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Fountain Pens For Beginners: Twsbi Eco V Lamy Safari V Kaweco Sport


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Hey there! I am looking to buy my first fountain and I am looking at these three options. However, I do not know which is best for me. I am a student in high school that will take notes, and will be ordering from either jetpens or amazon. Also, should I buy two fountain pens?


p.s. feel free to add other suggestions for a first fountain pen

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current production pens:

  • Parker IM (comes with M nib, you can send the pen to Parker to swap for a F nib, but MUST be within 28 days of purchase). The IM being all metal is a bit heavy for me.
  • Pilot Metropolitan (only available with a F or M nib, the Pilot nibs are narrower than western brands)
  • Rossetta Explorer (only available with a M nib)

used/out of production pens

  • Parker 45 (nib size run similar to the Japanese nibs, narrower than current western nibs)

ALWAYS have a backup pen/pencil to switch to when the fountain pen stops writing, for whatever reason. I college, I carried 2 Parker 45s; primary and backup/spare.


If you use bottle ink, make it a practice to refill the pen after you finish your homework, that way you start the day with a full load of ink. In the case of the Eco, if you KNOW it will last x number of day, you can wait. And with the clear body, you can see when you are running low on ink.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California


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For me these pens fall into three different categories. The Kaweco Sport is a very small pen that is handy to keep in a pocket or purse but its small size makes it less practical for extended writing. The Safari is a bullet-proof pen that is very good for people who want to be able to try other nib sizes easily. TWSBI is a fine pen and a bit higher tech looking. My favorite inexpensive pen is the Pilot metropolitan-- very good writing nib and durable.


Do you know what nib size you will prefer?

"It's funny; in this era of email and voice mail and all those things that I did not even grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy."  Elizabeth Kostova





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In terms of nib size, I think I prefer either a extra fine or fine. I read that western/non-Japanese companies have different/bigger nib sizes than Japanese nibs. For example, a extra fine on a TWSBI is bigger than a nib on a Pilot.

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I cast a third vote for a Pilot Metropolitan. You say you like fine nibs. The Metro comes in M & F nib sizes. if you have a chance, I would test out both. Of course everyone's experience is different. I find the Metro in F is too dry but the Metro in M is just about right. Perhaps for you the F will be in your comfort zone.


The Metro is built like a tank and should endure moderately rough handling (as long as it's capped). The Kaweco is a nice pen too and a smooth writer. I believe it only comes in one medium nib size. But because it's made of plastic it will have a tendency to crack or break if it's dropped by accident. Mine writes nicely and I haven't dropped it in 2 years (yet) but I don't think it would survive a drop on a hard surface floor.


If you can afford 2 pens I'd recommend the Metro as your primary and the Kaweco as your back up pen.

Edited by Maurizio

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Well, first fountain pen and it need to do your daily work at school, OK, its just my two cents here : Kaweco Sport - nice to have but its too limited and won't serve you well in extended time doing note-taking etc ..... ; TWSBI Eco , as a pen its nice to have but again its very nature mean its not always the best for knocking around daily use, upkeep of that pristine clear barrel could drive someone crazy ..... ; Lamy Safari - OK this one is OK for a starter and likely can endure your schoolwork. so long you can get along with its grip which is some sort of either you can or you cannot work with it type. Stick with the non glossy finish variant likely will save on upkeep. But Lamy is not known to deliver good Fine / Extra Fine ... you want fine and extra fine, look for Asian pens instead, they generally are better at that.


MY suggestion otherwise : Platinum Balance , Pilot Prera , Pilot Cavalier , Sailor Young Profit , Wing Sung 698 ( non clear version ) EF , Pelikan Stola III , Cross Bailey ..... these are some I've found on Amazon that fit the price range roughly

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Thanks for the replies! I think I want the pilot metropolitan, now. However, should I go with the converter or cartridge? And how much does a pilot c20 converter hold?

