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Cheap fountain pen shootout

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Funny little topic. Thirty years ago in Belgium I went through a phase as a child where I liked fountain pens - they just had a bit of an exotic feel to them, and at one point I think it felt like it was slightly easier to get better cursive because of the angles. My child's mind liked opening up the casing to replace/fiddle and occasionally make messes with the ink cartridges. I also used to draw mazes in grid notebooks. I think my brand of choice was something like $5 Reynolds.

Now I'm a ball point guy all the way - I had completely forgotten the things!

When I first read the subject line for some reason I imagined two guys facing each other on Main Street in front of the Saloon, at high noon, trying to dowse each other with ink. 

I wouldn't call the Lamy Safari "cartoony," though it depends on what colour you choose (i.e., not some of the special editions).  Actually I prefer the Lamy Nexx, which has the same "works" in a body I find more comfortable to hold.  However, most Fountain Pen Network people seem to think the Lamy fine nib is just too broad.  The Hero 329 I have writes well; I think the Hero 100 is the same thing with a gold nib.  The 329 is good for a fine nib for general writing, but if you want a cheap pen that's spidersilk-thin for annotation or something, try a Pilot Namiki Gold Ring Fountain Pen FP 78G.  This may have the same nib as the Prera, but is much cheaper.

Resources worth knowing:

* The Writing Desk
UK.  Will sell you a Lamy Safari or Nexx with a nib of your choice, not just the standard "medium."
* Cult Pens
UK.  Incredible range of writing instruments.
* Stationery Art
Hong Kong.  Carry the Pilot 78G.

When I first read the subject line for some reason I imagined two guys facing each other on Main Street in front of the Saloon, at high noon, trying to dowse each other with ink.  
-MilesAhead (April 27, 2014, 05:03 PM)
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;D ;D  I can see it now...
Scene: High noon in Blotterville.
Ink-stained fingers twitch nervously above mother-of-pearl and turned-mahogany fine writing instruments clipped nattily in the two cowboys' faded shirt pockets.  Sweat drips down Cowboy 1's cheek as he licks his parched lips in anticipation.  Cowboy 2 shifts a well-chewed cigar stump from one side of his mouth to the other and raspily intones "DRAW, you dirty egg-suckin' dog!!".  Quick as lightning, the pens are pulled from their sheaths, caps posted and nibs full of ink eager for action as both cowboys whip out wire-bound sheafs of white vellum and begin to sketch furiously in the broiling sun.  The ink flows in lines, hatches and solid blots as the paper of their sketchbooks ruffle in the breeze.  Finally, Cowboy 1 finishes with a flourish and breathlessly shouts: "A DUCK STANDING ON A HICKORY STUMP!!" and brandishes his handiwork at his opponent with a manic half-smile.  Cowboy 2 puts in a final bit of cross-hatch shading and gravely intones "A little girl on a tricycle..." as he lifts one dusty eyebrow and slowly turns out his sketchpad for his rival to scrutinize.
The wind howls... a tumbleweed blows by... A lone harmonica wails in the distance as pages ruffle in the breeze.  
The sheriff timidly steps out of the barber shop onto the dusty Main street; "OK, boys, ya both done good.. REAL good... now let's y'all put away the nibs and uh... call it a draw, shall we?"...  :P

So I was hoping more for some personal recommendations since I can read up stuff over at the review sites as well as the next guy. (Note: I also don't consider myself an aficionado. Just a person who likes to use well designed writing instruments.) Following recommendations on some of the "pen freak" sites, I've bought a few semi-expensive pens that came highly recommended. All of which I ended up not much caring for.
I sometimes suspect half the people who do those "me too" chime-ins after a pen review don't own (and probably never tried) the instrument in question. Because I can't reconcile my experiences with some of the good things those reviewers and commentators were saying about those pens. Hence my wondering if anybody had a personal recommendation based on hands-on experience.-40hz (April 27, 2014, 12:37 PM)
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I'm following right along with you, and I wish I had the resources necessary to really give a good review of some recommendations; I can only go on second-hand info for anything outside my price range.  Please pardon my naïveté.  Also, I just perused a few reviews of the Pilot Prera, and they are reported to be a rather lightweight pen; maybe not what you're looking for.

I wouldn't call the Lamy Safari "cartoony," though it depends on what colour you choose (i.e., not some of the special editions).-rjbull (April 27, 2014, 05:33 PM)
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Exactly what I was hinting at; the cartoon-pastel colors and the molded-plastic profiles, so forgive me that.  I am aware that Lamy makes some darn fetching pens besides the Safari, but that particular look isn't my cup of tea, and the Safari is the only model close to my budget.

I can say with certainty I personally prefer a slimmer pen like Parker's IM or Vector, because I remember the Jotter so fondly, and I like the old-world look of classic profiles like Rotring's ArtPen (drool) or Pilot's Plumix or Penmanship lines, because they resemble the classic nib holders I use when I'm in a mood (see at the bottom here).  I've also bought and used a Varsity before, and found them to be quite adequate, even enjoyable, though I missed the weight of a "real" pen, and the medium nib was immediately noticeable.  The classic torpedo/cigar profile of the more expensive pens I never really found appealing, but then again I admit I've never owned one to really give it a chance.  Scheaffers always leaked on me.  Always.

It appears that fountain pens are like guitars; everybody has their favorites and extols the virtues of each, but ultimately you get what feels good under your fingers and out of your wallet.

BTW - thank you rjbull for recommending Stationery Art.  Looks like they've got a more or less complete offering of Baoer's line, which I've been eyeing lately, and I'm liking the slim look of the Hero 7015, which being stainless steel might have a bit of weight to it...

Check out as well.  Great prices and I've heard their customer service is pretty good.


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