FPGeeks ScoreCard Lamy Safari

Review Specificaitons

Lamy Safari and Al-Star Fountain Pen

Lamy Safari Charcoal & Lamy Al-Star Ruby Red

Pen Class: Intermediate ($26 to $99)

MSRP: $35.00
Street Price:: $28.00

Body Material: Plastic
Nib Material: Steel
Nib Size: Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, 1.1mm, 1.5mm, 1.9mm
Cap Type: Slip/Snap On/Off
Post-able: Yes
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / Converter (both proprietary)
Ink Capacity: Cartridge: 1.4 ml / 0.05 oz // Converter: 0.8ml / 0.03 oz
Overall Weight: 17 g / 0.60 oz
Cap Weight: 7 g / 0.25 oz
Body Weight: 10 g / 0.35 oz
Overall Length Capped: 140 mm / 5.51 in
Overall Length Posted: 166 mm / 6.54 in
Body Length (not including nib): 112.5 mm / 4.43 in
Nib Length: 17 mm / 0.67 in
Body Length (including nib): 129.5 mm /  5.10 in
Cap Length: 66 mm / 2.60 in
Cap Diameter w/o Clip: 14 mm / 0.55 in
Cap Diameter w/Clip: 17.5 mm / 0.69 in
Body Diameter: 12 mm / 0.47 in

If this pen were a movie, it would be: Color Cocktail (1935)

Review Dealer Prep

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen Dealer Prep

Eric: 4.25 – The Lamy Safari packaging can best be described as über-cool. Sure, it’s just a paper box, but the paper is heavy and quite sturdy. Sure, it’s just your standard, long box shape, but eleven cut-outs on two opposing corners break the monotony and somehow remind me of Frank Lloyd Write Wright architecture.

Inside the box is a strip of the same heavy paper, sitting askew or sideways, used to secure the Safari safely in place (the Safari’s being clipped to the paper). Simple yet very effective. It’s great to see that Lamy was thinking outside the box while designing this one.

Dan: 7.5 – Once again Lamy has come up with a unique, intriguing box for a fountain pen that stands out against the crowd. While I wasn’t expecting something as lavish as what the Dialog 3 comes in, I feel the Safari’s packaging is more than appropriate for a pen at this price. The cardboard is pretty substantial and could probably withstand quite a bit of abuse. I really like the multiple, thin slits that give you a little preview of what’s inside. The box has this very pleasing texture that gives it a subtle checkerboard appearance. When opening the box you’ll find the pen clipped to a piece of cardboard made from the same material as the box. That piece of material fits diagonally inside the box with the entire assembly securely holding the pen inside. Most people will probably just dismiss this as a cheap box, but as a Manufacturing Engineer, I can really appreciate the simplicity and functionality of this design.

Review Filler Up

Lamy Safari and Al-Star Fountain Pen Fill er Up

Eric: 4 – Like the Lamy Studio, the Safari is strictly a cartridge/converter pen. That’s fairly common and I’ve learned to live with the c/c filling system being popular. But also like the Studio, the Safari uses a proprietary cartridge and a proprietary converter. The converter is not included with the pen. To add to the confusion, Lamy makes the Z24 converter and the Z26 converter. The Z24 will fit the Safari and all Safari-like pens (Al-Star, Vista, etc.), but not the Studio. The Z26, which is included with the Studio, will fit all c/c Lamy pens, including the Safari. Call three different Lamy retailers to ask which converters fit which pens and you’ll likely receive three different answers. C’mon Lamy, two proprietary converters? Ah well.

Dan: 6 – The Lamy Safari comes with a single Lamy T10 cartridge, but the Z24 and Z26 converters can be used as well and must be purchased separately. There’s not much of anything special here. The Safari uses a proprietary filling system that functions well. The long Lamy cartridge definitely holds more ink than the converter so if maximum ink capacity is important then the cartridge is your only option. I decided to go with the cartridge this time and didn’t experience any problems. I inserted the cartridge before I left for work on a Monday morning and didn’t have a chance to use the pen until Tuesday evening. When I did, the feed was primed and it wrote without any hesitation.

