Review: Lamy Safari, Ballpoint, Medium Point

After my recent disappointment with the Lamy Tipo, I was a little reluctant to purchase another Lamy product so quickly. However, I’ve had good experiences with Lamy in the past, and I generally like the creativity in the company’s designs. So, after reading good things about the Lamy Safari Ballpoint, I decided to give it a shot – and I’m glad I did.

In all honesty, the Safari ballpoint seems like an odd choice for anyone who already owns the Safari in the much more popular fountain pen format, but it’s surprising how different the two designs actually are from each other when you have them side-by-side. Of course, both versions have the iconic U-shaped clip, and the indented grip sections are very similar. But everything else is quite different.

The ballpoint version has a rounded barrel, as opposed to the flattened-sides of the fountain pen version, and it’s also retractable. So the ballpoint version completely lacks a cap, which has been replaced by a knock that resembles an accordion. And, since the ballpoint refill is an enclosed metal tube, the ballpoint Safari has no need for an ink window.

It’s a unique design that, like it’s fountain pen counterpart, is produced in a bunch of colors. Mine is a mint green that was part of a limited edition run, but in person it is very reminiscent of Tiffany blue (it will be confiscated by my wife shortly after I finish this review). But red, black, and blue versions seem to be widely available, and new colors are frequently released.

I do have a couple of minor complaints that are still worth mentioning. First, the knock has a somewhat squeaky/rusty sound to it. I’d almost like to open it up to add some WD-40. And the (Lamy M16) refill, though it is relatively smooth and dark for a ballpoint, seems to skip in and out on occasion. So you might need a piece of scratch paper handy to get the ink flow started now and then.

Otherwise, this is a really nice pen, and Lamy did a lot of work to make it feel different from its fountain pen counterpart. It’s light weight, comfortable to hold, and it feels like a high quality product. So if you’re a in the market for a nice, colorful ballpoint, you won’t go wrong with the Safari.

Review: Lamy Tipo, Rollerball, Medium Point

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Lamy is a company known for their innovative pen designs, and you can tell by the look of it that this streak has continued with the Lamy Tipo. Like Lamy’s Dailog 2, the Tipo has a unique retracting mechanism, but unlike the Dialog 2, the Tipo is relatively inexpensive, usually selling between $10-$15. This is possibly the least expensive pen that Lamy sells, and so I was obviously interested in trying it out. But, unfortunately, that low price turned out to be a bad omen.

But first, the good: the Tipo has a rather slick design. It has a smooth plastic barrel and a ribbed plastic grip section that slowly tapers toward the tip. It comes in all sorts of colors, and it manages to feel high quality, even with its all-plastic construction. Lamy’s (proprietary) M66 rollerball refill is also very nice if you like thick, dark lines.

The clip and the retracting mechanism, however, drove me a little crazy. To eject the pen, the clip has to be slid down to catch a little hole on the side of the barrel. It’s simple and works fine most of the time, but you have to be very deliberate about it or it won’t catch, which can be mildly annoying.

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But the big flaw, in my opinion, is that the plastic clip is thin and flimsy. If it gets bent or if it breaks (which is what happened to me), then the pen is simply no longer functional. Without the clip, you cannot eject the tip of the refill.

In my opinion, Lamy should have made the clip out of a more durable material, even if it meant charging an extra dollar or two. This would have made the Tipo easier to retract/eject while also making it more durable. But designed as is, I cannot recommend this pen to anyone.

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Extra Links

  • There is an aluminum version, which might be more durable, but I cannot vouch for it.
  • A review over at Inkdependence has a good photo of Lamy’s clam shell packaging, which may honestly be the best part of the Tipo. I also like the look of that orange version. But, alas, this reviewer shares the same frustrations with the clip.
  • According to The Pen Addict, if you don’t like Lamy’s proprietary refill, you can substitute the Pilot G-2 refill. Worth considering if you end up purchasing this pen, as the G-2 has many more color and size options.

Nib Novice, Part 4: Counterfeit Lamy Safari

Note: this post is the fourth part of a series in which I’m learning about fountain pens. For Part 1, click here. For part 2, click here. For Part 3, click here.


When I first began looking into fountain pens, my eye immediately turned to the Lamy Safari. I love the colorful options and the slick, modern design. So, for a little more than $20, I snagged one from Amazon and looked forward to inking it up. But when I finally broke it out of its packaging, it quickly turned into a frustrating and disappointing experience.

