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Cheap Pen Shootout

inexpensive cheap pen shootout comparison

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#41 ac12

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 06:43

I just got a Pilot Metropolitan for $13.  How does that measure up to other cheap pens? 

I just received my Pilot Metropolitan today.  It has a Japanese M tip (only available in M tip).

I'm still waiting for my CON-50 converter to be delivered before I really use it.

 

In test writing by dipping the nib into a bottle of ink, the pen writes like a dream.  I am totally blown away by how smooth the pen writes, considering how inexpensive this pen was ($14 at Staples).  It is MUCH smoother than my Parker F tips. But it is a M tip and lays down more ink, so the ink is acting like a lubricate to make the tip flow smoother over the paper.

 

I have small fingers, and I like smaller pens.  The Pilot is just a tad bigger than what I like.  However, it is quite usable, I just need to get used to a larger diameter grip on the pen.

 

The other relatively inexpensive pen that I have on order is a Parker IM.  Available for about $20 + shipping.  That pen got some decent reviews, so I ordered it to use as one of my "office pens."  The Parker IM has the looks of a nice office pen.  Now that I've tested the Pilot Metro, I'm anxious to try the Parker IM and compare the two pens.  I plan to use these two pens in rotation as my "office pens."


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#42 scrivelry

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 03:29

I went out today after reading all this and shopped at Staples to see what I could get.   I picked up a package of the Varsity, and also some Bic Fountain pens.  The Bics were marked medium but seemed a little thinner than the Varsity.  Has anyone else here used them?



#43 GordonH

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 08:50

My fiancee has one of the top end Mont Blanc rollerball pens. It sits in the box and is taken out for special writing occasions as its too expensive to risk losing it. So she writes every day with various cheap "fineliner" type pens.

 

What I like about cheaper pens is you can take them out to work, carry them in your pocket and use them without worrying about the financial loss of losing it or dropping it.

 

I notice there were no Parkers on the list. I recently stopped using an IM after I broke it, but I bought it a couple of years ago for £7 from one of the online suppliers. Its a very nice pen - heavy and writes well. Prior tot hat I had a Platignum which literally fell apart and covered my notes with ink during a meeting (the feed and nip dropped right out). I also have a rather nice German pen which is branded "kangol" - it must have been a promotional item. I bought a bag of 12 of them for about £10 once and gave most of them away. Still have this one left and it writes very well for something that cost so little. It says "Germany" on the nib. I used the Hero pens for a while years ago but they were a bit too fine. £5 for a pack of ten at one point. SIlly money.

 

At them moment I have a Cross ATX as my main pen but using a Kaigelu 316 (Cost about £12 including postage) and a Jinhao 159 (£7) for different colours. The Jinhao is a smoother writer. The Kaigelu suffers from being dry on the first stroke. The Cross is also made in China incidentally.



#44 kb8dnr

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 09:36

ED-converted Preppies are my guilty pleasure. Never had a crack, though one will happen someday, I'm sure. I agree about the ugly printing on the barrel; does anyone know of a good way to remove it? I don't want to just go dipping the pens in random bottles of acetone and whatnot.

 

Try a mildly abrasive polish like simichrome or brasso.



#45 sethk

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 05:12

I went out today after reading all this and shopped at Staples to see what I could get.   I picked up a package of the Varsity, and also some Bic Fountain pens.  The Bics were marked medium but seemed a little thinner than the Varsity.  Has anyone else here used them?

 

I have a couple of Pilot Varsity and Bic fps in my toy chest. I've not put them side by side yet (the Zebra V-301 won my drug store fountain pen shoot-out, without contest, since it offered a thinner and dryer line more suited to my writing style). I'll pit BIC vs. Pilot tomorrow and let you know what I decide.



#46 ac12

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 16:21

I also picked up a Baoer 388 on a curious whim, and I am amazed at how nice it writes.  But like any F tip, the tip on the 388 which I think is an F tip is scratchy with rough paper.  The Baoer 388 does not have the nib size engraved, but it seems to be between a western F and M.  For comparison, the ink line is a tiny bit narrower than that of the M tip of the Pilot Metropolitan.

