Top 7 Beginner Fountain Pens
Fountain pens are not only a great hobby, but they make a mundane task (writing things down) much more fun. I’ve put together 8 Reasons Why You Should Write With A Fountain Pen, and now here’s a few great ways to get started. I’ve been writing with fountain pens for about 5 years now, using everything ranging from a $4 Platinum Preppy to a multi-thousand dollar Omas. I’ve purchased, tested, sold, and researched TONS of different pens over the course of running this site. I’ve compiled a list of the 7 best fountain pens under $25 that I have used. These pens are not strictly for beginners, as each of them are very capable writing instruments!
This is the pen that got me started on the road to fountain pen obsession. It’s modern looking, yet has been around long enough to be considered a classic. Some may not like the triangular grip, but it really helps out beginners understand how to hold the pen properly. There’s an ink view window and an included cartridge, but you can pick up a converter for another $4 or so to use any bottled ink you want. The best part about the Safari is that the nibs can be easily swapped out for around 10 bucks, helping beginners to find their preference.
($19 – BUY)
When pocket friendly-ness is a must, the Kaweco Sport is always mentioned. When I got my first Sport, I was shocked at how small it was at first glance. It looks uncomfortable at first, but post the cap and you will immediately be surprised at how well it feels and writes. The nibs are good out of the box and I’ve never had one leak, even after being bounced around in my pocket.
($24 – BUY)
Sailor Clear Candy
Sailor is typically known for their high-end fountain pens. The brand has a long history in the category and their craftsmanship and nibs are great. They’ve managed to carry over some of these high quality characteristics into their budget fountain pen, the Clear Candy. Available in a ton of colors, the Clear Candy writes as well as any other steel nib, all for $16.50. The body is light and the star on the top adds some fun design flair. Not the most serious pen out there, but it’s a solid writer and there are a ton of color/nib options.
($16.50 – BUY)
Regarded by many as the best deal in fountain pens, the Pilot Metropolitan stands out from the pack. This excellent writer is only $13.25 and includes a converter for bottled ink use. The body is constructed of metal and the Japanese nibs glide across the page effortlessly. Available in several colors and patterns, there really is a Metropolitan for everyone. Even though the pen is priced cheaply, it makes a great gift for fountain pen enthusiasts new and old. Personally, I’d much rather throw a Metro into my pocket than my Mont Blanc, especially during travel.
($13.25 – BUY)
Pilot Varsity Disposable
Another pen by Pilot has made the list – the disposable Varsity. At $8.50 for a pack of three, these are great to keep on hand to let curious onlookers try out. Fountain pens do tend to draw attention, and nothing is worse than when someone asks to borrow a pen while you’re writing with your beloved Nakaya. The Varsity by Pilot is a great way to get others interested in fountain pens. Although they’re not the fanciest, they still write quite well for being under $3 each.
($8.50 for 3 – BUY)
The Platinum Preppy is one of the first fountain pens that gets mentioned for beginners. It’s extremely affordable at $4.45, but writes and feels like something that costs more. The stainless steel nib is smooth and the flow is right where it should be. The Preppy includes Platinums “slip seal” cap mechanism, which ensures that the pen will not dry out, even if left unused for a full year. Grab a few pens in different colors to feel out your preference!
($4.45 – BUY)
Out of the bunch, this pen is the most classically designed example. Black lacquer over brass, a brushed gold metal grip, and the classic Parker arrow clip result in a pen that looks as great on a desk as any other. The pen is hefty, comfortable, and a smooth writer. The nib on my particular pen wrote a bit narrower than a medium, but that helps on lower quality paper. For just under $25, the Parker IM definitely deserves a little bit more attention than it gets!
($25 – BUY)
Is anything missing from my list? Let me know your favorite budget fountain pen in the comments below!
41 thoughts on “Top 7 Beginner Fountain Pens Under $25”
Sooo… are you saying you’re willing to sell that Griso Grey Lamy Safari for under $25??? 🙂
Great list, I’ve also heard people speak fondly (though I have no first hand experience) of the Nemosine fountain pens that also come in some cool nib options for under $20.
I do have first-hand, generally very positive, experience with the Jinhao X750 that Goulet sells. Definitely doesn’t feel like a high pen but it’s pretty solid and the nib writes surprisingly well.
