Option 1 - The Lamy Safari / AL Star
Lamy is a German brand of fountain pens. They have a European nib which generally means they are a little wider than their Japanese counterparts.
I have grouped these two fountain pens together as there are a few minor differences and the prices are not too dissimilar. One has a plastic barrel, the Safari, the other an aluminium barrel, the AL Star.
- Lots of different colour barrel options
- Swappable nibs that are easy and affordable to replace. These also come in a huge range of sizes from EF all the way through to a 1.9mm stub nib
- Left handed nib option available
- Full length fountain pen
- Easy to find both online and in stores
- A good sized cartridge convertor meaning bottled ink use is possible
- Moulded grip section (this may not be a con for everyone but it is a restriction hence it ends up on this side of the list)
The Lamy fountain pens have a great entry level price, the Safari costing less than £15 and the AL Star less than £25.
Option 2 - Kaweco Classic / Skyline Sport
The Kaweco Classic or Skyline Sport fountain pens are another German brand fountain pen. They are pocket fountain pens meaning they are quite a bit smaller than the other fountain pen options included in this post.
- Pocket size means this is a great fountain pen to use if you’re on the move
- A range of different barrel colour options
- Nib sizes range from EF all the way up to a B nib
- Posted this pen turns into an almost full length fountain pen
- Changing the nibs on the Classic and Skyline Kaweco fountain pens is a bit more complicated. For the Classic Sport range you can buy a new nib and grip section for most colours. For the Skyline range not everywhere stocks the replacement parts. Therefore if you want to try a different nib size you may need to buy a whole new pen.
- Cartridge convertor options on the Kaweco line are poor. Cartridges are the best route with the Kaweco range.
A Kaweco Classic or Skyline Sport will set you back around £20. You can easily get hold of these fountain pens from a number of different online retailers.
Option 3 - Pilot MR
The Pilot MR is a great entry level fountain pen. These fountain pens come with an aluminium barrel and as they are a Japanese brand of fountain pen, they have finer nibs. This is something to bear in mind when choosing your nib size. A fine Japanese nib will be finer than a fine German nib. On the MR I have found the M nibs are the easiest to come by, but with some digging you may be able to find a F nib.
- A great entry into the wonderful world of Pilot fountain pens
- Cartridge convertors are available with this pen which means that you can use cartridges or bottled ink
- Aluminium barrel
- Lots of different barrel options available, some simple and classic and some of the colours are a bit more fun
- Not a wide range of nib sizes available on this fountain pen
A Pilot MR costs less than £25. For this additional outlay you are getting some higher quality materials.
Option 4 - Pilot Kakuno
The Pilot Kakuno was, I believe, intended to be a fountain pen for a real beginner, i.e. children learning to use their first fountain pen.
- It’s fun
- It has a smiley or winking face on the nib
- F or M nib options available
- It can use a convertor as well as ink cartridges
- Very lightweight
- It’s plastic and could be prone to breaking
- Some of the nicer, prettier colour options are not available in Europe. I got my white barrel and yellow lid option when in the US.
For the Pilot Kakuno you will have to part with around £10 which is a fantastic price for a fountain pen.