From the “I know there are a million reviews of this pen already, but I’m writing one anyway” files…
Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen
Nibs: Fine & Italic
Country of Origin: Japan
Filling System: Aerometric / Squeeze-Type
About the Pen:
The Pilot Metropolitan is undoubtedly one of the best “starter” fountain pens out there. The street price is $15, making it very affordable. But it’s also a hallmark of quality: durable, dependable, reliable, and comfortable. The Metro is available with either a Fine or Medium nib; however, it used the same nib as several other Pilot pens, which are available in other grades: the Pilot Plumix has an Italic nib, and the Pilot Penmanship has an Extra Fine nib (Note: the Plumix and Penmenship cost about $8 each). The nibs can be swapped from those pens into the Metropolitan, giving a total of four nib options.
For this review, I’m using two different variants of the pen:
- Bronze Lizard with a Fine nib
- Black Crocodile with an Italic nib (that I swapped from a Plumix)
The Metropolitan’s design is one of simplicity and elegance. Many of the design choices likely stem from a desire to keep the cost of the pen low, but neither quality nor appearance suffer as a result. The cap and barrel have no finials or end caps. Each piece tapers to a rounded end. The clip is simple, yet functional, and each pen has a simple center band that complements the otherwise quiet design.
A nice variety of colors and styles are available for the Metropolitan. The nib and section are very simple, the barrel and cap have a high-quality matte metallic finish, and the center band comes in three styles: solid color, dot patterns, and animal patterns. I fell in love with the animal patterns, as I think they really make the pen fun.
Personally, I think it’s a beautiful and classy-looking pen. It’s suitable for a business setting and inexpensive enough so if you lose it (or it gets stolen), it won’t break the bank to replace.
Build Quality: 5/5
This is a solid and well built pen. It’s strong and durable, and all the pieces fit perfectly. The barrel and cap are made of brass, but the pen is still relatively light. As I mentioned earlier, the finish is superb. It doesn’t scratch easily, and when there are scratches, you have to really look for them to notice them. The cap is a snap-on style, and it snaps shut securely (you don’t have to worry about the cap popping off in your pocket). The cap posts okay, but not very securely. If you like to write with the pen posted, you may have to push it on tighter every once in a while. The section is plastic, but screwing it into the metal threads in the barrel is smooth and feels high-quality.
The one qualm I have with the pen’s build is the aerometric converter that it comes with. It works okay, but it pushes into the section rather than screws into it, and it doesn’t hold a lot of ink. Pilot makes a few other converters that can be used with the Metropolitan. And of course, it works with Pilot cartridges, so there are many options for replacing the stock converter.
Two words: Rock. Solid. A common problem with fountain pens is that if they sit unused for a couple days, they have a hard time starting. That’s not a problem with the Metropolitan. This pen writes every time I pick it up. Even if I haven’t used it in a week. I pick it up and it writes immediately. Of course, if you leave it unattended with the cap off, it’s going to dry up. But if you make sure to keep the cap on it when you’re not using it, you shouldn’t run into any hard starting issues. The Metropolitan never skips, either. As long as there’s ink in the feed, the line it puts down is solid and consistent. I’ve also never experienced this pen to leak, spray, or drip. Of course, dropping the pen could lead to ink in places you don’t want it, but under normal use, you don’t have to worry about it making a mess.
This pen is really nice to hold and write with. I experience no hand cramping, even when writing for long periods of time. If you run your finger over the lip of the barrel, it feels a little sharp, but that’s not noticeable when writing (at least for me…if you hold the pen in a different position, your mileage may vary). The section is smooth, but it’s not slippery. I have no problem with my fingers slipping up and down the section when writing. The Metropolitan also seems very well balanced. It’s not a heavy pen, and I noticed very little difference between writing with the pen posted and un-posted.
Writing Experience: 4/5
The Metropolitan provides a near-exquisite writing experience. Japanese nibs typically run on the fine side for their grades. In other words, a Japanese Medium nib will generally write a finer (narrower) line than a German or American Medium nib. I have pretty tiny handwriting, and I find the Metro’s Fine nib to be wonderful, allowing me to write very small letters. Neither the Fine nor Medium nibs provide any line variation at all. For that, you need to swap in an Italic nib. The Italic nib that I swiped from my Plumix is just spectacular in the Metro. It offers great line variation for beautiful cursive writing without really compromising the quality of my small handwriting. Both my nibs are smooth writers. Although the fine gives some feedback, it’s certainly not scratchy at all.
As I mentioned above, this pen never stops writing (except when it runs out of ink, of course). No skips. No hard starts. It’s a real “set-it-and-forget-it” type of pen. Just fill it with ink and go. The only complaint I have is that the Fine nib can periodically accumulate paper fibers and dust filaments between the tines, which will make the pen write a bit mushy. These fibers can be tough to clear out, typically requiring a brass sheet to floss the tines.
You are not going to find a better value in all of Pendom. For $15, you get a classy, attractive, dependable pen that never has trouble keeping up with you. As long as you don’t abuse it, it will write all the time. It can be used with cartridges and bottled ink, and has a great variety of nibs available (if you’re willing to drop an additional $8 for a Plumix or Penmenship to raid them of their Italic and Extra Fine nibs).
The Pilot Metropolitan provides a better writing experience than many pens that cost two to ten times as much.
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 23/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Always writes||Converter is Meh|
|Nice selection of nibs||Can get fibers in the tines|
|Price for Performance||I wish the pen came with a stock Italic nib option|
If you’re new to fountain pens and looking for a place to start without breaking the bank, look no further than the Pilot Metropolitan. If you’re a student or business person looking for a classy and dependable writer, the Metro is a great choice for you, too. It’s got looks. It’s got dependability. It’s got plenty of style, nib, and converter options. It’s one of my favorite pens, and you’d be hard pressed to find another pen in the same price range that will perform as well.