So you’re looking for a fountain pen – maybe you’re a student, a writer, or someone who wants to reconnect with cursive writing. My journey so far with fountain pens and rediscovering writing has been quite enjoyable. In this review I’ll be going over my picks for the top 7 best fountain pens under $25, for beginners.
Before we get started going over the specific pens, let’s talk about some terminology.
The nib is the tip of the pen, where the ink comes out. Nibs range from extra fine, to bold and control the thickness of your line and also how much ink comes out. Next thing to know about nibs is not all fine nibs or medmium nibs are created equally. The Japanese pens often have fine nibs that are finer than say a German fine nib.
Next there are a few different ways a pen holds ink. It either uses a cartridge and operates similarly to that of a gel pen or ball point pen that you’re used to. Pop in the cartridge and you’re ready to write. The plus is that it’s easy to get started and you don’t have to put much thought into it, but often times your ink choices are limited.
The next way you can get ink into the pen is through a converter, which is a container that sits in the same place the cartridge would go. You need to fill it with ink with a method that depends on what type of converter it is. This seems like a daunting task, can be messy, but it’s the most economical way and also allows you control over your ink selection (and you get to try awesome inks).
Now before we get into reviewing the individual pens there’s quite a range of products available in the under $25 range. You can get a disposable pen, or a reputable fountain pen at the upper range – so consider before you start what you want a fountain pen for, how much you want to spend – maybe it’s just for you to try out a fountain pen, or maybe it’s a gift for a friend! Pick accordingly.
Top 7 Best Fountain Pens Under $25
I was a total beginner before getting into fountain pens, probably much like you. I hadn’t written in cursive since grade school and I bought a lesson book on cursive writing to practice with in my spare time. I had been writing with ball points I found around the house and didn’t pay much attention to my writing device.
There was a section in the book that talked a bit about fountain pens and how they could improve your writing experience – being a writer for StylePursuits I thought it would be a great opportunity to get a few fountain pens to review them, and also practice my cursive writing with them. I went over a few other “beginner fountain pen” review posts and picked out a handful of pens I wanted to try. These are the options I chose:
- Lamy Safari
- Pilot Metropolitan
- Jinhao X750
- Kaweco Sport
- Nemosine Singularity
- Pilot Varsity
- Platinum Plaisir (similar to Platinum Preppy)
And wow what a lot of pens – so much variety and I’ve had such a fun time using them all and picking out my favorites.
As a beginner, I thought about how I would review each of these pens – and I think short and basic descriptions of each alongside their price should suffice for other beginners reading this, or someone reading this who’s buying a pen as a gift for someone. If you like or dislike my review format I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Lamy Safari (Fine nib)
This was the first pen that arrived of the bunch, and it’s by far my favorite. The fine nib feels perfect for my style, the ink flows nicely, and the nib writes with ease. The triangular grip style (forcing you to hold the pen “properly”) is enjoyable to use and I think it’s great for a beginner writer to be pushed towards a comfortable and efficient pen holding style.
Nib: Fine, lightly scratchy
Feel: Medium quality, plastic appearance
In a line: My favorite fountain pen under $25
Pilot Metropolitan (Fine nib)
The Pilot Metropolitan is touted and pushed as the absolute best beginner fountain pen, under 25 or not, by many bloggers and reputable pen sites. While you can’t argue the price, quality, and feel of the pen it just wasn’t a good feel for me. Maybe I put a bit too much pressure, or my writing style doesn’t work with the Pilot fine nib but I have a hard time getting my writing to look good with this nib, where other pens it looks fine (maybe good?).
Nib: Fine, feels very fine, a bit scratchy, ink flows quickly
Feel: Very high quality feel
In a line: Obviously a fan favorite but I’m not a fan of the fine nib, I should try the medium.
Jinhao X750 (Medium nib)
A budget Japanese pen, and a budget killer at that. This is the only medium nib pen on the list, and maybe that means I like me a thicker nib. I love this pen and it was around $5 – the only downside is the lead time for shipping from China. This pen has a super heavy feel, a long nib, and I really really like it. It’s probably my 2nd favorite pen on this list and one of the cheapest at that.
Weight: Heavy, hefty pen
Nib: Medium, flows and writes so smoothly
Feel: High quality but the ring around the cap feels just a bit cheap
In a line: My favorite budget fountain pen pick
Kaweco Sport (Fine nib)
Yuck, not a fan – this thing is just too little for me to use. The grip that I use for fountain pens requires more length of the pen for it to rest in the crook between my index finger and thumb. It certainly is portable and the nib feels pretty good but it’s just not a pen I could write with regularly. The price is also not great for the amount of pen you’re getting.
Nib: Smooth, scratchy
Feel: Cheap-ish, a portable pocket pen with screw lid
In a line: Cheap, too short, too light
Nemosine Singularity (Fine nib)
The Nemosine Singularity is a popular german beginner pen – and I really enjoy writing with it. The nib doesn’t have the greatest flow but it does write and flow nicely with an audible scratch. This is probably in my top 3 favorite fountain pens on this list
Nib: Long nib, good smooth feel
Feel: A bit cheap, but the pen looks nice – plasticy
In a line: Great writing pen under 25, feels slightly cheap though
Pilot Varsity (Fine nib)
Cool little disposable fountain pen with a super flexy nib. Those coming from ballpoints of gel pens will enjoy the cost, and fun feel of this pen. The see through shell is a cool way to keep track of your ink as well. It’s “disposable” but it is possible to reload it with ink if you don’t mind tinkering with it.
Nib: Fine, flexy, smooth nib
Feel: Cheap with a very flexy nib
In a line: Cheap feel but cheap pen, great starter pen if you don’t want to spend a lot or want to bring your pen to school/work and not worry about it
Platinum Plaisir (Fine nib)
Another cheap fountain pen option (very similar to the popular Platinum Preppy) looks like a cross between the Jinhao x750 and the Pilot Varsity – basically an upscale version of the pilot varsity that you can use cartridges or converters in. It writes really nice – the nib is surprisingly similar to the Pilot Varsity but isn’t quite as flexy. It has a cheap plasticy feel but it’s reflected in the price.
Nib: Fine, bit of flex, smooth to write with
Feel: Writes well, cheap plastic feel
In a line: Pretty solid writer for $10, upgraded Pilot Varsity essentially.
Best Beginner Fountain Pens Under $25 Conclusion
As you can see there are a lot of options when it comes to fountain pens for beginners. The best cheap beginner fountain pen for you will be one that fits in your budget, and you think you’ll like the feel of. If you have really good writing control try a fine nib and see how delicately and crisply you can get your letters. If you’re a bit more ham-handed like me and think a thicker Fine, or medium nib would fit your style get a heavier pen with a wider nib. You really can’t go wrong but sometimes you end up with 7 fountain pens and that’s just the fountain pen life.