Review Test Drive

Eric: 8 – Using the converter, I inked up my black Safari with some Aurora Black. I put the pen to paper and before I could finish my first sentence I was thinking, “This pen feels fun!” And the rest of the Test Drive did not disappoint. The pen felt good in the hand, there was no skipping and there were no hesitations. The pen has a sporty feel and an obvious love for writing. If I had a small complaint, it would be that the flow was a bit on the dry side.

Dan: 5.5 – I decided to go with the Charcoal color because of it’s matte finish and the black clip instead of the shiny black Safari with the chrome clip. I also opted for a black Fine nib, so right away I was in love with the look of this Lamy Safari. My impression started to go south very quickly once I started writing, though.  The nib was awesome. I was actually incredibly impressed with the smoothness of the Fine nib. What really turned me off was the two flat surfaces on the section. I ended up having to change the position of my hand quite drastically to be able to even write with the Safari. I go into more details about my problems with the section in the Road Trip.

Review Under the Hood

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen Under The HoodEric: 6.5 – My Safari sports a Medium nib that is neither smooth nor scratchy. It writes well, but there’s a bit of drag involved. All in all, the nib gets the job done, but I would prefer a bit more glide and a bit less friction.

That having been said, we’re still dealing with the incredible versatility of the Lamy nib system. Lamy nibs are available in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium and Broad, both in standard steel and in black. There are also 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9mm nibs in the steel color. All of these nibs can be slipped out and replaced “on the fly” with many Lamy pens (Safari, Al-Star, Studio, Vista, Joy, CP1, Accent, and Logo). This is a great feature and should be exploited by anyone owning one of these Lamy pens.

Dan: 8 – Eric detailed the nib options very well, so there’s not a whole lot for me to add. All I’ll say is this nib  scores major points with me because it is available in so many options, interchangeability, and it is incredibly smooth. I only wish all the widths were available in black.

Review Performance

Eric: 7.25 – My Lamy Safari performs very nicely and without complaint. It has never hinted at a hard start even after several weeks of non-use. It’s a pen that simply gets the job done. I do, however, seem to have initial flow issues with all of my Lamys, my Safari being no exception. Adjusting flow can sometimes be extremely easy, but at other times can prove frustrating. Still, it’s difficult to fault a pen that writes every time you ask it to, even if the flow does not fit your preference exactly.

Dan: 7 – The performance of my Safari mirrors that of Eric’s, if not surpasses it. I’ve never had any issues with hard starts or skipping and the flow of mine has been exactly what I wanted. It works well and it works hard for as long as I ask of it. Sadly, because of the shape of the section I won’t be asking it to work for very long.

Review Design Notes

Eric: 8 – I have to confess that I like the clip on the Lamy Safari. First of all, the Safari is a pen designed to go places – as in, leave the house with you. As such, it absolutely needs a clip. The clip on the Safari is different. Not different as in ugly/offensive but different as in unique/cool. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I hold the pen with the clip facing the ceiling, I’m always reminded of the magnetic spinning wheel toy, the Whee-lo. That memory endears both the clip and the pen to me.

The remainder of the pen also enjoys the benefits of awesome design. I see the pen as a go anywhere, use for quick notes sort of pen. As such, I truly appreciate the slip cap. The shape of the section/grip is comfortable. The ink window, which I affectionately refer to as the ink portholes, are useful, well designed and not something found on many pens of this class.

Dan: 8 – I actually had no idea what the Whee-lo was until I saw the picture. And I totally agree. Also, isn’t this like the fifth pen that Eric likes the clip of? This is starting to get a little out of hand!

The Lamy Safari was designed and produced in 1980 by Prof. Bernt Spiegel. It was designed as a fountain pen for students and was made from ABS Plastic and came in several bright colors. Thirty-two years later and the Lamy Safari is still going strong and available in more colors than ever. I really enjoy the textured Charcoal color I chose. The simple, steel clip works amazingly well and looks good, too. I’m kind of impartial about the section until I have to hold the pen. The two flat surfaces add a unique look to the pen that I think is very fitting to the overall style. Lamy did a great job designing this pen for students.

