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The Best Beginner Fountain Pens

The Best Beginner Fountain Pens

The Best Beginner Fountain Pens

Writing by hand these days is an act of small rebellion—an analog alternative to the screens and keyboards that dominate our daily lives. Pens and pencils create a physical connection between us and our work that digital devices just can't duplicate. And nothing else evokes this elemental bond quite as well as a fountain pen.

Fountain pens may seem intimidating, but they're actually really easy to use. And you don't need to spend a lot of money to get a great one. In this guide, we'll explore the best affordable fountain pens that are particularly well-suited to beginners.

Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen
The Pilot Metropolitan is our top choice for beginner fountain pens.
Since its debut in 2012, the Pilot Metropolitan has redefined the standard of what an entry-level fountain pen can offer. Featuring a high quality metal body and a super smooth nib, the Metropolitan looks, feels, and writes like a pen that should cost far more. Not only is it the pen we most often recommend to new fountain pen users, it is one of our favorite fountain pens, period. Read our comprehensive guide to learn more about this pen.

The Metropolitan is available in a variety of colors and three nib sizes—Fine, Medium, and Medium Italic. If you’re not sure which one to pick, we recommend Medium for beginners. Pilot produces their nibs in-house, and even their most budget-friendly pens perform remarkably well.

The Metropolitan comes with one black ink cartridge and a squeeze converter so you can use any bottled fountain pen ink. Keep in mind that Pilot fountain pens are proprietary, meaning Pilot fountain pens will only accept Pilot cartridges and converters.

For a closely related, more youthful alternative, check out the Pilot Kakuno. It features a colorful plastic body and the same great Fine and Medium nibs that come with the Metropolitan. You can even get the Kakuno with an Extra Fine nib. The adorable smiley face printed on the Kakuno’s nib helps remind beginners which side of the nib should face up.

Why Use a Fountain Pen?

Many people assume fountain pens are inconvenient, archaic writing instruments. You may be wondering, “What makes them so great?” We’ve listed our top four benefits of using a fountain pen for you to consider before purchasing one.

1) Smooth, Comfortable Writing
A fountain pen writes with very little pressure.
A fountain pen writes with very little pressure. A gel pen used with the same amount of pressure can create streaky, unsaturated lines.
Fountain pens don't need as much pressure to write as a gel or ballpoint pen, which means that you don't need to grip or press them onto the page nearly as hard. Not only does this make for a delightfully smooth writing experience, it significantly reduces the amount of hand strain and fatigue you'll experience during long writing and note-taking sessions.
2) Choice
Fountain pens offer virtually unlimited combinations of body styles, tip sizes, and ink colors.
Fountain pens offer unlimited combinations of body styles, tip sizes, and ink colors. From top to bottom: Kaweco Sport, Pilot Varsity, TWSBI ECO.
Fountain pens offer virtually unlimited combinations of body styles, tip sizes, and ink colors, letting you personalize your writing experience far more than an ordinary pen. Additionally, the paper you write on can affect the qualities of the ink you use.
3) Environmental Friendliness
Using a fountain pen creates a lot less trash than using a disposable pen.
Using a fountain pen creates less trash than using a disposable pen.
Using a fountain pen creates a lot less trash than using a disposable pen, especially if you opt for bottled ink instead of cartridges. Additionally, some fountain pens are made of materials that will last a lifetime, so you won't have to replace them like you would a cheap pen that breaks or stops working before the refill is used up.
4) Investment
Every time you sit down and uncap your fountain pen, you perform a tiny ritual.
When you invest in a fountain pen, you also invest in the value of your writing.
In our daily lives, we’re surrounded by cheap, disposable products. They get the job done, but they don’t delight or inspire. When you invest in something made to last, be it a fountain pen, a mechanical keyboard, or a nice pair of headphones, you’re rewarded with daily dividends of simple pleasure. But more importantly, you get something that is yours—in a way that cheap disposable goods can never quite be. Every time you sit down and uncap your fountain pen, you perform a tiny ritual that infuses the pen with the accumulated significance of all the hopes, fears, and inspirations you’ve used it to express.
How Fountain Pens Work
How Fountain Pens Work
Knowing the basics of how a fountain pen works is helpful for troubleshooting any issues you run into.
You don’t have to understand how fountain pens work in order to use them, but it helps to know the basics in case you need to troubleshoot a problem or make a choice between two pens you like.

