My UKFP buyer’s guide page gets consistent traffic — clearly a lot of you out there are looking for recommendations as to which fountain pens are worth spending your money on.
It’s been a while since I wrote it, and I think it might be time for a new list. Let me know what you think of the below. If you like the format and approach, please leave a comment. I’ll eventually move the content over to the static page that you can find in the header nav bar.
So what’s my approach?
I think most people buy with a budget in mind. I’ve set seven budget categories based both on natural market divisions and big psychological barriers.
This post tackles the first of those budget levels.
Within each category I’ve called out just two recommendations, ideally focusing on different styles of pen (eg metal vs plastic). I know that everyone has unique preferences, and this is my way of trying to serve everyone!
I have used around 150 different pens, and I’m using that experience to drive my recommendations. I find it difficult to recommend a pen that I haven’t tried, and heaven knows there are a lot of pens out there. So if you wonder why I’ve left a pen out that seems a no-brainer to you, well, that’s probably the explanation.
I highly recommend checking out my collection and pen review index pages to get a sense of the pens I’ve tried out.
This is perhaps the most competitive category, because 99% of pen buyers never spend more than this. 95% probably never spend more than £20 on a pen.
I’m concentrating here on pens that cost more than around £15. There are millions of budget pens out there from Jinhao and Kaco and Wing Sung, and many of them are good, but frankly if you’re intrigued by a pen that costs £5 delivered, just buy it. You don’t need me to validate you.
My assumption here is that you’re looking for your first, or second, “proper” pen. You want something that feels like a step up, that writes really well, but the emphasis is on versatility and reliability because this will probably be your daily user (not one of dozens of pens in a collection.
My two recommendations:
I’ve had three Ecos and they’ve all been brilliant writers out of the box. They are easy to fully disassemble for a clean. The piston fill mechanism is robust, simple and holds a ton of ink. The demonstrator barrel means you never need to worry about running out of ink unexpectedly. The cap seals with an o-ring so it literally never dries out. With a hexagonal cap and decent clip the Eco won’t roll off a desk, and it’s both big enough for anyone and light enough for small hands. At £28 from a variety of retailers, I think the Eco is a steal.
I sold my Aion, but I recommend it wholeheartedly. Its brushed aluminium finish is extremely durable, but also smart and ready for business. I have found Lamy’s steel nibs very consistent. You can get Lamy cartridges anywhere. The slip cap is very firm and the long brushed section really comfortable for all kinds of grips. Definitely a step up from the ubiquitous Safari and Al Star.
Also worth looking at:
- Karas Starliner XL: durable metal pen with a comfortable shape.
- Kaweco Perkeo: a much better daily user than the usual Sport. Surprisingly fun nib.
- Pilot Prera: if you like tiny pens, this is a smart choice.
- Kaweco Sport: It’s not about the size; it’s the sharp edges that bothered me. However, if you can stretch to a Kaweco AL Sport, do it.
- PenBBS: I’ve ownly owned one PenBBS, but I found it fragile (both body and feed) and a poor writer.
- Jinhao 992: They break. They really do.
Look out for the next price category in a couple of days!