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July 09, 2021 3 min read 20 Comments

For my very first fountain pen review, I thought it’d be fitting to start with my very first fountain pen. Like many folks my age, I wasn’t familiar with using fountain pens, so I took to the internet to research what my options were. One pen consistently popped up as a great choice for beginners: the Pilot Metropolitan. It seemed to check all the right boxes: solid performance, durable, and reasonably priced at around $20. Here, I’m going to write about some of its attributes, how it writes, as well as what I like and don’t like so much. Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments below.


Pilot Metropolitan Stats

One of the things that attracted me to the Metropolitan is its classic look. Its cigar-shaped brass body adds a bit of heft, so it feels substantial compared to plastic pens in the same price range.

 

Pen Size Comparison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I opted for it in black, though it does come in plenty of color/patterned variations. It has a standard clip and snap cap, making it fast to use when jotting a short, quick note. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The steel nib and plastic feed are friction fit and are easy to pull out for cleaning. This is a medium nib, which is a great all-around size. It makes a thinner line when compared to its European counterparts, like the Lamy Safari.

 

Metropolitan Nib

To fill, there are a few options. All of Pilot’s pens use proprietary converters. This means that a standard international cartridge or another company’s cartridges/converters won’t fit. The Metro comes with a squeeze converter as well as a black ink cartridge. The Pilot CON-40 piston converter will fit as well, but the larger CON-70 will not. This is one gripe about the Metropolitan: if you write a lot like me, you’ll have to refill frequently with the small cartridge converters. That said, it may be an excuse to try out a bunch of different ink colors.

 Cartridges

Here is a quick writing sample. It’s in our Field Journal (Dot Grid Refill), which uses Tomoe River 68 gsm paper. The ink is Iroshizuku Shinkai. As far as how it writes, here is the nib score (if you’d like to learn more about how I developed this nib score, click here). 


Flex: 3
Flow: 6
Feedback: 5

As a quick comparison to a pen in a similar price range, I rate the Lamy Safari as follows:

Flex: 2
Flow: 2
Feedback: 3

Lots of folks ask me for fountain pen recommendations. If they’re just starting out, the Metropolitan will always be one of the three that I suggest. Even though it was my first pen (and I’ve purchased many since), I still use the Metro on a semi-regular basis. It’s the perfect pen to keep at your desk to journal or to carry around town in case you quickly need to jot some notes. The durable, metal body makes a great knockaround everyday carry pen. It’s a solid writer at a great price and you can’t go wrong whether you’re new to fountain pens or have been using them for years.

What do you think? If you have a Metro (or several) do you agree or disagree with this assessment? If you’re new to fountain pens, do you have any other topics you’d like me to discuss? Let me know down in the comments below.




20 Responses

Patricia House
Patricia House

July 13, 2021

It’s a great coincidence that I just filled up my Metropolitan with Diamine Oxford Blue. It’s been over 2 years since I have done so. I have an extensive collection of all types of pens, old & new, expensive & cheap, from all around the world. I always have a couple of Pilots inked. They are wonderful across the board. Especially if you are a beginner. I think that finding the pens that fit your hand is as important as your choice of nibs. I suggest fine nibs for European brands & medium nibs for Japanese brands as a starting point. Then take time to see what you like and don’t like before you buy another pen. My first buys were my Metropolitan and a TSWBI Eco broad. Two VERY differect pens which made them so hard to compare. Also just use the cartridges that come with your pen (some brands don’t) before you spend money on other options- I have paid way too much money on inks I don’t use. And please use the best paper you can afford. It really makes a big difference in how you feel about pens & ink. If you have to choose between better paper or expensive ink, go with the better paper!

But like what you like and don’t worry about what others may tell you. It is your writing experience., so write your way. Even if it’s with a $5 pen.

Daniel DB
Daniel DB

July 13, 2021

I have been using fountain pens since I am 8 years old. 52 years later and counting I cannot see myself using anything else but fountain pens for all my journal entries and note-taking. I was lucky to have my grandfather who loved calligraphy and have some fountain pens handed down to me dating back to WWII. Metropolitan is a good choice for those starting out on their fountain pen journey. Though I am partial to Platinum, the Plassir would be another great choice to try. As with anything it comes down to personal preference with that said, Welcome! aboard the fountain pen bandwagon and hope you find it enjoyable as others and I do in the community.

Cathie Scott
Cathie Scott

July 12, 2021

I was slow to get a Pilot Metropolitan but it’s a solid pen and I like it even more with a plumix nib since I tend to prefer stub nibs

Cathie Scott
Cathie Scott

July 12, 2021

I was slow to get a Pilot Metropolitan but it’s a solid pen and I like it even more with a plumix nib since I tend to prefer stub nibs

Chris
Chris

July 12, 2021

@John: I completely agree. Pilot is probably my favorite company overall. Lots of solid writers in all price ranges.

