Pen Review: Pilot Metropolitan (fountain, medium nib)

Long review short: The Pilot Metropolitan is a great, high-value fountain pen! I would just prefer it with the fine nib. (The fine nib edition was not available when I received this pen for review–I wish it had been, though!) In my review of the Platinum Preppy, I noted that the nib designation of “fine” did not quite match my mental conception of what a “fine” line is. The medium nib on the Pilot Metropolitan does match what I think a medium should be–it’s just not what I’m looking for. In using the Metropolitan, I’ve discovered that I do indeed prefer finer nibs. Luckily, as of writing this review, Pilot has released fine nib versions for all their Metropolitan pens. So if you think you’ll like the pen but not the medium nib, you can purchase the Metropolitan with a fine nib! That being said, the Metropolitan overall represents fantastic value; and especially with the new variety of nib sizes, I think it’s a great choice for a first (or basic, or inexpensive-but-great-quality) fountain pen.

Pilot Metropolitan - writing
Ink: Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron.

I somehow managed to misplace the medium nib that originally came with the pen, so the nib pictured below is of a different Pilot medium nib that I had to borrow. (I assure you that it writes exactly the same! The only thing different is the aesthetic–the one pictured below has Pilot’s information stamped on it, whereas the usual Metropolitan nib has the information laser-etched. If you’re curious, you can take a look at the JetPens product page.)

The advantage of the medium nib–and it’s not a small one–is that the nib tip is physically bigger, which means rounder, which means smoother. Since the tip is so large, it doesn’t catch on paper fibers at all, which is something finer nibs are prone to do every once in a while, especially on lower quality paper. (This happens particularly if the tines are misaligned.) The Metropolitan’s medium nib, though, doesn’t have that problem. In addition, because it has more surface area, more of the nib is coated by the ink, which acts as lubrication between the nib and the paper, so writing with this nib feels quite smooth.

Pilot Metropolitan - nib

I also like that this pen comes in an all-metal body, which provides some good weight to the pen. I like my pens to have a bit of heft to them, because it gives me the impression that they are durable, and that they are high-quality. (I know that these two characteristics are not assured just because a pen is made out of metal, but I still think there’s a correlation.) It feels like it can take some wear, in case you drop it (on accident) or throw it around (perhaps on purpose). I don’t feel the need to “baby” this pen like I might with a more expensive pen, and that’s not only due to the $15 price tag, but also the metal construction. The only non-metal parts are the grip section and the decorative middle inset on the body of the pen. The inset varies with the model of the pen: dots, zigzags, and animal prints are available. Pilot has done a very good job of fitting the piece so that it integrates both physically and aesthetically with the rest of the pen.

Pilot Metropolitan - clip

Other marks of quality for this pen include the metal “ring” on the body of the pen, below the cap. This “ring” is actually part of a larger piece that the grip screws into. Particularly on the black version of the pen, I like the break in the pattern of the pen that it provides–there’s some visual interest going on. The clip is tight and very functional. I find it easy to clip on to a pocket, or the button-pleat of my shirt. It is also embellished with a stamp of “Pilot” on one side and “Japan” on the other, as well as three decorative stripes. The back of the cap also says “Pilot / Japan” in laser etching, which I think is a nice touch. For about $15, I think it’s hard to find a greater value in a fountain pen than the Pilot Metropolitan. Good design, metal construction, aesthetic flourishes. I think it comes in at above its “weight class,” so to speak; it feels more expensive than it actually is. I wouldn’t hesitate to bring the black version to a work meeting with me. It’s classy. I easily recommend the Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen–and if it’s one of your first fountain pens, I would recommend the fine nib.

Pilot Metropolitan - cap/body

A few final notes: first, the Pilot Metropolitan comes with both a cartridge (a pre-loaded container of Pilot black ink so that you can start using the pen right away) and a squeeze-type converter (in case you want to use your own bottled ink). It also comes with a black gift box, which I didn’t receive for review, but that I think is plenty sufficient if you want to gift a Metropolitan to someone (which I have). Second, the nib on the Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is interchangeable with other Pilot fountain pen models: the Penmanship (extra-fine), the Plumix (italic), the 78G (extra-fine through bold), and the Prera (extra-fine through bold). So if you’re willing to spend a bit more money, you can customize the pen as you choose. Lastly, the Pilot Metropolitan also comes in a gel pen version which uses the G2 cartridge. I’m hoping to review that sometime soon, since, judging from the fountain pen version, I think it’ll be a solid contender for my everyday pen quest, if I can change out the cartridge.

(This pen, and several sheets of Clairefontaine notebook paper, was provided free for review by JetPens, but the opinions contained herein are solely my own.)

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