With the Pelikan brand being one of the true dominant forces in the fountain pen space it is not surprising that a large number of people new to using fountain pens who are looking to pick-up their first decent fountain pen reaching out with questions about the m200 and m400. They are two of the more budget friendly fountain pen models in the Pelikan range and with both pens having a great reputation amongst the community we can see why it can be difficulty to decide on the perfect pen for you.
Due to this, we have decided to publish our ultimate Pelikan m200 vs m400 comparison article in the hope that we are able to help our readers choose the best pen for their requirements. Although it is a close call, we would actually recommend the cheaper, Pelikan m200 for the majority of our readers as it offers a very similar writing experience to the more expensive Pelikan m400. We just don’t feel that the increase in price for the m400 is worth it for the improvement in performance for the majority of people looking for a budget-friendly, decent fountain pen.
As usual, we have our comparison table of the Pelikan m200 and m400 below showing some of the core features of both pens. Due to the actual design of the pens being the same, they are both the same size and weight as each other but there are some other subtle differences that may sway you one way or the other. Below our comparison table, we have our deep dive for both pens to try and offer as much insight as possible to our readers to help them choose the best option for their needs.
The Pelikan M200 Vs M400 Head To Head
As you can see from our comparison table above, the main difference between the two pens is that the Pelikan m200 comes with a stainless steel nib that is plated in gold where as the Pelikan m400 has a 14 carat gold nib. Although this does give the Pelikan m400 a slightly better writing experience than the m200, we doubt that the majority of people new to using a fountain pen will be able to tell the difference anyway.
Due to the price increase of the Pelikan m400 over the m200, we feel that most of our readers will be better of going with the m200 and then saving up for something like the Pelikan m600 that we feel is one of the best fountain pens ever made. Although the m400 is a great pen, the m600 is so much better and worth saving for and using the m200 until you are able to add an m600 to your collection.
Pelikan M200 Review
Moving onto our deep dives for each pen, we would like to start with the Pelikan m200 as it is our recommended pen of choice for any of our readers considering it against the m400. Due to the low price tag, excellent performance, solid writing experience, and reliability of the Pelikan m200, it has managed to rightfully earn itself an excellent reputation over the years amongst the fountain pen using community.
On top of this, although a number of competing pens have been released into the entry-level fountain pen bracket to try and compete with the m200, its sales have remained steady while its reputation continues to get better and better. This really is a testament to Pelikan and the design and engineering process of the m200 as a number of premium fountain pen brands are trying to take market share away from the m200 but its sales remain consistent.
The Pelikan M200 Nib
As we touched on earlier in the article, one of the main differences between the m200 and m400 is the nib. As you would expect from the low price tag of the m200, it has a stainless steel nib that is then plated in gold whereas the Pelikan m400 has a 14 carat gold nib. Although many people new to using upmarket fountain pens may instantly go with the m400 due to this, the design that Pelikan uses for their nibs offers more sping when writing than competing pen brand anyway.
This means that the additional spring and responsiveness of a gold nib when writing is reduced as even the stainless steel nibs from Pelikan offer some solid spring when writing. Additionally, if you really do want a solid gold nib then there is a 14 carat gold Pelikan m200 available that offers the same gold carat rating as the m400 with a lower price tag.
All pens in the Pelikan range are available with the extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad nib sizes as standard and the m200 is no different. As Pelikan pens are made in Germany, their nibs conform to standard western sizing too but if you are using to using an Asian fountain pen, we would recommend that you downsize your nib for the m200 due to Asian nibs usually being smaller.
For example, if you are used to using a Pilot pen from Japan with a medium nib and want to stick that a similar sized font, go with the fine nib Pelikan m200. If you are used to using other western fountain pen brands though, this is not an issue as they all tend to be very similar to each other so if you use a Parker pen with a medium nib and want to keep that font size, go with the medium nib Pelikan m200.
Although the Pelikan m200 is a wetter than normal writer, it is not as wet as the Pelikan m400. Although most people do tend to prefer a wet or standard nib over a dry nib, this may cause issues if you are left-handed and write fast due to smudging. If you are left-handed then using a cheap, high-quality fast-drying ink is highly recommended as it can prevent this issue.
Although the extra-fine and to some extent fine nib size of the Pelikan m200 can end up having issues with feathering, bleed, ghosting, and scratch when using cheaper, low GSM paper, this tends not to be an issue for the broad or medium nib sizes. Additionally, if you do want to use the extra-fine or fine nib size on your m200 then you can pick up some cheap 120gsm paper to write on to prevent the issues.
