Pen Review: Pilot Prera

The Pilot Prera for this review was provided free-of-charge by Pen Chalet, in exchange for an honest review. Pen Chalet is also a sponsor of the Pen Habit blog. All opinions expressed herein are my own. 

Material: Acrylic
Nib: Steel
Appointments: Chrome
Filling System: Proprietary Cartridge/Converter
Length (Capped): 120.4mm
Length (Uncapped): 107.6mm
Length (Posted): 134.2mm
Section Diameter: 10.3mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 12.1mm
Cap Max Diameter: 13.7mm
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 9g
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter): 17g

“What should my first “nice” fountain pen be?”

It’s a question that most pen bloggers (and even most fountain pen users) have received over and over again. There are the standard answers, like the Lamy Safari or the Pilot Metropolitan. (Both pens, I should add, of which I have never been particularly fond.) There is the new TWSBI Eco, and before that the TWSBI Diamond 580. Then there are less common suggestions like the Monteverde Impressa (a pen which I really like, but which has been problematic for other users) or my personal favorite of the sub-$50 pens, the Faber-Castell Loom.

One of my goals for season 3 is to do a bit more thorough examination of pens in the sub-$100 range, which is a price range in which I do not normally operate. One pen in this “starter” pen range (which I define as up to about $50) that I had never tried before was the Pilot Prera.


The Prera inhabits an unusual space in the fountain pen pricing hierarchy. Its retail price (here in the US) is around $56, which puts it in the same basic price range as the more well-known TWSBI Diamond 580 or the Faber-Castell Loom. It’s not quite a “beginner” pen, but it’s not quite a first “nice” pen, either. It’s in a weird middle ground I have come to call the “workhorse” pen. Workhorse pens are pens that are well-built, rock-solid reliable, and inexpensive enough that losing the pen wouldn’t be the end of the world.

The Pilot Prera is a small demonstrator pen. Made from clear, injection-molded plastic, the pen is accented with a finial and barrel end in one of a whole variety of colors, including black, blue, light blue, green, orange, pink, and red. My pen came in the “black” plastic, which was really more of a smoke grey color. The top of the pen is metal, with a springy, chromed clip. The bottom of the cap features a narrow cap band with a screen-printed polka-dot patterns and the Prera logo.


The cap, which is a pop-top, is made of clear plastic, but for some reason I do not understand, Pilot opted to use a white, opaque cap liner on this pen, which means that, when capped, you can’t see the section or nib unit.

The barrel is also made of crystal-clear plastic, allowing you to see the converter within. The Prera, like most of Pilot’s pens, is a cartridge/converter pen, and uses their proprietary cartridge/converter system. I have, in the past, railed against Pilot’s choice to go with an entirely proprietary converter system. I still dislike proprietary add-ons, but at least in the case of Pilot’s add ons, their proprietary system works well. I really like Pilot’s cartridges, which hold a significant amount of ink and can be refilled easily. In addition to accepting cartridges, the Prera also supports the CON-20 (Aerometric) and CON-50 (Twist) converters, neither of which hold a particularly large volume of ink. The large-capacity CON-70 pump-style converter does not fit in the Prera’s barrel.

The threads of the section are plastic, as is the pen’s barrel, which means that, in theory at least, the Prera could be converted into an eyedropper. A cursory online search indicates that a simple application of silicone grease may not be enough to keep the pen from leaking, though, so the use of a rubber o-ring is often recommended. Additionally, the barrel finial and washer at the end of the pen are made in pieces, then glued together, so there is the possibility of leakage there. I’m not a huge fan of eyedropper-filled pens to begin with, so I probably wouldn’t take the risk to eyedropper this pen. (Eyedroppers can be particularly persnickety, and a persnickety pen is not a pen that fits the “workhorse” classification for me.)


Once the cap is removed, you see a clear plastic section and a black plastic feed inside. I have decided I really like clear sections. I like seeing the ink in the feed and between the nib and the section. It’s pretty slick-looking.

In the hand, I find the Pilot Prera to be comfortable in a way that I never found with the Pilot Metropolitan. It’s too small for me to use comfortably when it is unposted. The pen does, however, post quite securely and when posted, is a perfect length for my hands. Despite its shorter length, I find the Prera to be a nice, comfortable width as well, resulting in a far more comfortable experience with longer writing sessions.


The nib on the Pilot Prera is one of their “Super Quality” nibs. Paul of explains the nib system in this excellent post. Pilot’s Super Quality steel nib system is used across several of Pilot’s lower-end offerings, including the ever-popular Metropolitan. (That is to say that the nib on the Metropolitan can be put in the Prera and vice versa). The medium nib on my Prera was a very good writer—smooth with a hint of feedback, moderately wet, and unerringly consistent: Exactly what you want in a workhorse pen. The tines were exactly in alignment, and the pen wrote perfectly out of the box with no adjustment necessary. Like most Japanese nibs, it runs a size smaller than a similarly classified European counterpart. (My medium wrote very much like a Western fine, as was expected.)

