28 May 2015

fountain pen fight: pilot kakuno vs lamy safari

Having been a gel pen fanatic for the majority of the time I've ran this blog, a fountain pen connoisseur I definitely am not. However, that doesn't mean I'm not interested in fountain pens and last year, I bought my first Lamy Safari when I realised neon coral was it's 2014 colour of the year!

Anyway, I'm still fairly new to the fountain pen scene. I did use a Parker 45 when I was in high school, but it was a vintage one that used to belong to my mum. When I bought a 'modern' one in 2007, the nib just wasn't the same - the vintage one wrote a fine line which I loved; and the modern one wrote a thicker line which I didn't love. I think I mentioned this in my Lamy Safari blog post but I thought I'd say it again as it meant I was bitterly disappointed when the replacement Parker 45 wasn't the same :(

Enter the Pilot Kakuno. This is another entry-level fountain pen, perfect for someone like me but I think it's target market are kids due to its cute design and lightweight, plastic feel. This doesn't put me off though - I'm definitely not mature enough (mentally!) to use a grown-up looking fountain pen yet so this one suits me just fine!

Purchased from Cult Pens back in February when they had 10% off (how could I resist?), I opted for the one with a bright pink cap, grey barrel and fine nib. The bottom bit of the barrel is kind of transparent and the nib has a smily face on it which I thought was a cute touch! My first thought when I opened to up was just how light it was - it's a similar weight to the Lamy Safari I have but is about a centimetre shorter in length (capped and uncapped).

Let's just say I never thought I'd find a fountain pen that could potentially knock my precious gel pens off their pedestal. This pen is amazing - I really can't emphasise that enough. It is super comfortable to hold, the fine nib writes a fine line (finer than even the Lamy extra fine nib I have - you can see evidence of that in a few pictures' time) and it is just so cute.

So cute, that I even forked out for two white barrelled ones: one with a baby pink cap and the other with a baby blue cap. These came all the way from Japan and Hong Kong respectively as I couldn't find a UK stockist for them.

And for some writing samples:

I'm far from being an expert on fountain pens so I thought I'd give rate them out of ten using five sub-categories to try and be as fair as possible. As a basic user, the rating system is equally basic I'm afraid!

Lamy Safari
Design: 6/10
Comfort: 8/10
Ease of use: 9/10
Ink flow: 6/10
Price: 9/10
Total: 38/50

Pilot Kakuno
Design: 7/10
Comfort: 9/10
Ease of use: 9/10
Ink flow: 8/10
Price: 9/10
Total: 42/50

Both pens are in colours that I love but I do prefer the contrasting barrel colour the Pilot Kakuno has. However, neither score too highly here because I do think fountain pens look better when they have a metal barrel. Saying that, I do enjoy how comfortable and easy to hold the plastic barrels are (see the next paragraph for clarification!) so I do understand that it's a trade off here. The only thing the Lamy has on the Pilot is a clip but to me, not having one isn't a deal breaker.

Where the Lamy Safari falls down here is the grip - I found the indentations a bit uncomfortable after a while whereas the Pilot Kakuno has a round and smooth grip. Neither have any rubber but I just found the Pilot Kakuno better for long study sessions where I could be writing solidly for thirty to forty minutes. Both are similar in terms of weight.

Ease of Use
Both are easy to ink up - I use cartridges as I am a fountain pen simpleton. No issues here.

Ink Flow
The Pilot Kakuno could be uncapped for a few minutes without the ink skipping on resumption but the Lamy Safari was a different story. Even a minute or two would cause the nib to dry up ever so slightly where I'd have to do a few squiggles to get it going again before I could carry on with whatever I was writing.

Both are very reasonably priced. The Lamy Safari Neon Coral is currently priced at £15.90 and the Pilot Kakuno at £13.99. Cartridges for the Lamy are 25p more expensive at £1.55 for five as opposed to £1.30 for five Pilot Kakuno ones.

When I first got my Lamy Safari, I did love it and I still do but I think the Pilot Kakuno may just end up being my go-to pen from now on when writing up revision notes and the like. As mentioned in one of the pictures above, I don't have an overwhelming love for fountain pens but the Kakuno may well have changed my stance on that...

Next on my list? The Kaweco Skyline Classic Sport - which I may or may not have already purchased. ;) Have any of you got a Kaweco Skyline Classic Sport?


  1. Looks good. I got a Kakuno to try. I hear the Platinum Preppy EF also writes a very fine line.

    1. I've heard good things about the Platinum Preppy too! But I can't justify yet another fountain pen and the design isn't really that appealing to me compared to the three mentioned in this post (Kakuno, Lamy and Kaweco). x

  2. I've just ordered two Kakunos to try!! haha I'm so weak! I should receive them within a fortnight. I'm excited to try fountain pens with fine nibs, I have many fountain pens but the nib is often medium or even large. :)

    1. Hehe, I'm sure you will like them! Which colours did you opt for? :) x

  3. I bought on Kakuno when I spotted it in a store in Taipei - grey barrel, dark blue cap - and it wrote so wonderfully that when I saw the store had started stocking white barrelled ones, I bought two more. I'm currently contemplating whether or not to buy a Kaweco Skyline Sport in mint, so I can't wait to see what you make of it when you get round to writing a review of it!

  4. I have a Lamy Safari and don't care for the nib. Also because I totally stick with cartridges, it irritates me that both Lamy and Pilot require their own cartridges rather than standard ones. So I actually have half a dozen Kaweco Sports, nib sizes from EF to BB, and my Skyline is the EF. It is grey, but I would guess you would prefer the mint? I love the Kaweco nibs as they are all very smooth and don't dry out, and they take standard cartridges as well.