Pen vs Nib Poll Results


The results are in from last month’s poll.

Fountain Pen vs Nib Poll

Fountain Pen vs Nib Poll

Nibs win!

You folks really like your nibs. Looks count but nibs count more.

I’m with you. Not that a pretty piece won’t turn my head but if it’s got a stinky nib, all the looks in the world are wasted on me. Better the pen should go to someone who will appreciate it. Actually, comfort matters more to me than appearance but that’s a subject for a different post.

86% of you want good if not great nibs. Thus companies that fail to make quality nibs a priority are missing what makes fountain pens worth buying. Some companies think so little of their pens that they offer nibs in one size only. Do they really think we all love the ubiquitous, generic medium? Perhaps they smugly think looks are all that count. How horribly shallow of them.

Worse are the nibs that come in a variety of sizes but need repair just to be useful. If you get stuck with one of those turkeys, do return it. One would hope a manufacturer or two will get the message. Or maybe they should stick to roller balls and ball points. Those instruments are far better suited to a one-size-fits-all manufacturing and marketing strategy.

Which pen makers are doing things right?

For those of you who demand beauty as well as a great nib, which pens make your best of the best list? Not to make less of a single great pen, but it would be great to hear about companies and pen models that consistently deliver what matters most.

My nominees are the Sailor Pro Gear, 1911, and Sapporo Series. I currently have three and sold a fourth a year ago. Not one has been disappointing. My preference is the rhodium trim but the fit and finish are beautifully done on the gold models as well. Light heft, quality and consistency make these pens true winners.

More pens worth considering

There are many brands for which my experience is too limited to make a recommendation or my collection does not include enough new pens to put them on the list. I’ve eliminated used pens for lack of certainty that the pen I own is truly representative of the model.

Pilot Elite Pocket Pen

Pilot Elite Pocket Pen

Pilot "Isaac Newton" Fountain Pen

Pilot "Isaac Newton" Fountain Pen

Pilot Custom Black Strip Fountain Pen

Pilot Custom Black Strip Fountain Pen

My Pilot pens are a good case in point. I have five of various finishes from the 1970s and early 1980s. All are fine nibs (not script nibs) and write very well for me. However, I was not the first owner so I don’t know if the nibs were repaired or modified. I just know they are excellent now.

There are two other brands for which I own multiples of a  model but inconsistent nibs keep them off my list. That’s an indictment as well as a disappointment but it certainly does make the really good ones stand out.

Lastly, there is another good pen but it is not an out-of-the-box favorite. It’s the original version of the Namiki Falcon with a soft fine nib. The build quality is not quite as nice as the Sailors but good nonetheless. The new metal version may be quite different but I have yet to get my hands on one. Unlike the Sailor pens, in my experience the nib requires a period of breaking-in to become all it can be. I am hesitant to recommend a model that has a caveat but it’s a good pen if you are willing to give it enough time. Some people like the soft medium better than the soft fine and I can see why though I think a soft broad would be even more fun.

Ink counts, too.

12% of the people who participated in the poll are more excited by ink but terrific pens make using those fabulous colors even more fun. So if you have a favorite or two, do include your pen choices in the comments. Inkophiles need pens, too.



  1. […] the rest here:  Pen vs Nib Poll Results « An Inkophile's Blog Tags: build-quality, flickr, latest-version, macromedia, paper, sailors, tactical, […]


  2. I bought a Namiki Vanishing Point last year, and have gne through a bunch of different inks: Waterman Pelican Blue, Mont Blanc Blue, Iroshizuku Syo-Ro, then found Noodler’s. Since then I’ve picked up Luxury Blue, Heart of Darkness, Forest Green, Polar Brown, Eel Blue, and recently Kingfisher and White Whale. I have to say that Heart of Darkness is probably the best “all purpose” ink I have, giving spectacularly dark lines in my Moleskine daily planner. My second favorite ink is the Kingfisher. It’s blue is a wonderful dark blue that shows patterns of lighter and darker hues, and looks fantastic after it’s dry. I find that a quick but thorough cleaning of my VP and a half-full reservior of quality Noodler’s ink makes the VP write like a dream for weeks.

