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