If you’re really interested in the design and history of the Lamy Safari you can learn more than you ever wanted to know about it in this thread.

Review Detailing

Eric: 8.25 – I know the Lamy Safari is a product of injection molding both by its price point and the way it looks/feels. However, I find it impossible to locate any evidence of the process. The finishing is top notch and the pen is very clean. Perhaps our resident Mechanical Engineer will be able to spot something.

Based on my experience with the much pricier Lamy Studio, I was fully expecting the Safari cap to wiggle. Not so. The cap stays perfectly in place and will not move until asked to do so. Same goes for the section, it fits so snugly in the barrel that if it weren’t for the two ink portholes, I’d be tempted to try the Safari as an eyedropper.

Dan: 8 – The Lamy Safari is built like a tank. There’s very few pieces to the entire pen. The majority of it is injection molded and I had to look at the part of the section where the barrel screws in to see any flashing from the molding process. Once I found one of the flash lines where the mold halves meet I was able to follow it to the section and barely make out a very subtle flash line. The line was so subtle I missed it before when I didn’t have anything pointing me where to look. The barrel screws securely to the section and the cap attaches solidly to the pen. There’s no wiggling or jiggling anywhere. I imagine this pen could take quite a bit of abuse from even the most careless of teenagers and still last for decades. But, those are the advantages of the injection molding. You can achieve tight tolerances, good finish, and use durable materials. The only downside is that it doesn’t have that high quality look and feel of more expensive pens. When you pick up a Safari you just know it’s one of those cheaper pens.

Review 21 Minute Road Trip

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen Road Trip

Eric: 7.25 – The Lamy Safari will take you anywhere you’d like to go in Volkswagen Beetle fashion. There’s nothing about the pen that I would call luxurious, but it certainly keeps up the pace and reaches the intended destination, even if it’s done in a utilitarian fashion.

My Road Trip was pleasant but not amazingly wonderful. There was no hard starting, no skipping and no hesitations. If you backed me into a corner, I would call this pen a workhorse. I started the Road Trip in basic comfort, but as the minutes passed, my fingers started to bemoan the indentations on the grip meant for the thumb and index finger. In theory, they are intended to help the writer hold the pen properly, and that may be true for someone new to fountain pens. I, however, wanted to hold the pen just a degree or two clockwise from where the indentations seemed to point. Forcing my desire on the pen was uncomfortable. Acquiescing proved to be the path of least resistance, but not what I wanted.

Dan: 5 – I was really looking forward to the Road Trip until I uncapped the pen and saw the flat surfaces on the section. For some reason I just knew this was going to cause problems, most likely because I remembered my experience with the Pelikan Pelikano Junior. I normally hold the pen with three fingers and the flat of my wrist touching the table. But, to use the Safari I had to rotate my hand clockwise about 90 degrees so that it was in more of a vertical position. This would at least allow me to write but it wasn’t very comfortable and my penmanship suffered. Thankfully, the Safari has good balance when posted and is pretty light so I didn’t experience any fatigue during the trip. I was very pleased with how smooth the Fine nib was and the feed kept a steady flow of ink coming to the nib. I really wish I could get a round section for this pen because I think I would really like it so much more.

FPGeeks Lamy Safari Writing Sample

Review The Checkered Flag

Pros:
˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜
Nibs easily swappable on the fly
Plethora of nib sizes available
Many color options
Cons:
˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜
Not all nib sizes available in black
May need a flow adjustment
Proprietary C/C filler

Famous Last Words:

Eric: The Lamy Safari is an affordable, fun, go anywhere pen that everyone should test drive at least once. If the thumb and index finger indentations on the grip are to your liking, pick your favorite color and join the popular Safari Club.

Dan: The Lamy Safari is an incredibly affordable pen with enough nib options and colors to please everyone. If the funny shaped section doesn’t bother you then you can’t go wrong with adding one or twelve to your collection.


This pen was purchased for review.