Realizing that the Prera and the Metropolitan share the exact same kind of nib did cause me to question the value of the Prera, which retails at about $56 compared to the Metropolitan, which retails at about $15. I’m not sure exactly what about the Prera makes it so much more expensive to produce. They use the same nibs and feeds. They use the same converter/cartridge system. I’m not a mechanical engineer, but I would assume creating injection-molded plastic parts has to be less expensive than casting/turning aluminum or brass, but that could be an erroneous assumption. So why such a stark price difference? For me, $56 for such a solidly-built workhorse pen is perfectly reasonable, but compared not only to its siblings, but other offerings around the $50 mark (TWSBI Diamond 580, Faber-Castell Loom), it feels a bit overpriced for the current market.

I give the Pilot Prera a RECOMMENDED. It’s a rock-solid, well-built pen with a reliable, functional nib. There’s nothing about the pen that is particularly exciting or special—it’s a solid workhorse pen that should last for a long time and function perfectly out of the gate pretty much every single time you uncap the pen. That makes it a solid alternative to some of the more well-known starter/workhorse pens out on the market today.

  • Tony Romen

    The standout for me about the Prera is the feel when capping the pen. It’s smooth and sort of cushioned, then ends in a solid click. Very satisfying.

  • xilebat

    I made a Pilot Prera into an eyedropper a full year ago, and it’s still going strong. Just a little silone grease on the threads, an o-ring (or not) and you’re in business.

  • xilebat

    I made a Prera into an eyedropper a full year ago, and it’s still going strong. Just add some silicone grease on the threads, add an o-ring (or not), and you’re in business. All eyedroppers “burp” from time to time, so be ready for that. But at least you’ll be able to see any ink before you uncap the pen.

  • Sonya

    I have a Prera with a F nib and my husband uses a Metropolitan in M. I have to say the F nib is really really (really) dry compared to the M. The one thing I like much more about the Prera is the look and the click when you cap the pen. I bought my Prera in Japan. It is not a demonstrator but a solid ivory colour with chrome trimming. I find the solid colours much prettier than the demonstrators available in North America. I only paid for about $25CAD for the pen which was a great deal. The equivalent Japanese model of Metropolitan would have costed me around the same. I live in Canada, the Metropolitan costed me almost $30 in Montreal and the Prera would have costed me $62… The price discrepancy is purely dependent on the market.

  • Bjørn Andersen

    I’ll echo what Tony Romen said – The feel of the Prera cap gliding into place really is something else, and immediately gives you the impression of holding something precisely engineered.

    I think the only thing making it so much more expensive than the Metropolitan is the market – it costs the equivalent of $28 here in Japan, almost half the $56 you have to pay in the states.

    Finally, in Japan the Prera is also available with a ‘Calligraphy’ nib, marked ‘CM’. As far as I could tell with the naked eye, it’s basically a fairly wide stub (1.1mm or so?). If you can’t get that yet, at least there’s a chance you will be able to some day.

  • Indira

    Thanks for the look at the Prera and the additional information here at the blog about the nib compatibility. If the Metropolitan can swap out with it, I guess the Plumix can as well. The price point is interesting. I’d like to try one out.

  • matthew Beddow

    Totally agree with the observation on the Pilot convertor openings , nice wide mouth and no feed issues , just a pity they don’t hold more ink.

  • Jan Scott

    Pretty much agree with this review. A great pen to pop in a pocket for a quick note as it never hard starts. It won’t excite you but it will be a reliable companion.

  • Invisible

    I’ll add a few points if I may…

    As noted the holding section is clear, and when inked, looks really nice. The top of the nib in it is also easily seen, and how it’s set up, it’s silver when un-inked, naturally, but as the ink gathers on it, it quickly turns into the solid color of the ink (blue, green, red, …).

    Main barrel through which you can see cartridge/converter is faceted from the inside, giving nice effect as well.

    I’ve switched to using syringe filled cartridges because they look nicer and hold more ink, yet I’d keep provided converter in use if you prefer to change colors often, since it’s easier and it holds just enough ink to be practical, yet doesn’t let you get bored with it.

    End of the feed, also has different design than most fountain pens.

    While cleaning there are pros and cons. Ink can get behind the white cap liner and unless you disassemble it, it can be an ugly nightmare. Yet, when you figure it out (holding metal top with rubber and using a wide screwdriver from the cap liner point), disassembling is quite easy, and therefore cleaning process quite quick and through.

    I otherwise use Pelikan for diary/journaling, but Prera as a workhorse in my Midori Passport, where it’s small factor is a bonus, and overall it’s performance is quite nice.

    As Bjørn Andersen noted below, there is a CM nib, but it’s available only through eBay. As expected, it provides stub finesse in writing, and it is much wetter. Also on eBay you can find solid color versions of the body.

    Thank you for a nice review… :o)

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  • Ted

    Love my Prera, but I am going to swap up to a Medium nib. The Fine is too fine for me.

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