Psst…Hey buddy…You got $15? That’s all it’s gonna take to get something I know you’re gonna dig.
Of all the “economy” class fountain pens available, none have a better quality to price ratio than the Pilot Metropolitan. Are there less expensive fountain pens available? Yes. Are there better fountain pens to be had? Without a doubt. Is there a fountain pen with the build quality of a Pilot Metropolitan for less than $20? Maybe, but I don’t know of one.
The first, second and third things we fountain pen dorks care about is the writing experience. If it doesn’t write well, then nothing else should matter. After all, that’s why we’re using a darn fountain pen in the first darn place. The stainless steel medium nib of the Pilot Metropolitan (PM) certainly delivers on this score. The only time I have any issues with the PM laying down a consistent line is when I’m circling from left to right and up with my writing motion. Occasionally, the line will thin out or even skip when I’m working on a “O” shape (see how the “o” of “overwriting” is a bit thinner in the picture of my hand?) or when I’m transitioning between the downward and upward motions on a check mark. I’m certain; however, that this minor issue has everything to do with the fact that I’m a left-handed “overwriter”. Folks writing at a more traditional angle will have no problems and I’m willing to tolerate the very rare thinning/skipping to write with a nib that’s this smooth at this price.
As you can see from the pictures, I’ve already violated my habit of using Waterman Florida Blue (WFB) as my go-to reviewing ink. Look, we both know this wasn’t going to last and besides, I got a whole bunch of inks for Christmas that I was “dyeing” (sorry) to use. We have Diamine Majestic Blue and Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki in the silver and black pens, respectively. (Finally, I’m able to spell “Iroshizuku” without having to look it up each time.) I won’t say too much about these inks here other than to say that both write wetter than WFB. Also, Majestic Blue is on the blacker side of blue than WFB and Iroshizuku Kon-peki is on the bluer side of blue than the slightly purple WFB. My early preference is for the Majestic Blue over the Kon-peki, but I need to see the Kon-peki in a finer nib before I say too much.
Back to the PM and its appearance. I would say the barrel is on the medium to thin/medium side when it comes to overall thickness in fountain pens and there is a noticeable step down from the body to the grip sections. It has a classic, nearly seamless shape and feel when capped and the tapered clip works well with the overall look of the PM. I mostly post this pen when writing as it feels just a bit too small and light when used sans post. The PM has always come in black or silver with different pattern swatches on the body section. Somewhat recently, Pilot issued a number of other finishes as well. Honestly, I’m of two minds when it comes to all these color/pattern variations. On the one hand, I would prefer that Pilot spend money providing alternatives for nib size (only available in medium) and/or offer a converter in the box (mine came with a con-20 sac). On the other hand, the color and pattern variations are fun and offer buyers options for themselves or when buying a PM as a gift. I guess Pilot knows better than I do; I bought the purple PM rollerball as a holiday present for a colleague.
The quality-to-cost ratio alone makes the Pilot Metropolitan a “Carry It” for me. I don’t actually carry one in my pocket, but I frequently have both my black and silver PMs inked and ready to go in my bag or pen case. I tend to load them with nontraditional colors (this review notwithstanding) to mark student assessments and write to-do-lists or other short notes in different colors.
The Pilot Metropolitan is like that favorite $9.99 bottle of wine that becomes a staple in a modest wine collection. When you’re not sure what wine to have with dinner and/or you’re hesitant to open that $19.99 bottle, the $9.99 staple remains a great option. Even if it doesn’t pair with the meal perfectly, it’s still better than having a diet soda. So, get two or three and put whatever inks you want in your Pilot Metropolitans. They’re a great go-to fountain pens that work for all your everyday needs.
Here are some other Pilot Metropolitan reviews (the PM may be the most widely reviewed pen of the last year or so):