When you get your pen, remove the cap and barrel. Locate the nib—the metal part that will make contact with the paper—and the back of the grip section, which is where you will install a cartridge or converter. The other parts become more important if you plan to disassemble your pen. If you’d like to learn more, our guide to How Fountain Pens Work covers the essentials in a straightforward, beginner-friendly format.

Beginner Fountain Pen Recommendations
Affordable Beginner Fountain Pen: Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen
Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen
The Platinum Preppy may look like a cheap fountain pen, but it provides a smooth and consistent writing experience.
If any fountain pen proves that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a great one, it’s the Preppy. While it may look like a cheap fountain pen, the Preppy packs a real punch where it counts—the nib. Like Pilot, Platinum produces their nibs in-house, which lets them create remarkably smooth and consistent nibs at shockingly affordable prices. A Preppy nib would feel right at home in a much fancier, more expensive pen body. If you want to invest a little more in the construction of your pen, the Platinum Plaisir pairs a sturdy, lightweight aluminum body with the same smooth nib found on the Preppy.

The Preppy uses Platinum’s proprietary ink cartridges, including the popular waterproof Carbon Black cartridges. The Preppy can also use any bottled fountain pen ink with the help of a converter (sold separately) or an eyedropper conversion.

And if you end up deciding that fountain pens aren’t for you, there’s nothing to worry about. With a felt replacement tip, you can easily convert your Preppy into a marker or highlighter!

Beginner EDC Fountain Pen: LAMY Safari Fountain Pen
LAMY Safari Fountain Pen
The bold LAMY Safari is made of durable ABS plastic.
An iconic product of the '80s, the Safari was the king of beginner fountain pens until the Pilot Metropolitan came along. It’s still an overwhelmingly popular choice, though, and it’s easy to see why. Made of high-quality ABS plastic—the same stuff LEGO bricks are made of—Safaris are virtually indestructible and can stand up to the hard knocks of everyday life. Their design still looks futuristic forty years down the road, and they’re super collectible thanks to their wide and constantly evolving selection of body colors. And not only do they come in a full range of nib sizes, their nibs can be swapped out on the fly! Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about the Safari.

Besides having to compete with the Metropolitan, the Safari only has a few downsides. Its bold styling isn’t for everyone, and its uniquely shaped grip section can be a pain for anyone who doesn’t hold their pen with a traditional tripod grip. LAMY nibs also tend to be a bit broad, even by Western standards, so those who prefer very fine nibs may be better off looking elsewhere.

Aside from the Safari, LAMY has their own beginner friendly pen ideal for children and adults young at heart. The ABC Fountain Pen is available with a left-handed or A nib, which has a similar line width to a medium nib and is tailored for beginner fountain pen users. The ABC also comes with stickers so you can label it with your name and initials.

Beginner Fountain Pen for Drawing: Pilot Prera Fountain Pen
Pilot Prera Fountain Pen
Artists will appreciate the Pilot Prera's ability to keep up with quick strokes.
The lightweight Pilot Prera is one of our favorite fountain pens for drawing. It uses the same high quality nib found on the Metropolitan and its inkflow can keep up with artists’ quick strokes. Plus, its compact size saves space in a pen case and makes it easy to transport in a pocket.

The Standard Body Preras boast stylish, opaque pen bodies and caps. They are available in Fine and Medium and come with one black ink cartridge (converters can be purchased separately). The Clear Body Preras are a little more expensive but they come with a cartridge and converter, especially helpful when outlining sketches with waterproof fountain pen inks. They are transparent, allowing you to see the ink inside, and accented with pops of color. Aside from Fine and Medium, the Clear Body Preras are available in Medium Italic, which can add line variation and flair to your drawing or writing.