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I've got two Lamy Al-Stars , factory with EF and F. Both are butter smooth. Have an ECO, but stub nib.


For your user, the Lamy. I work at a school, bus driver maintenance man. I carry my Lamy's. Good knock around pen. I use the converter, but it takes carts for easy swap. I recommend the Lamy.

Peace and Understanding

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Hi RU,


Of the three you mention; I'd go with a Safari... of the umpteenth other pens available you didn't mention... I'd go with a Safari. ;)


Yes, you should have a second back-up pen; if for no other reason than to have a pen available while your Safari is taking its bi-monthly bath.


You should flush the section under a running Luke warm tap to get the bulk of the ink out; then soak the nib section overnight to loosen the caked on ink; run it under the tap again and "wick" the nib with a Kleenex until the water is clear, (you can also use an ear bulb syringe instead of the running tap). Give it a good flush every couple of months. :)


- Anthony

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Thanks for the replies! I think I want the pilot metropolitan, now. However, should I go with the converter or cartridge? And how much does a pilot c20 converter hold?


Metro cartridges hold considerably more than the converters, and the CON-20 stinks, in my opinion, in that you have no clue how much ink is left in it. Better to get a CON-50 converter instead. I'm not sure what they hold - the page I used to use for this information appears to have died. :( A video posted recently shows that you can refill and reseal the Pilot cartridges, as long as you keep the little disk when you clean it out. I think if I were going to use one for school, I'd probably do that using bottled ink.


Personally, I'd go with an EF Eco, but I seem to be in the minority. Lamy would be my second choice. Pilot Kakuno my third as it has the same nib as the Metro, but can use the CON-70 which holds a lot more ink...

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I'm with LizEF on this one. I love my Eco EF. The piston filler means that you never have to worry about running out of ink, it is reliable and tough, it doesn't have the irritating Lamy section, and you can hypnotize yourself with fun ink sloshy sloshy when you're bored.


I personally don't like Metropolitans, I'm a Prera girl (they have the same nib and a glorious nib it is), but I've always wanted to try a Kakuno. I also have 4 Kawecos. Since I like pens that aren't back heavy, I don't have a problem with them for long writing sessions. Those little suckers are tough and would not flinch at being thrown around in a backpack. The biggest problem with them is that the only decent converter is very small. For notes you're probably stuck eyedroppering or using cartridges.


So I'd go with the Eco first and the Kaweco and a Pilot Metro/Prera/Kakuno tied for second. I personally loathe the Lamy section, but I know that lots of other people like it. YMMV.

Yet another Sarah.

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Thanks for the replies! I think I want the pilot metropolitan, now. However, should I go with the converter or cartridge? And how much does a pilot c20 converter hold?

Hi RU,


Sorry, in the midst of responses, I missed this. :(


The Pilot Metropolitan is a solid choice, (although I personally find the grip uncomfortable, it has a short grip section and a sharp step-down, but i have large hands with long fingers) - but if thats not an issue for you, get two. :)



- Anthony


PS: If LizEF didn't already mention it above; upgrade to the CON50 converter, it's better than the 20. :)

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Faber Castell Loom, because they have smoothest nibs among all pens priced upto 50$

Edited by voltron
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The Pilot MR is nice but the section is a bit thin for my tastes. I prefer the Lamy Al Star in its place. I also have two ECO's a F and a 1.1 Stub. The ECO's can be good pens as well and hold a good amount of ink. I also found the Pilot MR and Al-Star dry out faster then the ECO. If you are using everyday that should not be a problem. The MR at ~$13 is cheep enough to try and see if you like it yourself. The Lamy or ECO will run you about $30. For the ECO I would buy from Goulette or Direct from TWSBI not Amazon. On that pen you will still pay shipping and it will come from TWSBI and add at least a day or two in getting it over going direct.


On the Pilot MR or Lamy Safari refilling cartridges will give you the max amount of ink.

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I would add a vote for he Pilot Metropolitan if you don't mind a pen with a little heft, or a Pilot Prera if you would enjoy a short, lightweight pen.


