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Pen Pit Stop : Pelikan M400 Tortoiseshell Brown (2016)


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Pen Pit Stop : Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell Brown (2016)


Welcome to the Pen Pit Stop. Here you will find reviews of pens that already have some mileage on them. More specifically, these reviews are of pens that are in my personal collection, and that have been in use for at least a year. I thought it would be fun to do it this way – no new & shiny pens here, but battered vehicles that have been put to work for at least a year. Let’s find out how they have withstood the ravages of time.



The fountain pen that enters the pit stop today is the “Pelikan M400 Tortoiseshell Brown”, a limited edition pen released in 2016. Pelikan is one of the best-known European pen-makers, with a long history dating all the way back to 1832 when the company was founded in Hanover, Germany. The brand offers both semi-entry-level pens (like the M200 series) all the way up to their flagship M1000 model. All Pelikan pens adhere to the same classical style, and as such are immediately recognizable. 


I bought this pen in July 2017. The pen has a stylish business-elegance, with a beautiful orange & brown tortoiseshell pattern that makes it a real eye-catcher. It’s usually paired with a nice brown ink.



Pen Look & Feel

The M400 Tortoiseshell Brown is a beautiful pen. Pelikan really nailed it with the gorgeous orange & brown tortoiseshell pattern. Everything in the design is just right, and arranged to complement this lovely barrel. The cap, section and piston nob are from a really dark-brown resin, accentuating the brown stripes in the tortoiseshell body. The clip and trimmings are done in gold, that fits very well with the orange tones in the barrel. A 2-toned 14ct gold nib completes the design. All these choices add up to a stunning end-result… this is a pen to enjoy!



The tortoiseshell barrel is semi-transparent, making it easy to keep an eye on the ink-level in the pen.  I replaced the original F-nib on this pen with an F cursive-italic that I got from fpnibs.com. This nib is a dream to write with, adding some very nice line variation. It definitely enhances the writing pleasure I get from this pen. 



Like all Pelikans, the cap unscrews with about three quarters rotation, so it’s quickly ready for action. The M400/405 is a smaller pen, but posts easily and securely, giving it a substantial size that is very comfortable to write with, even if you have larger hands. I’ve got smaller hands myself, and typically use the pen unposted. For me, this M400 is just the right size and weight (i.e. featherweight). 







The pictures above illustrate the size of the M400 Tortoiseshell Brown in comparison with a standard Lamy Safari. The pen is definitely smaller than a Lamy, but still reasonable in size – not so small that’s uncomfortable (and if you find it too small uncapped, you can simply post it). 

Pen Characteristics

  • Build Quality :  build quality is excellent. The pen looks really polished and refined. The pen also withstands the passing of time without any problem. After four years of use, it looks good as new. The barrel is semi-transparent, making it easy to judge ink level.
  • Weight & Dimensions : about 125 mm when capped – and as such a rather small pen. It’s also definitely a featherweight. If you prefer pens with some heft to them, the M400/405 model will not be your thing.  Posted – the pen becomes about 150 mm long, and fits even larger hands.
  • Filling System : this is a piston-filler, that holds quite some ink. The piston is made from plastic, but works really well. Pelikan are known for their excellent piston mechanism.
  • Nib & Performance : the M400/405 Souverän pens have gold nibs. This one comes with a 2-toned 14ct gold nib, that really suits the aesthetics of the pen. The nib unit can be exchanged quite easily, and is compatible between the M120/M200/M400/M101N models. Being able to change nibs is a significant plus in my book! 
  • Price : 325 EUR at the time, including taxes. Not cheap, but also not too expensive for a gold-nibbed stunning-looking pen. In my opinion you get great value for money. 



My Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell Brown is a beautiful classic-looking pen, that is a real eye-catcher with its orange & brown tortoiseshell barrel. A pen to enjoy, and a writer’s dream with the nice cursive-italic nib that I added. It is one of the treasures in my pen collection, and I’m so glad I bought it!


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  • langere


  • Frank C


  • Uncial


  • namrehsnoom


Nice review of a great pen. I appreciate the fact that this pen has a few miles on it. All too often, someone posts, I just got a new whatever, and I love it. Only time, and a few fills of ink, will allow an owner to understand a pen thoroughly. I bought one of these when they came out; I have never used it, though. I was admiring the pen just the other day. I have a few Pelikans; my M800s get most of my attention. I also really like the M101N. Even though it's small, it's a great writer. I just checked, the M101N and the M400 are just about the same size. 


I guess that I need to break out some brown ink and give the M400 some attention. 

"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel

I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

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Beautiful photos!  I think this pen, in this color, actually looks better with a few miles on it.  I have one as well and have enjoyed it.  You are inspiring me to take it out again and use it!


Thanks for the review and thanks for the concept -




Using right now:

Parker 51 "F" nib runing PR Tanzanite

Narwhal Nautilus "F" nib running Montblanc Racing Green 

Edison Comet "F" nib running Leonardo Officina Italiana Blue

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I was lucky enough to get one last November. I have mine inked with Diamine Macassar and, co-incidentally enough, used it the last two nights at work. One guest noticed it and said, "wow that's a really nice pen!" 

It's hard work to tell which is Old Harry when everybody's got boots on.

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I had assumed mine was a 2016 torty but it has an old style nib. Was there another 400 before the 2016 release?

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17 hours ago, Uncial said:

I had assumed mine was a 2016 torty but it has an old style nib. Was there another 400 before the 2016 release?

according to the Perch, there was another M400 brown tortoise in the 1990’s


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That's odd, as mine is a monotone nib which he states is pre 1997 for this model. Can it really be that old? The nib is bouncy and expressive, moreso than the m101n nibs. From the pictures on the PP page the 400 looks to be similar to the 800 release which i call the 'porcupine' appearance. The 400 torty I have isn't that style.

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That was a great review, concise and to the point. I think all pen reviews in the world should follow your example by putting it next to a Lamy Safari. It is a good “control” to compare all Fountain pen sizes to. Another good control would be a Bic biro or Parker Jotter, as pretty much everyone in the world knows their size. Thanks so much, what a lovely pen!

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