April 26, 2017

Pilot Metropolitan/MR Fountain Pen Review

Jeff D. Ellis

The Pilot MR is one of the most recommended pens for people starting out with Fountain pens. It’s available in more than 14 different fountain pen models and is highly available. The model I am reviewing is the Matte Plum finish with Leopard accents from the animal collection with a medium nib. I bought it along with a gel rollerball model for my wife’s birthday.  The pen has a brass body with a durable finish. At 27 grams the pen has a nice solid weight to it. The pen has a somewhat modern feel to the design. The clip looks to be chrome plated stamped metal with a secure and usable tension. The cap is a “snap” cap. You just pull it from the body of the pen and it can easily sit on the back of the pen when you are using it. Adding the cap to the back of the pen (called posting) does change the balance to being more back heavy. I normally don’t post the cap when writing, but many people do and it can make a difference depending on how you hold the pen. I found the pen comfortable to write with posted or not. The grip area (called the section) goes from 8.5mm-10mm in diameter. I normally hold a fountain pen up next to the nib, but with this pen I need to hold farther back where it’s thicker to be comfortable to me. If you like holding a thinner area like a pencil you should like the section on this pen. If you like thicker pens holding it back closer to the body will help.

This model of pen uses a steel nib for writing. The pen writes smooth with no scratchiness with just enough drag on the paper that it does not feel out of control on smooth paper. In the past steel nibs were not as good as ones made from solid gold. These days they can provide good performance at a lower cost. Most steel nibs, including this one, are stiffer and don’t give much softness to the feel they have on paper. This nib has very little line variation from pressure. That is to be expected on budget pens like the entry-level ones I will be reviewing to start with. In vintage pens there are nibs that are very flexible that can allow you to write from fine to broad just from changing the pressure as you write. Those pens are for experts. It’s easy to push to hard and flex too wide and it can’t bounce back and damage the nib. There are other ways to very the line thickness we will talk about when I review the TWSBI ECO. In my test the line from the medium pilot nib on this pen writes a 0.55mm line. It could be thinner or thicker than that depending on paper and ink used. This is finer than most pens made in Europe or USA labeled as fine nibs. Japanese companies tend to write a grade finer then pens produced in other countries. That is a good rule of thumb, but is not always true. Even in one brand nibs don’t always write like they are labeled. So it comes down to the pen you actually buy. It is also available with a fine nib which is more of an extra fine in other brands. The section has a nice flare to rest your fingers against. The step up from the section to the body of the pen might bother some people but even when I held the pen farther back on the section did not bother me.

I this pen has been tested with Pilot Iroshizuku Murasaki-shikibu which is a deep lavender ink. The ink flows well from this pen and dries in about five seconds in normal writing conditions. I have noticed evaporation from the pen after was left for weeks unused. This pen is one of those that is great for everyday use, but not so good if left sitting for weeks at a time. This pen can be used with pre-made Pilot/Namiki IC-100 ink  cartridges or with a cartridge converter that allows you to fill the pen from a bottle like I did in this case. Other brands of cartridges are not compatible. You can refill empty cartridges with an ink syringe with ink from a bottle. Some people prefer doing this over using a converter. The pen is comparable with Pilot Con-20, Con-40, and Con-50 converters. The larger Con-70 converter is not compatible with this pen. As of this writing the Con-20 and Con-50 have been discontinued and are replaced by the Con-40 converter which holds less ink.  To fill the pen with a cartridge, unscrew the section from the body of the pen,  remove the old one and push the new one into the bottom of the section. Give the cartridge a light squeeze to push ink into the nib. If you want to use a converter place the converter into the bottom of the section. It will look like the attached picture. Place the nib up to the section in a bottle of ink and slowly turn the knob on the end of the converter to draw ink into the converter. Sometimes it can take more than one try to fully fill a piston converter (con-40/con-50). With a squeeze converter like the Con-20 it’s mostly the same as using a piston converter. The only difference is you squeeze the bar while the nib is in the bottle and wait five seconds for ink to get sucked into the sac inside the converter. Then reassemble the pen. 

Thinks I like about this pen. It gives a nice smooth fine line that dries quickly. It has a nice weight that feels good in the hand. The cap posts well, but does change the balance of the pen. It is easy for a beginner to use. The snap cap is quick to remove for taking a fast note. The clip works nicely in a shirt pocket. The pen seems durable. Small section area is good for people who like to hold thin pens. This pen came ready to use right from the box. Low cost entry into fountain pens good fountain pens. Good daily use pen.

Things I don’t care as much for. The cap lets ink evaporate and would be hard starting in that condition. For someone experienced its quickly solved, but for a more casual user it could cause problems.  The section is a bit too thin for me, but could be a plus for someone with smaller hands.

Pen measurements: Section: 8.5-10mm, Barrel Diamater: 13mm, Barrel Length including nib 125mm, Length closed: 137mm, Length Posted: 152mm, Weight 27g, Cartridge capacity 0.9ml. Measurements given in metric units to make it easier to compare between pens.

Next review will be of the Lamy Safari/Al-Star (Blue pen in this picture) which is another one highly recommended to new users.

This pen was bought for normal retail prices and all opinions are my own.