Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen Review

The Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is a very affordable recent addition to Pilot Pens available in the USA. The current manufacturer’s retail price is less than $20.00, making it an attractive choice for a first fountain pen, for a pen that you might leave at the office or even for taking notes in class. To help you decide if this pen suits your personal taste, we’ll take a closer look at some of its features.

The first thing you might notice about this pen is that both ends of the pen are tapered making it rather cigar-shaped. The back end of the pen is tapered slightly more than the cap end to enable the cap to be securely posted while you’re writing. The body and snap-on cap are both made of metal for long-lasting use without cracking.

The Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is available in three different matte finishes: black, silver and a champagne gold. All of these colors come with a silver colored chrome clip, trim and nib and a smooth black ABS plastic grip. The middle part of the pen body is accented by a wide glossy band that is either plain or subtly decorated with dots or a zig-zag pattern.

The Metropolitan comes equipped with a medium tip steel nib. When I compare the line width this Japanese medium nib produces to the line width of LAMY’s German steel nibs, it is somewhere in-between a LAMY fine nib and a LAMY medium nib. Not as fine as the LAMY fine, but not as broad as a LAMY medium nib. The nib on my Metropolitan proved to be a nice smooth writer and the ink flow is generous with Pilot’s black ink. The nib is engraved with some fine lines and says “Pilot M Japan” on it.

The Metropolitan does come with both an ink cartridge and an ink converter which is unusually generous for a fountain pen in this price range. The squeeze style converter allows you to fill this pen with bottled fountain pen ink instead of just using Pilot ink cartridges. The drawback to this style of converter is that it does not fill with a large quantity of ink and since it is not clear you can’t see what your current ink level is. You can purchase a clear piston-style CON-50 Pilot ink converter if you decide you want to upgrade. Or you can even refill your empty ink cartridges using a blunt tip needle bottle. This pen uses proprietary Pilot Namiki ink cartridges and is not compatible with standard universal cartridges. Since the body of this pen is metal, it is not suitable to be converted to eyedropper fill.

This fountain pen currently comes packaged in a contemporary black Pilot gift box that fits inside a black heavy stock Pilot sleeve. This is also very generous for a fountain pen of this price.

The Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen approximate weight and sizes are: 0.9 oz, 0.5” diameter, 5 1/4″ capped, 4 3/4″ uncapped, 5 7/8″ posted.

(Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen Writing Test)

After writing with the Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen I feel that it really offers outstanding value and quality for a bargain price. The pen is well constructed, writes smoothly and currently comes with extras such as an ink converter and nice gift box. Are any of you writing with the Metropolitan? Would you recommend this as a beginner fountain pen?

(Here’s my Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen.)

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Choosing Your Fountain Pen Ink Color Online

(J. Herbin Fountain Pen Ink Vert Pre)

As you’re shopping online for a new bottle of fountain pen ink, likely the ink color samples you see on your computer, tablet or smartphone have a big influence on what you decide to purchase. Can you trust what you see on your computer monitor? Do you ever wonder how the ink samples are made?

When we first started producing samples of fountain pen ink colors for our online store, we used a special color calibrated computer monitor and made careful adjustments with graphics software to make sure the color sample looked as close to real life as possible from our viewpoint. The flaw in this method is that most shoppers do not use color calibrated computer monitors. As a result, the ink color samples look different to each shopper because each shopper uses a different monitor or smartphone to view the samples. Since then, we have intentionally purchased computer monitors that are a variety of different brands so that we can compare and see what our shoppers might be seeing. Even so, it is not possible with current technology to make sure that each one of you sees a completely accurate sample of each ink color when you are shopping online.

Other retailers have made ink samples that don’t even display real ink swatches or handwriting at all. Graphics software is used to pick the color and then a computer font that looks like handwriting is used to create a “handwritten” color sample. This also has disadvantages. When you look at the color variations in the ink samples below, can you see how it would be difficult to decide what part of the sample it would be best to pick the color from? A computer generated color sample does not give you any idea of the shading or opacity of the ink. Plus, it still does not change the fact that each of you are using different computers and smartphones that each display colors slightly differently.