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  • KrazyIvan

    To Dan’s comment on holding the Safari: my cousin tried my Safari and promptly said, “Dang, this pen says you will hold me this way and this way only! Now! Sit up straight and keep your eyes facing the front of the room!” I guess that’s why it is a school pen. :D

  • http://monkeyphotomcr.blogspot.com John the Monkey

    Like Dan, I sort of wish a round section was an aftermarket option. That said, my Safari & Al-Star aren’t my long session writing pens, so I don’t feel the need too acutely.

    We don’t get the nice packaging you guys do, evidently – Al-Star, Safari and Vista all come on a card & plastic blister pack in the UK, with a pen wallet included with the cart of Lamy blue. The nibs I love – 3 mediums, an EF and a 1.1mm have all been smooth out of the box, and nice reliable writers.

    With the inks I’ve tried, all the pens have written what seems to me to be fairly wet lines – that may be artifact of swapping the nibs, I don’t know. They’re terrific knockabout pens, with the killer feature of that wide variety of “hot swappable” nibs.

    • KrazyIvan

      I don’t mind the section. The Lamy is the pen I learned to grip a pen properly and also unlearned my death grip. It has a special place in my pen collection.

      • Jeff

        Same thing happened with me. I picked up the Safari and decided this was finally the opportunity to correct my awful grip. I’m really grateful that Lamy forced the issue for me because now writing is much more comfortable with any pen.

  • Mike

    Did that Red Safari come with the clear section or did you put that there? It looks like a Vista section…

    If your retailer sent the pen to you that way they gave you franken-LAMY.

    • Mike

      Wait! Ignore that last thing I said. I looked and that pen looks like a red Al-Star so nevermind… I wish I could edit my comments.

      • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

        You’re right on, the red one is an Al-Star.

        Editing comments you say??? Good suggestion. Our people will look into it.

  • Bogon07

    Good review, very readable and informative. I didn’t know about the Z26 coverter only the Z24. Lamy should include converters with these pens like some eBay sellers do.

    Despite being left handed I find the grip section very comfortable and it makes you want to start writing something important. For some reason it feels slightly sharper on the Safari compared to the Al-Star.

    Nice font on your heading sections.

  • David

    Any Safari review is incomplete without including a run with the 1.1mm nib – it makes a big difference.

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      I couldn’t get that nib on the Safari because they don’t offer it in black. But, I did get it on the Al-Star, and I agree that it does make a big difference.

  • Jay Pulli

    I have quite a few of these in different colors. Most have written perfectly out of the box, some write dry and need adjustment. Once when I pulled one of my Safari’s out my pocket, the top of the cap broke off and the spring clip went flying into someone standing by. No harm done. But this cap top is held on by a rivet so there is no repairing this.

  • Tamara

    I just bought my 5th Safari/Al-Star. I keep giving them away to other people, though, so really I only have 2 in my possession at the moment, including the new one. They’re a fun pen and easily shared with others :)

  • Brenda

    Another great review guys! Thanks :)

  • Heather

    I found this review via your Facebook page. I’ve been interested in a Lamy for awhile and was wondering if it’s appropriate for beginners? I’ve been into fountain pens for less than a year. I own a Noodlers Flex Nib(not an ahab)and a Pelikan Preppy that came with my Noodlers Heart of of darkness ink. I know some pens are more challenging than others and was wondering if beginners would do fairly well with this pen? I write alot of letters. :) Thanks! Great review by the way :)

    • http://monkeyphotomcr.blogspot.com/ John the Monkey

      It’s often recommended to beginners – upsides are the readily swappable, nicely smooth nibs, low-ish price, decent build quality. The cart of Lamy blue you get with the pen is actually a pretty good ink – well behaved on most papers.

      Downsides: Nibs often described as “nails” (they cost £4, not sure what people expect!), proprietary cartridges (although Monteverde do offer Lamy compatible carts now), that triangular section if you prefer round…

      On balance, I’d say that for the money, it’s worth trying one. If you find it a pain to write with for long periods, stick an EF on it and make it a sketching pen, or a big ol’ calligraphy nib and have a play with that :) Budget extra for a convertor if you want to use bottled ink, of course.

