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.

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99 thoughts on “Lamy Safari Review

  1. I thought we were a bit excessive having two Safaris and an AL-star between us! That’s a lot of Safaris. Great pens, though.

  2. I’ve never seen any here in the UK, but they are owned by Bic, and the clip looks identical to pens sold here under the Bic brand.

    Doesn’t help all that much, though, as I’ve never had a Bic either – maybe Gary will wander past, I think he got a Bic that looked a lot like a Stypen a while ago.

  3. Nope – no correlation. I’ve had a black Safari that was a dry writer, and a red one that was very wet, and they both had black nibs.

  4. I just purchased a Lamy Safari, fine nib off of Worldlux. Does anyone have any recommendations for ink though? I bought 5 Lamy black cartridges along with a converter, but I’m unsure which bottled ink to go with. Heard lots of good things about Noodle’s bulletproof though, but how good would it be on say.. a Moleskine notebook.

    I’ve grown rather fond of mine and the Parker fountain pen I’ve been using has been fairly good with it, not bleeding through pages and such, but I’ve heard bad things about other inks/pens.

    Thoughts?

  5. You said you found some Safaris to be wet writers and some to be dry. Does that correlate with whether they have bright metal nibs, or black lacquered ones like the one in your picture? (I think which you get depends on the finish of the pen.)

  6. Thanks for your quick reply! I thought the ink ran down the inside of what looks like a piece of corrugated plastic (inside the many rings stacked along the length of the pen) inside the grip? The ink I’m seeing is on the inner wall of the see-through grip (covering up those “rings” in places). Hard to describe, but it sounds like you know what I’m talking about.

    I flushed water back and forth many, many times but it never moved the ink on the inner walls of the grip. The water doesn’t seem to reach this area.

    I won’t mess with it unless someone has taken it apart (and has pictures), if that’s even possible.

    Thanks again, Matt

  7. Lamy Safari fountain pen is my favourite. I have three always with me (orange & red, black and transparent) and two as back up (alu and grey) at home.

  8. You might just have been unlucky. I’ve also heard of pens where the feed doesn’t work too well at first because of oils left over from manufacturing. In these cases, flushing out a few times with some water with a bit of detergent (washing up liquid) in it can help – breaks down the oils and cleans out the feed. It can also be down to a faulty feed or a bad nib.

    Cartridges are usually less problematic than converters – they are usually a bit wider in diameter, so they let the ink flow inside a bit more easily.

    Lamy generally have a good reputation for service, so it might be worth contacting them or their Australian distributer, see if they’ll fix it.

  9. Hi Jot,

    Noodler’s is certainly good stuff, and the Eternal black has worked well for me on Moleskine paper. It tends to feather less than most inks.

    If you’ve been happy with the Lamy ink, you can always get that in bottles, too – Lamy do nice bottles.

  10. I returned my Parker Sonnet Matte Black to the local fountain pen specialist in Sydney because it had a problem: When writing it would “skip”. When writing the letter A or putting in a commma, or just starting a new sentence it would skip and the letter would be incomplete. So in its stead I bought a Diplomat Attache, which is absolutely beautiful in every way, and a Lamy Al-Star. Son of a proverbial, the Al-Star has exactly the same problem as the Parker. It can be incredibly frustrating. Has anyone had this problem? It may be because I use cartridges, or at lesat with the Lamy I do, and they seem to be more bubbles than ink. I just can’t win. Of course, apart from the fact that it won’t write, I like the pen itself. It looks good, it’s solid and it feels nice, and the few times it has worked perfectly it has written as beautifully as pens far more expensive. I think it’s just bad luck, but time will tell.

  11. By the way, has anyone ever heard of Stypen, and are they any good?

  12. After researching fountain pens on this website, I bought a disposable Pilot v4 (Varsity in England) and it was awesome. So decided I wanted to buy a fountain pen made to last. I ordered a Safari Al-Star (with a converter) and I’m really happy with it. The extra fine nib allows me to draw thin lines to very very thin lines. With practice you can draw about like a .005 Micron, but it’s tough to pull off. I have to hold the pen upside down to get that line quality. Holding the pen correctly or upside down is actually feels great. The holder shape works both ways.

    As an American, I had trouble finding this pen in stores. In fact, as far as I can tell, you can’t buy it in any stores. I had to order it online. If anyone is interested, I ordered from pencity.com (as linked from Lamy USA) and had no issues.