Also, this doesn’t technically qualify as under $25 once you add a decent nib, but I have been using my Noodler’s Ahab ($20) with a Goulet broad nib (unfortunately another $15) and really enjoy it. I generally like broad nibs but sometimes the feeds on less expensive pens have a tough time keeping up, the feed on the Ahab keeps up like a champ with the broad nib since the it is meant to keep up with flex. The Ahabs certainly have their warts, but the one I have has been great and I would bet you can find cheaper #6 nib options to pair it with.
Haha, unfortunately not!
I’ll have to look into those Nemosine pens, the one you linked looks pretty cool. Same for the Jinhao.
I left the Noodler’s off the list because mine was a nightmare to get to write. I think it would be more of a turnoff to a beginner than anything. I’ve since sold mine off, thanks for mentioning it though!
Yeah, I’m pretty much done with their flex nibs, I had a Konrad that either wouldn’t write or just dumped ink blobs out of the feed. If I get any more Noodler’s pens they will serve as a host for a better nib (like this one).
The Pelikan Twist is quirky and a solidly built smooth writer! $15
I have to try that one, thanks!
It seems to be positioned as a student pen, with the bright colors and unique shape, but I find it quite good, and fun to use. I like that it has no clip, and there’s room in the barrel to store a spare cartridge (could probably fit a Pelikan converter, but I’ve not tried; I just syringe refill the cartridge). The main downside is, like the Lamy Safari, a restrictive triangular grip section, which while it may enforce the “correct” grip, is not comfortable for everyone.
I would add the Platinum Plaisir to this list. It’s an upscale Preppy that won’t look out of place at the office!
Good list Ed. I really like the Pilot Kakuno at $14 and the Pelican Pelican Jr. at about $18. Both kind of marketed to the younger crowd but very respectable writers
What no Pilot Petit? At less than 5 bucks, this would be a perfect beginner fountain pen.
I agree with Brian: The Pilot Petit is a great little pen I prefer to the Preppy (have to Preppy writing so so, while the 7 Petits are not disappointing at all). On the other side of the budget I have to Pilot Vansihing Points 🙂
It shoul be “two”, not “to Preppy”
I guess I’ve been bitten by the bug. A fountain pen newbie, I own four of the pens on your list (Pilot Varsity. Pilot Metropolitan, Lamy Safari/Vista, and the Platinum Preppy). Although I love them all, and switch from one to another depending on my mood and what I’m writing, at this point I’m especially partial to the Platinum Preppy because of the solid, broad line of the medium nib. I suspect a Sailor Clear Candy may be in my future…
The only thing I can think of that’s missing is the Schneider Base, a rock solid little workhorse of a pen with a “quirky” look.
I’ve owned mine for a while, and it’s a solid, reliable writer with a smooth, if slightly unexciting medium nib.
I wrote about it (with some other sub £20 pens) here; https://johnthemonkey.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/for-beginner-fountain-pen/
I had less good experiences with the preppy – mine simply will not write, and after what feels like months of tinkering with it, I’ve given up and used the cartridge (a very attractive purple) in my Platinum Carbon pen instead.
Yes, the Schneider Base and ID are very good pens, I have 4 of each and they are good. In fact I also have the Pilot Metropolitan (3 ), Parker CTs(8) and Lamy Vista (3) but the Schneiders are the best for every day use. The only gripe is that I don’t get any converters for them in India.
Oh, also, the Varsity (assuming you guys get the same version that’s sold here as the “V Pen”) purple is a beautiful colour, very reminiscent of Diamine Imperial Purple!
Shout out for multiple pen models on Kevin’s Fountain Pen Revolution site. From plastic to acrylic to ebonite bodies with multiple nib options.
I’ve used most of those. The rest are going on the wish list (including a couple from the comments!)
This was a good list and an interesting article. In addition to what has already been mentioned in the comments, have you ever used or considered some of the budget school pens made by some of the German manufacturers? Lamy makes the ABC and the Nexx, both of which are cheaper than the Safari, and come fitted with a beginners A nib. Given that all of their stainless steel nibs are interchangeable, the Safari is not necessarily the best of their models as the design is not to everyone’s taste. It seems to me that the Safari has been over-marketed by US sellers, who sell it for a considerable price mark-up. Pelikan make the Griffix, the Pelikano, the Twist and the Happy pen. Faber Castell also make good fountain pen which is aimed at children. Also, check out the range of pens made by Online, some of which have calligraphic nibs. There are also Herlitz and Bic Click fountain pens. Schneider has already been mentioned. All of the above mentioned pens cost between about 3 and 15 euros in the shops, and all use standard international cartridges or a converter (for all of those purists who would never stoop to using a cartridge). Unfortunately, I do not think that you are not getting the widest choice of pens in the U.S and it seems as though you are also probably being over-charged.
