Lamy Safari Review

The Lamy Safari is a fairly cheap fountain pen – perhaps the cheapest you can get that’s actually good.

Lamy Safari - Close up of Nib

(Click any pictures to see them on Flickr, with notes, comments, and bigger sizes available.)

  • Plain ABS plastic casing.
  • Simple design.
  • Takes cartriges or a converter, but the converter is not supplied. Budget a little extra if you want to use bottled ink.

Looks

Personally, I like the way this pen looks, but it’s not for everyone. It’s quite different in styling to most fountain pens, and the case is plastic rather than laquer. The oversized ‘paperclip style’ pocket clip is effective, but not very decorative.

As I said, I like it, but it’s not going to fool anybody into thinking it cost you a lot of money.

The unusual look even continues to the nib. There’s none of the usual flared shape, polished two-tone metal, or swirly engravings. It’s just plain black-coated metal, with “LAMY” and a letter for the nib width marked on it.

It’s all very understated and minimalist, and that appeals to me.

Lamy Safari on Moleskine

Feel

For a plastic pen, this actually feels really good. The ABS plastic used for the body feels strong and firm. The screw thread on the barrel feels very precise, and it all has a sensation of quality about it that cheap plastic pens never normally manage.

In Use

This is where this pen shines. The ink flow starts instantly, and doesn’t require any pressure on the paper to keep going. It can keep up even with scribbling and sketching, and although the nib is fairly firm, you can still get a bit of variation to the line width.

Push down firmly, and the nib will give you a thicker line. Turn it upside down for another trick – the top edge of the nib will still write, and writes with a narrower line. The shape of the pen makes it uncomfortable to use that way for long, but if you need a few quick thin lines, it can be a handy trick.

Compared with some other pens (the Parker 45, for example), the Safari is slightly scratchy in feel, but it’s not at all unpleasant, and the flow is still perfectly smooth.

Lamy Safari Sample Scribbles

If you like a fairly heavy pen, this isn’t it. The safari is very light, with very little resistance to moving it quickly. For some reason, though, it doesn’t seem to be prone to the sort of shaky lines I sometimes end up with when using very light pens. The balance point is almost exactly in the centre. Pop the cap on the top for writing or drawing, though, and this pen becomes a bit heavier, and very top-heavy. I find it quite uncomfortable to use this way, so I never post the cap.

Oh, and that all-important question for many of you – any good on Moleskine paper? Well, that will depend on the ink, but the Lamy black ink that comes in their cartriges works really quite well. It’s a bit slow drying, so I tend to smudge it quite badly, but doesn’t feather too much, and doesn’t show through to the next page much at all.

Conclusion

I love this pen. It’s the first fountain pen I’ve used that really performs how I expect a good fountain pen to perform. Before this, almost every one I’ve tried has been disappointing. After this, others have a lot to live up to.

Certainly if you’re looking for a good fountain pen to use, this is about the best you’ll find for the money. Alternatives? You could look at some of the Parker pens. Their really cheap fountain pens really aren’t too bad, and a bit more money can get you some nice ones. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, Pelikan make some of the best pens around, and Lamy make some great pens further upmarket too.

For the money, though, the Safari really does perform.

Related

99 thoughts on “Lamy Safari Review

  1. I e-mailed Lamy a while back to ask about their blue-black ink. The person who replied didn’t have perfect English (I can’t speak German) but as far as we understood each other, said there was no problem using Lamy blue-black iron gall ink in any Lamy pen, which would include Safari.

    I haven’t tried a Safari, but experience with Faber-Castell and Paper Mate ballpoints leads me to think it’s too thin for my hands. When a pen has a triangular barrel, I seem to need it fatter than usual, as the Paper Mate PhD Ultra is. The Faber-Castells are too thin to be comfortable. Strangely, I seem to get on better with round or hexagonal barrels if the pen/pencil is thin.

  2. Thanks for the quick reply, I just thought it may be worth asking because the end looks quite similar.

    Now I just need to decide whether I go for the black Safari or silver-blue Al-Star!

  3. It’s just about possible it will fit (I haven’t tried), but you’d be much better off with the real Lamy converter. The Lamy converter has a pair of lugs on the converter that slot into the pen, and locks it in place, so it can’t twist around as you fill it. Lamy’s converter is £2.50, but it’s worth getting rather than pushing a Parker one in there and hoping it doesn’t leak. The Writing Desk have them, along with the Safari itself, and even spare nibs.

  4. H Honeybee,

    I’ve had a Safari knocking about in a bag, in a pocket, and clipped to the neck of my t-shirt. Never had a problem. Most fountain pens aren’t as delicate as people tend to think.

    I have an old Parker Slimfold, from around the 1940s or 1950s, which tends to spill ink into its cap rather easily, and open-nibbed Sheaffer Snorkels can be a bit messy if shaken, but I have a 1940s Sheaffer Tucky clipped to my t-shirt neck today, which knocks about with no problems. The only time my Pelikan M600 has dripped into its cap is when it got knocked flying out of my t-shirt, and bounced across the supermarket car park – not something I’d recommend with a £140 pen, but it was fine.