 

This is making me rethink my office pen strategy.  I am now thinking about using some of the cheap Chinese pens that have a nice classy/office look for my "office pens."  And if something happens to the pen, I will be out less $.


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#47 sethk

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 03:11

I went out today after reading all this and shopped at Staples to see what I could get.   I picked up a package of the Varsity, and also some Bic Fountain pens.  The Bics were marked medium but seemed a little thinner than the Varsity.  Has anyone else here used them?


Here is my head to head of the Pilot and Bic disposables. I also found the Bic to write a bit finer. The Bic also had a bit of line variation as well as more variation between the two Bics I tested. The latter could be a blessing or a quality control issue, depending on your perspective. I found it slightly smoother than the Pilot as well. Overall, they were pretty comparable performance wise. I used two of each pen and all started fine after sitting unused for about 3 months. The Pilot dried up more quickly when left uncapped and also had a faster drying time. Of course this highlights, in part, the fact that we are comparing inks hear as well as pens. Who knows what would happen if you force-fed both of them whit a different ink. Anyway, the Zebra is still my favorite mas market cheapie, though it is a bit harder to find than these to. But, I'd not hesitate to use either the Pilot or the Bic in a pinch. If anyone wants more details or a better photo (or has any further questions), I'd be happy to oblige.

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#48 betsypreston

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 03:26

I love the Pilot Petit.  My $20 range go-to cheap pen is now the Platinum Plaisir.  I think that the pen is nice looking, but that the section and nib aren't as nice looking as the rest of the pen.  I believe they're the same as what's on the Preppy - at least it looks just the same to me.  But the real magic is that they're designed to write after up to a year of non-use - so they don't dry out in my pen cup.  It's fantastic.  I had to give them a dip in water after they sat for about 4 months, but they've sat nearly that long after that and they wrote as if I just sat them down when I got around to using them recently.  Mine don't skip.  And they're super easy to clean.  I found the Metropolitan more difficult to get apart for cleaning, and I managed to pull the nib and feed out - d'oh!  I'm trying to find a good FP for work.  The Plaisir might just fit the bill - relatively inexpensive so I can leave it on my desk, reliable so I can take it to meetings without worrying about a hard start.  And so far no blurpy messes, ever.  I just had a vintage Sheaffer cover me in orange ink at work.  Not cool.



#49 ac12

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 04:12

@Betsy

I started an "office pen" thread, which related to this read in a way, because one of my criteria is LOW cost.

http://www.fountainp...04-office-pens/

 

I understand that vintage pens are "fussy" and probably not to be taken to work. 

By vintage I mean 50+ years old.  My 40 year old Parker 75 still works just fine.

40 years ago, I would not have taken my fathers pen to school for that reason...it was a lever filled sac and it was fussy.


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#50 betsypreston

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 23:19

<digression>

The "vintage" Sheaffer was actually an old/new Sheaffer Imperial / Ranga frankenpen.  The converter and the section were both vintage Sheaffer, and the leak was either a faulty converter or a bad fit between the converter and the section.  Ink leaked out into the acrylic Ranga barrel, then out thru the threads and all over my fingers.   It is a squeeze converter.  I don't like them.  They seem to hold less, or at least a less consistent amount of, ink.  And it's hard to tell how much ink is left.  The Plaisirs seem less likely to leak (although I have been refiling carts and the fit/seal could worsen with reuse) and it's definitely easier to tell how much ink is left.  Plus, those Platinum carts are pretty big, the Plaisirs sip ink, and the no-dry cap also means less evaporated-vanishing ink.

 

Will check out the office pen thread.  Thanks!