Does it come from fountain pens not being a requirement in schools, I wonder?
There’s a huge selection of 3 – 15 euro fountain pens available whenever I visit France, particularly around the time of the rentrée, and aimed at school children, for the most part. My son bought a Bic last time we were there, and I tend to stock up on Waterman Kulturs.
The Parker IM you linked is not $25 and under, it is currently over $28 + shipping. Although others may still be under $25, that’s the problem with putting pens like the IM or Safari, on this list. You may have found one place that has it for under $25 right now, but that usually changes rather quickly. I’ve never seen a Safari retail for less than $28-20, most of the time more like $35, unless it was a very short lived sale or something similar. It simply isn’t an inexpensive beginner pen. Neither is the IM most of the time.
You may also want to mention Nemosine (both the Singularity and the Fission), he Platinum Plaisir (a much better pen than the Preppy, since it’s aluminum), and the Sheaffer VFM (cart only, but it takes international carts not proprietary).
‘Twas the Pilot Petit that drew me in. I tossed one into an order on a whim for about $3. I was instantly hooked.
The Metropolitan is my choice when it comes to gifting and also introducing fountain pens to friends. So far, I’ve gifted it twice, and also got my two siblings to gift it once to their friends.
I liked the Preppy but on the second cartridge the barrel cracked and had to be patched with tape, a common problem I hear. The green foil on the nib also started to peel off. After the third cartirdge through it looked a taped up mess and was binned. A good pen to use as a one shot disposable but not one that will give years of service.
I really like the Plaisir. It is not the most comfortable pen I have tried, but it writes so well I can overlook its shortcomings.
Oddly, I have had trouble with my Vista and Metropolitan. I almost always need to dip them in water to get them writing. But the Konrad which gave you all sorts of problems has worked like a champ for me.
I really enjoy your reviews, Ed!
i would recommend Pilot Kakuno. i love my Nakaya, but when convenience is calling, i’d grab my Kakuno. it’s light weight, small enough to be pocketed and for travels, and the nib is amazingly smooth for a cheap pen. it also comes in various colors and even a smiley face on the face of the steel nib.
Another enthusiastic recommendation for the Pilot Kakuno. Mine is smooth and has never dried out. Better than my Metropolitan and Pelikan Twist and most of my Kaweco Sports and my cheap Lamy. Also cute, mod, and comfortable!
I agree with the Kakuno recommendation–Metropolitan looks fancier, but it dries out easily. The Kakuno doesn’t dry out as easily and both write really well.
Howsabout the Platinum Preppy’s aluminum-bodied adult cousin, the better looking, far more durable and every bit as dryout-resistant Platinum Plaisir? I’ve seen them on Amazon for under $15. And you can refill the cartridge with a 3ml bulb pipette like those used for ink mixing, or buy Platinum’s cartridge adapter to help fit short international cartridges.
I’m to the point where I regard a section that is “ergonomic” (i.e., rubberized, partly or fully triangular, or the like) or metallic as a shortcoming. It’s good to see you’re willing to mention that the Lamy’s section is not universally beloved. It takes me about a minute of writing with one to remind myself why I don’t like it. If you can’t test drive the pen in a shop, you can spend $2-4 on a Jinhao 599. As others have said, the Nexx and ABC can use all Lamy interchangeable nibs, and cost less. They both have rubberized sections with “ergonomic” shapes. Now, if you could point me at a *round* Lamy for under $25, I’d be tickled pink.
As for the Metropolitan /MR/Coccoon, it does have a rather narrow section, and a large step at the barrel-section junction, which some people find uncomfortably sharp. The Kaweco Sport is a bulletproof little thing, but it cannot hold a converter.
I’ve considered the Sailor Clear Candy, the Nemosine Singularity, and the Pilot Kakuno and Metropolitan, but I haven’t gotten around to buying any of them. I have a Pilot 78G, and one of these days I’m going to put it side-by-side with a Metro to see if they have the same section.
Hello EDJELLEY! What do you think about MUJI Aluminum Fountain Pen ? I think an excellent choice for its price.
I have one of those, it’s quite nice. It feels just a little bit cheap, especially compared to other options in that price range. I do like the styling though.