One of our favorite things about the nib design of the Pelikan M series is that they have been both designed and engineered to be as easy to clean as possible. This offers an advantage over some competing pen brands where the nib is sheathed like on the Lamy 2000 that can make it a nightmare to clean the nib. With the Pelikan nibs, you can easily clean the nib with a cheap fountain pen flush cleaning kit without having to fork out for an expensive set of cleaning products.
The Barrel Of The Pelikan M200
As you would expect due to the price point of the Pelikan m200, the barrel is not the best on the market but it gets the job done and is better than many of the competing pens in this price bracket. The barrel on the m200 is made from high-quality resin where as some of the competing pens use stainless steel, brass or even plastic helping to score points for the m200.
Although fountain pens with a barrel made from stainless steel, brass or plastic tend to be fine, in our opinion, resin will always be better as it is as tough as the metals while also as light as plastic offering the best of both worlds. This ensures that the Pelikan m200 is robust enough to take any bumps or knocks along the way without breaking while also being as light as possible.
Although the barrel of the m200 does look narrow, it easily fits the Pelikan piston filler system within it that serves as your ink storage and supply mechanism. This is without a doubt one of the main advantages of the m200 over the competing pens in the entry-level fountain pen price bracket as so many of them use a cartridge convertor. Although cartridge convertors have came a long way over the years, we still feel that the piston filler system is the better option for fountain pens of all price points in the market.
The standard Pelikan m200 is available with a barrel and cap in black, blue, red, and green with a 24 carat gold trim. You are able to go with the Pelikan m205 if you would prefer to have a silver trim on your pen but performance-wise, the m200 and m205 are identical. Additionally, over the years, Pelikan has released a number of special edition m200 fountain pens that have proven to be very popular due to their unique colors.
The Pelikan M200 Cap
The cap of the m200 is made from the same high-quality resin as the barrel with a 24 carat gold plated clip. The clip is tough enough to ensure that the pen stays attatched to the paper or pocket that you clip it to and as it is a Pelikan pen, the clip is shaped like a pelicans beak.
The cap of the m200 also uses a twist lock system to add that additional layer of protection to keep the cap and barrel of the pen attached when not in use. We know that some people do prefer to push lock system that some other fountain pen brands use we feel that the twist lock system is much better for more expensive fountain pens as it prevents the barrel coming loose and going missing or getting damaged.
One of the best features of all Pelikan pens is the amount of time Pelikan takes to ensure that the initial design of the pen is perfect prior to even making it. This shows in the m200 as the cap is not back weight in the slightest when posted ensuring that it has no negative effect on your writing experience when using the pen. Although many competing pens now take this time during the design phase of a new pen, some still release pens, especially in this price bracket with top-heavy caps that spoil the writing experience when posted.
The finial of the cap of the m200 has the Pelikan logo on it but this has lead to some confusion over the years. As the original run of the Pelikan m200 started back in 1985, there have been a number of changes to Pelikan during this time including two logo changes. Due to this, depending on the year your Pelikan pen was created, your pen may have their original logo, their second logo, or their current logo on the finial of the cap but all are official Pelikan pens.
The Ink Reservoir Of The Pelikan M200
Another area where the Pelikan m400 appears to out perform the Pelikan m200 on paper is with its larger ink reservoir and although it is true that the m400 is able to hold more ink than the m200, this are not as simple as they appear. At the time of writing, the average ink capacity of an entry-level fountain pen priced around the $100 price point is 1ml meaning that the 1.2ml maximum ink capacity of the m200 is actually above average.
There is a reason that the average ink capacity of modern fountain pens is 1ml as it tends to be enough for the vast majority of tasks between ink refills. We would imagine that the 1.2ml maximum ink capacity of the Pelikan m200 will be plenty for most of our readers so although the Pelikan m400 does offer a higher ink capacity than the m200, it will be rare that you will be able to put it to use.
The m200 does have an ink view window but it has the same issue with the rest of the pens in the Pelikan M series in that it is difficult to see through in most lighting making it a pain to check your current ink levels in your pen. That said though, many competing fountain pens at this price point in the market don’t even offer an ink view window so even though the m200 window is a pain to see through, it is better than nothing.
Pelikan M200 Writing Samples
The video below shows some writing samples with the m200 and gives a good idea of the type and size of writing that you are able to expect if you add the Pelikan m200 to your collection.
Pelikan M400 Review
Although we would recommend that the majority of our readers looking for a cheap, reliable fountain pen with excellent performance go with the Pelikan m200, we still want to cover the Pelikan m400 in more detail as it is still an excellent quality fountain pen that has plenty to offer. As we touched on above, the main issue with the Pelikan m400 is that it is in the awkward spot between the entry-level m200 and the main intermediate pen from the range, the Pelikan m600 that absolutely dominates.