    So now I have my wide fountain pen, the V4, and my fine Safari for my work. Thanks for all of the information on this site. I plan on buying Noodler’s Ink soon but I am waiting until the Lamy ink runs out or I’m bored with it. I’m thinking Bulletproof black and then convincing myself to buy another Safari with Grey Noodler’s ink. Man this got addicting fast…

  13. Hi Nylisk,

    Glad we could help. The AL-star is a great pen – I find it a bit more comfortable than the Safari, for some reason – the barrel is just a touch thicker. The nib works well upside down, for very fine lines, as you say. The V4 pens aren’t great, but they’re not at all bad, and amazing value for money. The nibs wouldn’t seem too out of place on a pen many times the price.

    If you get the Noodler’s Black, you could always try mixing some with water to get a grey – I’ve not tried it, but it should work ok – it’s water-based ink. You’d probably only need a surprisingly weak mixture, too. Once you’ve got through a couple of bottles, you’ll have saved as much as the price of the second Safari 😉

  14. I personally use nothing but the LAMY turquoise, and it looks great mixed with just a tiny bit of black. it’s a bit of an unusual color, but that’s been what I’ve used all year. (that’d be in a LAMY AL-star, medium nib)

  15. We both used a mix I made for quite a while – Parker Quink Blue-Black with a little Noodler’s Eternal Black. The Quink Blue-Black actually dries to a turquoisey shade, so it might have ended up as a similar colour.

  16. I took it back to the shop, and they gave me a new nib – the one that had been attached to the display model. So the nib they gave me was more “broken in”. I’m very happy with the pen now, and I take it everywhere I go, though it is not the cheapest I have. Just today, I went back and bought a Lamy Joy (with aluminium cap) in a 1.1 calligraphic nib, and I have to say it’s beautiful. It can make crappy handwriting look classical and elegant, or at least confident, and is a pleasure to hold, though it is not very portable because of its extra length. So I am no longer disgusted with Lamy. Unfortunately, their blue ink is washable and thus fades after use, which I don’t specially like, but I can always comfort myself that a converter is a mere AU$7 away. But in any case, problem seems to be solved. Thanks for your help though, I’ll remember that when using my next few fountain pens coming in the mail next week. Cheers, Anthony.

  17. Absolutely love it, especially the grip and the lightness. I got my first when I was 11 years old, thats almost 12 years ago now and I still use the safari. Too bad I lost the original one during cycling a few years back, I spend two hours looking for it, but no luck. I actually felt sad that day, as if I had lost a favo pet.. I instantly bought a new one, it took a while to settle, but its okay now, though I do seem to have a problem since switching to black ink; every time I pull off the cap it sorta spills a few drops on the grip.. Might be time for safari #3?

  18. I am noticing that the Lamy blue ink fades. I’m wondering if the black fades as well. Has anyone tried mixing these two together? Btw, I carry 5 Lamy pens with me everywhere – one Vista, two Al-Star, and two Safaris. That way I have blue ink and green ink (each with an extra fine nib) as well as pink and blue ink (with the 1.1 calligraphy nib), and hot pink ink (with a 1.5 calligraphy nib). It makes work a lot more fun! I am able to buy the nibs separately here in Canada at specialty pen shops in Toronto that carry Lamy.

  19. Thanks again pigpogm.
    I still can’t get visions of ink pools oozing from my bag.I have read other sites that say you have to be very careful and keep it upright when not in use etc etc or it will leak and/or stop working but i will trust you and move past my inky fears…..ha ha.

    ) honeybee

  20. That doesn’t sound good. Unless it’s very odd paper, though, it doesn’t sound like the Safari is working as it should. Are you using cartridges or a converter? Does it work ok on other paper?

    It may also be partly down to the ink you’re using – some inks ‘feather’ more than others – spreading into the paper fibres. This sounds like a bit more of a problems than just feathering, though.

  21. It isn’t good at all. The nib works fine on other paper.I think my journal paper must have a coating of some kind on it. My Uniball 1.0 Jetstream works fine on the same paper.I wrote a letter to make sure the nib was working and then wrote another full page in my journal and the nib worked ok for about half the A4 page and then became all scratchy and could barely write at all. I am hoping the standard nibs, maybe a medium,won’t collect whatever is on the surface of the journal.The journal is cheap but I have been using them for years.Hard cover A4 with over a hundred thick blank white pages of drawing paper for less than $20 aussie dollars.I don’t think i can give them up.I haven’t been able to find anything else even close to that and i go through one every month or so.I really need to sort this out!! i am using Lamy black ink cartridges.

