Someone recently asked me about which was the better fountain pen- the Sailor Sapporo or the Pelikan M200, and whether or not it was cumbersome to utilize a pen with a screw cap.
In my opinion, there is no best- only what works for you. The Sapporo is a cartridge/convertor pen which holds less ink than the piston filler M200 and will need to be refilled more often. This could be a good thing if you like to frequently change ink colors in your pen. The M200 (for me) takes longer to flush/clean so I usually leave the same color ink in these pens (I have 2 M200’s) to avoid cleaning them until I absolutely have to.
The Sapporo is more expensive ($150.00) than the M200 ($90) and IMHO, has the higher quality nib and feels more significant in the hand. The M200 is a very light pen and the Sapporo is better balanced for my hand when posted.
A big plus for the Pelikan – you can buy different interchangeable nibs for the M200 – visit Richard Binder’s site for options. Note that Japanese pens have thinner nibs than their western counterparts. A Fine Sailor nib will be finer than a Lamy or Pelikan Fine.
Regarding the screw cap, this is a very good question and I think it depends on how you use it. If you write for long stretches at a time, the screw cap isn’t as obtrusive. If you are putting the cap on and off for quick notes, it could be a chore.
Do you post your pens? (Put the cap on the back of the pen as you write.) Each of these pens are on the small size- especially compared to many people’s 1st fountain pen, the Lamy Safari. If you have large hands or do not post your pen, you may likely find these to be too small.
Lastly, you can get some pretty good deals on used pens in the Marketplace on the Fountain Pen Network. I bought my Sapporo in brand new condition and for significantly less than what they sell for new, and found one of my M200’s with a custom ground Binder cursive italic nib (!) for only $45. (Actually, I wrote a post saying I was looking for one. One came up and a friend snagged it for me. Thanks James!)
If you want to know which is my favorite, well… if I had one, then I’d only have one. :o)
To see more photos of the size comparison between the M200, Sapporo, 1911 and a Lamy Safari, see this post on my Bean Blog.