Your Complete Guide to Buying the Perfect Retractable Fountain Pen 2022
retractable fountain pen

As one of the most widely used tools of writing, retractable fountain pens have been around for decades. Considered elegant and timeless with classic designs, they are a must-have. 

Over the years, fountain pens became a status symbol, with the wealthy using pens with solid gold nibs, boxing out ballpoint pens as the cheaper alternative.

The problem with fountain pen nibs is that the ink cartridge tends to dry. To solve this issue, designers began to make fountain pens with a retractable design. This means the ink cartridge doesn’t dry even while writing for long periods of time.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many fountain pens with retractable features on the market now. It is believed that the design is so complex that most companies tend to shy away from any form of mass production. 

But let’s say you want to buy a nice, classy retractable fountain pen. Should you shy away? No! Read on for a full guide on how to buy the best in the market.

Best Retractable Fountain Pens

1. Majohn A1 Press Fountain Pen


  • Weight: ‎4.6 ounces
  • Color: Matte Black
  • Material: Metal
  • Ink Color: Black
  • Nib Type: Extra Fine
  • Customer reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars

One of the major issues with twist mechanisms is that the functionality tends to be compromised with constant use. That is to say, the wear and tear can damage the twist mechanism. This Majohn A1 pen performs better – reviewers have said it is surprisingly smooth in that department.

This amazing quality product is one of the less expensive options on our list today. Think of it like a Pilot Capless Fountain Pen but more affordable.

Although some reviews have suggested that initially getting the flow of the ink may take some time, it glides smoothly on the paper after the first few uses.


  • It comes with an extra fine 0.4mm nib.
  • The cover is very tight, which means the ink doesn’t dry out.
  • Overall, the pen is very lightweight.


  • It doesn’t come with an instruction manual, making reloading the ink cartridge difficult.

2. X1 Retractable Fountain Pen


  • Weight: 1.05 ounces
  • Color: Black
  • Material: Resin
  • Ink Color: Black
  • Nib type: Extra fine
  • Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars

Over the years, several Chinese companies have come up with great long-term fountain pens. Most of these are, in some way, based on famous pens. To an average fountain pen user, they are wonderful writing tools.

The X1 writes almost like a Pilot nib. Reviews suggest that it has a nice ink flow, wonderful smoothness, and great handling, owing to its lightweight. This makes for a good everyday writing tool, especially because of its iridium nib.

The iridium makes the nib resistant to corrosion and moisture damage, making the pen last long. As such, iridium has the edge over a traditional stainless steel nib and can also be used in calligraphy.


  • It comes with a screw-type cap, giving it better damage protection.
  • The pen comes with 5 black ink cartridges.
  • It comes with an extra iridium nib.


  • Only a 2.6 mm ink cartridge can be used for this pen.

3. Matte Black MAJOHN A1 Metal Press Fountain Pen


  • Weight: 2.08 ounces
  • Color: Matte black
  • Material: Metal
  • Ink Color: Black
  • Nib type: Extra fine
  • Customer review: 4.4 out of 5 stars

With the A1 metal press, Majohn has made some interesting design choices. Although available with and without a clip, we prefer the latter. It uses Pilot-style proprietary cartridges, and the nib has a nice, smooth mechanism. 

For its cost, the A1 metal press does a wonderful job of copying the mechanisms of pens that are three times the price.

It is particularly the metallic protector of the cartridge that caught our eye. It is a feat of design and helps prevent the ink cartridge from wearing out prematurely and causing leaks. Refilling this cartridge is one of the easiest things to do.

Unfortunately, the ink flow to the nib might be an issue, as some reviewers have suggested that it takes almost an entire day to break the pen in.


  • Majohn offers custom engravings for this pen.
  • Additional convenience feature includes an elegant gift box.
  • It has an easy-to-understand instruction manual.


  • The outer body’s design seems unoriginal and uninspired.

4. Namiki Vanishing Point Matt Black Fountain Pen


  • Weight: 3.19 ounces
  • Color: Black
  • Material: Metal
  • Ink Color: Black
  • Nib Type: Medium
  • Customer review: 4.7 out of 5 stars

The Vanishing Point line from Namiki has consistently put out some incredible high-quality pens over the years. The nib of this Namiki Vanishing Point is 18 carat gold and rhodium-plated to give it a chrome appearance. Namiki pens are high quality Japanese products aimed at the discerning writer that values quality, style and usefulness.

Of all the pens reviewed by our experts, this has to be one of the best nibs, and variations of this design also come with different nib types. Reviewers suggest that it glides across the paper, and even the medium nib can be used on regular paper.

The seal retracts through the pressure of the nib moving – when retracted, the nib is held airtight. The clip helps with finger placement, so you don’t have to look at the nib to ensure it is in the right direction. 