  22. Wow! this blog is very informative!

    well being a young f pen enthusiast in a ballpoint city is very hard. ive been barly surviving on a cheap sheaffer calligrafy pen since i have no nearby pen shops. So one day my friend showed me hid waterman philieas. very good until it started skipping. Then one day while surfing the web the vista came up alot on blogs about moleskine(yes i like moleskines too. Moleskine and the perfect f pen is my current obsession) So i researched it and the vista seemed good.

    I ordered it on amazon with a converter, and some private reserve midnight blues bottled ink. So can any one give me VERY DETAILED FEEDBACK! on: The Lamy vista/ care and use tips converter/care and use tips and Private Reserve midnight blues bottled ink/moleskine compatability and how it works on the vista/saturation.

    If you return this great request i will be SO GLAD since i hate looking on google for raw info since no one else knows about f pens where i live.

    thankyou.

  23. I have bought a Safari today. It’s great in every way, but I am not sure if the cap will hold tight. I have a feeling that the clutching mechanism inside the cap is not perfect, and it might come off its own in a few months. Am I right?

  24. I’ve no way of knowing if your pen cap will come loose in a few months! The Safari’s cap should click fairly securely into place. It can come off a little too easily with a push sideways, they shouldn’t come loose without being pulled or twisted. None of mine have become noticeably looser with time.

  25. I recently purchased a Lamy Safari Al and love it. However, there is ink on the inside of the clear plastic finger hold. This doesn’t hurt the performance at all but next time I refill my convert, I’d like to clean it. I’ve tried setting this portion of the pen in a glass of water but the ink is still there. It appears the feeder needs to come out of the finger hold portion of the pen before it can be cleaned.

    Does anyone know how to do this? There is a little square notch under the nib. There is probably a tool to turn this (CW?, CCW?) to remove it.

    Thanks! Matt

  26. I am now using my new Safari in black!

    I ordered it with the fine nib and the converter on Tuesday from The Writing Desk as you recommended, and it arrived this morning (fast despatch).

    It writes nicely and is smooth, with no ink flow problems- just loaded some Quink and worked straight away.

    And in case you were wondering, my Parker converter didn’t fit.

  27. Glad you like it – thanks for coming back to answer the converter question.

  28. Hi Honeybee,

    If it’s carried or stored for a long time with the nib down, it could leak a little ink into the cap, but I’ve carried Safaris about pretty roughly and never had any trouble. They don’t need much in the way of careful handling.

  29. The ink should at least partly fill the section – the part you actually hold. On some models (AL-star and Vista) that part is clear plastic, and you can see the ink inside the grip – the idea is that you can see the ink running low a bit before it runs out, so you get a bit more idea of how much is left than just being able to see the cartridge or converter.

    I may get around to photographing my Vista at some point – you can see the ink very clearly in there, filling the whole of the section.

  30. i haven’t read all the posts yet and this discussion my be well and truly over but i just bought a lamy safari with 1.1 italic nib from pen city and i have never used a fountain pen before. i am wondering if it is safe to carry this pen around in a bag and i was wondering if it needs to be stored upright or if i can just leave it lying near my journal. thanks all.

  31. help!!! i just tried my new lamy safari with the 1.1 italic nib to write in my journal and it totally hateds the paper.a few lines went ok then i really started to struggle,the line got thinner and thinner and patchier and patchier and 14 lines in i have had to give up. pen city said i could change nibs within a month of my purchase. would any other nibs cope better with thick visual diary paper? thank-you : )

  32. I got my Safari a few days ago and I like it a lot. Got it in Charcoal, Fine Point. I want more now, perhaps one in each nib size. Is it just me, or does the ink from the disposable Pilot Varsity pens really stink to high heaven? I wrote a few lines with a Varsity and could smell the ink accross the room. Oh well, cheap pen, probably cheap ink as well. Peace!

  33. Over here in the UK, the Varsity is known as the V4 or the VPen. I’ve never noticed any smell from the ink. My old Cross Ion gel pen had really smelly ink – smelled like curry.

    I think the VPen/Varsity is a pretty impressive pen for the money – a real metal nibbed fountain pen for the price of a disposable ballpoint. The fact that it’s disposable is enough to stop me wanting to actually use one, though.

