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Which fountain pen is best for daily use?

January 16, 2023 9 min read

Which fountain pen is best for daily use?

The issue of how to choose a daily-use fountain pen is the most frequent one I get from readers and other individuals in my regular life who know I adore pens. Many times, they'll even say that this is the last pen they'll ever need. As someone who writes for a living in more ways than one (here and in the real world), I don't take this issue lightly, and it's a tough one to answer since it relies so heavily on factors like taste and budget. If you only want to write with your fountain pen, you may choose from a number of great alternatives. However, the optimal option for you is conditional on your unique wants and needs. In this piece, I'll share some of my opinions on what to look for in a daily-use pen.

PREVIOUSLY, THE BUDGET

In today's fountain pen market, there are going to be viable solutions at every price point, even on the extreme low end of the pricing range, so be honest with yourself and don't feel pressured to stretch financially. Spend as little as $25 on a high-quality pen and stay away from major quality control difficulties. Even if you have a little more wiggle room in your budget, I still wouldn't recommend spending more than $200 on a daily writer pen, due to the higher likelihood of loss, theft, and damage.

This year's PenBBS has far beyond my wildest expectations. To get a trustworthy writer with a large ink supply, you need not invest a fortune.

EMPLOYMENT OF FILLING SYSTEM

The filling mechanism of a fountain pen is more crucial to a writer's workflow than most people realize. While working, I may go through a cartridge or converter in a single afternoon. When I need to write somewhere without access to refills or don't want to lug along a bunch of pens, a large ink capacity is a must. Piston and vacuum fillers are my particular favorites since they can store more ink than converters. Alternatively, you could use an eyedropper, but if you plan on carrying your pen about in a bag where it can be jostled around, I'd prefer a Japanese-style eyedropper with a valve to prevent ink from leaking or bubbling up into the cap while the pen is not in use.

A cartridge-converter pen can enough for everyday usage if you don't write more than a dozen pages per day, and you may find it more handy to have the cartridge option if the pen runs out of ink on the job. Many manufacturers (including Pilot, Sailor, Aurora, Lamy, and Platinum) only accept their own proprietary cartridges, so unless you wish to refill the cartridges manually with a syringe or bottle-fill from the converter, you'll be stuck with just their ink colors.

cropped view of man holding fountain pen

Do you use cartridge converters or piston fillers? Again, you have a number of choices; the optimal one for a daily writer will depend on how frequently they need to restock and which method is most practical for doing so while on the road. Products from Pilot Custom 74 and Lamy 20 on the left...
Do you use cartridge converters or piston fillers? Again, you have many choices, and the one that's ideal for a daily writer will depend on how frequently they need to restock and what's most practical for doing so on the road. The Pilot Custom 74, Lamy 2000, and the Pilot Custom Heritage, clockwise from the left.

BALANCE AND WEIGHT

After settling on a price range and a preferred filling technique, the pen's ergonomics in your hand should be your top priority. Remember that you'll be using this every day, so although style matters, functionality is more vital when it comes to a writing implement. When shopping for a pen, I prioritize the pen's weight and balance. The two ideas are connected yet still separate. When I say "weight," I mean how much the pen itself weighs. In my view, heavier pens like copper, stainless steel, or brass are better suited for brief notes and pocket carry. This is because your hand will weary holding the pen for multiple pages. There are undoubtedly special cases, but I'll be discussing generalizations instead.

The Lamy 2000, which is constructed out of Makrolon (a kind of polycarbonate), is the most comfortable pen I've ever held. In terms of weight, it's not heavy at all.

A hand holding a fountain pen

Different from the center of gravity, balance refers to the location of the pen's grip. Like me, you probably have a pen display. If so, the cap shouldn't be too hefty otherwise the pen will seem unbalanced in your hand even if you don't think it is. Many individuals, like myself, prefer a pen in which the weight is transferred to the front, which keeps the nib on the paper and allows greater control over your handwriting. This is not usually an issue with front-weighted pens (i.e., those with metal portions). If you're going to spend a lot of money on a high-end pen, you should be able to try it out firsthand or buy from an online store that accepts returns so you can exchange it for the perfect fit.

NIV OPTION

How crucial is the fountain pen's nib? Both, really. A pen with a fantastic grip but a bad nib is useless, thus the nib IS an essential feature to look for. Tuning and smoothing, however, may typically fix a poorly made nib. Some pen models (TWSBI, Pelikan, Kaweco, and others) let you to swap out the nib for one of a different size or grind. This is why I value other aspects of a pen, like as its weight, balance, and "feel," more than its nib. The nib may be altered unless it is very terrible. Weight and size of the pen prevent this from happening.

The Leonardo Momento Zero's nibs have been fantastic for me. My instruments aren't something to write home about, but they all came in tune and perform the job well.
In my experience, the nibs on the Leonardo Momento Zero are excellent. There's nothing particularly special about them, but every one of mine has come in fine shape and performs well.

When it comes to nibs, it's crucial to choose one that's well-suited to the task at hand. If, like me, your day job entails annotating or marking up papers printed on the cheapest recycled paper available, you'll want to be selective about the inks you use and choose something in the extra-fine to medium range of paper textures. Those who have bigger handwriting and don't need to use inexpensive paper have greater leeway to use a pen with a wider nib or even a stub as their primary writing instrument. However, unless your day job requires calligraphy, I recommend staying away from extra "soft" or "flex" nibs since they produce much too much ink for regular use.

