Monday, September 22, 2008

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen Review: One year later, and why I still love it

A bevy of Lamy Safari's on Moleskine

The red Lamy Safari pictured above, was my first fountain pen. Even after owning 20+ fountain pens in the last year, my Safaris are still some of my favorite pens.

And why is the Safari still one of my favorites?


* Cheap - about $30 with a converter - very cheap for such a well made pen
* Very durable ABS plastic
* See through ink window - lets you know when ink is running low
* Grip - better handwriting when the pen can be held securely
* Replaceable nibs - $11 and very simple to replace
* Easy to flush & refill with a different color ink
* Very firm nib - no flex - great for drawing
* Custom nib grinding $15 from Pendemonium

Even though the Safari is quite wonderful and a great first pen, there are a few things that some people don't like about it. I don't really have any of these problems, though I did have a hard time with Diamine Imperial Purple staining my yellow Safari. Luckily, I was able to get it fully clean again.


* Large pen - when posted, (cap on back of pen) can be too large for some people
* Grip - some people find the angled grip annoying
* Plastic can get stained - especially white or yellow pens
* Nibs run wide - too wide for some people
* Nibs are inconsistent. Same size nibs can write different than another. Once in a while, can get a scratchy nib. I think I've only had one scratchy out of 7 nibs, and that one I sent off and had turned into a cursive italic nib.

When I bought my first one, I bought it with a medium nib. The Lamy medium is a smoooooooooth writing nib, but it ended up eventually being too wide for me. I now prefer the Lamy extra fine nibs for daily writing. Remember that the Safari nibs run wide, so there would be a world of difference in line width from the Lamy to say... a Sailor extra fine because Japanese pen nibs tend to run narrow.

This is what I've gone and done in just one year of using fountain pens. Some were purchased new, some were from eBay, some were bought used from the Marketplace on the Fountain Pen Network.

4 Lamy Safari (One is always in rotation)
1 Lamy AL-Star (Too large - doesn't get used)
1 Lamy 2000 (Sold it - too many issues with this one)
2 Pelikan M200 (Love it - use one all the time)
1 Sailor Sapporo (Love it - use it often)
1 Sailor 1911 (My new big sexy pen. It's in heavy rotation now.)
1 Hero 329 (Never use it)
2 Wing Sung Celluloid (Junk - threw away)
1 Pelikan Future (Sold)
1 Waterman Phileas (Sold, but was damaged when I bought it)
1 Namiki Vanishing Point (Sold almost immediately)
2 Parker 51 Vacumatic (Sold)
1 Parker 51 Vacumatic Demi (Sold)
1 Sheaffer Fineliner (Sold)
1 Sheaffer Calligraphy Set (Use rarely)
1 Reform Piston Filler (Gave away)
1 Esterbrook J (Doesn't get used - I should sell it)

Things I've learned:

* I don't like hooded pens (Parker 51, Hero 329, Lamy 2000)
* I don't like pens without some kind of grip (Lamy 2000, Parker 51)
* I prefer piston fillers to C/C (Piston: Pelikan M200, Lamy 2000, Reform 1745. C/C Lamy Safari, Waterman Phileas, Sailor Sapporo.)
* I don't like Vacumatics or Aeromatic pens (Parker 51, Hero 329, Wing Sung Celluloid)
* Lever fillers are ok (Esterbrook)

Why do I use a fountain pen? Click here to read that post.



Christy said...

How did you get the ink off of your Safari? I have some ink that stained my raspberry All Star and can't get it off. Any suggestions?

Biffybeans said...

You know.... I was worried that someone would ask me that, because I can't remember what I used. (A lot of soapy water???) The Safari is plastic, and the Al Star painted aluminum... You might need to write to Lamy about that.

Jean-Bernard said...

HI biffy!
Great blog!
I have a white safari with a F nib and I have some problem with ink bleeding through the little crack on top of the nib, I can't get it off! As seen as I cleen it, some more sips out... It doesn't really affect the writing, but it's kind of annoying. I don't have a lot of experience with fountain pens so maybe it's a stupid question, but I would like to get your answaer. Thank you very much,

Jean-Bernard said...

BTW, I always use it uncapped. I had never thought of putting the cap on while using it. I tired it this morning taking my physics notes and I didn't like it...
Uncapped though, it is my favorite writing instrument.

Biffybeans said...

Jean-Bernard, that's called "nib creep" and it happens more with certain inks/pens than others. If you wipe it, it will come back. :o) You could try a different ink and see if that helps.

Jean-Bernard said...

All right, so I guess I'll just live with it for now. :)

deadmuse said...

I thought the Al-Star was the same size as the Safari, just metal instead of plastic?

Biffybeans said...

AL-Star is longer & wider than the Safari.

deadmuse said...

Thanks for the info on Safari vs Al-Star. I was going to get an Al-Star but went with the yellow Safari after seeing it on your page. It looks nicer in your pictures than the official marketing pictures.

SirCram said...

i'll take that Al-Star that you don't use... It's the perfect size for me.
Email me if interested.

Biffybeans said...

SirCram - thanks for the offer, but it was a gift from my husband and I'd like to keep it.

SirCram said...

Oh, sorry. I didn't know.

Anonymous said...

Hi Biffybeans!
I got the yellow Safari with Medium Nib and for the beginning i have got ink cartridges. Question: does the ink ever leak? I am worried about getting stains in my bag. thank you and the pens picture with the moleskine is really good!

Biffybeans said...

I won't lie - ink can leak from a pen but typically only if it is stored improperly. They should be kept vertical. I tend to store mine horizontally and upon occasion when I uncap it there may be some ink around the nib or in the cap. I always say that inky fingers come with the territory. :o)

ed said...

Great reviews. I have a question.
Do the caps fit tightly on your Safari's? On my new Safari the cap snaps on just "OK", I would prefer a more positive sounding "click"

Biffybeans said...

Ed, mine all click pretty confidently. I have 6 Safari's & an AL-Star & I have never had a cap come loose.

stonedeaf4ever said...

Great Blog!
I remember that back in my schooldays people removed ink stains from their pens using a soft rubber.

Nancy said...

Thanks for the great article about pens! Being a leftie, I have always stayed away from fountain pens, but so many people have been having great fun...I got a couple and I want to learn to use them. I have a Lamy Safari with a converter as well as the Noodler's Flex pen.

How do you go about taking care of the pen? Using the converter? Cleaning the pens? Storing the pens? Any info or point to a site would be appreciated! Thank you again!

Biffybeans said...

Hi Nancy! So sorry for the delayed response. You can find much content to answer your questions on the forums of The Fountain Pen Network.

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