Pen Review: Lamy Safari

Pros: Affordable, nib options, color options, durability, converter add on
Cons: Some folks do not like the triangular grip (I personally like it!), nib issue?

The Lamy Safari is a great starter pen for fountain pen beginners; coincidentally, this was my first fountain pen after a several year break from them when I was in college.  I definitely regret not rekindling the love sooner!  The Safari is affordable, durable and comes in a variety of color options.  The safari comes with a Lamy proprietary cartridge, but you can purchase a Z24 converter to use bottled ink.  The charcoal Safari is the most popular option, but Lamy has many colors to choose from, and they typically do a Limited Edition color every year or two.

Lamy has their own proprietary nib design, which is very triangular and squared off.  It's different than any other pen out there, which I like.  It's a very modern design.  One thing that some folks do not like about the Lamy Safari and Al Star line, is the triangular grip section of the pen - this was actually designed back in the day to help school children learn the proper method of holding a pen.  I find it makes it more comfortable to write - though some people, especially left-handers who write "hook handed," find it uncomfortable. 

There are 6 nib options to choose from: extra fine, fine, medium, broad, 1.1mm and 1.5mm stubs.  The charcoal Safari comes with a black-colored nib, and you can buy replacement nibs in both the black color, or the standard steel color.  The stub nibs, however, only come in the steel color option for some reason (ahem, Lamy...).

When I got my Safari (thank you, Josh!) it had a fine nib.  I assumed this would be perfect for me since I was used to writing with a Pilot G2 0.7mm gel pen.  When I inked it up for the first time it wrote very thick, which surprised me.  I would later learn that Lamy nibs are German made, and they run about a size larger than a Japanese nib.  I used it for about a week and decided an extra fine would be better suited to my writing style.  I ordered it from the fine folks at Goulet Pens. When it arrived, I was disappointed to find it fit very loosely on the feed to the point where it was about to fall off as I wrote.  It also wrote a starkly finer line than the fine nib, which was too far in the other direction for my taste.  Luckily, Goulet happily exchanged it for me, and even sent a couple ink samples for my trouble.  When I received the new nib, the fit was better, but still loose, and it still wrote very dry and thin.  After some research I determined that this sometimes happens with these replacement nibs, and that it was safe to attempt to squeeze the sides of the nib together to get a better fit.  After doing that, this also increased the space between the nib tines, and the pen began writing better. *note: please do this at your own risk - it IS possible to overdo it and throw the tines out of alignment, so proceed with caution.*  I did noticed the pen was still a bit dry compared to writing samples I'd seen online, so I exerted a little it of pressure to open the tines up on the page (again, proceed with caution when doing this) and that was all the nib need to start writing perfectly.

Don't let this deter you from this pen - one thing I did notice in my research was that most of the issues with dry writing Safaris were ones with the black-coated nibs.  I believe the extra thickness from the coating may decrease the space between the tines, causing it to write dryer.  Since this is a steel nib, exerting a little bit of pressure to widen it out should do the trick.

The Safari sells on Goulet Pens for $29.60 and has the option to add a converter for $4.95 (a must-have!).  It is a fantastic pen for the price with many ways to customize it to fit your style.  I highly recommend this pen for both beginners and avid users!