RECOMMENDATIONS

This brief overview should be useful, we hope. In light of all I've said, it shouldn't come as a surprise to this blog's readers that the Lamy 2000 is my personal favorite "workhorse" pen. In addition to the fountain pen, I also like to have the rollerball, ballpoint, and 4-Color Ballpoint in my bag at all times (multi pen). The Lamy 2000 is my favorite fountain pen for three reasons: (1) it fits my hand wonderfully; (2) it can contain a lot of ink; and (3) the hooded nib is great for writing and "disappears" in a busy conference room, where you don't want to be that guy writing with a distracting fountain pen.

I go all out when I discover a pen style I like. That's why I have so many pens, including these Lamy 2000s and Leonardo Momento Zeros.
Fountain pen and handmade paper.

But what helps me succeed may not help you at all! Due to the subjectivity of the criteria, although I do offer an updated list of pen suggestions yearly, I have never released a "ranked" list of "Workhorse" fountain pens. I won't rate pens either, but I will provide some recommendations for different price points. Each of them is a pen I have used and liked enough to either always keep on me or consider carrying sometimes. Wherever feasible, I have included a link to one of my own evaluations, and in all other cases, I have provided a connection to a reputable online shop.

$20-$50:

A Platinum Delight. The Plaisir, I think, is the greatest "affordable" pen available, particularly if you want a pen you can use often.

Either PenBBS 308 or 309. The 309 is a piston filler, whereas the 308 uses a cartridge-converter system. Now is the time for PenBBS pens to join TWSBIs on recommended product lists. Indeed, they are of such high quality.

PenBBS 456 is the vacuum-filling version of the PenBBS, and it costs almost the same as a TWSBI Eco.

To be precise, Faber-Essentio. Castell's When it comes to inexpensive steel nibs, nobody does it better than Faber-Castell.

Totally Water-Saving Bathroom Fixtures Industrial-Scale. My go-to TWSBI advice is the Eco, not the 580, for two reasons: (1) it posts, and (2) the 580 is more expensive and less widely available and reliable.

This is the Kaweco Sport (Standard). Kaweco Sports are cheap, durable, and available in a rainbow of colors, but they are a little shorter than standard "pocket pens," so keep that in mind if you're shopping. The "Skyline" version is the one to choose if you're a fan of shiny chrome accents. In addition, nibs may be switched out.

Lawyer, notary, attorney signs act

$50-$100:

A Loom by Faber-Castell. For its superior posting abilities, the Loom has won my heart over the Essentio. Using the same high-quality nib, it is just somewhat more costly.

TWSBI 580. Those looking for a TWSBI with swappable nibs can consider purchasing a pen from the 580 series. The TWSBI Diamond Mini is a good option if you want a TWSBI with postable replaceable nibs.

Choose from Opus 88 Koloro and Opus 88 Picnic. Because of its Japanese-style valve design, which helps avoid "inkcidents," these are the only eyedroppers I suggest. Both the Omar and the "Demo" pens are quite huge.

$100-$200:

Lamy 2000. Notice the preceding explanation. The backbone of my operation, so to speak.

A Pelikan M200 or M205. Another low-cost piston filler that is available in a rainbow of colors, patterns, and even limited-edition variants. Pens made by Pelikan are sturdy and will last for years.

He's the Man Who Started It All, Leonardo. A brand-new Italian pen that comes in several really attractive materials. Writers who are lightweight yet dependable.

The pilot wore a custom-made 74-inch pilot's hat. Underappreciated cartridge-converter pen with a top-notch nib. Not nearly enough consideration is given to these pens. The Custom Heritage 92 is more expensive but worth it if you need a piston filler.

Century Platinum 3776. A writing implement that not only excels in its everyday use but also garners a lot of interest as a collectible due to its limited editions. The pen may be fitted with any of Platinum's many available nibs.

It's time for me to go all out ($200+).

Professional (or "Pro") Equipment for Sailors. This is the best cartridge converter pen on the market, in my opinion. All Sailor nibs are top-notch, but the Pro Gear is notably well-balanced when posted.

Get behind the wheel of the Pilot Custom 823. A space-filler that, despite its bigger size, posts neatly and provides for a pleasant writing experience.

That's a 146 Montblanc, by the way. Because of the brand's perceived air of superiority, many individuals avoid carrying a Montblanc. Although I agree that these pens have become somewhat of a status symbol, I still find them to be excellent writing implements that are capable of holding a surprising volume of ink.

Choose from the Pelikan M400, M600, or M800. Because of their reduced weight compared to the M800, I find that the Pelikan M400 and M600 are more comfortable to use on a daily basis while writing.

Injectable Conid for Mass Production. If money is no issue, a Conid is your best option for the ultimate "ink tank." There is a bulkfiller out there in the form and size that you're looking for.

Once again, I really do hope this is of some use to you! If you have any queries or would want to share any additional criteria you use to choose your daily authors, please get in touch through the comments or the "Contact Me" page.



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