3 Best Fountain Pens (and Ink) on Any Budget

So you’re looking for a fountain pen?

Maybe you’re interested in having a more “old-fashioned” experience with writing.

Maybe you’re trying to find a more nuanced, artful way to connect with your everyday writing practice.

Maybe you’re just curious why anyone would actually want to write with a fountain pen when newer technology exists today.

Well, I have 3 of my favorite fountain pens listed here for you!

Best of all, they are available at any budget: whether you want to spend under $20, or around $150, or go all-out with a globally-renowned brand of a fountain pen that can cost you well over $1,000.

For background, I have been writing with fountain pens since 2015 when a friend named Ben Austin, who is a writer and longtime fountain pen user, kindly bought me my first fountain pen. Ben told me that he believed that fountain pens gave a writer the most authentic and personal writing experience. Why? Because writing with a fountain pen is an intentional act of slow, deliberate, and mindful writing.

Furthermore, when you write with more than one fountain pen, you realize that the feeling of writing with each pen is entirely unique and nuanced: it’s like using a completely different tool each time you write.

Not all tools are created equally, however, and the same goes for fountain pens.

In today’s post, I want to share with you my 3 favorite fountain pens for writing by hand (and some options that are affordable for any budget) that will make your journaling practice an entirely artful, personal, and meaningful experience.

By intentionally adding unique, special tools — like a beautiful fountain pen — into your writing practice, you may find that your writing feels easier because your writing tools provide you with a more artful, creative, nuanced, fun and interesting experience.

If you want to write more, try making the practice of writing more artistic and creative and enjoyable from the start: with what pen you use to write!

Without further ado, here are three fountain pens that helped me fall in love with my journaling practice even more.

#1. Pilot Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen

Black Barrel, Classic Design, Medium Nib, Black Ink

Price: Under $20
Brand: Pilot
Quality: 6/10

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The Pilot Metropolitan is an ideal “first fountain pen.”

Pilot is a reputable brand that presents this easy-to-use and affordable fountain pen (around $18) that comes with adapter-style ink cartridges, meaning you don’t have to manually fill this fountain pen with a pump. The no-mess, no-spill cartridges are pierced for use upon insertion into the pen.

Look no further for a great introduction into the world of fountain pens at an awesome price.

My friend Ben Austin, who I mentioned above is a devout writer and advocate for fountain pens, generously bought this pen for me as a gift in 2015. Ben insisted that fountain pens would change my journaling practice, and he was right.

Although seemingly clunky and old school, fountain pens bring elegance, temperance, and intentionality to the art of writing. They make the art more… artful.

When you start to build a little collection and fill each with different inks, you realize that choosing a different instrument on each day is another nuanced (and colorful) act of personal choice and self-expression.

#2. LAMY 2000 Fountain Pen

Black, Extra-Fine Nib (L01EF) ~$165

Price: Around $150
Brand: LAMY
Quality: 10/10

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The Lamy 2000 is a strong, sturdy, traditional fountain pen of German engineering that boasts countless design awards and (maybe? maybe not?) was once on display at the Museum of Modern Art.

A healthy investment for a first fountain pen (ranging in price at any given time from $120 – $170), the LAMY 2000 is made to last.

Once described to me as “basically bomb-proof,” it’s constructed of black fiberglass and brushed stainless steel with a 14ct gold platinum-coated nib.

Basically, James Bond would write with this pen.

My LAMY was my second fountain pen, and I love it. I have been using it consistently for the last year, and I’ll often travel with this pen because it’s quite reliable and relatively unfazed by things like pressurized airplane cabins or dramatic swings of temperatures (like going from freezing temperatures in Rhode Island to tropical climates in Cuba). This is something that other fountain pens can be finicky about.

I opted for the ultra-fine nib for sharp line work, which suits my quick, impatient pen strokes. All in all, this pen is a spectacular and highly recommended option for writers of all levels.

BONUS Perfect Ink Pairing: Noodler’s Black Waterproof Fountain Pen Ink – Bulletproof, 3 ounce

Noodler’s Black Waterproof Ink was recommended to me to be paired with a LAMY 2000, and this has been the pair that I’ve worked with ever since.

Fast-drying, waterproof, and very thin ink that lasts a while to boot (for around $12), Noodler’s Black almost has the same sharpness as writing with a Pilot G2 Extra Fine roller pen, only it’s coming out of a super sharp pen that looks really cool and writes even better :)

I primarily write with this ink in my LAMY 2000 in a German-made Leuchtturm1917 notebook, whose pages hold the ink and nib to perfection.

#3. Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 Fountain Pen

Price: Around $900
Brand: Montblanc
Quality: 10/10

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The flagship Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 is regal, individually numbered, and hand-crafted with 18K gold nib and clip. It’s an instrument that affirms a sense of dignity and confidence in one’s own self-expression.

(Of course, I still write a lot of forgettable junk with mine!)

Full disclosure, my father gifted me his Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen, which was a gift given to him around 30 years ago. He hasn’t used it since.

While this pen is not a realistic investment for most of us (after all, I inherited mine), there’s something really special about writing with an extravagant instrument like this.

Each Montblanc is individually numbered, too, which makes each instrument feel particularly unique.

This pen has become my primary writing tool for everyday journaling.

For its bulky appearance, the Meisterstuck 149 is lightweight, easy to clean and relatively uncomplicated to write with. I inherited a medium nib, which is a larger pen stroke than I personally prefer, but it’s still quite lovely.

BONUS: Perfect Ink Pairing: Burgundy Red Montblanc Ink

I was told that Montblanc inks are the best for use with their pens — and frankly, I thought it only right to fill a fine pen with fine ink!

The burgundy red ink glides lightly over the paper, shining in a lively pink hue when the pen is just filled, and gradually fading a little darker as the well of the pen diminishes (I think it concentrates the color of the ink as it dries up to this shade of nearly-black). An indication that it’s time to rinse and refill, the pen reloads effortlessly with a little practice, and a spare towel to wipe excess dry.

I bought this particular bottle of Burgundy Red ink because it was something different than ordinary black — and it was on sale for around $14 at the time. The same bottle is now around $20, but the bottle will last hundreds and hundreds of pages.

Does writing with a fountain pen really matter?

It depends.

Writing with a fountain pen won’t necessarily make or break your writing. It’s not the tool you use that makes the writer. The pen you write with won’t make you a better writer or “look” like a “real” writer.

These fountain pens are what I have come to use and enjoy because they make my writing practice more fun, artful and creative-feeling.

Because a really nice fountain pen — like a really nice journal — can help your writing practice feel more artful, more creative, and way more personal. More “you.” In other words, these tools can help make the act of writing feel like it’s more than just skill-building. They can make the art of self-expression more “your own.”

Do you need to invest in a $1,000 fountain pen? Of course not.

But if the pens you use to write make you feel more expressive and invigorate your creative energy, your writing will certainly be better for it.

Happy writing,

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