  • The pen can be used with almost all kinds of water-based ink.
  • Attractive design with a matte body and clip.


  • It is slightly heavier than other pens.
  • The converter has a low capacity.

5. Pilot Fountain Pen


  • Weight: ‎0.8 ounces
  • Color: Blue
  • Material: Metal
  • Ink Color: Metal
  • Nib Type: Fine, Extra Fine, and Medium
  • Customer review: 4.2 out of 5 stars

Some customers had complained about the Pilot Vanishing Point pen, citing the larger body as the issue. A few months later, Pilot answered their complaints with the capless Decimo. So, you can consider it the thinner, lighter, and more attractive version of the Pilot VP. 

Did you know that “decimo” actually means tenth in Spanish? It is named so because it is the tenth generation of the Pilot VP.

The 18 carat gold nib makes for an elastic writing experience. It writes very smoothly on paper and even has a bit of a bounce. The complex mechanism consists of four ball bearings to make the flow easier.

The curvature of the clip is of special interest to us, just like the original Pilot VP, the pinch at the edges of the clip help with the grip, making the writing process even smoother.


  • It comes with a proprietary cartridge and an extra metal sleeve protector.
  • The Decimo is currently available in six different shades.


  • Inserting the nib back into the housing slot can take a bit of maneuvering.

Five Frequent Mistakes that Beginners Make With Fountain Pens

Now that you’ve got yourself a wonderful long-term fountain pen, what’s next? Should you start writing with it right away? Well, you can, but hear us out on this. What if we told you that how you use your pen affects your handwriting and the pen’s performance? 

We suggest these five steps to make the beginner’s experience even easier.

Not Enough Practice

The thing about nice writing instruments is that we tend to store them away, telling ourselves that we’ll use them for special occasions. Unfortunately, not only does this make the ink cartridge dry up faster, but it also makes writing with it all that harder. 

For a comfortable writing experience, practice is the only thing that helps. Start with shorter writing sessions before moving on to bigger sections, and you will see improvement in no time!

Cleaning Your Pen

One of the biggest reasons why most pens with retractable designs stop working is because the nib gets clogged due to dust or ink. 

The easiest way to clean is once every few months, by simply taking the pen apart and putting it in water for a few minutes. Then, set it out to dry before refilling the ink cartridge. If it is a design with refinement, we suggest using an old toothbrush to get the little nooks and crannies.

Using the Wrong Kind of Paper

Because fountain pens were made with an extravagant taste, it is generally suggested that you use high-end paper, particularly for classic fountain pens. 

Depending on the nib and the ink flow, beginners tend to get more ink on the paper. The ink starts bleeding if the paper is flimsy or of very poor quality. 

Contrarily, a high-quality thick paper will absorb enough of the ink, leaving crisp and defined strokes of writing behind. We suggest fountain pen paper or card stock.

Using the Wrong Kind of Ink

While it can be tempting to use cheap ink swatches as a beginner, it can severely affect the quality of your handwriting. 

Specific fountain pen inks are available for this purpose. What’s the difference, you ask? They have different chemical compositions. The quality of the ink will affect the longevity of your fountain pen. Runnier inks are easier to clean, while thicker inks will tend to clog the nibs.

Not Careful With the Nib

In most cases, the part of the fountain pen that sustains the most damage is the nib. Unlike ballpoint pens, if you drop the pen on its head, the nib will break, and you will have to get a new nib. 

Stainless steel nibs are fairly inexpensive and easily accessible, while solid gold nibs are more expensive. This is why we suggest that after every use, you tightly screw the cap and store it in a safe place.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of nib should I use for my twist-action fountain pen?

Stainless steel nibs are a wonderful option if you are looking for something relatively cheaper. Gold nibs are the height of luxury and usually tend to be more on the expensive side. The more valuable the material of the nib, the smoother the pen’s writing is.

How fine the nib is, determines how wide your writing on the paper is. For beginners, we always suggest going to medium or fine nibs to get used to writing with the pen. 

Also, these nibs tend to be stiffer, allowing for easy writing. Using your fountain pen, you can switch to less stiff, finer nibs.

Are fountain pens better than ballpoint pens?

Fountain pens are typically better than ballpoint pens. Ballpoint pens cost a quarter of fountain pens, which speaks to their popularity, and this is because of their mechanism. Ballpoint pens use thick, oil-based inks that dry fast on paper. 

The cartridge uses gravity to force ink down the reservoir, which means you have to use more force on the pen for the ink to flow. 

On the other hand, fountain pens use slow-drying, water-based ink, and you don’t need to exert much pressure for the ink to flow. In the long run, fountain pens are better for your comfort.

What are the disadvantages of using fountain pens?