Beginner Fountain Pen for Students: Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen
Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen
The Pelikan Twist is comfortable to hold whether you are a right- or left-handed student.
This funky fountain pen is sure to put a smile on your face whenever you use it. Despite its unusual design, the Pelikan Twist is actually quite comfortable to hold whether you’re right- or left-handed and encourages a traditional tripod grip for young writers. Its design certainly isn’t for everyone, though, and it only comes with one nib size option—hardly unheard of, but a bit disappointing at the Twist’s price point.

Pelikan makes other entry level fountain pens such as the Pelikano, which is available with standard as well as specialty nibs geared towards left-handers and beginners. The Pelikano Junior, available with your choice of a right- or left-handed nib, has a grip section that supports and guides your fingers.

Beginner Pocket Fountain Pen: Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen
Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen
The Kaweco Sport is both a portable pocket pen and a full-size daily writer.
The original pocket fountain pen with a history dating back over 100 years, the Sport is the perfect choice for anyone who wants a pen that can do double duty as a portable pocket pen and a full-size daily writer. The Sport’s secret lies in its unique proportions. Featuring a long cap and a short barrel, the Sport is a compact 4.25” long when capped yet nearly 5.5” long with the cap posted on the back of the pen. It features high-quality steel nibs sourced from German nib maker Peter Bock AG. Replacement Kaweco nibs can be swapped in and out at your discretion.

The Sport comes in a wide range of colors and materials, but the plastic Sport pens—the Classic, Frosted, and Skyline—are by far the most affordable. Other models are made from materials like aluminum, brass, steel, and even carbon fiber. They’re incredibly striking, but they’re also too expensive to recommend as beginner fountain pens. Kaweco also releases limited edition Collection Sport pens which are more expensive than existing Sport pens but come in unique colors. You can read more about the permanent Sport product lines in our comprehensive guide.

Ergonomic Beginner Fountain Pen: Diplomat Magnum Fountain Pen
Diplomat Magnum Fountain Pen
The molded grip on the Diplomat Magnum encourages a tripod grip and optimal writing angle.
Whether you’re using your fountain pen for quick notes or long writing sessions, practicing good ergonomics is key in preventing fatigue and injury. The molded grip section on the Diplomat Magnum encourages a tripod grip and optimal writing angle. The Magnum also has a plastic barrel with a pleasant, grippy texture, which can be beneficial if you struggle with pens that slip out of your fingers or hands. It is available in Fine and Medium and comes with one ink cartridge.

If you prefer a fountain pen that’s more accommodating to any grip style, try the Faber-Castell Grip, which features a grip section with a subtle triangular shape. Grippy dots on the barrel are helpful for uncapping the pen and grasping the pen with nontraditional grips. This pen is only available with a Fine nib and includes one ink cartridge.

High Ink Capacity Beginner Fountain Pen: TWSBI ECO Fountain Pen
TWSBI ECO Fountain Pen
The TWSBI ECO boasts a high-capacity piston filling mechanism which is typically not found in beginner fountain pens.
If you’re willing to spend a little bit more money to get a lot more pen, consider the TWSBI ECO. The ECO is TWSBI’s most popular fountain pen, sporting a high-capacity piston filling mechanism—a luxury typically reserved for pens with three-figure price tags. Thanks to this mechanism, the ECO can use bottled ink without a converter and holds about three times as much ink as a typical converter-filled pen. The ECO also has a stylish transparent body design that shows off its inner workings and lets you admire the ink sloshing around inside the pen. The ECO offers a full range of nib sizes from Extra Fine to Broad, plus a Stub 1.1 mm nib that gives your writing a calligraphic flair.

The ECO’s only downside is that because of its built-in piston mechanism, it can only use bottled ink, not cartridges. If you prefer using a converter or cartridge, we recommend trying the TWSBI SWIPE. It comes with three filling systems to choose from: cartridge, traditional piston converter, and spring-loaded piston converter. No matter which you choose, each filling system can hold almost as much ink as the ECO. Alternatively, the TWSBI GO boasts not only high ink capacity but convenience by using a spring-loaded piston. To fill the pen, simply submerge the nib in ink and press down on the plunger.

