Snap cap fountain pens are great for taking quick notes, writing on the go and general convenience. Here I have compiled a list of ten snap cap pens, for beginners and experienced users alike, for any way you hold your pen. This isn’t a ranked top ten list because there are so many snap caps that I haven’t tried, and this list is Pilot heavy. You may notice that the Pilot Metropolitan and the Lamy Safari/AL-Star/Vista are not on this list, and that’s because they are very popular starter pens that have been discussed a lot. The pens I have here are some alternatives at various price points, whether you’re looking for something different or something beyond a starter pen.
1. The Kaweco Perkeo
The Kaweco Perkeo is a great value at under 20 dollars. It comes in several fun color ways and is offered with fine or medium nibs. As of my writing this, Kaweco recently came out with new monochrome colors in pink, green, blue, and clear. This pen can take any standard international cartridge or converter, so there are many different ink options. The Perkeo is a great fountain pen for beginners because the semi-triangulated grip helps the user hold the pen in the correct way, but it works as a great pen for lefties because it’s still comfortable to hold with a different grip than the design intended. Smudging has not been an issue with this pen. These pens take long and short standard international cartridges and converters, and can fit Kaweco’s really nice piston converter. The cap on this pen has a quick hollow snap, and is easy to operate.
2. The TWSBI Go
The TWSBI Go is a quirky little pen with a unique spring loaded filling system. It retails for just under 20 dollars and comes in blue, grey and clear with nib options ranging from extra-fine to 1.1 mm stub. To fill the pen you just dip it in your ink bottle and press the button! Of the piston fillers in my collection, the Go is by far the easiest to take apart and put back together. The Go has a round grip with a pronounced edge that is comfortable to hold for lefties no matter their grip. The flow of this pen is moderately wet, but performs well with fast drying inks such as Robert Oster. The Go cap has a loud snap that’s quite firm, and can take some effort to uncap. I’ve splattered ink a few times while uncapping this pen.
3. The Pelikan Pelikano Jr.
The Pelikan Pelikano Jr. is one of the few pens on this list offered with a lefty specific nib. It has a left handed molded rubber grip that is quite comfortable to hold. Like the previous two pens on this list, this pen retails for about 20 dollars. The Pelikano Jr. is truly tailored for lefties learning to write with a fountain pen. The nib is a medium, and is ground in such a way that is especially smooth for lefty’s. The Jr. has a translucent colored body and comes in several neat colors. If you prefer a look that is more professional there is a regular Pelikano that also comes with a left handed nib. The Pelikano can take both long and short standard international ink cartridges and converters. The Pelikano cap snaps similarly to the Perkeo.
4. The Platinum Preppy
With the best value at 5 dollars, the Platinum Preppy is a great pen to dip your toes in the fountain pen waters. It comes in a rainbow of translucent colors, with nib sizes in extra-fine, fine and medium. There is even the option for a highlighter and marker tip! The Preppy takes proprietary Platinum ink cartridges. The Preppy does take Platinum converters but they cost more than the pen itself. If you want to try bottled ink and are feeling adventurous, this pen can be easily converted into an eye dropper with an o-ring and some silicone grease. The inner cap has a seal mechanism that will keep the nib from drying out for a year. The fine and medium nibs are both very smooth and a pleasure to write with. The round grip is also comfortable to hold, no matter your grip style. The Preppy has two siblings: the Prefounte and the Plaisir, which are also snap caps under 20 dollars. The Platinum Preppy performs excellently with lubricated inks such as Monteverde, and have a low dry time. These caps have a softer snap than the the other plastic pens on this list, and the click is very pleasant.
5. The Pilot Kakuno
The Pilot Kakuno is very kawaii. It comes in soft pastel colors in the U.S market and translucent demonstrator colors in the Japanese market. The nibs on the Kakuno have little faces on them to remind the user to keep the nib facing up. If you’re an over-writer, the little face will be looking at you upside down or sideways, but it’s still cute. The face that comes on the nib is based on tip size; the EF has a cheeky winky face. The cap on this pen has a clicky snap and is easy to uncap. Though this pen is designed for kids, people of all ages love the Pilot Kakuno. This pen retails for about $10 USD.
