review: lamy safari

318IMG_8025Way, way back in September, my friend got me a Lamy Safari. This is actually my first Lamy Safari: I’ve been in the fountain pen world for about three or four years! Incredible, I know.

The Lamy Safari is about 5 1/2 inches capped (14 cm), 5 1/8 inches (13 cm) uncapped, and 6 5/8 inches (16.5 cm) posted. There’s a small window in the barrel so you can look at the ink level in a cartridge or a converter. This does, however mean that you can’t convert the Safari into a eyedropper. It’s not particularly heavy nor lightweight–it has an all-plastic construction other than the clip and the nib, but it feels nice and sturdy. It’s relatively cheap, too, so I could definitely see why this is a workhorse pen for a lot of people. It feels like you can throw it around. I do think the plastic will pick up scratches, especially gouges from things like keys, but you know. Sometimes you have to accept that things aren’t always going to look perfect!

IMG_8027Mine has a broad nib that I really adore. I’ve heard that Lamy nibs may be hit or miss, but I got lucky and I got a really good one! Didn’t have to tune it or fiddle with it or anything. Actually, I didn’t do anything to my Safari when I first got it, just popped ink in it and wrote, and it did. The broad nib lays down a nice and juicy line, and I love it with the ink that I put in it: Diamine Marine. This ink really needs a broad nib to reveal the really pretty shading, and I think it’s a great fit with this broad nib. As always, the nibs are swappable so you can get nibs from extra-fine to a 1.9mm italic!

A lot of people are on the fence when it comes to the Lamy Safari (or Lamy Al-Star, or Lamy Vista) because of the triangular grip. I do find myself “skipping” the triangular grip entirely, if that makes sense. I’m left-handed and I grip my pens in ways that no human should be able to, and with the Lamy Safari I tend to grip it with my thumb on the indent closest to me and my index finger on top. This does make my writing experience a little uncomfortable, but I don’t think it’s a deal breaker. I tend to rotate my pen just slightly, too. Honestly, I don’t know why my wrist doesn’t hurt as much as it should. I guess a couple years on this earth getting used to a terrifying grip strengthens your wrist a little. But anyway: if you are really worried the triangular grip might be an issue for you, I would suggest trying it out. See if there are any fountain pen clubs in your area and drop by: someone is bound to bring a Lamy Safari/Vista/Al-Star. Or buy a Chinese knockoff like the Jinhao 599 or Hero 359 (which you can get  for under $5 on eBay) and see if you like it.

IMG_8027I don’t love this pen, but I think it’s a great pen. It’s definitely a workhorse that I don’t feel worried about throwing around. It’s also relatively cheap at around $30 with a converter and you can get nibs to swap in for about $10. However, I’ve heard that TWSBI is getting closer and closer to a release of the Eco, a $30 piston filler. If the nibs are as swappable as the rest of the TWSBI line are, I could see Lamy Safari sales taking a pretty big hit, especially with regards to people who hate the triangular grip. Either way, though, I would definitely suggest both to fountain pen fans. (Actually, I purchased a Lamy Al-Star in that beautiful, beautiful blue-green for the same friend who bought me this pen. She loves it!)

IMG_8032Here’s a writing sample on a watermelon Quo Vadis Habana Smooth. On the top is my handwriting when I hold the pen like I would. The bottom is my handwriting when I hold the pen according to the grip. (Sorry about the picture quality–I no longer have access to a scanner.)

I don’t know where my friend got me my Safari, but you can–of course–purchase this pen at a couple of reputable dealers. The Goulet Pen Company sells the Lamy Safari for $29.60, and JetPens sells it for $28. If you’d like some infinitely swappable nibs, JetPens have them for $10.75 each. Goulet Pens have them for $13 each, but they also sell sets! You can get a set of EF-B nibs (so four) in either silver or black for $41.60, or a set of italics (1.1mm, 1.5mm, and 1.9mm) for $36.

I’m not at all affiliated with Goulet Pens or JetPens: just a happy customer!



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2 responses to “review: lamy safari

  1. Great review!! The Lamy Charcoal was my very first fountain pen, and I loved it. It actually complemented how I hold my pens, so the grip wasn’t an issue for me. And surprisingly it is very durable plastic, so won’t get very damaged if in a pocket or purse. And the Safaris are reliable – you can leave it inked for weeks and it will still start up. Hope you enjoy it more the more you use it! I’m also glad I ordered a sample of Diamine Marine. 🙂

    • I can definitely use the Safari, but unfortunately the grip tends to dig into my finger if I hold it for too long. It’s actually pretty good for me, since it reminds me to take breaks instead of attempting to write a 9 page letter all at once! And for sure, the plastic is quite durable: I don’t tend to put my pens in situations where they could get scratches, but I also don’t worry quite as much when it comes to the Safari because of its affordability and toughness. I have definitely left mine inked for about two weeks without use with no incident–that’s pretty darn good for a fountain pen! I’m a fan, really: I think I would prefer it more if the grip was cylindrical, but at the end of the day it’s not a deal breaker for me. And Diamine Marine is beautiful, isn’t it?

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