One of the most popular questions we get asked here at Unsharpen.com is which pens people should buy, specifically which fountain pens under $100. This guide will attempt to help people with this popular problem.
The $50 through $100 price category is one of the most under-appreciated of all pen segments. There are many great pens under $50 with constant released in this category, same with $100-200, but this mid-zone doesn’t get the same number of releases.
New For 2020?
The category also took a major hit when in early 2020 we saw the release of the highly awaited Platinum Curidas, an $80 retractable fountain pen, that turned out to be a disappointment with serious design and quality assurance issues. If this pen gets improved it could be a great addition, but it’s not there yet. At this time we don’t recommend buying the Curidas, but Platinum does have nice fountain pens under $100. One of our favorites is the Prefounte, but that’s not a winner here as it’s a $12 pen.
The No-brainer Fountain Pen
If you aren’t really into researching, but you want a fountain pen that is under $100, just get a Twsbi Eco.
The Twsbi Eco (pictured at the top) is a pen we’ve written about extensively and featured in a number of Unsharpen videos, but if you aren’t familiar with it, know this: you are getting a very well made pen with a solid nib, a twist-off cap, and a piston-filling mechanism for about $30. So that’s the feature set of a $100 (or so) pen for a third of the price, from a company who stands behind their products.
The Eco is good looking, it’s a nice size, and it has a wide variety of nib sizes. It had a plastic body that feels high-end and “resin-like” so you never feel like you are holding on to a pen that’s as affordable as it it. It’s also completely rebuildable so the pen will stand the test of time.
Some people will push you towards the higher-end Twsbi 580ALR, but the increased price isn’t really worth it. Sure, you get a better looking pen with a faceted barrel and a slightly larger nib, but the Eco is essentially the same pen so there seems to be no real reason to upgrade unless you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket!
Read More: Twsbi Fountain Pen Buying Guide
Gold Nib Fountain Pens
It’s quite hard to find a fountain pen with a gold nib for under $100, but it’s not impossible. You will be looking for a very aggressively priced pen or a grey market pen that has an MSRP not too far above $100.
Generally speaking, we don’t recommend buying a gold nib pen for under $100, but you can get them for under $150.
Grey market pens have great prices, but they aren’t supported by any manufacturer’s warranty and their quality control might not be the best. They are a useful tool, but always a bit of a gamble. We’ll leave those up to you, with that noted that you can sometimes find a Platinum 3776 Century for under $100.
One pen you can sometimes find new for under $100 is the Platinum PTL-5000A. It’s a gold nib version of Platinum’s cheaper fountain pens, not too unlike the Preppy. It’s a nice writer, but the quality of the pen’s body is lackluster, so it’s not one of our favorites, but if you are serious about a gold nib for under $100, it’s an option.
Platinum also sells the KDP-3000A for under $100, but it’s a desk pen so it’s not something most buyers are in the market for.
Metal Body Fountain Pens
While metal-bodied pens are not everyone’s favorite, it’s something a number of people request. The best metal body fountain pen under $100 is the Platinum Procyon. This pen has a sleek, modern design, a reliable steel nib, a twist-on cap, and excellent fit and finish.
Platinum’s unique nibs aren’t for everyone, but the Procyon has really stood out as being a great pen. It’s often lost in Platinum’s lineup because the #3776 Century and its excellent 14K gold nib can be had for just a bit more money (if you import it from Japan) but it costs about twice as much to get from an official reseller.
The runner-up in this category would be the Lamy Studio. This is a sleekly designed pen that is one of the true workhorse pens in Lamy’s lineup. It is most commonly sold with the same stainless steel nib as almost all Lamy’s pens, but some models have a gold nib (this would push the price over $100 and doesn’t offer a lot of value). An alternative in the metal body category is the Lamy Aion, which is similar to the Studio but has a more modern design and a wider, aluminum body.
Vacuum Filling Fountain Pens
Vacuum mechanism fountain pens are normally expensive offerings, like the Pilot Custom 823, but prices have come down in recent years. Now there are two great options in the sub-$100 price range: the Penbbs 456 and the Twsbi Vac700R. The Twsbi is a bit more polished so we’d recommend that if money isn’t tight. If you want to save some money get the Penbbs 456 for about $30.
Both of these are handsome, really nicely sized pens all the features you’d want from a nicer fountain pen, like a screw-on cap, a great clip, and a large nib.
Some pens that almost made it to the above list are…
Each of these are very good pens that are worth trying out, but they are beaten out by something above.
In the case of the Vac Mini — it’s a nice pen that is affordable and works well, but most people will be happier with the Vac700R. And then the AL Sport from Kaweco is quite nice, but the pocket design, tiny nibs, and cold-feeling aluminum body aren’t for everyone.