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Instead of an ink cartridge like the Zebra V-301 and Sheaffer Calligrapher, the Lamy Safari came with a cartridge converter, which is basically just the refillable version of a standard ink cartridge. It’s really pretty easy to use: (1.) pop the converter into the pen like you would with a normal cartridge, (2.) dip the pen’s nib into a bottle of ink, then (3.) use use the converter’s plunger to suck the ink up and into the pen. Pen Chalet has a 2-minute video explaining the process.

Unfortunately, when I attempted this simple procedure myself, the ink I used immediately clogged up the pen. I could get no ink to flow at all. So I cleaned the pen and the converter – a tedious process that involves a lot of water rinses – and refilled it with a different ink. This time, instead of clogging up the pen, the new ink began to leak all over the place. Did I do something wrong? Did I choose the wrong ink? Did I break the pen somehow?  I couldn’t understand why I was having so much trouble.

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Before I let my irritation compel me to throw the Safari out the window, I decided to consult with the fountain pen fans at Reddit, who suggested replacing the converter – perhaps the one that came with the pen was faulty. Luckily, I had ordered an extra one, so I tried it. And for a little while the pen seemed to work, but I soon realized that the leaking didn’t actually stop, it just slowed. Whenever I removed the cap, ink still smeared all over the pen and all over my hands. After a couple days of this, I was done with this pen.

So I sat down to write this post, unhappy and exasperated, when I stumbled onto a blog by Goldspot Pens. I was looking to see if others had similarly poor experiences with the Lamy Safari, and it turned out that many indeed had. Only these problems weren’t with real Lamy Safari fountain pens, they were with Safari counterfeits.

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Reading further, my experiences matched closely with a blog by The Desk of Lori and a post on the FPGeeks Forum. Counterfeit Lamy Safari fountain pens seem to be sold through third party sellers on Amazon and eBay, and there are a fair few differences when comparing one to a real Lamy Safari. Small differences are easy to spot with both in hand, but the major difference is that these counterfeits are known to be barely functional. Fortunately and to Amazon’s credit, I was issued a full refund without being asked to return the counterfeit.

When I finally ordered a real Lamy Safari – this time from Goldspot, since their PSA alerted me to the counterfeit issue in the first place – my experience was much better. I chose a limited edition Neon Yellow color with an extra fine nib, and I inked it up with a bottle of Levenger’s Raven Black ink. And though the ink was more gray than I expected and the extra-fine a little too fine for my taste, I’m a lot happier.

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I still have some issues with fountain pens, but they mostly come from still being a newbie. I press down a little too hard on the paper, and I fumble to get the nib turned the correct way. But, hopefully, this will all improve with time.

Review: Lamy Dialog 2, Rollerball, Medium Point

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I received this Lamy Dialog 2 rollerball pen as a gift for my birthday last year (thanks, Dad!), and with online listings at $100+, it’s probably the most expensive pen in my collection so far. However, that hasn’t deterred me from taking it out of its case a handful of times. I’ve used it both at home and taken it to work, being careful not to leave it sitting anywhere unprotected for too long.

The Dialog 2 was designed by Holscher Designs, a Danish company founded by architect Knud Holscher, which specializes in industrial designs. It is a beautifully machined pen, made of stainless steel with a finish of palladium, an element commonly used in jewelry. It has a great weight and even balance, and the barrel has a good thickness, making it a pleasure to write with and hold. But the most interesting and impressive design element of the Dialog 2 is the retracting mechanism.

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When the tip of the pen is exposed, the metal clip lays completely flush with the barrel of the pen. To retract the tip, twist the pen at the midsection, and a spring-loaded clip will simultaneously pop out. It’s a very neat design that ensures against clipping the pen to your pocket with an exposed tip, preventing stains to your shirt or pants. Just don’t set it down on your desk un-retracted because this mechanism can also make the pen a rolling hazard.

The only real downside of the Dialog 2 is the ink refill. It’s a nice refill with a dark ink that writes very smoothly, but it’s a proprietary design by Lamy that is only offered in medium and broad tip-sizes. If, like me, you like finer-tipped pens, you’re out of luck. I’ve yet to find another refill that will fit.

Overall, the Lamy Dialog 2 is a great pen for its unique and innovative design. At its price point, it’s not the type of pen I’d ever be comfortable throwing in a backpack or clipping to a notebook. It will likely spend most of it’s time in its case on my bookshelf. It has, however, become the first pen I reach for whenever I need to write my rent check.

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Extra Links