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The Best Fountain Pens for Every Budget

The Best Fountain Pens for Every Budget

March 30, 2021 - Posted by Ryan to Guides, Fountain Pens

The Fountain Pens For Every Budget

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.

Fountain Pen Recommendations
The Best Fountain Pens Under $20

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.

Pilot Varsity & Vpen Fountain Pen
The Pilot Varsity is a low maintenance fountain pen: just throw it away when you've finished using up all the ink inside.
For a fuss-free fountain pen you can use right out of the package, we recommend the Varsity. It comes pre-filled with ink and is entirely self-contained—no need to deal with cartridges or maintenance ever. Despite its disposable design, the Varsity sports a surprisingly smooth steel nib. However, the Varsity is not refillable and is meant to be disposed of once it runs out of ink.
Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen
The remarkably inexpensive Platinum Preppy has a smooth steel nib.
Who says you can’t get a great fountain pen for hardly any money? The Preppy offers a range of remarkably smooth nibs and a rainbow of ink colors to choose from. It’s also compatible with converters that let you use the pen with any bottled fountain pen ink. Platinum produces their nibs in-house, so they’re able to make even their cheapest pens write with remarkable smoothness and consistency. If you love the way the Preppy writes but would prefer a sturdier body, the Prefounte and Plaisir are made from polycarbonate and aluminum respectively.

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!

Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen
Always highly recommended, the Pilot Metropolitan is durable and affordable.
The Metropolitan punches far above its price, offering the best combination of quality and affordability of any fountain pen we’ve ever seen. Its nibs are fantastically smooth and reliable, and its comfortably weighted metal body is available in tons of great colors and patterns. Not only is the Metropolitan one of our favorite beginner-friendly fountain pens, but it is one of our favorite fountain pens, period. Learn more about the Metropolitan—including its family of matching gel pens and pencils—in our comprehensive guide.

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 Best Fountain Pens Under $50

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.

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen
The LAMY Safari has a contoured grip section for an ergonomic grip.
Besides its distinctively modern styling, the thing that stands out most about the Safari is its grip section, which is contoured to help users hold the pen in the correct position. The pen is constructed from lightweight, virtually indestructible ABS plastic (the same stuff LEGO blocks are made of), and it comes in a rainbow of fun colors. New limited-edition colors are released every year, making the Safari especially tempting for collectors. If plastic isn’t for you, the AL-Star uses the same body design with an aluminum construction. You can learn more about this iconic family of pens in our comprehensive guide.

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.

TWSBI ECO Fountain Pen
Though it's considered entry-level, the TWSBI ECO has something many higher end pens don't: a built-in filling mechanism.
The TWSBI ECO is the perfect entry-level fountain pen for people who love bottled ink and all the wonderful colors it comes in. It features a built-in piston mechanism that lets you use bottled ink without the need for a converter. It holds a ton of ink—three times as much as a typical converter—and the clear barrel lets you admire the ink as it swirls around while you write. A version of the ECO known as the ECO-T has a triangular grip that encourages you to hold the pen ergonomically. Like all of TWSBI’s fountain pens, the ECO is easy to disassemble for cleaning and even comes with a special wrench and a bottle of silicone grease to make it as easy as possible. Please note that some limited edition TWSBI ECOs may cost more than the standard pens.
Faber-Castell HEXO Fountain Pen
The chunky Faber-Castell HEXO has a six-sided barrel and cap so it won't roll away in the middle of a writing break.
The Faber-Castell HEXO is an undeniably cool pen. Its shiny finish in three colors—black, rose, and silver—is contrasted with a translucent black grip section. Like its name suggests, the HEXO has a six-sided barrel that won’t roll away when set down in the middle of a writing session. Its lightweight yet sturdy aluminum body is a little wider than most pens, which makes it especially comfortable for writers with large hands. The HEXO comes with an ink cartridge and is compatible with many standard international cartridges and converters.
The Best Fountain Pens Under $100

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.

