Muji Fountain Pen Review

When the Muji fountain pen came out a few years ago it got pretty rave reviews from quite a number of reviewers. My only conclusion is that either they hadn’t used the pen for long, or they have steel clad hands. This is a textbook example of form over function, and the form isn’t even interesting or innovative enough for you to forgive the loss of function.

First off, the form: the Muji fountain pen has the standard minimalist, IKEA-like design of their other stationery products. It’s made of brushed aluminum, it has a knurled grip (why?), has two grey-brown discs on the ends of the pen, and the same sort of clip that their mechanical pencils have. It’s a bland and boring look, but if you’re looking for a minimalist pen then this fits the bill.

You can’t pick interesting colours for the finials, because that would give the pen too much character. Can’t have that.

What works in mechanical pencils falls flat in a fountain pen, in my opinion. A fountain pen craves more flair, more personality – yes, even the “plain” black ones. A Montblanc 149 or a black Sailor 1911 have class, whilst the Muji fountain pen is a thin aluminum tube with a knurled grip (why?). You just look at it and wonder why it was made and for whom.

Nail nib and inexplicable knurling – a match made by Muji.

My Muji fountain pen has a fine nib with the classic “iridium point” stamped on it and some nice scrolling on it. I’m guessing the nib is a Schmidt nib, but that’s just a guess; what’s not a guess is that it’s an absolute nail. There’s no give whatsoever in this nib, to the point where I have fineliners that show more line variation that it does. It’s not scratchy but the lack of give may put you off if you’re looking for a more “fountain pen” experience (and this is a fountain pen, why wouldn’t you?). Both the Lamy Safari and the Pilot Metropolitan have nicer nibs at around the same price range. They also have the added bonus of a personality.

Spoilers for the rest of the review.

The grip is just… why? It’s not like the pen body is slippery and the knurling on the grip is necessary. Visually I find it jarring, and there is zero chance that it is there for ergonomic reasons. This is an ergonomically terrible pen. If Muji wanted to do a better job it would have made the barrel wider, moulded a grip section not out of aluminum, and redesigned the cap entirely. The knurling itself is so poorly made that it just makes the grip more slippery, not less.

The worst cap design I have ever encountered.

All this is not great by any means, but I just wouldn’t have bothered to write a review about a boring, mediocre pen. The Muji fountain pen, however, pushes past the boring and mediocre and heads straight into terrible territory with its cap design. The cap has a razor sharp and thin edge that slots into a deep and narrow cutout around the nib. The result is that you can and will cut you fingers on that cap edge, you will have to learn to grip the pen really far away from the nib or you will cut your fingers on the edge of the cutout at the end of the knurled (why?) grip, or it will dig uncomfortably into your fingers. If you dare try to absentmindedly cap the pen then there’s a good chance that you’ll catch your finger in between the cap edge and the knurled (why?) grip and that is pure torture. Also guess what, Muji let’s you have the same finger cutting experience on the other end of the pen too!

I also replaced the terrible cartridge that Muji supplies with this pen with a converter (a Pelikan converter). It fit perfectly, but I didn’t fill the converter first and then attach it to the pen, I made the mistake of dipping the pen in a bottle of ink and filling the converter through the nib. The mess was a sight to see. First of all, the knurling on the grip is a real ink magnate, but it’s the deep groove that the cap goes into that’s the winner here. Ink not only seeps into it and is then extremely difficult to clean out without taking the pen apart and soaking it in water, if you don’t do that then the cap lip gets soaked in ink every time you cap the pen, and so you’ll get ink stains everywhere.

Oh God, who let them do this twice?

The pen posts using the same terrible mechanism as the cap, which means that there’s a second deep groove that you can cut your fingers on, on the other end. If you’re a pen fidgeter, this will teach you not to fidget. Is that a plus?

But look how pretty it is! It posts so well!

If you’re filming an IKEA commercial, feel free to use this pen. Otherwise, do yourself a favour and buy a Pilot Metropolitan.

6 thoughts on “Muji Fountain Pen Review

  1. Chandon

    Thank for a very good review. I completely agree with your views, having been the owner of this pen in the past. The grip really is pointless. Even if you like thin pens, as I do, there are many better options out of there, both modern and vintage, such as the Faber Castell Ambition and the Lamy CP1 and Logo models.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Mike Wignall

        Your referring to the knurled grip as often as you did – for rhetorical effect, which is fine – had me wondering if there wasn’t much else you could complain about.

        I haven’t got the pen, but judging by the many good reviews I’ve read elsewhere, I’m thinking you may have wound up with a dud. From the sample of your handwriting you provided (watch those apostrophes), it writes the way I’d want it to. I’m sorry you had a negative experience with the pen. But now I’m curious. Will I get a lemon or a good one if I decide to splash out. At between AUD 21 and 22 it may be worth a try.

        A reply to another less than positive review (I’ve found just the two so far) might sway me. Part of it goes:
        “ I do a lot of writing, taking down detailed verbatim notes of interviews, which can last up to a couple of hours, and I do a few interviews in a row, two or three days a week. I have to fill these pens before I start work, so I can just switch from one to the next, and I include the Muji among them. They are all a pleasure to write with. I can’t say the Muji is up there with the pleasure of using the Nakaya or the Sailor, and I couldn’t say its like writing on glass, but I am really happy with it.”

        The first review I read was written by a lady who was initially lent the pen by a friend in her knitting circle. There was nothing about the pen lacerating her fingers. She loves it.

        You really might have been sold a dud. It happens.


      2. writingatlarge

        I doubt that this pen is a dud – if it was a good pen design than you’d hear the pen community rave about it. But this is my personal blog, with my personal opinions. I accept no free samples from anyone precisely because that’s how I want this blog to remain. Feel free to purchase the pen and give it a go – you might like it.


      3. Mike Wignall

        I was really curious and in the meantime did buy the pen.

        I haven’t had the negative experience you’ve had with yours and agree with others that, while it’s no match for pens ten times the price (and wouldn’t pretend to be), it writes well. The flow, smoothness etc. are certainly not a tenth of the quality of those pens. There’s nothing wrong with the flow; it is only very slightly scratchy. I’m not crazy about the style and agree with you that it’d be at home in an IKEA setting but I can live with that (a bit reluctantly).

        We can disagree without being disagreeable.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s