Chris
Chris

July 12, 2021

@Don: More on the way! I’m a big fan of stubs too and have some of those reviews in the pipeline.

Chris
Chris

July 12, 2021

@Steve: I can definitely write a blog post on cleaning/maintenance. In the meantime, here’s a decent video of how to clean on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF9IRI5WxXg

Chris
Chris

July 12, 2021

@Derek: Yes, the feedback rating has to do with how smooth the nib is. I write about it more here: https://www.lochby.com/blogs/reviews/how-why-i-created-the-nib-score

If you’re getting blobs of ink, I wonder if tines are sprung/splayed. It’s a tricky issue, but there are a few YouTube videos out there that could help.

Chris
Chris

July 12, 2021

@Melody: Thank you! Esterbrook still makes good pens!

Chris
Chris

July 12, 2021

@Becky: I wouldn’t recommend flexing it, but I thought it’d be useful to see how soft it feels compared to other nibs.

Paperblogging
Paperblogging

July 12, 2021

Yes, the Metropolitan is a great starter pen. My first now has a very broken-in nib and is still a favorite. I also love the Pilot Kakuno. Designed to encourage Japanese schoolchildren to enjoy writing, the nib has a fun face on it. I love the clear demonstration version of the Kakuno. All the nibs of Pilot pens are easily interchangeable. I bought a Pilot Plumix Calligraphy Set which comes with fine, medium, and broad stub nibs, and switched those out into weightier Metropolitan pens. Oh, the fun of it all! (And then came typewriter collecting, but that is another story.)

Steve
Steve

July 12, 2021

Thanks for the reintroduction to the joys (and sorrows) or writing with fountain pens. It may be a bit of heresy to say I started again (after decades of nonuse) with a brand new Pilot Varsity. It’s easy to carry around but I can see trying to use the “better” fountain pens I have stored away. If you could tell us how you learned to clean your pens, I think it would help us newbies.

Derek Leman
Derek Leman

July 12, 2021

Can you explain what the Feedback rating is all about? Not a fountain pen user. Tried one recently and the second and third time I used it, the pen left blobs of ink in my journal making me #$%^! mad.

Patrick
Patrick

July 12, 2021

The Metropolitan was my first, too, and I still have a lot of affection for it, even though it sometimes leaves me with inky fingers. Because of its aluminum construction, the Metropolitan has a heft to it that you don’t get from, say, the Lamy Safari or the TWSBI, and I like that. Recently I’ve been reaching for my 1:1 stub nib Metro, and it has been a joy of rediscovery — filled with kon-peki blue and so much fun to write with.

Can I say a word for the joys of vintage fountain pens, which can be quite affordable even for beginners? Not always as reliable as modern ones, but they can deliver delights all their own, including a sense of history you can feel in your fingertips. When I first tried a 1950s Parker 51, I found myself in a whole other world.

Dany
Dany

July 12, 2021

Nice review.
I am sort of new to fountain pens. I’ve always dabbled but never really stuck with it. I would always get frustrated when I came to use one after a while and because I had left the ink in it for a long time, I had to go through the arduous process of cleaning out all the dry ink.
This time around, when I started my Bullet Journal, I got a little more serious and learned a lot about use and maintenance.
I actually started with a Graf von Faber-Castell that was a gift a few years ago. Now that the malady has struck, I’ve added to my collection.
Lamy 2000, and a couple of Kaweco AL Sport.
I’m now considering stub nibs… It’s all such fun.
Dany

John
John

July 12, 2021

Great review!! I have a gray Pilot Metropolitan and it got me hooked. Quickly escalated to pens like the Lamy 2000 and Sailor 1911L, but Pilot still seems to be ahead for me even in the more expensive range as the Vanishing point is the smoothest and best writing pen I have. Never would have gotten to those had started with a Lamy Safari instead of a Pilot Metropolitan.

Lee Young
Lee Young

July 12, 2021

Good job! Down to earth appraisal of a fountain pen. Reliability is an important piece of the puzzle in determining which is the right pen for an individual. I have a 50 year old Parker No-nonsense fountain pen with a steel nib that writes just as smoothly as my Mont-Blanc!

Don Bush
Don Bush

July 12, 2021

Would love to see more content like this!

I have several Metro’s and like them all. The FINE is nice and writes more like a European EXTRA-FINE which is great for my small handwriting style. I recently though started using Stub Nibs. The 1.1mm on the Lamy Safari’s and the 1.0mm on the Metro’s and they write great!

Don

Melody
Melody

July 12, 2021

This is great, thank you. I have always loved fountain pens since I was introduced to them in 8th grade English class. We were told to buy Esterbrook fountain pens and I was hooked.

Becky
Becky

July 12, 2021

Why try to flex a Metropolitan steel nib?!

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