The 5 Best Fountain Pen Nibs

There are many appropriate metaphors to describe just how essential a nib is to the overall experience of writing with a fountain pen.

The nib is the heart of the fountain pen. It's the engine. It's where the rubber meets the road.

Here's my favorite: It's literally the point of the entire fountain pen.

A fountain pen could be covered in 24kt gold, encrusted in diamonds, and hand-painted by Da Vinci; if it doesn't have a quality writing nib, it's a glorified paperweight.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of fountain pen nib types still being made in the world today. While there are two main German manufacturers (Bock and Jowo) that produce the majority of the nibs used in many boutique pen brands, there are plenty of pen manufacturers that produce their own nibs, each with their own distinct writing experience and variety of point sizes.

What makes a great fountain pen nib?

Writing experience

First and foremost, the nib has to provide an excellent writing experience. It's the reason why many people start down the rabbit hole of fountain pens in the first place. Writers look for the smooth flow of ink, the fluid lines on paper, and the featherlight touch of every stroke. If the pen isn't satisfying to write with, then why bother?


I know not many people are going to willingly admit this, but fountain pen nibs are visually appealing. The stamped nib decorations seen on most brands' pens give the pen a "face" - a unique identity of graceful elegance. They convey luxury. Gold nibs often show the amount of gold content on the nib (e.g. 14k 585, 18k 750).


The nib could be the prettiest in the world, if it doesn't write right out of the box, it's a major disappointment. Misaligned tines, baby's bottom, and poor quality control can turn a pen-buying experience from pleasant to frustrating. It could also turn some people off fountain pens entirely. We definitely don't want that when dealing with the best fountain pen nibs!

Nib size variety

Writing with a fountain pen is a personal journey. Everyone's hands, writing styles, and working habits are different. Fountain pens are not a one-size-fits-all affair. There are pens of all shapes and sizes to fit people of all shapes and sizes. To best fit your particular writing needs, some manufacturers produce a wide variety of best nib size for fountain pen that range from the thinnest of lines to broad, brushstroke-like swatches, making them some of the best fountain pen nibs available.


Some of you who are knowledgeable about your nibs might be throwing up your hands right now, saying "But, Esterbrook nibs are made by Jowo!" Yes, that is true. Esterbrook gets their nibs manufactured by the same German nib manufacturer that many brands, including Leonardo Officina, Waldmann, TWSBI, Edison, Conklin, Monteverde, and Diplomat, get their nibs from.

Esterbrook gets the nod here on this list because not only do they offer a standard complement of Jowo nib sizes (EF, F, M, B, and 1.1mm stub), but they also offer a line of specialty grind nibs on their pens.

In collaboration with reputable "nib meisters" (a nickname for nib customization and repair experts), Esterbrook has the stock Jowo nibs ground to provide a bespoke writing experience.

If an extra-fine nib isn't fine enough, you can achieve supreme fineness with Kirk Speer's "Needlepoint" grind. Do you like the idea of a stub nib's line variation, but want a smaller line that provides a crisper feel on paper? Check out Gena Salorino's "Journaler" nib. Turn the stub nib's variation on its side with JJ Lax's "Scribe" architect-style nib. Influenced by Asian writing styles, the "Techo" from CY of Tokyo Station Pens can change line thickness based on the nib's angle to paper.

You can find a full review and comparison of all the current Esterbrook Nibs in this post.


Made in Italy, SCRIBO fountain pens offer a writing experience that is almost impossible to replicate. At the heart of each SCRIBO is its sublime gold nib and ebonite feed. And, SCRIBO's nibs aren't any ordinary gold nibs - they are proprietary to SCRIBO and contain the DNA of the old OMAS pens from years ago.

SCRIBO was formed by several employees of the OMAS pen company that went bankrupt back in 2016. The new Italian brand made a huge investment in the tooling, materials, and machinery that went into the production of OMAS' legendary gold fountain pen nibs.