The Kaweco Sport looks cute, but the incidence of nib problems is significant, as a search for "Kaweco nib problems" on this forum will show you. I can't count the number of times I have reflected that if my first pen had been the Sport, I would never have become a habitual user of fountain pens.

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Eco is a good choice. Metropolitan is a good choice (get CON-50). I would add to your consideration, as someone suggested, the Faber-Castell Loom or Basic.. Platinum Plaisir would be one more good choice. My personal opinion would be the Eco or the Loom, but millions of Metropolitan users can't be wrong.

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Of the 3 pens you mention I will go with the Lamy Safari.Well made pen with different nibs to chose from ,cartridges are easy to find.They are many other pens that can be usefull but aren't in your list for some reason.

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For a beginner, and a student beginner especially, the largest consideration is price. I have had all the pens mentioned (except the Al-Star and the Loom, but have borrowed both multiple times from friends) and they are all good pens. Even the Petit1 is a good pen! For "credentials", I have convinced more than two dozen people the past year to buy their first fountain pen. As far as I know they all still use the pens. Hashtag penvangelism.


My default answer to people who want to buy their first pen is the Pilot Metropolitan. Why? A lot of people (especially at my age; '90s kid) are used to ballpoints and gel pens. I know exactly one person in my life who uses a rollerball pen. This means most people are used to thin line widths which, in my experience, only the Pilot Metropolitan <F> can offer. I've used the EF nib of Lamy and TWSBI and both are demonstrably thicker than a Pilot Fine.


The logic behind suggesting a pen within the prospective convert's comfort zone is that you don't just want to suggest a good pen to someone, you want the person to keep using that pen and abandoning the use of non-fountain pens. Easing them into it helps.


Back to price. In my country, a Safari is three times more expensive than a Metro. The Safari does not come with a converter. Even if you want to switch to a Con-50 or Con-40, the Safari is still more than twice as expensive—I hate it). In my country as well, the Eco (about $40.00 here) is two dollars away from being four times as expensive as a Metro. This is a huge difference because even if we "sell" fountain pens as being built to last, most first-time buyers are perfectly fine using a $1 Pilot G-tec. They absolutely love the G-tec. A Metropolitan is fifteen G-tecs. To stretch the comparison a bit, a Porsche 911 is just five Toyota Corollas. :lol:


A super budget pen would be a Preppy, a Petit1, or a V-Pen. The cap of the Preppy breaks with regular cautious use and a Petit1's clip will break-off. A V-Pen is too cumbersome to refill unless you have one where the feed can be pulled-off (mine can't, even with pliers).


Now, why would you not buy a Pilot Metropolitan? Besides an uncommon problem of some people reporting that it ejects ink into the cap for no reason, the most obvious are the large step and the design. For quite some time, I didn't get a Metropolitan because the design didn't speak to me. They wrote well enough but not well enough for me to get over the weird middle band. I just couldn't understand why the background of the middle band was different in shade to the the rest of the pen (in MR1), and later on the animal bands just horrified me (in MR2). Eventually I got used to the design and I have three of them right now (I've owned five in total). Then there's the step. From all the pens mentioned this has the largest step. I understand why the step is there but I still prefer a pen that is streamline uncapped versus a pen that is streamline while capped. I look at pens when they are ready to use, not when they are to be kept in storage. I have since been able to modify my grip when using this and similar pens such that they are no more uncomfortable than other pens (my fingers sort of cling to the ledge of the step).

Now, why would you get a Safari instead? While the nib width and quality control is a bit of a lottery and the inner cap does tend to break down, both problems are easily dealt with. The biggest draws for me is the easy exchange-ability of nibs matched only by Kaweco among current pens. Of course, depending on the market a Lamy nib costs more than a Metro... The section/grip of the Safari is also talked about a lot. It really depends on your grip and it's important that you be able to borrow a pen first before you buy it. There are also people who buy the pen after trying it in the store and then sell it a week later because it's too big or too heavy but these are unusual people. :lticaptd: For me, the Safari is easier to hold than a Metro even if I don't hold pens the way Lamy wants me too (only one of my fingers is "where it's supposed to be").