The Pelikan M400 Nib
The nib on the Pelikan m400 is made from 14 carat gold meaning that it does technically have more flex and spring to it allowing it to stick to the natural movements of your hand when writing better than most stainless steel nibs. That said though, as we mentioned earlier, the design of the Pelikan nibs ensured that even their stainless steel variants offer great flex and spring when writing. This mans that the main difference in performance and price tag is minimised as many of our readers will not noticed the slight improvement in their writing experience.
Just like the rest of the Pelikan M series, the m400 comes with standard nib sizes of extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad but we would love to see some double broad and oblique options added to the range in the future. Although we doubt that there would be much of a market for them at the m200 price range, the Lamy 2000 is one of the main competitors to the Pelikan m400 and now offers double broad and oblique nibs with both options doing well.
Although the design of the nib on the m400 is very similar to that of the m200, there are a few small differences but they add up to make the Pelikan m400 a much wetter writing than the m200 with slightly broader and smoother strokes. This should not be an issue for the majority of people who opt to go with the m400 as wetter writing nibs do tend to be preferred these days but there are some people who do prefer a dry or standard nib so we just wanted to make our readers aware.
Just like the m200, the m400 can also have issued with feathering, bleeding, ghosting, and scratching when used on cheaper paper, especially when using the extra-fine and fine nib sizes. Just like with the m200 though, you can often prevent these issues from occurring when writing by using some cheaper 120 gsm paper as well as some decent quality ink with the pen during use. The medium and broad nib sizes tend to to have these issues anyway but provided you are using decent paper and ink, the extra-fine and fine nib sizes on the Pelikan m400 can offer a very smooth writing experience too.
The Barrel Of The Pelikan M400
The barrel of the Pelikan m400 is also made from high-quality resin but it does seem to be of a slightly higher standard than that used for the Pelikan m200. This may help to increase the toughness of the m400 but in all fairness, Pelikan really have done a great job with their resin production process and the m200 is a very tough pen that should last you years with proper care anyway.
The m400 also uses a piston filler system rather than a cartridge convertor and the system is perfectly concealed in the barrel of the pen. That said though, due to the higher price tag of the Pelikan m400 there is some solid competition from other brands when it comes to piston filled fountain pens at similar price points. In our opinion, the only one that comes close to the performance and functionality of the Pelikan m400 is the Lamy 2000 that does actually have some advantages over the m400 in some areas.
The m400 is available in the same standard colors as the rest of the Pelikan M series with black, blue, green, and red options being standard with the gold trim. The Pelikan m405 is also available with the same standard colors as the m400 but it comes with the silver trim rather than gold that some people prefer. There are also a number of special edition Pelikan m400 fountain pens on the market too but due to fountain pen collectors paying a premium for their unique colors they tend to be more expensive than the normal m400.
The Pelikan M400 Cap
The cap of the m400 is similar to the cap on the m200 due to its similar size and material competition. It too has been perfectly designed to be equally balanced when using the m400 posted to prevent the writer from having problems with the pen being back weighted.
The cap also uses the twist lock system offering you the same benefits as we pointed out above with the design helping to keep the barrel and cap of the pen connected at all times when not in use. The clip is also just as rigid as the clip on the m200 helping to ensure that the pen will stay clipped onto your paper or pocket when not in use and not end up going missing either. The finial of the Pelikan m400 also has the Pelikan brand logo on it to complete the look with the standard Pelikan beak clip design to complete the branding that Pelikan pens are known for.
The Ink Reservoir Of The Pelikan M400
As we have touched on a few times in the article, the Pelikan m400 does come with a maximum ink capacity of 1.8ml when full offering almost double the average ink supply for an intermediate price point fountain pen at the time of writing. As we mentioned earlier though, this only offers an advantage in some very specific situations as most people will be able to refill their fountain pen as required when it is getting low on ink anyway.
As you would expect from the Pelikan M series, the m400 does come with an ink view window but it is difficult to see through. Unlike the Pelikan m200s price bracket where very few competing fountain pens could match its price, performance, and functionality such as its ink view window, at the m400s price point, a number of competing pens do offer ink view windows.
Pelikan M400 Writing Samples
The video below offers writing samples of the Pelikan m400 but as you can see from the footage, it performs in a very similar way to the m200.
That brings our ultimate Pelikan m200 vs m400 comparison to a close, although we do feel that the Pelikan m400 is a great fountain pen that has its place in the market, we definitely feel that most of our readers would be better off going with the Pelikan m200 and then saving up fo the Pelikan m600 rather than going with the m400. We simply feel that the improvements from the m200 to the m400 just don’t justify the hike in price tag and that most people will be better off saving for the m600 that our regular readers will know is one of our favorite pens.