TWSBI Diamond 580AL & Vac700R Fountain Pen ($67.50-$82.50)
TWSBI Diamond 580AL Fountain Pen
The Diamond 580AL is an excellent upgrade to the TWSBI ECO.
TWSBI Vac700R Fountain Pen
The Vac700R uses a vacuum-filling mechanism that holds tons of ink.

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.

Kaweco AL Sport Fountain Pen
The portable Kaweco AL Sport is made from solid aluminum.
If you prefer something a bit more rugged and industrial—or just something more portable—the AL Sport is an excellent choice. Like the rest of Kaweco’s Sport family of fountain pens, it is conveniently compact when closed yet comfortably full-sized with the cap posted. It is machined from solid aluminum, giving it a substantial and dependable feel. The AL Sport uses a system of replaceable nib units that screw into the grip section and can be easily swapped out if you want to change tip sizes. It can use standard international short ink cartridges or one of Kaweco’s mini-size converters.

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.

LAMY Studio Fountain Pen ($79.20-$79.50)
LAMY Studio Fountain Pen
Featuring the same steel nib as the Safari, the LAMY Studio has a solidly built metal body.
The LAMY Studio is an excellent example of this price range’s upgraded quality and style. It features the same excellent steel nibs as the Safari, but fitted to a beautiful, solidly built metal body instead. There are versions available with 14k gold nibs as well, but those push the cost of the Studio into the Premium range.

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 Best Fountain Pens Under $200

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.

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen
With a cleverly designed retraction mechanism, the Pilot Vanishing Point deploys its nib instantly.
For those who love to whip out a pen and quickly jot things down whenever need or inspiration strikes, the Vanishing Point is the ultimate fountain pen. Featuring a clever retractable mechanism, the nib can be extended and retracted at the push of a button, one hand free to handle notebooks, receipts, or anything else. The Vanishing Point is compatible with Pilot's proprietary cartridge and converter, both of which are included.

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 Pro Gear Slim Fountain Pen
The Pro Gear Slim is small enough to fit in a pocket, yet posts to a comfortable size for writing.
This fountain pen takes Sailor’s flagship Pro Gear model and shrinks it ever so slightly for a pocket-friendly pen with a price tag to match its smaller size. Its flat-topped design is a distinctive twist to the classic cigar shape, and the cap, barrel, and grip section are accented with metal rings. The smooth, 14k gold nib comes in standard sizes like extra fine and broad, as well as a stubby music and versatile zoom nib. Limited edition offerings that incorporate color patterns at slightly higher price points are regularly available.

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.

LAMY 2000 Fountain Pen
The LAMY 2000 is an iconic workhorse pen thanks to its large ink capacity and comfortable shape.
The LAMY 2000 is one of the most iconic fountain pens of all time. Inspired by the Bauhaus school of German design, it was created with the goal of being nothing more or less than a great pen for writing. Made of brushed stainless steel and Makrolon fiberglass, it is exceptionally well balanced and comfortable to hold for even the longest writing sessions. It also features a built-in piston filling mechanism, capable of holding more than twice as much ink as a typical converter. These qualities make the LAMY 2000 a favorite among novelists like Neil Gaiman, who has described it as "a glorious pen."

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.

The Best Fountain Pens Over $200

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.

Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen
The Pilot Custom 823 is fitted with a large 14k nib that practically skates across the paper.
The Custom 823 just might be the ultimate writer’s pen. Its large 14k nib is gloriously smooth, and its vacuum-filling mechanism holds plenty of ink for epic writing sessions. It’s also extremely comfortable to hold. The 823’s seamless resin construction allows it to be chunky but not heavy, and it also gives the pen a slight natural grippiness. This wide, lightweight, slightly grippy body means that you don’t have to pinch the pen tightly to keep it under control. You just need to cradle it between your fingers and let the pen do its thing. And that makes for a far more comfortable writing experience, especially if you write a lot.
Pelikan Souveran Fountain Pen
The Pelikan Souveran family of fountain pens are fitted with smooth, reliable piston fillers.
One of the mainstays of the luxury pen world, the Souveran was the first pen in the world to use a perfected piston filling mechanism. Almost a century later, Pelikan still prides itself on making some of the world’s smoothest, most reliable piston fillers.