Why don't you get an Eco? The grip is the easiest to use and the capacity will not leave you wanting. To me, the largest barrier is again the price. You must be a great fan of the demonstrator look and the piston capacity if you want this pen where I live. I see that in the US it is the same price as a Safari so that is not a consideration for you, of course. I do like the screw cap (I wish all pens were screw caps) but if you post your pens this has the worst posting experience among all of the pens mentioned. I'm sure it's secure but it doesn't inspire you about its security. I also think it looks the worse among all the pens. I actually like how the Preppy looks more than an Eco. The all clear version looks really greats though, up until you ink it and ink inevitable gets on and behind the inner cap...


The Eco performs at a comparable rate to the Safari (again, I think they all write well albeit slightly differently) and it may come down to personal preferences. Do you value nib-swapping more than a piston's capacity? Do you prefer a screw cap to a snap cap? If you want to experiment with unusual inks you may be better off staying away from the Eco. There's too much worrying involved in keeping the barrel pristine.


Is anyone still reading?


Alright, a Kaweco Sport is alright and I really like the look. Besides the possibility of a poor nib (happens to all manufacturers anyway), you have to be open to dealing with unavoidable barrel wear. Unavoidable! You also need to post the pen to write with it. Another thing is that if you want to use cartridges on a transparent Kaweco you should know beforehand that it looks pretty lame. A lot of people complain about proprietary cartridges and there was a recent post here about someone making a permanent international cartridge; Kaweco needs to make a proprietary cartridge that fills the length of the Kaweco barrel. Short international cartridges look terrible! :wallbash:


A Loom is great and I really want to buy one save for two worries. First, the cap looks really bad and there is something off in the way it clicks shut. It is the pit of cap-shutting feel, at the opposite end of the Prera. Another is that it there is a risk of parts incompatibility. It's standard international but not all cartridges and converters work on it. A friend bought a Faber-Castell converter from the same store and it didn't fit.. :glare:


The Prera is great but do you want to pay that much more for a the same writing end as a Metropolitan. You also need to post the pen to be able to write with it. If you're Kawhi Leonard don't even consider it.


For the less mentioned pens a Parker IM I think is the most expensive mentioned here. I have one. The clear coat has come off in spots and it's very ugly because of it. I think it's a good review pen because it's so easy to clean even if you can't remove the nib or the section. I would not recommend it. It's a $10 value to me. I also have a Parker 45 and it's good, smooth, and easy to disassemble. I think it's also the one with the most "character" among all the pens. I would caution you as to nib width though. I bought an NOS "45" that had a fine nib and wrote as thick as my Medium Safari. Very smooth writer but it needs an IG ink to be at a width I can use with. Otherwise I can only use it to underline my readings.

Hero #232 Blue-Black is my Waterman Florida Blue.


Your Kilometrage May Vary (#ykmv), a Philippine blawg about ink and fountain pens.

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I've owned the Kaweco Sport (and the AC Sport) as well as the Lamy Safari (which was my first pen), a TWSBI 580 AL and Vac Mini (not exactly the Eco, which my brother has though) and the Jinhao X750 and 159. I haven't owned the Pilot Metropolitan, but in my opinion I think it's based on how you are using it or your personal preferences.


Being a student, are you the type that has lots of classes back to back? If so, how much notes do you write? Or if it's not just notes, how much do you write in a day? In terms of ink capacity I think the TWSBI Eco would fit you more as it is a Piston Filler. Piston fillers usually don't come at this price range, and it's a very good price for what you get.


