Lately I've become a bit enamored with all the unique (and inexpensive!) pens coming out of China. Even just a couple of years ago, when someone in the pen community mentioned "eBay Pens" or "Chinese Pens," they were referring to extremely cheap pens by Jinhao, Baoer, and others that could be found priced at $5 or less. These pens are, of course, still available, and there's a reason they're so cheap: manufacturers perform little to no quality control, and it can be a total crapshoot whether or not you receive a pen that actually writes out of the box. I most recently experienced this issue with a Monteverde Monza, which I've since learned is a rebranded Jinhao.
The overall landscape, however, has changed over the past year or so. Whether it's a question of manufacturers actually upping their game, or simply different (and higher-end) Chinese pens being made available internationally for the first time, I've recently purchased several sub-$20 fountain pens that significantly outperform their price point and are legitimately good pens. The overall winner so far is the Moonman M2, a clear acrylic eyedropper fountain pen with one of the best out-of-the-box steel nibs I've used.
I don't know much about Moonman, but from what I've read elsewhere, it's a brand run by stationery and pen enthusiasts who source their pens from a factory and then further tunes/customizes them. Their enthusiasm shows - Moonman plainly has put a lot of attention into the M2. While the pen itself is a straightforward design, the acrylic is well-polished, and the pen sports an attractive red anodized cap band that looks especially good if you have the pen filled with red ink. (Montblanc Alfred Hitchcock is my current choice.)
Note that this pen is eyedropper-only. If you prefer to use a cartridge/converter filling system, this won't be the right pen for you. Kudos to Moonman for including a very nice glass eyedropper in the box alongside the pen. I like this eyedropper better than the one that accompanies the Opus 88 Koloro pens, since this one has a "needle tip" that makes it easier to get the ink down into the barrel with minimal mess.
As I mentioned earlier, the nib on this pen is a stunner. I wouldn't call it a needlepoint, but it's definitely a true extra-fine that's been perfectly tuned for smoothness and flow. Don't be thrown off by the lack of a custom imprint and the "Iridium Point" engraving - someone who knows what they're doing has worked on this nib. I also don't think my pen's an outlier - the reviews I've read have been uniformly outstanding.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
The extra-fine nib on my Moonman M2 might be the best nib on a "cheap" pen that I've ever experienced (and certainly the best Chinese-made nib I've ever used), making this a no-brainer purchase for me to recommend, especially if you like eyedroppers. Which brings me to the question of where to buy them. Since Moonman pens aren't stocked at retailers outside of China, as far as I know, and are made in relatively small batches, you may have to consider a variety of avenues to get your hands on one. I personally prefer to use Amazon, since I feel the most comfortable with their buyer protection policies and, in my personal experience, the sellers are generally more reliable and ship faster. On the other hand, if you're purely price shopping you might find them on eBay or Taobao (a Chinese internet marketplace).
I discovered the Moonman M2 via Frank Underwater, a great blog to read in general, and especially if you're interested in further exploring the world of Chinese pens. Also, PenTalk has an excellent video with a lengthy review, including footage of the Moonman M2 in action.
I've ordered a handful of pens over the past couple of months, some of which are still on their way. I've previously offered my thoughts on the Wing Sung 618 and 698 piston fillers, which also represent great value but the nibs aren't as good as the Moonman M2. Stay tuned for a more detailed follow-up review on these!
Disclaimer: I purchased the pen featured in this review with my own funds, for my own use. This post contains affiliate links.