    Thanks for the great reviews, from a fellow addict 😉


    • Thanks for the VP tips, fellow addict. 🙂


  3. I pretty much agree that Sailor is really on top of things as far as pens and nibs go. Of course, I really prefer something like XXXXF nibs. Some of the Urushi pens are awesome too. Nakaya has some very nice looking models in that range and I hear the nibs are stellar, I simply can’t afford one.


  4. The only feature I might add is comfort/ergonomics. Occasionally a pen has a great nib and great style, but no matter what I do it is not pleasant or pleasurable with which to write.

    And ink is all important, but again, some inks just will not mix with certain nibs.


  5. I have both the Namiki Falcon and the Pilot Falcon II both with fine nibs. They’re both amazing pens, equally good for drawing and writing, and have been so out of the box, so if they get better with use, well then…that’s almost too good to be true.
    In any case, my Falcon II is a smoother writer that the Falcon (just slightly) and I cannot really decide yet whether I like the lighter Falcon or the mode substantive Falcon II. I do know I prefer to use the Falcon II. Also, visually, I’d say the Falcon II holds a lot more ink than the Falcon.


    • Are the nibs comparable? They look like the same design in the images I’ve seen but looks can be deceptive. To my knowledge Pilot only makes three converters and the Namiki Falcon comes equipped with the twist style. Which one does the Pilot Falcon II have?


  6. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by inkophile: Are you surprised at the Inkophile Pen vs Nib Poll results? http://wp.me/pfSKv-pP


  7. The nibs look essentially identical; the Pilot Falcon II seems to be more silver colored than the slight gold tint of the Namiki Falcon. but aside from one nib being stamped ‘Pilot’ and the other ‘Namiki’, they seem the same — even the number stamped on them is the same.
    The Falcon II has a pump style converter (is that the proper way to refer to it?); you place the nib in the ink bottle and then pump the button on the converter a few times and it fills with ink. It holds (by my eye) a lot more ink than the Namiki converter (which is a twist style). I’ll put a link to a photo on twitter (paulnakroshis).

    Namiki Falcon Nibs from PaulAndrewPhoto.com


  8. Thanks for this post. I’m a novice regarding pens and nibs and been looking for a fountain pen for some time. The Sailors look fantastic and I love the look of their 1911 series. Now I shall have to go and test them out I guess…


  9. Hello, My question is that I am just re-starting the fountain pen addiction (i was writing with a fountain pen when i was at school).
    i discovered a second love for fountain pen, mostly because it’s green, but I compare the usage of a fountain pen to the kind of signature that you get when you use a fragrance. To me a fountain pen along with a unique ink color, it’s an expression of my personality and also a way for me to write like the great authors. My latest area where i would need guidance, it is the choice for the nib. My writing is not that great, so i was going for a BROAD nib instead of a Medium, I am starting a FOUNTAIN PEN Collection including Lamy SAFARI and AL-STAR, so the choice of nib is kinda important.

    Knowing your expertise I would appreciate a little advice.

    Thank you.


    • Good question but difficult to answer. Matching nib to style of writing is more than just the nib size. The variety of dimensions in any one category, combined with the ink and paper characteristics, makes one person’s perfect medium nib a disaster for the next person who also happens to love a medium nib. I must say it keeps pen manufacturers in business trying to please us all so that’s to the good.

      The size of your letters is important to consider so that can guide you a bit. If your writing is small, a fine nib will keep your letters open and easy to read. If you write larger, a larger nib will keep your letters from looking spindly. Many people find a stub improves the look of their writing but an italic slows them down. Different strokes…

      One of the nice things about the Lamy pens you mentioned is that you can buy replacement nibs and swap them yourself. Experiment and see what makes you like your writing better. You might even like a Lamy 1.1mm calligraphy nib. Though it may not be your ideal pen for general writing, it can produce a worthy signature.

      In my experience there is no single pen or nib that is perfect. But there are lots of pens and nibs that are fun to use. Enjoy the adventure of finding ones that are special to you.


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