  34. The Smile has been around for a while now, but it’s still fairly recent. I haven’t actually seen one, but it’s one of the Safari ‘family’.

  35. Thanks for that pigpogm. I still can’t quite believe it won’t leak on me. What does ‘pretty roughly’ mean….does that mean laying horizontal a lot of the time when not in use and carrying it at the bottom of your bag when you are out and about? I so hope that is what you mean.I will feel much confident about it then. thanks : )

  36. Most inks will fade somewhat if they’re exposed to light – I’ve not noticed Lamy ink being worse than any others, but I haven’t done any sort of testing, either.

    Lamy Blue-Black should be pretty much fade-proof, because it’s an iron gall ink. It’s also a bit more risky to use in your pens, because iron gall inks contain particles that can clog up the feed, and they’re acidic. Presumably Lamy are confident that all of their pens can handle the stuff, though. Noodler’s ‘Eternal’ inks should be about as permanent as you can get, too – as permanent as the paper, at least.

    Over here in the UK, The Writing Desk supply spare Lamy nibs – I may have to turn my Vista into an italic pen next time I’m ordering from them. I don’t suppose it’ll be long before I’ll start drooling over another shade of ink…

  37. Hi Matt,

    The inside of the grip is the feed – the ink that’s in there is the ink that’s flowing to the nib – there’s no way to keep it out and have the pen work. Dismantling the feed is probably not a good idea. I think the square notch is the breather hole, letting air back into the feed, and letting the ink flow in quickly when filling the converter.

    If you have a converter, you can use that to flush water back and forth through the feed, and it should eventually come reasonably clean, but as soon as you put ink in it again, the feed will fill up with ink again.

  38. If it works ok on ‘normal’ paper, I doubt a different nib would make much difference, unfortunately. Sounds like the paper in your journal just isn’t fountain pen friendly. A round nib (like just a Medium or Fine) might be better, but probably not much different.

  39. Moleskine paper is quite thin. I use fountain pens in it, but you do get a bit of bleed-through.

    Private Reserve inks are highly saturated, so the only thing to watch for is a slightly higher risk of clogging than with most inks. It’s not really anything to worry about, but you should probably flush the pen through with water every few months, and if you’re going to leave it unused for a while (more than a week or so, perhaps), empty and flush it first.

    You don’t really need to do anything to look after the converter, and if it ever breaks, they’re cheap and easy to replace.

  40. I hope it does make a difference.I really want to write in my journal with a fountain pen. Maybe it is time for me to hunt for another large, cheapish, hard cover, A4, blank page journal. I will see if the pen city dudes have any ideas. Thanks. Honeybee : )

  41. Lamy blue-black ink is iron gall ink, which is acidic, but Lamy say their own pens are OK with it. I believe other Lamy inks are not acidic, at least not to the extent that they will cause any pen a problem. You’d be better off going to Lamy’s own Web site [ Link: http://www.lamy.com/index_eng.html ] and asking them, to make certain.

  42. The Safari sounds like a good buy but I have a question. I am a lefty and I usually end up smearing ink that I use because my hand goes over what I just wrote. Will this be a problem with the Safari? Also, I usually need to write in very small ledgers so should I get a fine or extra fine point? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  43. Hi Archer48,

    If you smudge your hand over what you’ve just written, any fountain pen is going to be a problem. The ink will make more difference than the pen. That said, a pen that writes reasonably dry lines – doesn’t put as much ink down on the page – is likely to be best for you. Safaris can vary – of the ones I’ve had, one has been quite dry, but at least a couple of them are really quite wet writers.

    If you need to write very small, the extra fine might be the better bet. The finer the nib, the less ink they’ll usually put down, too, which might help with the smudging problem.

    You might get some good ideas by posting your questions on the Fountain Pen Network – there are plenty of lefties there who use fountain pens, and people may be able to advise on quick drying inks. A quick search there might even answer your questions – you probably won’t be the first person to ask.

  44. Bang goes another nice hypothesis 🙂 I heard of someone who patiently chipped the lacquer off because he thought a plain nib worked better, which is why I asked.

  45. Hi,

    I am a student in the UK and after reading this review, I am considering buying a Safari to replace my Parker Jotter stainless steel fountain pen which fell off a desk and damaged the nib.

    However, I would like to know if the Parker converter pump would work in the Safari so I can use bottled ink and refill it.

    If anybody knows or is able to try, it would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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