If you are shopping for a very affordable — as in sub-$30, sub-$20, or even sub-$5 — fountain pen and you want high-end features like screw-on cap, included converter, or piston-filling mechanism then you are shopping for a Chinese fountain pen. Brands like Wing Sung and Jinhao offer incredible value for the money, but they might have some shortcomings that we don’t expect from standard fountain pen purchases.
These Chinese fountain pens are very affordable, but they don’t have websites with clear explanations and often don’t come from vendors we know and trust… though we are starting to get to know them. Most of the pens have very slow shipping times (sometimes 2-4 weeks to the US), so even remembering what you bought can be an issue. It was with those challenges in mind that we set up this top Chinese fountain pens of 2020 mega review.
Note: The video was shot in 2019, but the below information is up to date.
Featured in the top Chinese pens round-up video:
- Caliarts Ego – Piston-filler that looks like a Twsbi 580. Nice writer and a reasonable starting point for people who are new to Chinese pens. The latest version of this pen is sold as the Caliarts Ego II.
- Jinhao 992 – Basically the Monteverde Monza, inspired by the Sailor 1911
- Kaco Edge – Inspired by the Lamy 2000, German nib from Schmidt
- Wing Sung 3003 – Pilot Prera-inspired, poor writer, scratchy nib
- Wing Sung 3007 – Kaweco Sport clone, but fit and finish are worse. Writes nicely
- Wing Sung 3008 – Piston-filler that looks like the Caliarts Ego and Twsbi Eco. Has a Lamy compatible nib. Probably the cheapest piston-filler you can find.
Other Chinese fountain pens of note:
- Jinhao 159 – An older model but a reasonable choice if you want a larger pen
- Jinhao 51A
- Jinhao x450 – Known for its rubberized grip and a popular choice for people with sweaty hands
- Jinhao x750
- Moonman N3
- Moonman C1 – A squared-off version of the M2. Can use used with a converter or as an eyedropper
- Moonman M2 – A very popular choice for a nicer Chinese fountain pen. This $20 eyedropper is nicely built and really shows of your ink. Watch out for fakes.
- Penbbs 308 – A simple, affordable cartridge/converter
- Penbbs 309 – A higher-end take on the Chinese fountain pen, more akin to the Twsbi Eco than most pens on this list. Piston-filler
- Penbbs 350 – A metal body fountain pen that converts to a rollerball
- Penbbs 355 – A bulk-filler pen that looks a lot like a Conid
- Penbbs 456 – A top Chinese fountain pen and a really nice vacuum-filler
- Penbbs 500 – An affordable pen that uses a spring filling mechanism
- Wing Sung 6359 – $2.00 – Lamy Al-Star clone
- Wing Sung 618 – A Parker 51 clone that is a nice writer and quite good looking. Unlike the Parker it’s a piston-filler
- Wing Sung 698 – A reliable piston-filler and one of the most highly regarded Chinese fountain pens
The Best Chinese Fountain Pens
It is very hard to say one of these is a clear best, but if you had to pick one, I’d recommend the Jinhao 992. This pen is one of the top in this article in terms of build quality and quality control, it has a smooth nib, and it looks like. The 992 writes like a Pilot nib with a nice ink flow and great handling. It’s a little small and it’s not a piston-filler like some of the other pens on this list, but it still gets top marks from us.
If you are looking for maximum bang-for-the-buck then you should be in the market for a Chinese piston-filling pen, which will undercut its Japanese and European competition by a factor of 90%. In this case you should pick up a Wing Sung 3008. This pen is a nice writer with a Lamy compatible nib, so you can really upgrade it if you happen to have a Lamy nib lying around. That said the nib has some strengths of its own so if you can get the flow right people might actually prefer the stock nib. There is also the Caliarts Ego in this category, but quality control on this nib/feed is questionable and the $10+ price tag, while not a lot of money, puts it in a higher price class.
If you want to go high-end and really see what these companies are capable of, then buy yourself a Wing Sung 699. This $30 vacuum-filling fountain pen was clearly inspired by the Pilot Custom 823, but had excellent build quality, a nice nib, and a large, hefty body that feel like it’s from a pen that costs 10x as much.
Regardless of any problems, these fountain pens are gaining an incredible following and are providing a lot of value to pen buyers.
What are the best Chinese fountain pen brands?
“Best” is largely subjective, but if you are looking for the highest quality pens from the most reliable brands, then start with Jinhao, Wing Sung, Penbbs, and Moonman.