  • http://perpetual-lab.blogspot.com Vincent

    I was given a charcoal Safari as a present,  and it’s my favourite pen though like others I don’t like the finger grip (section). When I hold it as they prompt me to the nib is at the wrong angle for a good ink flow. I thought it was my left-handedness though the donor thoughtfully had ordered me an LH nib, so I came to the Web looking for enlightenment on this predicament.

    I love the Safari despite this fault so I modified it. As a handyman, I know about the uses of a sealant called CT-1. It sets rather like rubber and comes in several colours, so I was able to use the black version to fill in the indentations and restore a round section to the pen, which can now be held naturally by each user. It looks a little ragged but does the job. Unfortunately it wouldn’t look good on a Safari in any other colour but charcoal.

    I wish Lamy would be persuaded to create an alternative round section for the Safari.

  • Syed Ali

    Very nice review guys. I’m amazed by the amount of thought and careful attention to detail you put into reviewing each of your pens in the “awesome reviews” section.

    Eric, I wanted to share a video with you which I recently uploaded on youtube regarding how I converted my Lamy vista to an eyedropper.

    Its in two parts, kind of lengthy but if you get a chance to view it let me know what you think about it.

    and

  • Alan Lee

    After a couple of false starts with mail-bought Safaris (both scratchy), I bought a good one at a place that let me try them out. Bought medium and broad nibs. Both write very smoothly, not at all scratchy. I’m using the medium for all my left-handed writing needs. Writes immediately, even after leaving the cap off. Pen fits nicely in my hand. Love it! Want another color, even though I have no need for it!

    The only thing I don’t like is the looks of the clip…big and ugly, but works well, not too tight, not too loose.

  • Amaryllis

    I bought a Safari a few months ago in a shop nearby, and I’ve been using it non-stop for everything I have to write. I’m a beginner, so I can’t really see anything wrong with it, especially since I like the shaped section and the converter was given to me with the pen (the guy at the shop simply took one and put it in the box).

  • Benna

    I really like my lamy safary, but the flat grip section is horrible in my opinion, this is because i’m use to write not perfectly alligned with the nib. I feel it very uncomfortable, in particular with the italic nib, but this for me the only cons of this pen

  • sumeet ahuja

    Are you sure the Pen was designed by Brent Spiegel because one of the manufacturers in India is commenting the pen has been designed by Wolfgang Fabian

  • Frank

    There are more than the mentioned nibs available. There are special nibs for left handed persons (“LH”) and nibs for beginners (“A” – which stands for Anfänger). The nibs fit in the Lamy ABC fp. You can too easily convert it into an eyedropper: Use the barrel of the Lamy Safari/Vista rollerball, close the vent at the end by applying some glue and grease the thread. It holds approx. 4 ml of ink then, perhaps more. Especially if you do that with the transparent Vista, the geek factor is much higher :)

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      We’re aware that there are more nibs available than what was listed, but those are what’s available according to Lamy USA.

      Does the barrel of a Safari roller ball come with the fountain pen? Didn’t think so. Therefore, it’s not easy to convert into an eyedropper with what’s included with the pen, which is what the review is based on.

  • Shiva

    I was so excited to get the Lamy pen after everything I read. Unfortunately, disappointed. The calligraphy nib is very scratchy and the pen is so plastic and fat it is uncomfortable to hold. Sad face.

  • Miranda

    My new Lamy Safari is hard starting and skipping like crazy. I’ve already cleaned it out and it was okay for a while but it has reverted to it’s dastardly ways. What am I to do?

  • Miranda

    My new Lamy safari is hard starting and skipping like crazy! I’ve already cleaned it and it was writing okay for a while but it has since reverted to it’s dastardly way. What am I to do?

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      It’s hard to say without examining it in person. Are the tines touching at the very tip or is there a little gap? There should be a gap just large enough to see through.

      You could always send it to us to be tuned. You can find out more about our services at fpgeeks.com/nib-services/