If you’re new to fountain pens, your first question might be “What’s a good, inexpensive fountain pen?”. There are several great choices available on the market but my favorite—which is the perfect combination of quality, performance, and low-cost—is the Pilot Metropolitan. Since it hit the market, this pen has quickly become a favorite of both fountain pen newbies and geeks alike. Why?
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The Pilot Metropolitan is the perfect combination of quality, performance, and low-cost.
Construction & Style
With a smooth, sleek, metal body (brass) available in a variety of great colors and patterns, this pen feels solid and weight balanced in the hand. It has a snap-on cap which always closes with a satisfying ‘click’ and posts well (when you attach the cap to the other end of the pen) when the pen is in use. The pen’s classic appearance makes it seem more expensive than it is and widely appealing. The initial color selection included classic, muted colors like gold, silver, bronze, black, white, and violet accented with equally subtle patterns. At the end of 2015, Pilot released more with bright, retro pop colors like turquoise, green, orange, red, purple, and grey with fun and interesting patterns. I have most of the pens from the former collection but none (yet!) from the latter. Regardless of your taste, there’s something here for everyone!
Ink Filling System
The Pilot Metropolitan accepts both cartridges (pre-filled with ink) and converters (which you can fill with bottled ink). The proprietary cartridge is extremely generous providing enough ink for long writing sessions and portability so you can quickly install a new cartridge when the previous one runs out. The proprietary converter—there are two types: a CON-20 squeeze converter (included) and CON-50 piston converter (sold separately)—enables you to use bottled ink thereby expanding your color options by leaps and bounds!
The Pilot Metropolitan has a steel nib and like most Japanese brands, these nibs are ground finer that Western and European fountain pen brands-e.g. a Western F [fine] nib is similar to a Japanese M nib. As a result, these nibs are better suited when using ‘non-fountain pen friendly’ paper to reduce bleed-thru and feathering on thinner paper. I use a Pilot Metropolitan with an F nib and black ink cartridges in my work planner—a Day Designer by BlueSky, read more about it here—which has thinner paper and this combination works well resulting in very little shadowing (show thru on the other side of the paper). Currently the Pilot Metropolitan is available with an F (fine) and M (medium) nib. If you’re a fountain pen ‘tinkerer’, here’s a little known hack: the entry-level Pilot Plumix fountain pen nib—which is a medium italic nib—fits in the Pilot Metropolitan! Just unscrew the nib section from the body, and firmly but gently grasp the nib and the feed (black plastic section with ‘gills’ located under the nib) with two fingers from one hand while holding onto the grip section with the other hand and gently pull out the nib and feed (you can use this method to remove the nib from the Plumix as well). You’ll see the nib resting on top of the feed so you can easily slip it off and place the Plumix nib, voila!
The Pilot nibs write smoothly on fountain-pen friendly paper like Rhodia and Clairefontaine and provide a bit of ‘feedback’ on non-fountain pen friendly paper. There are no ‘hard starts’ (where the ink doesn’t flow immediately when you uncap to write) and it’s a slightly ‘dry’ writer (dries immediately) even on Tomoe River paper (a very thin Japanese paper that is surprisingly fountain pen friendly!). Because it’s a steel nib, there’s very little ‘flex’—where you press down gently on the nib to produce a thicker line—so if that’s what you’re looking for, look elsewhere.
If all this sounds like a great deal, you’re now wondering “How much does it cost?” On average in the USA, prices average from $15 to $19 dollars though I have bought some on clearance for around $10, not a bad deal for a great looking, well performing fountain pen that won’t break the bank if lost! If there was one thing I wish could be improved, it would be the converter ink capacity—it doesn’t last as long as the cartridges. If this is important to you as well, here’s another hack if you’re a ‘tinkerer’: use an ink syringe to clean out an old empty cartridge (squirt water into the cartridge using the syringe to flush it out) then use the syringe to fill it with bottled ink and voila! 😉
What are your favorite, inexpensive fountain pens? Please share in the comments below and if you found this blogpost helpful—or know someone it could help—please like, subscribe, and share on social media!
Until next time,
♥ LilD ♥