The Pilot Metropolitan tops most lists of starter fountain pens.

The Metropolitan is a good pen. But it’s not even the best starter fountain pen within its own brand. That honor belongs to the Pilot Kakuno. That’s like naming a college football team #1 in the country when they didn’t even win their conference. I mean, it happens—but it doesn’t feel right.

Clear body Pilot Kakuno fountain pen
Image of Pilot Kakuno fountain pen courtsey of JetPens

Pilot Kakuno and Pilot Metropolitan specifications side by side

Specification Pilot Kakuno Pilot Metropolitan
Weight 0.40 oz / 11 grams 0.96 oz / 27 grams
Length - Capped 13.1 cm / 5.2 inches 13.8 cm / 5.4 inches
Length - Posted 15.9 cm / 6.3 inches 15.3 cm / 6.0 inches
Body material Plastic Metal
Closure type Snap Snap
Nib options Extra fine, fine, medium Extra fine, fine, medium, italic
Price ~$12.50 ~$25

🗒️ Note: The specifications for these pens were copied or adapted from JetPens and Goulet Pens.

Pilot Kakuno cons

The Pilot Kakuno has some features (or lack of) that may make it less desirable than the Metropolitan:

  • Lack of clip on cap
    (But the cap includes a small tab to prevent rolling on surfaces.)
  • Plastic body and lighter weight compared to the Metropolitan
  • Smiley face on the nib
    (Or this may be a feature, depending on your tastes. I’m not a fan.)

The smiley face nib on the Pilot Kakuno
The smiley face on the Pilot Kakuno—Photo courtsey of JetPens

The Pilot Metropolitan is not worth double the price of the Kakuno

You can argue the Metropolitan is a better pen than the Kakuno. For one, the Metropolitan includes a clip on its cap, which the Kakuno lacks. And some users prefer the metal body and heavier weight of the Metropolitan. (I myself am not bothered by the plastic body of the Kakuno. And I love how light it is in comparison to the Metropolitan.)

But the Metropolitan is not worth nearly twice the price of the Kakuno as a starter pen for the masses.

The nib is what makes Pilot pens so great. And with the Kakuno, you get the Pilot nib so many pen hobbyists know and love, at around half the price of the Metropolitan.

Both the Kakuno and the Metropolitan come with ink cartridges. So both requiring buying a converter if you prefer converters over cartridges.

The Metropolitan may be a better pen for some people. But the Kakuno is the better choice for broad recommendations—like any list about the top starter fountain pens.