Right off the bat, we must tell you that because of the nib and ink quality, fountain pens are one of the most expensive pens you can buy. Unlike the thick ink used in other pens, these pens use water-based ink, which tends to run out quickly, so you’ll have to keep buying bottles of ink to refill. 

They also have to be used frequently because the nibs tend to clog with dust and ink if left unused. 

Finally, because the nibs are so delicate, you will have to be very careful with them, and you cannot keep them lying around just anywhere.

How should a fountain pen be cleaned?

There are two easy ways to clean a fountain pen. The first and the easiest way is to take the pen apart once you’re done. Then, simply put them in lukewarm water and let them soak for a few minutes. 

You’ll see the cartridge’s ink draining out. Do this two more times until the water is completely clean. Then, dry it with a paper towel and let it sit out for a few hours to dry. Always remember to clean your ink before changing inks.

We suggest using an old toothbrush and a very gentle cleaning agent for nibs that are stuck and won’t budge. The bristles should be more than enough to clean the cartridge and the nib.

How long can I leave the ink unused inside the fountain pen?

Unfortunately, the ink in a fountain pen’s cartridge can run out in about two weeks if left unused. It is suggested that you use the fountain pen frequently.

Experts suggest that you change the ink cartridge every six months, as the leftover ink in them tends to compromise their quality. 

How do I make my fountain pen last a long time?

For starters, we always suggest that users store the pen horizontally on an even surface. This is because if you keep the pen upside down, gravity will pull the ink away from the nib, making it dry. 

On the other hand, if you keep its nib downwards, the ink may spill through the nib into the cap.

If you are breaking out an older fountain pen, flush it and reprime it. To do this, simply run some lukewarm water over the nib and start scratching it against the surface of a fresh paper. This will take care of any clogs. 

If you are storing your pen for a long time, we suggest you take the ink cartridge out completely before putting the pen in storage. Not only will this prevent spillage, but it’ll save you the trouble of having to clean the nib all over again.

Finally, remember to empty the ink converter and put the pen in its case, especially if you are traveling to warmer temperatures with humid weather. 

The Best Brands for Retractable Fountain Pens


Majohn is one of several brands manufactured by a large Shanghai-based pen company, Shanghai Jingdian. Originally starting out as Moonman pens in China, the company got into a legal tussle with Kaweco for copyright infringement. As a result of this, they legally changed their name to Majohn. 

These products are part of the new age of fountain pens made in China that provide incredible quality for an affordable price. With their annual sales, it is no surprise that their popularity has also started to spread in the European market.


Lanxivi is a subsidiary of one of the biggest Shanghai-based pen companies, Shanghai Hero Pen Company. The company initially started out in 1931 as Wolff Pens Manufacturing Company, but in 1966 changed its name. 

It wasn’t before the 1990s that they broke out in the international market for the high-quality performance of a wide range of their pens.

Although they have a wide range of high-end products, most of their products are geared towards beginners and calligraphers. The company is one of the state-owned brands in China.


Namiki is one of the many companies owned by Pilot Corporations. Originally, the company was called Namiki Manufacturing Company, after the founder Ryosuke Namiki, before being changed to Pilot. 

Only during the 20th century did the brand name Namiki come to fame, after the English entrepreneur Alfred Dunhill retailed their signature Maki-e pens produced by Pilot under the brand “Dunhill-Namiki” in the west.

The company has expanded to international markets, including Shanghai, New York, and Singapore.


Of all the pen manufacturing companies we have reviewed so far, Pilot is the most famous. They are the largest pen manufacturing company in Japan, with their headquarters in Tokyo. It was originally founded in 1918 by Japanese professor Ryosuke Namiki and Masao Wada, and primarily focused on gold nib pens.

Today, owing to its popularity, the company has multiple international subsidiaries, in places like India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the USA.

The company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2018 with some special editions of its classical pens. 


When it comes to nice writing instruments, the world is divided on whether to favor ballpoint pens or retractable fountain pens. Our take is that fountain pens are worth their price and all the hype they have garnered over the years.

Not only are fountain pens extremely elegant writing tools and make for incredible gifts, but they are also meant to be carried around and pulled out to use in any situation. These pens are built to last and keep on writing for years. 

Perhaps longevity is the reason why they have lasted in the market for decades, while other pens have come and gone.

With the current large-scale production tendencies that most companies have today, it is no surprise that several knock-offs have come up, which are made with cheap quality materials.

This can make anyone confused when it comes to buying a decent fountain pen, which is why our experts have specifically tested all of the pens mentioned above to bring you the very best.

Thank you for taking the time to read our article on retractable fountain pens. We hope it helped you delve a little deeper into the world of this wonderful exceptional writing instrument.


Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Get notified about new articles