</digression>



#51 terim

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 14:53

<digression>

The "vintage" Sheaffer was actually an old/new Sheaffer Imperial / Ranga frankenpen.  The converter and the section were both vintage Sheaffer, and the leak was either a faulty converter or a bad fit between the converter and the section.  Ink leaked out into the acrylic Ranga barrel, then out thru the threads and all over my fingers.   It is a squeeze converter.  I don't like them.  They seem to hold less, or at least a less consistent amount of, ink.  And it's hard to tell how much ink is left.  The Plaisirs seem less likely to leak (although I have been refiling carts and the fit/seal could worsen with reuse) and it's definitely easier to tell how much ink is left.  Plus, those Platinum carts are pretty big, the Plaisirs sip ink, and the no-dry cap also means less evaporated-vanishing ink.

 

Will check out the office pen thread.  Thanks!

</digression>

 

It sounds like we owe you a new converter. Not all the acrylic pens will fit the piston converter, so we ship the ones that don't with a squeeze converter. Future production will all accept the piston converter....

 

Send me a pm and I'll ship you a new converter. Sorry for the mess!

 

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#52 Guimauvaise

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 19:16

I'd like to add a Baoer 100 to the list.  I won it in an eBay auction for $4.35 with free shipping from China, and it's worth every penny.  Very smooth writer that puts down a wet line.  It's heavy but well balanced -- I think the construction is similar to the Pilot Metropolitan in that it seemslike a brass or steel barrel with an outer plastic-y coating.  The chrome cap has subtle pin-striping.  To my knowledge, it comes in only black or soft blue, akin to the soft blue Pilot Prera.


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#53 Scribble Monboddo

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 22:36

OK, beat this - I've found a half-decent pen for 88 pence!  Sample scribbles here: http://scribbledemon...g-pen-2014.html



#54 ac12

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 04:59

Update on the Parker IM.

I retired it from my pool of "office pens."

There were a few issues which may or may not affect you

- The pen is a bit heavy at 30 grams.  Most of my writers are down at 15 grams.

- The pen has a short nib, combined with a mid length grip has me holding the pen partially on the barrel, and at the FATTEST part of the barrel.  It is the diameter of the barrel at that point that is the killer for me.  I do not have a big hand, and fat pens are uncomfortable.

- I ordered a "royal blue" pen.  What arrived was a Purple pen.  I guess purple is what Parker defined as royal blue.  I was expecting a deep rich blue, not purple.

 

The first 2 items weight and size were what killed the IM for me.

 

BTW, I also dropped the Pilot Metro out of the pool, because of the size of the pen where I hold it.  Just a bit too fat to be comfortable.  I have and prefer the smaller 78G.


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#55 maverink

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 13:03

i love the pilot Vpen M nib (varsity lookalike) nothing beats it apart from the flair Inky

i also like camlin/wality pens in India


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#56 GHigley

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 04:24

Thanks to all for their FP cheapie recommendations.  I've a lot of inexpensive Chinese fountain pens from my initial venture into FP's nearly a year ago (beginning with the gift of a Yiren 679 "Bookworm" from a friend - still a cheapie favorite of mine with its Omas "tribute" beautiful looks and excellent ink flow after only a tiny bit of nib tuning.  I bought many Chinese pens in a few short months for very little via eBay most of which I haven't regretted and a very few that I have.  At the price of these pens it's a small gamble to take, but considering that the majority of them tend to be quite decent writers after adjustment, it's one that that I highly recommend for those wanting a variety of interesting pens for a low price and especially those just getting into fountain pens.  I've moved on to buying mostly higher priced pens, but they definitely come at a cost and you can have excellent writers rivaling much more expensive pens if you're willing to put in a bit of work.

 

My general findings: Jinhao pens are usually good.  Baoer pens even more so. Yiren pens are a mixed bunch.  With variable Chinese quality control, you can't count on getting the same quality of pen even pens of the same model. Many nibs on Chinese pens write too dry or wet out of the box.

 

Expect and learn to adjust nibs.  This is a great learning experience for new fountain pen users - at least it was for me, so I'm glad of the Chinese QC issues I encountered when it comes to nibs. I've learned a lot that has benefited me with pens I've bought at all price points. If you screw up a nib on a $4 pen then you've not lost much and if it takes a #6 nib you can easily replace it.  

