– Handwritten Review –
- Description: The aluminum cousin of the Lamy Safari
- Nib: Steel nib, Fine, interchangeable
- Material: Aluminum body with plastic triangular grip
- Filling Mechanism: Proprietary cartridge/converter system
- Weight: ~22 grams filled (Cap – 10g, Body – 12g)
- Measurements: 6.1″ closed, 6.7″ posted, 5.2″ unposted, 0.5″ diameter
- Ink Capactiy: ~1ml
- Price: $50.00 US on Amazon (affiliate link)
Handwritten Review Scans:
The Lamy AL-Star (not this matte black one I’m writing the review with) was the second fountain pen I had ever purchased. It’s surprising that it’s taken me this one to review one. The AL-Star is nearly identical to the Lamy Safari, except it’s made from aluminum. I’m definitely a huge fan of the pen (I have three of them…) so enjoy the review!
Appearance & Packaging:
If you’re familiar with the looks and packaging of the Safari, you’re not going to be very surprised here. The AL-Star looks the same, but is ever so slightly wider in diameter than its plastic counterpart. It also has the love-it-or-hate-it signature Lamy triangular grip. Being right handed with a normal tripod grip, I find the pen to be very comfortable.
The difference between the Safari grip and the AL-Star grip is that instead of matching the body, all of the AL-Stars have a smoky transparent grey plastic grip, regardless of the color of the pen. I think the dark plastic looks great in pretty much every body combination (the sandy metallic tan doesn’t look so great in my opinion). I absolutely love the modern design that Lamy employs throughout their entire product line, and the AL-Star is no exception.
Nib Performance & Filling System:
The AL-Star takes Lamy’s proprietary cartridge/converter system. For the price range ($37.00), it makes sense for the pen to have a C/C system. I’ve said it in other pen reviews, I really don’t mind the C/C system because it allows me to change inks more frequently. The AL-Star has an oval-shaped window in the body that allows you to see how much ink is left in the pen as well.
The AL-Star takes the interchangeable steel nibs that are seen across most of Lamy’s product line. They can be hit or miss, but they’re really easy to swap out. The steel nibs aren’t bad writers at all, and are definitely in the middle of the road in terms of smoothness and flow. I like the interchangeable system, because it allows you to try new nib widths with a relatively low barrier to entry, and makes the pen very versatile as well. I found Lamy’s nib system to be hugely helpful in the beginning of my fountain pen journey. It really helped me to dial in my nib preferences without spending big money on a pen with a nib I may not be crazy about.
The Lamy AL-Star definitely has a more premium feel than the Safari. It’s slightly heavier too. The aluminum has a nice tactile feel, and it’s nice to pick up something that’s cool to the touch (at least in the winter it is…) that warms up in your hand. The fit and finish of the AL-Star is also top notch. I used to write with my Safaris and AL-Stars posted, but lately I’ve been doing so with the cap off. The pen is definitely a bit long at 6.7″ posted, but it’s not horribly off balance should you decide to post while writing.
The AL-Star also has the triangular grip section as seen on the Safari. I personally find it to be comfortable, but others with non-standard grips may find it to be unbearable. The grip does enforce proper grip, and the nib is always going to be lined up properly with the page when you’re using the grip. Again, this helped me out quite a bit in the beginning of my fountain pen days. The feel of the body is nice, but the aluminum is not quite as durable as the Safari. The finish is definitely prone to showing wear, and I’ve heard stories of people denting the body of their AL-Star with abuse. I don’t mind when pens show wear, but if you baby the pen, I’m sure it will hold up just fine.
- Great design
- Swappable nibs
- Affordable price range
- Premium feel over the Safari
- The grip isn’t for everyone
- Aluminum construction doesn’t mean better durability
I love my Lamys quite a bit, so I may be slightly biased. The AL-Star is a winner in my book. Swappable nibs make the pen very versatile. The minimalistic design and clean aesthetics really resonate with me as well. The triangular grip may not be for everyone, but it can really help out beginners develop a proper fountain pen grip. I have around 6 Safaris and 3 AL-Stars, and I’m definitely going to continue to add them to my collection. I would definitely recommend this pen to anyone.
16 thoughts on “Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen Review”
You have a very nice review here. I love my All Star B. Flow is excelllent/juicy. The EF nib is scratchy. That’s the way of FPs. What I really appreciate is your explanation of the grip. It works for me, too. That’s b/c I hold my pencils/pens correctly. There are so many people who do not hold their pens correctly…so the Lamy grip doesn’t work for them. So now the question is: is there only one way to hold a pen? Answer: no.
Thanks! It’s tough, because everyone has different grips, and it also comes down to personal preference.
I have a blue AL-Star, and I like it, too. The grip makes me hold the pen the right way, but I do find myself getting hand fatigue pretty quickly. I agree with you about the finish being damaged easily. Mine has a scratch on it, and man, did that scratch give me pain when it happened (even though you have to be looking for it to see it).
The blue one looks awesome! My brown one is all sorts of banged up, but I just throw it in my bag or pocket without really worrying. The first scratch is always the worst!
I have a very non-standard grip on my pen. I am reluctant to purchase another AL Star or Safari due to some very bad leaking issues I have with one of my Safari’s but, I have been really wanting one of the Vista’s. Each time I see a picture like Ed’s, with some colored ink it makes me want one more.
Interesting! I suspect it may have been a fluke, or a hairline crack somewhere in the grip. It’s possible that the converter wasn’t seated all the way in the pen either. I have a bunch of Safaris and AL-Stars that usually live in my pocket or get thrown into a bag, and I’ve never had a problem with leakage. The Vista is definitely a cool pen, I just inked mine up with highlighter green and it’s great.
Well, Ed, you convinced me to put a Vista on my next Jetpens order. That green looks GREAT!
I’m really enjoying it, but it’s not that practical for me haha. It’s too light to write with, and I don’t use a highlighter much, but it’s fun to stare at.
I have 2 Lamys, one Al-Star with medium nib and just purchased Lamy Vista with fine nib. Using Waterman ink in both and loving them.
Nice, both great pens!
Ed, do you have any recommendations on nib size? I just bought an AL-Star – my first fountain pen since I was in school! – and I’m finding the medium nib it came with to be quite a lot wider than what I’m used to writing with. I’m still using the cartridge that came with the pen, so I don’t know if the ink is a contributor too, as it seems very watery. I’m happy to pick up another nib, but I don’t know if fine or extra fine would be the way to go. From pictures I’ve seen, the fine doesn’t look *that* dissimilar from the medium.
I would definitely try the extra fine then. It may be a bit more toothy than the medium or the fine, but it should be better suited for your writing. What kind of paper are you using? I’d recommend Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black – it’s expensive but it writes on all types of paper with no feathering or bleeding. Try the EF nib first, I’d suggest some Rhodia or Clairefontaine paper after that, then the ink. Let me know if it works out / if you need any more help!
I’m using Rhodia paper, which I’m generally really happy with. I’ll definitely get an EF nib to try out, then. I’ve also ordered a couple of different ink samples, including some Noodlers and Iroshizuku. Thanks for the advice!
Not a problem! I hope it works out for you, I’m sure you’ll be much happier with the EF. Sounds like you have everything else covered.
Just a quick update – I’ve now tried both an EF nib and a bunch of different inks. EF definitely suits my writing style better, and the new inks (Kon-Peki, 54th Massechusetts, Apache Sunset) look much better on my Rhodia paper. Really not impressed with the standard Lamy blue! Might try picking up some Diamine inks next.