Thursday, October 27, 2016


Pelikan has made quite a few beautiful and interesting special edition pens over the last couple years. But one of them stands out from the rest: the Pelikan Souverän M800 Tortoise brown (2013 special edition). It was by far the most popular release, which shows in the ridiculous price they currently fetch on the second-hand market (upwards of 1000$!).

It just so happens to be that I bought my first Pelikan (an all black M805) at the exact moment that the M800 tortoise was sold. Yet for some stupid reason I decided to get the boring black pen. Worst decision ever now that I look back on it. And so I -along with many other pelikan enthousiasts- have been begging for a re-release ever since.
Sometime early August, Pelikan -out of the blue- announced the M400 Tortoise brown. It took me approximately 5 minutes to contact a pen store to pre-order one. Needless to say, I wouldn't miss out on it again!

I've reviewed a bunch of Pelikan products here over the past couple years, but the only Souverän model I hadn't tried out yet is the M400 size. Because all the Souverän pens are generally quite comparable, I'll try to stick to the differences between other models in this post. If you want to read more about Pelikan pens, go check out my other Pelikan Reviews.
Let's begin with the absolutely gorgeous Tortoise Brown material, the star of the show. Just like the green/red/blue striped colorways, the tortoise consists of a striped resin barrel. What makes it so special is the color variation and chatoyance this material offers. The brown-orange-silver-black streaks are mesmerizing to look at, and it has a warm orange glow when the light hits it just right. The color of the barrel is accentuated by gold-plated hardware, and a dark brown resin, that appears almost black, for the cap, section and piston knob (same as on the M800 Burnt Orange).
The Souverän series uses a pretty clever (yet sometimes confusing) number system to indicate the different models and finishes. It starts with the M300, the smallest fountain pen, and it goes up to the M1000, the 'flagship' oversized version of that same fountain pen. One up from the M300, which is a true pocket pen, you'll find the M400. The fact that it's only slightly bigger made me wonder if it's big enough to be comfortable in use. After all, we're not talking about a cheap pen, so it should be comfortable to use.
But in practice there isn't much to complain about sizewise. The M400 is a considerable step up from the M300. It's still a smaller than average pen when closed, but uncapped it measures in at 12.2cm, only a few mm shorter than the lamy 2000 for example. I can easily get away with it unposted (and if necessary, the cap can be posted securely).
For me personally, the width of the M400 poses a more noticeable difference than the length. Around the section, it measures in at just over 9mm, which is comparable to a kaweco sport grip section. It's comfortable to hold, and it's by no means a narrow pen, but I do prefer the more beefy M800 grip section as I'm more used to slightly larger pens in general.
In terms of comfort, I can't really complain though, the size is just a matter of preference. Pelikan does a great job with their grip sections. There is no step, only the threads that can possibly get in your way, but even those are in general quite shallow and not very sharp. The section is short, so I automatically hold it a little closer to the nib, which in terms makes the shorter barrel less noticeable. Because every Souverän pen under the M800 size is made with a plastic piston mechanism, it's also noticeably lighter than the bigger models, almost unsubstantial, but in return you get a fatigue-free writing experience.
The other difference with the larger M800 and M1000 -apart from the piston mechanism- is the nib. It sports the same two tone design with the pelikan logo, but it's made from 14k gold instead of 18k. Does that make it any different? In my experience not really. I found it to be a bit softer than the M800 nibs, but any nib apart from the M800 size generally is a bit softer, the M800 is the odd bird in the flock (#pelikanpun)
A special treat for the tortoise brown is that you can get one with the quite-hard-to-find Italic Broad nib, so I obviously went for that one. To my biggest surprise, it was perfectly tuned out of the box (seems like Pelikan upped their QC game in the last couple years?), it's a crisp stub with good line variation. The crispness comes at a price of having a very small sweetspot, meaning you can't rotate the pen or it'll skip and scratch. It may take some practice to hold correctly, but t's a joy to use when you get the hang of it. The flow is on the wet side, as we're used to from Pelikan, but paired with their slightly drier edelstein inks it makes for a balanced match.
Sometimes it's hard to conclude a review, but in this case my recommendation is quite simple: If you're sold on the absolutely stunning Toroise Brown material, you should act fast and get one of these, once they are gone, they are gone (and trust me, these won't stick around long!). Chances are Pelikan will release other models in this finish, but god knows how long that will take (They should really make this part of the permanent Souverän collection!)

Retail price, because this is a smaller model, is actually quite reasonable. In the US they go for 380 USD, here in Europe they retail for 325 EUR (that's still with VAT!), and of course you can get an additional 10% off with the discount codes provided by the blog's sponsors!
Note: Penworld Supports this blog. I received a discount on this purchase, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared here are completely my own. This review does not contain any affilate links.


  1. Looks so good.
    Can you use such a big nib for daily writing or will this be for 'special use'?

    1. It's a special use pen for me. The line width is about 1.5mm, which is as wide as the stubs I use for ink reviews, not something i'd use for notetaking! :)

  2. While I agree it's very nice pen I wouldn't call this price reasonable. Far from that. This pen is overpriced.

    1. 300 EUR is relatively affordable (note the 'relatively') for a premium fountain pen like this. It depends on personal point of view of course, someone who is not into pens would even find a TWSBI overpriced, while for us that's a bargain. Being able to put things into perspectuve is definitely key here.

  3. The nibs between the M400 and the M200 are interchangeable. You can use the very much affordable M200 nibs, which are gold plated and write very nicely.