If you are a regular shopper at Writer’s Bloc, you may have noticed that many of our ink color samples look like this:

(Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts bottled fountain pen ink sample)

We decided to come up with a standardized way of creating our online fountain pen ink samples so that you might be able to discern some of the ink’s characteristics before you decide to buy. Each sample is handwritten with the actual ink, in the same calligraphy style, using a Brause dipping pen with a Steno nib. The “swish” above the handwriting is made with an inked cotton swab and goes from left to right so that the heaviest ink application is on the left and the lightest on the right. The paper used is always bright white 90g Clairefontaine French-ruled paper. (Note: the ink photos on our website that include the ink bottle or cartridges in the photo are meant to give you a general idea of the ink color and are NOT meant to be the primary color sample for the ink.)

What are some of the advantages of this method? Clairefontaine is known as one of the best papers in the world for writing, and it performs exceptionally well with fountain pens.  This paper is very good at eliminating or reducing writing problems that are common on low-grade paper such as ink feathering and ink bleeding through the paper. By the way, if ink happens to bleed or feather while we are making our samples, we do not retouch the samples or re-write them to try and get rid of the feathering – we just use them the way they are to help you discern the character of the ink. The Clairefontaine paper is a bright white color so it does not detract from the color of the fountain pen ink.

Why use French-ruled paper and not blank paper? The lines on the French-ruled paper help you to see how opaque or how transparent the ink is. Can you see the lines on the paper through the ink sample? For example, Noodler’s Eel Polar Black ink is very opaque:

And J. Herbin’s Vert Pre ink is more transparent:

The Brause Steno nib allows you to see what your writing might look like using a fountain pen with a fine to medium size nib. The Steno nib is a flex nib, so the line width in the samples varies. The cotton swab generated “swish” above the writing helps you to see what kind of shading the ink might have. Noodler’s Ink Habannero has some nice shading to it:

To prepare the color samples for our online store, the ink samples written on Clairefontaine paper are simply scanned, cropped and re-sized. That’s it. They are not retouched or enhanced by graphics software in any other way.

Even though we have a standardized system for creating our ink color samples, each of you will see the color a little bit differently depending on your own personal monitor or screen. Each of you will be writing on different kinds and colors of paper, using different nib sizes and you all have different handwriting. This too can affect the way an ink looks as you write with it. Our wish is to give you the most realistic online ink samples possible to help you choose your fountain pen ink!

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When is a standard ink converter not a standard ink converter?

(Pelikan standard universal ink converter)

Not too long ago as we were trying to use an ink converter in a new fountain pen we made an interesting discovery. Not all “standard” fountain pen ink converters are created equal. I’m not talking about the filling mechanism, quality, appearance, length or ink capacity, I’m talking about the part of the converter that attaches to the pen. One would assume that all “standard” converters would be able to attach correctly to all pens that take “standard” cartridges and converters, but this simply is not true.

(Monteverde standard international ink converter)

Take for example the standard ink converter made by Pelikan. It is a good price and has a slightly larger ink capacity than some other standard converters, but it does not attach correctly to all pens that take standard converters. I grabbed my collection of school fountain pens and did an experiment. I tried to attach both the Pelikan and the Monteverde standard ink converters to each one of them with varying success. Here are the results:

Type of Fountain Pen Pelikan Converter Monteverde Converter
Pelikan Script X
Borghini ?
Unknown X
Pilot Vortex X

✓ = fit correctly
X = did not fit
? = was not sure

Even though both of the “standard” ink converters, particularly the Pelikan, did not fit all pens equally, short standard universal ink cartridges worked in all of the pens.

(J. Herbin standard universal ink cartridges)

Our conclusion?  If you don’t want any surprises, if possible, buy an ink converter that is the same brand as the pen you plan to use it in. For the most foolproof results stick to short standard universal ink cartridges since they seem to be able to fit into all “standard” fountain pens.

Have you had any similar experiences with fountain pen ink converters?

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