I bought the diminutive m-200 along with a daily planner in 2006 from a Franklin Covey store. The pen was on sale for a mere $60 that day. It was the summer before my junior year of college at the Air Force Academy. I had decided to reward myself for making it through the first two years with a “really nice pen.” This was my second fountain pen, the first being a Lamy Safari I was given in grade school. The Lamy skipped and was inconsistent and was soon abandoned. I did however learn to appreciate the smoothness of the fountain pen when it worked. I figured a $60 pen would be amazing. I bought a bottle of Montblanc Blue along with the pen, and have never changed ink brands or colors for this particular pen.
Unfortunately the experience wasn’t awesome. As I have learned since buying the pen, Pelikan nibs went through a period of poor quality control. Looking back, it would seem that the tines on my m-200 nib were not lined up the way they should have been. I didn’t know that at the time and used the pen anyway. I wrote copious amounts of notes on subjects ranging from philosophy to aeronautical physics to political science and back. I took hundreds of tests, wrote in class papers, and just doodled with the thing until it smoothed itself out.
When I call this pen a friend, I’m not being sarcastic or flip. It has accompanied me almost every day out of the past five years. Not only did it go to class with me, but it went with me to yell at freshmen, it did thousands of pushups with me, and it went on countless runs. It did all of this while safely tucked into a pocket with my pocket knife, lighter, and keys. The most protest it ever gave was to lose its cap every once in a while. No permanent damage was ever done to my uniform or nib from those experiences.
It is a world traveller too. Together we have been to Russia, Poland, Iceland, Germany, and now my current location in Southwest Asia (yes, I’m deployed). It has never once leaked on an airplane, never spit ink into the cap due to the pressure differences. I brought it with me on a largely solo motorcycle trip around the country. Every night I logged the miles, the memories, and the names of the people I met that day. In five years I’ve only ever had one scare, where I thought I had lost the pen, and it was on that trip. I was trying to camp at a fairground in Iowa. I had already unpacked for the night and was in my sleeping bag when a nice gentleman told me I couldn’t stay there and that I had to leave before the police were called. I took the hint and repacked my bag and left. In the darkness, my m-200 fell into the grass and I didn’t notice. The next morning after filling up my gas tank for the first time I realized I hadn’t seen my pen that morning. I debated chalking it up as a loss, I knew I would never find it and I was already 45 miles away from the fairgrounds. However, I couldn’t stomach leaving my friend behind without so much as a cursory search, so I turned around and headed back to the fairgrounds. After a 15 minute search through the dew covered grass, I found my companion and headed out onto the road again.
I have put my m-200 through hell over the past five years and it has never been anything but consistent. It shows the scars of my abuse in a well-worn patina of age and abuse. It has deep scratches from getting dropped, stepped on, and left in a pocket filled with keys. I’ve adjusted the clip tension more times than I can remember. The gold plating is worn off in many places on the accent pieces. It has the look of a pen much older than it is. This m-200 is a reflection of the journey I have been on over the past five years. Sometimes neglected, sometimes crushed by someone much larger than myself, oftentimes loved and cherished, we share a common story.
Now that you know the story of my m-200 you might appreciate the rankings I give it in the actual review. I’ve read a lot of reviews of pens on here from people who have owned a pen for a few weeks, or maybe a few months, and they are almost always glowing to the point of being an endorsement by someone paid to extoll its virtues. You will not see that here. I have had five years to get to know my m-200, like getting to know a friend I have learned to love the good things about the pen and accept the bad.
Appearance and Design: 6.5/10
I prefer classic looking pens that are predominantly black with minimal accents. The M-200 fits the bill in that respect. The black plastic with gold accents is classic and timeless. If I didn’t know fountain pens I would have a very difficult time judging the age of the M-200 design, it would be especially difficult with this one due to the patina of age. The design is timeless, but it is far from exciting. Combined with the steel nib, this is the working man’s fountain pen. It won’t be at home in foundries or gold mines, but it excels in the regular office setting. It is perfect for the world of cubicles and middle management staff meetings. The small size lets it unobtrusively blend into a world filled with cheap ball point pens and rollerballs. It sets itself apart when uncapped, but doesn’t scream opulence. I have to knock it down a point or two for how easily the cap unscrews while the pen is in transit. More than once I’ve gotten ink in a pocket, or bag from the cap falling off.
