We’re just going to come out and say it: Fountain pens are awesome, and everyone should give them a try. They write smoothly, are environmentally friendly, and offer a limitless selection of ink colors. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a great one, either. In this guide, we’ll recommend our top fountain pens for every budget, then share some tips for picking out your own perfect fountain pen.
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An inexpensive fountain pen is a great place for a newbie to start. Whether you’re looking for a disposable, low maintenance pen or one that will get you ready for a lifetime of fountain pen enthusiasm, there are excellent options even in the sub-$20 range.
Even better for fountain pen newbies, if you end up deciding that fountain pens aren’t for you, you can still get more use out of your Preppy. Thanks to Platinum’s interchangeable replacement tips, you can convert the Preppy into a marker or highlighter!
The Metropolitan is compatible with a limited selection of proprietary Pilot ink cartridges, but it comes with a converter so you can use it with bottled inks straight out of the box.
The $20-50 range is where you really start to experience the full joy of a great fountain pen. These pens tend to use higher quality materials and are more suited to users who begin to expect years of use.
The Safari is available in a full range of nib sizes from extra fine to broad, and replacement nibs are easy to buy and install. LAMY fountain pens use a proprietary cartridge design, but you can still use any bottled fountain pen ink you like with the help of a converter.
The $50-100 fountain pen range is all about style. You can get an excellent steel nib for less money, and you’ll need to spend a bit more to get a premium gold nib. But what you do start to see in this range are pens with better overall build quality and premium aesthetics.
If you love the TWSBI ECO but want something a bit fancier, the Diamond 580AL is the perfect upgrade. An aluminum grip section and piston give the pen a nice look and feel, and its faceted barrel catches the light and makes the ink shine like a gemstone. Replacement nib units are readily available and easy to install, letting you change tip sizes whenever you want, and the Diamond 50 ink bottle makes filling the pen clean and easy. The 580ALR model adds subtle ridges to the grip section, making it less slippery and easier to control.
For a more exotic upgrade to the ECO, consider the Vac700R. It features a fun vacuum-filling mechanism that holds even more ink, especially when paired with the special Vac20A portable ink bottle.
If you like the design of the AL Sport but want something a bit heftier, Kaweco produces this iconic pen design in other metals, such as brass. The Steel Sport comes in at just over $100, but its stainless steel construction is incredibly durable and will last lifetimes.
Its subtle but uniquely curving design gives the Studio remarkable aesthetic balance. Sophisticated yet unassuming, it would look equally at home in an art studio or an executive boardroom. Like the Safari, the Studio gives you a choice of proprietary ink cartridges or using the included converter with bottled ink.
The $100-200 price range is where things really get interesting. Gold nibs become an option, allowing pen makers to combine a premium writing experience with a premium pen body.
The standard Vanishing Point is perfect for people who prefer larger, heavier pens, while the slimmer and much lighter Vanishing Point Decimo is great for people who prefer a more agile writing instrument.
Sailor also produces fountain pens for Nagasawa, a stationery brand located in Kobe, Japan. The Original Pro Gear Slim is inspired by Sailor’s Pro Gear Slim with slight modifications.
One minor word of warning: The LAMY 2000 tends to be a wet, broad pen—even by European standards. Whatever your preferred Western nib size is, we recommend going one size finer than that. Fountain pen friendly paper is also highly recommended.
Almost all pens in this category use gold nibs, though they may not perform better than similar nibs found on less expensive pens. What these pens do have is a certain something that justifies their price tag: whether it’s rare materials, a superb body design, or plain name recognition, there’s a reason why many of these pens are highly sought after.
Technically, the Souveran is an entire family of luxury gold-nib fountain pens, from the compact M400 to the oversized flagship M1000. They demand a premium price—especially the larger models—but in exchange, you get a beautifully crafted and luxuriously smooth-writing piece of fountain pen history.
If you love the look of the Souveran but not the price tag, take a look at the Pelikan Classic line, which features more affordable steel-nib versions of the Souveran M400.
The nib is the most important part of a fountain pen, so it makes sense to put some thought into what kind of nib you want your fountain pen to have. You can find our in-depth guide to choosing a fountain pen nib here, but the the two most important factors to start with are tip size and tip shape.
All fountain pens use ink, but they don’t all take ink the same way. The best filling system for you will depend on whether you prefer convenience, ink capacity, choice of ink colors, or a balance of all three.
|Filling System||Convenience||Capacity||Choice of Colors|
|Built-In Filling System||Medium||High||High|
For a more in-depth look at the different kinds of fountain pen filling systems, check out our guide on the different fountain pen filling systems for a more in-depth look.
It is important to match the size of a pen to the size of your hand. A pen that is too small or large will leave you feeling like you need to pinch the pen harder to keep it under control—a sure recipe for hand fatigue and cramping.
Size also affects how portable a fountain pen is. The tiny Kaweco Liliput is smaller than most people would want for long writing sessions, but it’s also amazingly pocketable. The long-tailed LAMY Joy, on the other hand, is very much a desk pen.
Weight is also very important for comfort. Some people like a pen with a reassuring heft, but we’ve always found lighter-weight pens more comfortable for extended writing sessions.
Material is closely tied to weight. Plastic and resin pens are lightweight, while metal pens are heavier. How much heavier depends on the specific metal being used.
Metal pens also tend to be more durable than plastic pens, but it’s a bit more nuanced than that. A metal pen won’t crack under pressure like a plastic pen will, but it can be chipped or dented by its own weight if you drop it. Slippery fingered writers may actually prefer the natural grippiness and “dropability” of plastic pens.
- The Beginner's Guide to Fountain Pens
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- Guide to Fountain Pen Nibs: Choosing a Fountain Pen Nib
- How to Install Ink Cartridges
- How to Use a Fountain Pen Converter
- Fountain Pen Filling Systems Explained
- Can Left-Handed Writers Use Fountain Pens?
- The Best Fountain Pens for Students
- Top 5 Fountain Pens for Beginners (Video)
- How to Choose a Fountain Pen Nib (Video)
- The Best Fountain Pens Under 100 Dollars
- The Best Luxury European Fountain Pens
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- How to Refill an Ink Cartridge Using a Syringe
- How to Do an Eyedropper Pen Conversion
- Top 5 Intermediate Fountain Pens (Video)
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- 12 Fancy Pens That Are Worth The Splurge (Video)
- The Beginner's Guide to Fountain Pen Inks
- Intermediate Guide to Fountain Pen Inks: Sheen, Shading, Shimmer, and More
- The Best Fountain Pen Inks for Ordinary Paper
- The Best Fast-Drying Fountain Pen Inks
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These are some of our favorite fountain pens that we would recommend to just about anyone, but there are hundreds of other great fountain pens to choose from as well. For more recommendations, be sure to check out our guides to the best beginner and intermediate fountain pens.
Once you’ve picked out your new fountain pen, get the best out of it by pairing your pen with some great fountain pen ink and fountain pen friendly paper. For tips and tricks on keeping your new fountain pen writing its best, take a look at our guides to cleaning fountain pens and troubleshooting common nib issues.
Do you have a favorite fountain pen that you love recommending to others? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!