 

Learn how to smooth/polish your nibs.  Once you know how to adjust nib tines for flow and alignment, you're most of if not all the way to a fine performing yet inexpensive pen.  Get yourself some 12000 grit micromesh and smooth the nib to your desired level.  

 

Supplied converters with cheap pens are generally that - cheap - with some exceptions.  They work OK, but aren't made with fine enough tolerances to keep ink from drying out fairly quickly in the pen.  The all-clear, plastic converters that come in most Chinese pens are fine for those you use very regularly, but not for those that you don't and won't last very long.  The converters with metal parts are generally of higher quality, but vary.  I recommend you buy a small quantity of Schmidt brand or similar international size converters for pens you keep inked but don't use frequently and in readiness for those that fail. 


Edited by GHigley, 11 March 2015 - 04:25.


#57 chandelle

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 04:30

Thanks to all for their FP cheapie recommendations.  I've a lot of inexpensive Chinese fountain pens from my initial venture into FP's nearly a year ago (beginning with the gift of a Yiren 679 "Bookworm" from a friend - still a cheapie favorite of mine with its Omas "tribute" beautiful looks and excellent ink flow after only a tiny bit of nib tuning.  I bought many Chinese pens in a few short months for very little via eBay most of which I haven't regretted and a very few that I have.  At the price of these pens it's a small gamble to take, but considering that the majority of them tend to be quite decent writers after adjustment, it's one that that I highly recommend for those wanting a variety of interesting pens for a low price and especially those just getting into fountain pens.  I've moved on to buying mostly higher priced pens, but they definitely come at a cost and you can have excellent writers rivaling much more expensive pens if you're willing to put in a bit of work.

 

My general findings: Jinhao pens are usually good.  Baoer pens even more so. Yiren pens are a mixed bunch.  With variable Chinese quality control, you can't count on getting the same quality of pen even pens of the same model. Many nibs on Chinese pens write too dry or wet out of the box.

 

Expect and learn to adjust nibs.  This is a great learning experience for new fountain pen users - at least it was for me, so I'm glad of the Chinese QC issues I encountered when it comes to nibs. I've learned a lot that has benefited me with pens I've bought at all price points. If you screw up a nib on a $4 pen then you've not lost much and if it takes a #6 nib you can easily replace it.  

 

Learn how to smooth/polish your nibs.  Once you know how to adjust nib tines for flow and alignment, you're most of if not all the way to a fine performing yet inexpensive pen.  Get yourself some 12000 grit micromesh and smooth the nib to your desired level.  

 

Supplied converters with cheap pens are generally that - cheap - with some exceptions.  They work OK, but aren't made with fine enough tolerances to keep ink from drying out fairly quickly in the pen.  The all-clear, plastic converters that come in most Chinese pens are fine for those you use very regularly, but not for those that you don't and won't last very long.  The converters with metal parts are generally of higher quality, but vary.  I recommend you buy a small quantity of Schmidt brand or similar international size converters for pens you keep inked but don't use frequently and in readiness for those that fail. 

 

Interesting that you don't mention Kaigelu at all. Of all the Chinese pens I have and use (and I have a lot), the Kaigelus stand out as a class apart for their build quality and reliability. Wing Sungs have also surprised me with their reliability.


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#58 GHigley

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Posted 19 June 2015 - 03:05

 

Interesting that you don't mention Kaigelu at all. Of all the Chinese pens I have and use (and I have a lot), the Kaigelus stand out as a class apart for their build quality and reliability. Wing Sungs have also surprised me with their reliability.

I have a couple of Kaigelu 316's (Parker Duofold "tribute") which I like a lot, but they cost more than most "cheap" Chinese pens.  Mine turned into very good writers after a bit of nib adjustment.  They are heavier pens which makes them less of a choice for longer writing sessions, but I love their looks and for around 20 bucks, they are nice pens.  They also take #6 nibs, so you can pop in a JoWo nib for another $15 and have a really great writer.  Thanks for the nudge about Kaigelu pens, Chandelle.  I've yet to try any but the 316.  Has anyone else?


Edited by GHigley, 19 June 2015 - 03:06.






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