy or fragile.
The nibs are also different from most fountain pens, in that it’s a Japanese nib. This means that they write finer than most nibs, making the lines they make thinner compared to their western or European counterparts.
A Fine nib of a Japanese nib and a Fine nib of a western nib would have the Japanese one making thinner and crisper lines.
This gives you the advantage of being able to write with cheaper or thinner papers. Since the lines are finer, the ink flow is more controlled, letter your ink dry faster. This means less threading, ghosting, and bleeding.
Also the nibs aren’t necessarily swappable, however, there are models that can accept the nibs of a Metro and vice versa. You can easily just buy another Pilot pen with a different sized nib and swap them to your discretion.
These models are:
- Pilot Kakuno
- Pilot Plumix
- Pilot Explorer
The Pilot Metropolitan can also accept the CON-40 converter, as well as proprietary ink cartridges. This means that you’ll have to get Pilot brand ink cartridges for your Metro, as well as for the converter.
The fountain pen itself includes a CON-20 squeeze converter when you buy it, as well as an ink cartridge. This makes it ready to use from the get go. The CON-20 doesn’t hold a lot of ink, though, so I’d get a CON-40 when I first purchase the pen.
For a list of fountain pens that take proprietary ink cartridges or international cartridges, click here.
Pilot Metropolitan Pros and Cons
Better For Wider Variety of Paper
|Less flexible clip|
Squeeze Converter Less Ink
No Ink Window
Round Grip Section
Limited Models To Swap Nibs With
So on the pros, you’ll understand why I listed these factors for the Pilot Metropolitan. As I said, the quality feel and metal body both lend to the writing experience of giving it a heftier feel, a feel that lets you know that you’re using a fountain pen.
The classic look is also more reminiscent of a fountain pen, one that would make it distinctly known that you are using a fountain pen.
However, the looks aren’t really what got me to like the Pilot MR (Metropolitan), it’s the nibs. Since they are finer, they can write drier than most fountain pens. This means I can use the pen for more kinds of papers, even the everyday budget papers used for documents.
Also, since it’s a fountain pen, it’s cheaper in the long run compared to buying a ton of ballpoints that I’ll just lose almost right away.
For more on fountain pens being eco friendly, click here.
If you’re interested in checking out the best source for the Pilot Metropolitan, click here!
You can also click the link below!
|Body Material||ABS Plastic|
1.5 mm Stub
1.9 mm Stub
Left Handed Oblique Nibs
The Lamy Safari is a classic fountain pen in the very sense of the word. It was released in the 1980’s and has since been one of the go to pens for fountain pen beginners.
When it comes to the writing experience, it’s pretty much the same with the Pilot Metropolitan, in that it doesn’t differ much from more expensive fountain pens.
I know I look like I’m throwing the Jinhao x450 under the bus, but again, the difference is palpable. Again the Jinhao is a good pen, this just illustrates how good both pens are.
The plastic body and look of the pen makes it lighter and more approachable, looking like a really nice looking everyday pen. At first glance, you wouldn’t notice it’s a fountain pen when it’s uncapped.
That said, I rather like how it looks. It’s a pretty cool looking pen.
The clip on the fountain pen cap is also better and sturdier than the Metro’s. It’s significantly easier to clip it onto something like your shirt or bag.
It also comes with a triangular grip that makes it easier to hold while writing. This is one of the more popular features of this pen as it makes it easier significantly to use.
Also, since it’s lighter, you can actually go longer writing with this than the Metropolitan before feeling any real hand fatigue. The longer body also compensates for the weight and places the balance where it’s perfect for your hand… or my hand at least.
For the nibs, since they are European nibs, the lines they make will be broad or thicker than those Japanese nibs. This is all up to preference, but having thicker lines sometimes makes the writing more “wet”.
“Wetter” writing could lead to some threading, bleeding, and ghosting, in the paper. That said, both nibs write so smoothly, with the Safari edging ahead just a bit, that you probably won’t even know the difference. It’s really just the line thickness that factors in.
That said, if you’re interested in calligraphy, the Lamy safari comes with an option for an Italic or Stub nib. These produce line variations that calligraphers can use instead of broad edge dip pens.
For more calligraphy pens, click here.
Unlike the Pilot Metropolitan, you have more options for nibs, as you can just buy the nibs themselves from Lamy. That said, you need proprietary nibs for the Lamy Safari.
To see what fountain pen nibs accept proprietary and international sizes, click here.
Similarly, the Lamy Safari also doesn’t take in international converters as well. You will also need to buy a Lamy brand converter to use with the Safari, much like the Metropolitan. The Pilot MR edges it out here, in that it comes with a free squeeze converter in the CON-20.
One other thing that makes the Lamy Safari standout is the special edition models they release. One such example is the collaboration they did with BTS, a Kpop boy band. If you are into Kpop, I’m sure you know this band.
While the pen is ultimately the same, there are some add-ons that fans cannot miss!
Lamy Safari Pros and Cons
Cap Clip Is Better
Triangular Grip Section
Kpop Collaborations/Limited Editions
|No Converter Included|
The durability of the Lamy Safari is always praised. For an everyday pen you bring with you everywhere, this would probably be your answer. The plastic body makes it light and great for long writing sessions, as well as less hand fatigue. The grip also contributes to this a lot as well.
The cap clip may seem overkill, but it’s really convenient to have it so big and durable.
Should you want another nib, all you need to do is to order one of your liking, making it easier to swap nibs.
Again, as with all fountain pens, it’s economically more affordable and eco friendly.
If you are a kpop fanatic, the kpop collaborations will be for you!
Again, the wetter and thicker inks may make it harder for you to use it with some kinds of paper, also you’ll definitely need to buy a converter for it as well.
If you’re interested in checking out the best source for the Lamy Safari, click here!
You can also click the link below!
Comparison: Pilot Metropolitan Vs Lamy Safari
So, I don’t want this to be those kinds of reviews with no clear winner. However, the battle is clearer neck to neck, in terms of sheer quality.
I’ll give you my pick and why it is, and then I’ll explain which pen is better for whom.
MY PERSONAL CHOICE: PILOT METROPOLITAN.
Why? Because of the flexibility it has with other types of paper.
Like I said, the japanese nibs write thinner. They dry faster, and there is less ghosting, bleeding, and threading. Because of this effect, you don’t have to be picky with the paper you use it on.
You can use a notebook with thinner paper than most and write on both sides of the page. You don’t have to write slower or faster depending on the paper quality, and you don’t have to worry if the pen will mess up a document you need.
In terms of nib swapping, sure you can swap the Lamy Safari’s nib for something thinner, but again Japanese nibs are still the finest lines in the world. Also, I tend to stick one size of nib.
If I want a medium, I’ll just buy a medium and stick to it.
That doesn’t mean the Metro has to be your choice as well.
As I said, for everyday use, the Safari is really great and durable. It’s great for those who like thicker lines with their pens and it’s actually easier to carry around.
You’ll have to adjust by using drier inks, or having thicker paper around with you, but in reality these are easy fixes. Very easy fixes.
So there you go!
Both pens have the same level of performance, and while I picked the Pilot MR, that choice doesn’t have to be yours.