Construction and Quality: 9/10
I can’t use the words bulletproof as I’ve never shot this pen before and I don’t think it would hold up to a gunshot, but it is an incredibly resilient pen. As I mentioned above, I’ve carried this pen daily for five years. It was mixed with pocket change, a lighter, keys, and a pocket knife. It works as well or better than the day I bought it. The plastic is a hard compound but not brittle. I have dropped this pen onto tile, asphalt, cement, and hardwood, sometimes from heights exceeding six feet. I have stepped on it with my full weight (I might have been inebriated at the time…) and the worst it has suffered is some scratches. The nib is just as strong as the rest of the pen, which is probably more related to the strength of steel than construction of the nib. The gold accents on the body of the pen are losing gold plating from years of sliding in and out of pockets, not to mention years of being handled and used for writing.
Weight and Dimensions: on a scale of 1-10 I rate this pen as excellent.
I won’t score this section because the comfort of a well designed pen relies more on the person using it than the pen. Some people will find this pen to be the most comfortable pen they have ever held, and will have an orgasm every time they touch nib to paper. Others will find the narrow profile akin to tightly wrapping dental floss around their fingers. I don’t mind the diminutive size of the pen. When it was the only pen I had, it was also the most comfortable. I can easily switch between it and my M-1000 with no problem. It small and light, perfect for quick note taking, or long writing sessions. In other words, the small size of this pen is neither a benefit nor detraction for me writing with it. It is, however, the only pen I write with posted.
Nib Performance: 7.5/10
After five years of hard use the nib is by far the smoothest of all my pens. But it took five years of daily writing to get to that point. It is an unremarkable nib. It is simple: gold plated steel with very little flex or feedback, but reliable and fairly indestructible. The cap has come off while the pen was in my pocket leaving the nib subjected to all manner of other metal objects, not to mention being smashed against the fabric or my leg as I sit and stand. The nib has come through all of those experiences with nary a scratch. The nib is a medium, and it is a very wet medium. It leaves generous amounts of ink on any surface it touches. A good bonus is that the nib is removable by unscrewing it.
Filling system/Maintenance: 9/10
Just like the rest of this pen the piston filling system is easy to use, trust worthy, and relatively maintenance free. Before I knew much about fountain pens I let this pen go almost 2 years without so much as a flush with tap water. I never had any clogs, difficulties writing, or issues filling. It is very low maintenance. The ink reservoir holds a decent amount of ink for being such a small pen. One gripe I have is the ink viewing window. You basically have to have a light behind the pen to see how much ink remains. It is a small gripe but worth mentioning anyway.
Cost and Value: 8/10
The pen cost me $60 five years ago. It was regularly about $40 more at the store I bought it from. I feel like I got a pretty good deal. If I look at it from a cost per year view point I think the pen is a fantastic deal. Considering the rate at which most people consume ballpoints and rollerballs, they would be hard pressed to spend less than $12 a year on those kinds of pens. Even factoring in a couple bottles of ink there is tremendous value to be had using the M-200 instead of a cheap bic. And that isn’t even taking into account the comfort gained by using a fountain pen for long writing sessions. If I lost my m-200 tomorrow I would immediately buy a new one for full price.
The M-200 is classic, but predictable.
The construction and quality of the M-200 is fantastic. As close to bulletproof as a pen will get, short of wrapping it in Kevlar and putting a ceramic plate inside the filling mechanism.
The weight and dimensions of the pen suit me, but I must write with it posted.
The nib is unremarkable but is one hell of a writer after a 5 year break-in period.
Maintenance on the pen is easy; you don’t have to do any if you don’t want to. The filling mechanism is the standard Pelikan piston.
The value of this pen is fantastic, especially if you can find it on sale.
Edited by jacbowron, 14 May 2011 - 21:20.