If you only write short amounts of notes a day, and you want to carry something small, or you want something small but don't mind carrying cartridges (for extra ink) or want to use cartridges instead of a converter, then the Kaweco would be great. The pen is a small nifty pen. I love it a lot for carrying around. Unfortunately because it doesn't have a built in clip, I hesitate to clip the pen to myself (you can buy a clip separately) as I'm afraid the clip will slide off the pen, causing me to lose it. So this might be something to consider as well. You'll also have to buy the converter separately.


The Jinhao's are great cause you can buy lots of them for an extremely cheap price (probably like 5 - 8 for the price of one Safari). This allows you to try out different sizes and styles of pens. They are made of brass though, so they tend to be on the heavier side, so that's something to consider (but also more solid I suppose!). Also, to note is that the pens come with converters. Many members have stated buying one of these just for the converter (it's $3.5 for the whole pen), cause they are unsure if the pen is any good, but even if it sucked, they'd still get a converter for cheaper or the same price if you just bought a converter on its own. I have to admit though, they are pretty good writers.


The Lamy Safari is a great pen. Not being too biased, as I don't use it at all anymore. But the clip is big, and easy to put in your pocket (and slide in). The pen is well designed and comfortable to hold and use. The only thing you'll have to deal with is that the pen has cutoffs that are slanted for a specific grip. You might want to look into that and see if it'll bother you. Otherwise the pen is really great! The pen is made of plastic, so it's a lot lighter and you don't worry too much about scratching an expensive pen from daily use. It's also great because I learned how damaging it could be to put certain things in my pocket (my pen was so scratched). I still carry a pen in my pocket now, but I've learned to change my habits to things that won't damage my pen (and also carry a bulletproof pen that won't get scratched :P)


As for the Pilot Metropolitan, I've read lots of good things about it. If you want more class, the Metropolitan is the way to go. It looks great and looks much more expensive then it actually is. But I have a feeling that anyone who knows something about Fountain pens would know instantly that it's not as expensive as it looks. Because the pen looks nice, it'll probably teach you to take care of your pen better too (so if you get something like a Montblanc later you won't be messing up :P).


Every choice is a good one! So make your pick, and enjoy!


Looking forward to hearing what choice you made! Or if you made multiple ones (I know that's what I ended up doing once I got to mid-tier pens!)


[Edit]: Just saw antichressis' post and I remembered as well, he is right in that Kaweco has some nib issues. My second Kaweco Sport Classic didn't start very well. It had a problem called Baby's Bottom. That being said, they should be able to exchange the nib for you, and if you are purchasing in store, you can test the pen before walking out with your goods. This will make sure you don't get a faulty nib. My first one (the AC Sport) turned out to write perfectly with no issues however.

Edited by asegier
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That said, Pilot Metropolitan <M> sometimes have a tendency to skip when you first write with them. The problem miraculously goes away after a short while. I don't know if it is baby's bottom because I haven't gotten around to getting a loupe. I have bought and handled a few used Metropolitans and none have skipped.


I do like Chinese pens because they're so cheap. Definitely good writers when you find them (I have bought probably 30+ already this year, some for myself, most to be PIF-ed or sold and get people into Chinese pens). There are a few concerns for me if it's someone getting their first few pens. First, there will be lemons even if you buy from the "reputable sellers" we mention here often. Even if they all write and are in good condition, some write better than other. I once bought a lot of 10 pens. 7 wrote well but 3 wrote incredibly incredibly well. Returning them or contacting the vendor will be a pain.


Another thing is consistency. eBay sellers would actually indicate if a Chinese pen was "M" and in some cases even put nib width "0.5" which is what I think a lot of pen users here (me included) wished pen manufacturers would do to standardize how thick pens are. But these listings aren't always true. A "0.5" actually doesn't mean "0.5". :huh: In fact I found a listing last night in Taobao where the seller had a table that "0.38" is actually 0.38 to 0.6 and "0.5" is actually 0.4-0.8 or something like that. :headsmack:

Hero #232 Blue-Black is my Waterman Florida Blue.


Your Kilometrage May Vary (#ykmv), a Philippine blawg about ink and fountain pens.

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