    The Safari is probably about as tough as fountain pens get – drop it on the nib on a hard surface, and you’ll probably do some damage, but they’re ok other than that. And even then, a replacement nib is fairly cheap compared to most other pens.

  5. Is the nib flexible enough to give some line variation so i could use it to write some decent copperplate script?

  6. No, not even close. The Safari has a fairly stiff steel nib. You can get a little extra width with quite a bit of pressure, but nowhere near enough for copperplate script. Very few modern pens have the sort of flex you need. A dip pen may be your best option, or a custom-ground nib if you don’t mind the expense.

  7. The Lamy’s are quite interesting; I do agree that at that price there’s nothing better.

    That doesn’t mean they’re perfect, of course, but for someone like me who has a tendency to lose or break a nib, they’re at the right cost point. They’ve definitely been around in Europe and the United Kingdom (where fountain pens are far more common) a long time and in the States now the Lamy is the cheapest brand that a “fountain pen store” will carry.

    There are a few things I’ve found to be aware of. Firstly, I lean towards a narrower nib, but the Lamy medium’s fine enough for me; I’ve gone finer in the past but I think the feel of the pen suffers and becomes scratchy. Secondly, I’ve (sadly) noticed that Noodler’s Ink Bulletproof Black, which is otherwise fantastic, is not a good match — the Lamy nib errs towards sliding off (as opposed to scratching in) and the Noodler’s doesn’t help. (On the other extreme is Quink “Permanent Blue” — sadly not permanent at all, fades very quickly, but of course that’s not Lamy’s problem.)

    Finally, the quality variation from pen to pen varies — simply due to manufacturing tolerances being rather wide I suppose. Since I tend to lose these guys every few months, I’ve sampled a large number of different Safaris and they vary from the wonderful to the just OK.

  8. Yes, now that I’ve used a few, I’ve found quite a bit of variation between them. Most seem to tend towards being dry writers, and although they can flex a little with quite a bit of pressure, they dry out after a couple of centimetres when under pressure. Great solid pens, though, and the nibs are nice and cheap to replace if you damage one or just fancy a different width.

  9. I just read the 06 post below and want to ask about a Sheaffer Snorkel. I was given one in 1954-55 and lost it within a couple of months – what can I say, I was only 14. It cost a lot for a pen in those days but I really wanted it so my mother gave it to me for Christmas. I have always wanted another one and wonder if they are still available anywhere.

    pigpogm > October 22nd, 2006 at 13:37 > I don’t have a Vista, but they do look good. Same as the Safari, but clear. We’ve got an AL-star now, which is slightly different – a bit chunkier, which I like. > I don’t use the Safari or AL-star much any more – they don’t stack up quite so well to a 1950s Parker 51 or Sheaffer Snorkel – but I still keep the AL-star around, as it’s one of the most confortable and reliable pens you can buy.

  10. @nbt – there are still plenty around, through vintage dealers and eBay, but they may need servicing before they’ll work.

  11. I have a Lamy Safari and have had nothing but trouble with it. It skips. Cheap but good is not a reputation this pen gets.

  12. Hi Jenny,

    Skipping shouldn’t be a problem with a Safari. The Lamy nibs don’t take well to pressing on hard enough to bend them, and can skip then, but in normal use they shouldn’t ever skip.

    Assuming it’s decent fountain pen ink (or Lamy cartridges) you’re using, it sounds like a faulty pen. Probably best to take it up with the retailer you got it from.

    If that’s not possible for any reason, it could be worth trying a new nib – a nib problem is probably more likely than the feed, and Lamy nibs are reasonably cheap.

  13. thanks for the great review!my biggest question, ‘is it moleskine friendly?’ has been answered, so i’m quite excited to try it out.

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  16. Lamy have released a glossy white version of this pen. I love white and from what I’ve read from your review, this should be an absolute steal. Turquoise ink too, with the converter. Sold.

  17. Hello

    I have a LAMY Safari as well, as my first fountain pen apart from cheap Rivieres, I can say that its an amazing pen. Granted, it is not perfectly smooth but for the way I write it does it almost flawlessly.

    I think you forgot to mention that the nib of the Safari ccab be removed as well, just hold the metal nib and pull it. I currently use an extra fine nib and it’s been very wonderful with my small handwriting

    • Yes, the interchangeable nibs are an advantage – I probably didn’t know about them at the time of initially writing the review. A bit of sticky tape stuck to the top surface of the nib makes it easier, and just push the replacement on by the sides, not the tip. Occasionally the feed will pop out with the nib, but it just pushes back in.

  18. Its a different experiance using A LAMY safari , I just enjoy it.

  19. dude… im new to FP’s… i live in INDIA…. here a parker pen is priced at 450rs for which i get a good looking metal finish… and on the other hand a Lamy safari vista for 1500rs…. looks plastic n some times bit cheap…. now my question is…. how does the Lamy safari vista with a fine nib perform for writing regular collage notes etc etc…. thankxx in adv… eagerly waiting for your reply… and also help me weather the price difference between these 2 pens really worth….??

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