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.

Visconti Homo Sapiens Fountain Pen
Crafted from basaltic lava rock from Mount Etna, the Visconti Homo Sapiens has a unique feel in hand.
The Visconti Homo Sapiens has one incredible claim to fame: it’s the only fountain pen that is made with basaltic lava rock from Mount Etna. The lava is infused with resin to form a virtually indestructible body that has a pleasantly grippy texture in hand. The pen’s body is accented with rose gold on the Bronze Age, or red steel on the Magma—or go for full stealth with the Dark Age. This pen uses Visconti’s proprietary Hook Safe Lock Mechanism: the cap unscrews in less than a quarter turn, but it won’t come unscrewed on its own when placed in a pocket or pen case. Additionally, the Homo Sapiens is a vacuum filler with an enormous ink capacity.
Fountain Pen Considerations
Fountain Pen Nib Types

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.

Nib Tip Size
Nib Size
A nib’s tip size determines how wide a line it will make. They are typically rated from narrowest to widest as extra fine, fine, medium, or broad. Japanese fountain pens typically write about a size finer than an equivalent pen from a non-Japanese brand. For example, a Pilot medium nib will write about the same as a Kaweco fine nib. People with smaller handwriting should choose a fine or extra fine nib, while those with larger handwriting may prefer a medium or broad nib.
Nib Tip Shape
Tip Shape
Nib tips can be either round or shaped. Most are round, meaning that they have the same line width no matter what direction you write in—just like a regular ballpoint pen. Shaped nibs will have different line widths depending on the direction of the stroke. The most common type of shaped nib is italic, which makes wide vertical strokes and thin horizontal strokes. If you are new to fountain pens, we recommend picking a nib with a round tip.
Fountain Pen Ink Filling Systems

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.

Cartridges are the most convenient filling system to use, especially on the go. When you run out of ink, simply pop out the empty cartridge and pop in a new one. Some fountain pens use standardized cartridges that are interchangeable between brands, while others are only compatible with cartridges from the same brand. But no matter what kind of cartridges your pen uses, you’ll have a much smaller range of colors to choose from compared to other filling systems that let you use bottled ink.
Many cartridge-filled pens can also use converters—small devices that fit into the pen like an ink cartridge and let you fill the pen with bottled ink by sucking it up through the nib. Converters open up an almost unlimited range of bottled ink colors. They only hold about half as much ink as a cartridge, however, so you’ll find yourself having to fill your pen twice as often.
Built-In Filling System
If you’re only interested in using bottled inks, then you should look into pens with a built-in piston or vacuum filling system. These pens can’t use cartridges at all, but by essentially turning the entire barrel of the pen into a giant converter, they can hold far more ink than a cartridge-filled pen.
Eyedropper pens are the oldest and simplest kind of fountain pen. As the name suggests, eyedropper pens are filled by taking an eyedropper or syringe and filling the entire barrel up with ink. This lets them hold far more ink than any other type of pen. Very few pens these days are built to be used as eyedroppers, but many cartridge fountain pens can be converted into eyedropper pens by following a few simple steps.
Filling SystemConvenienceCapacityChoice of Colors
Built-In Filling SystemMediumHighHigh

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.

Fountain Pen Body Designs
Body Design
Fountain pens come in an amazingly diverse range of shapes, sizes, and materials, and it’s important to choose a pen that fits your style and comfort needs. If your pen looks cool and feels good to hold, you’ll have a better time writing with it. And having a better writing experience is the whole point of using a fountain pen in the first place.

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.

Cap Type
Aside from a few retractable fountain pens like the Pilot Vanishing Point and LAMY Dialog 3, virtually all fountain pens use either a screw-on cap or a snap-on cap. Screw-on caps are generally more secure and better at preventing nib dry-out, but snap-on caps let you get to the writing as quickly as possible.
More Fountain Pen Resources

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!

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If you're just starting out with fountain pens, check out our Fountain Pen Starter Kits! They're curated sets of products that will give you a taste of the pleasure of writing with fountain pens, including samples of our favorite inks and fountain pen friendly paper to help you get going.

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