Fountain Pen Review: Pilot Explorer

A few weeks ago when I was browsing JetPens, I came across a new-to-me pen, the Pilot Explorer ($25). I decided to pick one up and see what it was all about.

My Google-fu tells me that the Pilot Explorer debuted in 2019 and I’m not quite sure how I missed it. Well, I have a few guesses. My first Pilot love was actually the Pilot Metropolitan series. When I first started getting into fountain pens, the Metropolitans were in the “under $20 crowd” which meant they were easily obtainable for me. They came in a variety of fun colors, an array of nib sizes, and were lightweight and felt good in my hand. I may still have several (I can find at least 3 sitting right near me!)

So back to the Explorer. The Explorer is an odd little pen. It’s now priced in the same range as the Pilot Metropolitan (as of writing this the Explorer is $25 and the Metropolitan is $25.42 at JetPens), but it’s a plastic body. Yes, even though it looks like a metallic finish that’s all plastic baby! It comes standard with a steel nib in either Fine or Medium, and a black clip. I also think it looks a lot like the Lamy Safari or AL-Star – doesn’t it remind you of the Vibrant Pink edition?

Then pen comes with a snap cap that is postable, and a proprietary cartridge and converter. (It’s one of the squeeze-y ones so make of that what you will.) The pen is around 5″ uncapped (12.5 cm and 4.8″ to be precise) and 5.5″ capped (14cm and 5.6″). It weighs in at a cool 14g which makes it about the same as the Platinum Preppy that I reviewed a few weeks ago.

pen weight comparison chart

L to R: Platinum Preppy Maki-e, Pilot Kakuno, Pilot Explorer, Pilot Metropolitan

All of this is to say that this pen looks and feels like other pens I’ve written with. And while it is perfectly serviceable and nice enough to write with, there’s nothing in it that grabs me and makes me say “Gosh I LOVE this pen.”

Have you tried the Explorer? What do you think?

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8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’ve got (had) two of these guys… and yes, they work & do what they’re supposed to do, but the finish quality is below “Meh”. They’re spray painted white plastic.
    Looking inside my caps I can see they spray and the external finish on my electric blue one basically scraped easily down to the white underneath. Not at all what I’d expect from Pilot.

    1. I suspected that might be the case, but I haven’t really used it long enough to bear that out yet. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. I enjoy pens that are reasonably priced and dependable. (Am more into inks than even the pens, to be honest.) Have metros and Explorers. Of those two I actually prefer the Explorer because it is lighter for long writing sessions because I write a lot of letters and do daily pournaling. Also enjoy Lamys, Plaisirs, and Prefontes…but my current real favorite for the past few years now are TWSBIs.

    1. Interesting. Then I’m glad they make it! I actually tend to prefer metal bodied pens because I enjoy just a bit more weight, but there’s something for everyone!

  3. A nice everyday carry. I have one of these always inked with me, as well as a Kaweco Sport, a Parker Jotter, and a Cross Classic Century.

  4. I’ve been thinking about those for a while, because I find the Metropolitan (or the 78G, for that matter) to be too short for my large hands, and I prefer flat tops in my pens. The matte black version looks nice in pictures and the low price makes it very appealing.

  5. I have a Pilot Explorer and a Pilot Metropolitan, I like using the Explorer more than I do the Metropolitan, at least I did until the lid started refusing to stay on after about a month of use. After doing some internet research and closely examining the cap of my pen I determined the plastic peace inside the cap that is supposed to snap onto the lower portion of the pen above the nib has somehow slid to deeply into the lid to function correctly. This was probably done while posting the lid while writing, according to my research this seems to be a fairly common problem. I have a couple of ideas on how to fix it but haven’t tried any of them yet, have just been using the Metro pen.

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