Zero Maintenance Beginner Fountain Pen: Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen
Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen
Disposable pens like the Pilot Varsity make it easy to try out the fountain pen hobby.
The Varsity is a disposable fountain pen that comes with the ink pre-installed and ready to write, making it a great choice for anyone who is curious about experiencing a fountain pen without the need for any setup or maintenance whatsoever. It’s also a great option for introducing someone to the fountain pen world.

Another zero maintenance and ready to write fountain pen is the Zebra Zensations. It’s similar to the Varsity in that they both come pre-installed with standard and fun ink colors, have ink windows that allow you see when the ink level is getting low, and are disposable. And while fountain pens are touted for being more environmentally friendly, both these disposable fountain pens are excellent for trying out the hobby without breaking the bank.

Compare These Pens

Would you like to see more side-by-side comparisons of our favorite beginner-friendly fountain pens? Check them out in our comparison tool!

How We Approach Research and Testing

Our writers draw on their personal expertise, consult our in-house subject matter experts, and do extensive research to make our guides as accurate and comprehensive as possible. We then test every finding that makes it through the research stage. Only the techniques and tools whose performance we personally confirm make it into our guides as recommendations.

Final Thoughts

These fountain pens are great for beginners, but that doesn't mean that they are beginner-level quality. Even if you choose to branch out in the future and try a more advanced fountain pen with specialized features like a gold nib, exotic body materials, or a special filling system, any of these pens would still have a solid place in your writing arsenal. With respectful treatment and a bit of regular cleaning, they will serve you well for many years.

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The curated JetPens Fountain Pen Starter Kit includes a pen, inks, and paper.
If you're just starting out with fountain pens, we recommend our Fountain Pen Starter Kit! This curated set of products that will give you a taste of the pleasure of writing with a fountain pen, including our favorite inks and fountain pen friendly paper to help you get going.

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Beginner Fountain PenNib SizesStandout FeatureFilling SystemPriceAdd to Cart
Diplomat MagnumFine, MediumErgonomic gripCartridge/Converter$$Add Items to Cart
Faber-Castell GripFineErgonomic gripCartridge/Converter$$Add Items to Cart
Kaweco SportExtra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, Double Broad, Italic / StubCompact size; huge variety of modelsCartridge/Converter$$ - $$$Add Items to Cart
LAMY ABCA Nib, Left-HandedHigh-quality wood and ABS plastic body; ergonomic grip; label stickersCartridge/Converter$$Add Items to Cart
LAMY SafariExtra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, Left-HandedHigh-quality ABS plastic bodyCartridge/Converter$$Add Items to Cart
Pelikan PelikanoFine, Medium, Left-Handed, A NibErgonomic gripCartridge/Converter$$Add Items to Cart
Pelikan Pelikano JuniorMedium, Left-HandedCompact size; ergonomic gripCartridge/Converter$$Add Items to Cart
Pelikan TwistMediumComfortable gripCartridge/Converter$$Add Items to Cart
Pilot KakunoExtra Fine, Fine, MediumSmiley face reminds users which side of the nib faces upCartridge/Converter$Add Items to Cart
Pilot MetropolitanFine, Medium, Medium ItalicHigh-quality metal bodyCartridge/Converter$$Add Items to Cart
Pilot PreraFine, Medium, Medium ItalicCompact sizeCartridge/Converter$$$Add Items to Cart
Pilot VarsityMediumZero maintenanceDisposable$Add Items to Cart
Platinum PreppyExtra Fine, Fine, MediumHigh-quality nib; "Slip and Seal" cap mechanismCartridge/Converter$Add Items to Cart
TWSBI ECOExtra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, Stub 1.1 mmHigh-capacity filling mechanismPiston$$$Add Items to Cart
TWSBI GOExtra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, Stub 1.1 mmHigh capacity, spring-loaded filling mechanismPiston$$Add Items to Cart
TWSBI SWIPEExtra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, Stub 1.1 mmComes with three high-capacity filling mechanismsCartridge/Converter$$Add Items to Cart
Zebra ZensationsMediumZero maintenanceDisposable$Add Items to Cart