Budget Fountain Pen Showdown

Budget Fountain Pen Showdown

After lampooning the Pilot Varsity, I got a lot of feedback from readers that they had a good experience with the pen and that it helped to inspire them to try fountain pens. While I am still not over the bruising experience of the Pilot Varisty, I was willing to try some other sub-$5 fountain pens. I did like the Zebra V-301 that I’m willing to admit that not all entry-level fountain pens are cheap. So I ordered a Platinum Preppy 03 ($3.30) and a Pilot Petit 1 (fine) ($3.80) from JetPens in hopes of finding a gem or two.

The most notable difference between these two pens is the length. The Platinum Preppy is a full-length pen (5.5″ closed) while the Pilot Petit 1 is a tiny pocket-sized pen. The Pilot Petit 1 is about the same length as a Kaweco Sport when closed at 4.25″ long. It’s 3.75″ uncapped and 5.25″ with the capped posted. The Preppy is 5″ uncapped and 6″ with the cap posted. If small pens are uncomfortable in your hands, then the Preppy will definitely be better suited than the Pilot Petit.

Platinum Preppy vs. Pilot Petit 1

Both nibs seem similar in width. The Pilot Petit actually has a longer nib-to-grip ratio and the Preppy nib is tinted to match the cap and ink color chosen at purchase. Both pens are cartridge-filled and use a proprietary cartridge style. Preppy cartridges refills are available in packs of two for $1.65 and the inks work in both the fountain pens and their line of Preppy sign markers. The Pilot Petit 1 cartridges work with the fountain pen and their two other pen styles — the marker and brush pen. Their cartridges come in sets of three for $1.90.

Budget Fountain Pen Showdown

In writing tests, they both preformed really well. For me, surprisingly well. The Preppy had a little bit of friction on the paper but no more than a pencil would have — I never felt like the pen was moving without my control. The Pilot Petit 1 was silkier on the paper but I think the grassy green ink is much wetter than the red in the Preppy.

I will probably refill the ink cartridges in both these pens with my syringe method to see if they behave differently with other inks. In general though, I am quite satisfied with the results of these pens. If I had to pick one, I like the way the Preppy writes a little better than the Petit 1 but I think both are great options if you are just getting into fountain pens or are looking for pens you wouldn’t be heartbroken to lose in the office or while traveling.

Lefty-approved. Recommended for anyone.

(This pen was tested on the Miquelrius medium flexible 300 grid paper book purchased from B+N.)

9 thoughts on “Budget Fountain Pen Showdown

  1. I have both of those (several of each) and I love them! My Pilot Petit 1 with baby pink ink writes a little scratchier than the other colors, but I haven’t used it as much yet, either.

  2. Great test, thank you. I have ordered a while ago 7 Pilot Petit 1 (all colours except baby pink), and the first week there were some different behaviours. Some felt a bit scratchy and greedy wit ink. But after a week they all work well. of course, they are still no Mont Blanc 24ct gold nib pens. But they work very well as all day tools. And I like the pilot colours.

  3. I’m a true fountain pen rookie. I haven’t tried the Preppy yet but I do have a couple of Petit1’s and they seem to work fine. Could you explain the syringe refill method for these pens? I saw a post on Jet Pens about the eyedropper refill on the Petit1, seems like it might be worth a try.
    Thanks for the info !!

  4. I’m a huge sucker for the Pilot Petit1 because of its sheer cute factor. One thing I’ve learned about the Preppy is the colour on the nibs come off! I had put one of my nibs + feeds in the ultrasonicator to clean out some dried ink and half the black paint (I assume it’s some sort of paint?) came off. Now I have a half silver/steel, half black nib hehe.

  5. I have the pilot petit and I did refill a cartridge with some Noodler’s ink. I picked up a syringe with needle at the local Feed store. You fill it with ink, then refill the cartridge. Couldn’t be easier. I mostly use the Pilot Petit for my making-a-grocery-list pen.

  6. I’m a fan of both pens. The Preppy ships free with some of the larger Noodler’s ink bottles, and is converted to an eye-dropper fill system, which allows for a huge volume of ink in the entire body. I use it with Noodler’s Nikita red to mark all of my essays. I keep the Petit 1 in my coat pocket.

  7. Pingback: Ask The Desk: The Great Beginner Fountain Pen Debate | The Well-Appointed Desk

  8. I’ve been following your blog incognito for months and I recently bought my first real fountain pen (refillable). I’ve been refilling the Pilot Petit1 cartridges with some bottled india ink that I have left over from dabbling in calligraphy. Ink seems to be pooling in the thready area (like on the Preppy), am I doing something wrong?

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