6. The Pilot Prera
A seriously satisfying snap of this cap, the Pilot Prera has a more professional look than the Kakuno. At around 40 dollars this pen is more of a step-up than the previous pens on this list, but is worth it for the smoothness of the nib. The Prera can be found on Amazon in solid colors such as ivory, grey, blue, yellow, and red. The Prera can also be found on most pen websites with a clear body and various transparently colored finial and tail. This version comes in colors such as clear red, clear navy, and clear grey.
7. The Lamy Studio
A bigger step up from the other pens on this list, the Lamy Studio caps with a short and sweet click. Equally (perhaps more) satisfying is how the pen clicks when being posted. This pen has a wide variety of special editions that range in price and materials. The Studio has a metal body with a unique propellor shaped clip, and has been released in several special edition colors. Most versions of the Studio come with a steel nib, but there are some that come with a 14k gold nib, at a higher price. The standard price is 80 dollars USD.
8. The Pilot E95s
The Pilot E95s is less snappy than the other pens on this list, but it’s still satisfying to cap and uncap. The cap slides on softly and clicks gently when hitting the stopper ring on the end of the section. It’s a classic design pocket pen, so the cap posts in order to transform this little guy into a full sized pen. The nib is an inlaid 14k that’s soft and smooth. In my experience, the medium nib is springier than the fine. From about the mid-1960s through the 1970s, the Japanese Big 3 (Platinum, Sailor, Pilot) had their own roughly identical version of this pen that can be easily found on ebay. Today, Pilot is the only brand that has this design available in a new pen. The Pilot E95s retails for $136 USD.
9. The Midori MD Fountain Pen
The Midori MD fountain pen is the newest on this list, having been released in the US earlier in 2021. This pen has a vintage design similar to a Parker 51 with a plastic/resin body and brushed metal cap. The body is cream colored to match your MD notebook, and the grip section is clear with a clear feed. The grip is matte plastic that’s subtly ribbed, and it feels nice to hold. The cap of the MD fountain pen snaps very firmly and feels sturdy. When capped, there’s no step between the body of the pen and the cap that makes for a sleek line. The firm medium nib has a unique downturn similar to a beak, and writes smoothly even at a high angle. The Midori MD fountain pen retails for $38 USD.
10. The Traveler’s Company Fountain Pen
The Traveler’s Company, known for their high quality notebook systems, also makes writing instruments! Every iteration is pocket sized and brass. In 2020, Traveler’s Co released a special edition Factory Green line, pictured above. There’s a bullet pencil, fountain pen, rollerball, and ballpoint. I’m just going to discuss the fountain pen here, and it’s wonderful. Similar to the Pilot E95s, the cap slides on the back of the pen with some resistance in order to create a full sized pen. When you cap the pen, the snap is hearty with a satisfying click. I can’t speak to how well the snap mechanism holds up over time, but the material of the pen feels solid. The Traveler’s Co fountain pen comes in plain brass and Factory Green, and retails for around $70 USD.
Honorable Mention: Pilot’s Snap Cap Pocket Pens
Several years ago Pilot made these wonderful snap cap pocket pens, but have discontinued them. The Stargazer is the US model, while the Stella and Legno are Japanese models. The Stargazer and Stella both have a subtly sparkly lacquered body while the Legno has an impregnated wood body. There is also a rare celluloid model called the Legance 89s. These pens feature the less common Pilot 14k #3 nib, and have a flat top design. If you prefer a traditional cigar shape there is also the even rarer Custom 98. The Custom 98 has the same #3 nib, and looks very similar to a Montblanc 144. I’m grouping all these models into one paragraph because they’re essentially the same pen with different bodies. Unfortunately they’re hard to find nowadays. They can be found with persistent hunting on eBay or a pen swap forum. The snap on these caps is so damn satisfying; it starts out soft and then finishes with a quick click. These pens are an honorable mention because they’re difficult to find at a reasonable price.