SCRIBO continues the tradition of excellence in writing quality started by OMAS. To best fit your handwriting style, a wide range of gold nib options are available on each SCRIBO fountain pen model.  

To create the dramatic swells of line variation seen in Spencerian or Copperplate script, one needs a flexible nib up to the task. When it comes to modern flex nibs, the SCRIBO "Feel the Flex" nib is the softest, most responsive, and wettest on the market. The ebonite feed ensures a continuous flow of ink while flexing the tines.

From Extra-Extra Fine to Triple Broad, SCRIBO's 18kt gold "Feel the Writing" nib has precisely the right size you're looking for. While these nibs aren't flexy like the 14kt gold ones, they still have good bounce and ample smoothness to complement the generous flow of ink from the ebonite feed.


If you appreciate the precision and fineness of a fountain pen nib, look no further than the Sailor 21kt gold nib found on their Pro Gear Regular and 1911 Standard fountain pens. Sailor nibs have a worldwide reputation for consistency and pencil-like feedback.

Like SCRIBO, Sailor nibs have an impressive range of sizes to fit your exact preferences. Japanese fountain pen nibs have a reputation for writing smaller than their European counterparts and Sailor is no exception. You can expect that a Sailor M nib is going to write more like a Western F nib.

Since Sailor nibs already write thinner than European nibs, if you write with a fine or extra-fine Sailor nib, it will be thinner than most extra-fine nibs (save for needlepoint grinds). The ultra-fine lines are most desirable for writers who have small, neat handwriting.

You also won't find anything quite like the Sailor Zoom or Naginata Togi nib. With either nib, the writer is able to change their line thickness by adjusting the angle of the nib to the writing surface. The nib writes thinner the more perpendicular the tip is to the paper. Holding the pen at an acute angle will lay down a thicker line. The Naginata Togi nib also has "architect"-like line variation with the horizontal strokes being broader than the downstrokes.

Available only on the King of Pen models, Sailor's largest 21kt gold nib is a level up in size and softness. Unlike the stiff 21kt gold nibs we previously mentioned, the King of Pen 21kt gold nib has some give, providing a supple writing experience fit for a "king."

Pelikan Souveran M800/805

On the opposite end of the line thickness spectrum, we have Pelikan's 18kt gold nibs you would commonly find on the Souveran M800/M805 fountain pens. Even when compared to other European brands, Pelikan nibs tend to be broader in line width.

Made using traditional manufacturing methods in Hannover, Germany, Pelikan's 18kt gold nibs are ideal for those who prefer a wet, buttery smooth writing experience.

Pelikan's 18kt gold nibs are available in a standard range of EF through B and feature a beautiful decoration that is the signature of the brand. The symbol of the Pelican bird looking down upon its baby chick is part of the company's heritage, derived from the family crest of Guenther Wagner, who took over the company in 1871.

So, if you love a large, aesthetically pleasing nib that writes with supreme smoothness and fluidity, a Pelikan Souveran 800/805 should be high on your pen wish list.

Pilot Custom 912

With 15 gold nib options, the Pilot Custom 912 has a superior selection to tailor to your handwriting style. From the crisp, fine lines of a "Posting" nib to the extra broad lines of the "Coarse" nib, there is a Custom 912 nib for every writer and artist, showcasing some of the best fountain pen nibs on the market.

For instant line variation, check out the music or stub nibs to write italic or blackletter calligraphy. To write with one of the most flexible nibs being made in the 21st Century, go for the Falcon (FA) nib to write Spencerian and Copperplate script.



With so many nib grades to choose from, there's something for everyone in the Custom 912. Pilot nibs have a stellar reputation for reliability, consistency, and smoothness. Value also ranks highly in this equation, as the Custom 912 is the least expensive option in this top 5 nib list.


Gold nibs are attractive and mystifying, leading many buyers who are unaware to spend large sums of money on what they hope to be a premium writing experience. Hopefully, this list will point you in the "write" direction toward the most noteworthy fountain pen nibs in the world. If you have any questions when selecting your next fountain pen, please contact us and we'll be happy to guide you.

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