Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: The Lamy Safari is a commonly recommended “beginner” pen. I didn’t try one until I had been using fountain pens pretty regularly for over a year — the design was never a “gotta have” for me, and I had always heard the nibs ran broad, which wasn’t what I thought I preferred. When I finally acquired a Safari (won it in a raffle at a local art supply store), I was pleasantly surprised by how well made it seemed, but quickly grew frustrated with the triangular grip. Of the common “beginner” pens, it’s the one I like least — I much prefer the TWSBI Eco and Pilot Metro, but that’s personal preference.
Pam: The Lamy Safari’s unique design makes it a definite standout among all the fountain pens, let alone an introductory pen. I have picked up the Lamy Safari and the Lamy Joy in the past, and they have since found happier homes. However, picking up Katherine’s Lamy Safari brought back some great memories and reasons why I was drawn to that pen in the first place.
The oddly shaped grip didn’t initially bother me, it’s only an issue when I grip too tight and the softer corners of the grip can dig into my fingers and the soft spot between my thumb and pointer finger. The color of the dark lilac with the black trim is quite awesome. In general, I do prefer the shiny chrome trim. The texture of the dark lilac is also quite different given that it has a more matte finish to the “shiny” and slick Safaris. The extra “grippier” texture does add to a good hand feel. I haven’t had the chance to try the AL (aluminum) version of the Safari and I would be curious to see if the feel in hand would be different.
Franz: When I started using fountain pens, I noticed that there is a disparity between pen people about the Lamy Safari through my online research. This was mainly due to the triangular grip that kind of forces one how to grip the pen. But because I liked how the charcoal version of the Safari looks, (and it was on sale on Amazon) I eventually got one when I was six months into the hobby. The grip actually did not bother me and I found that my fingers just rested almost parallel to the pen. This can be seen below in the unposted In the Hand photo.
I’m loving the Dark Lilac color with the black trim and the matte finish lets me hold the pen without my fingers slipping off.
The Business End
Katherine: The Safari nib is smooth and pretty straightforward. I’ve tried a couple now and found that they have been pretty consistent. However, in general, I don’t prefer super-smooth nibs, so I find the Lamy Safari nib a little “too smooth” and would prefer something with a touch more feedback.
Pam: I am reminded and also surprised how much I enjoyed the medium nib on Tomoe River paper/Hobonichi and Midori paper. Maybe it’s Franz’s influence, but the broader line didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. Instead, I found the nib to be smooth and really easy to use. I enjoy stiffer nibs and I do feel that the Safari’s nibs are quite stiff. The line is always consistent and clean. I have had some experience that the nib can be on the drier side.
Franz: I love the black nib on this Safari however, it may develop scratches and eventually the coating will peel from use as you can already see some in the photo below.
This was my first medium Safari nib and it was quite smooth with a good flow. My first Safari had a fine nib and the ink flow was a bit dry. For those who don’t know, you can actually buy separate nibs in different sizes for cheap and switch it out ofthe feed. So you can have multiple nib widths with just one pen.
Please note that the Safari is cartridge/converter filled and they include one cartridge when you buy the pen, but they do not include the Z24 converter so that would be an added expense.
Write It Up
Katherine: The Safari is, overall, a comfortable size. The triangle grip was initially a huge turn-off for me, but after forcing myself to use it for a longer writing session I found that it wasn’t nearly as annoying as I thought. I still wouldn’t actively seek out a pen with a grip like this, but it isn’t as unusable as I thought it would be. Instead I found that I wrote very consistently since my angle never changed. Overall I found it usable and comfortable — but, like Franz, I wish it was a little bit heavier.
Pam: I found the Safari to be slightly top heavy when posted, but too light when unposted. Like the Eco, the length was just a tad too long, especially when posted. If the Safari was closer to the size of the Prera, or even the Pelikan M200s/M400s, it probably would have stayed in my collection. The plastic does make the pen really light, which can lead to comfort when writing for an extended period of time. It can also lend to feeling too insubstantial, like the Kaweco Sport. I very much enjoyed my time with the Safari and being reacquainted with the nib on paper. I was also reminded that I didn’t enjoy the body of the pen as much as I do the nib.
Franz: The length of the Safari is adequate for my hand in either posted, or unposted modes. The width of the grip section felt nice especially since I hold it higher. I really just wish the pen was a little heavier though. For 20 minutes, I wrote with the cap posted to give a little bit more weight. It was an enjoyable journaling moment.
Katherine: The Lamy shines on this front — the snap cap makes it easy to grab and go, and the triangular grip helps you get yourself into the right position for writing quickly. If I needed to keep a fountain pen at my desk for quick notes or for people to borrow, the Lamy Safari would be a strong contender.
Pam: Snap cap and durability of the plastic makes the Safari a great work pen. The design is also really interesting and sure to spark a few conversations among your pen-curious co-workers. The medium nib is dry enough to work relatively well on copy paper with minimal bleeding or feathering.
Franz: The Lamy Safari is actually a great pen to use on a daily basis for its plastic ruggedness makes it easy to just bring along even without a case. The slip cap definitely made it a quick deploy pen and the medium nib was good for the copy paper at work as well. The Dark Lilac color also was admired by a customer of mine and had me talk a little about fountain pens. Yeah!
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: The Lamy Safari just isn’t my cup of tea. The triangular grip and lightness add up to a pen that I don’t actively dislike, but am not excited to use. Overall, I think of it as a very bland pen — it works, but doesn’t bring me joy.
Pam: I would recommend the Lamy Safari to those who enjoy the TWSBI Eco for the size and want to enjoy the versatility of swapping out nibs. The design is unique, the pen is relatively affordable, and a great introduction to Lamy as a brand and to fountain pens as a whole. My only quibble, which is a personal preference was in the size and weight. Those nibs though… definitely worth a try in any Lamy pen that will accommodate them.
Franz: Pam has listed some great reasons as to why the Lamy Safari has been recommended to fountain pen beginners, and doing these pen reviews made me appreciate this pen for what it is. The Safari is a pen that is a gateway for new users and is also great for experienced pen folk.
I like this pen a lot but it just seems a little light for me. It’s really the only negative thing for me. Granted, since I own three Safari versions at the present time, it’s not a very big negative for me. Haha!
Thank you for reading and your time.
Pen Photos (click to enlarge)