This is such a loaded question, and it is the one I get asked the most!
Which nib you choose depends on several variables: paper, ink, x-height, skill level, etc. I use different nibs for different reasons and they’re all the best nib for that particular scenario. It is also a very personal decision. What works great for one person may not work for another.
Here is a rundown of a few that I use most often. Of course, there are LOTS more wonderful nibs besides the ones I have listed here. I’m not including vintage nibs (although I have favorites in that category too) because there’s no reason to try and track down a vintage nib when it won’t help you write any better than a modern one.
HUNT 101:my go-to nib when practicing! I love to pair it with walnut ink. It produces very fine hairlines and a wider swell. I don’t use it when my x-height is below 5 mm because I feel like the swells are too wide for the height of the letters (of course, I could use less pressure to keep the swells more narrow). BUY HERE
HUNT 22B:this is one of my favorite nibs for addressing envelopes. The swells aren’t as wide as with the 101 and my x-height on envelopes is usually 4 mm, so it’s perfect. The hairlines aren’t quite as fine as what the 101 produces, but you can still get a very delicate look. BUY HERE
ZEBRA G: this nib is also great for envelope work because it is very sturdy and lasts forever, especially if you get the titanium version. I use it most often for when I am writing a wedding invitation suite that is to be reproduced. The hairlines are slightly thicker which is needed for reproduction. Those super thin lines won’t show up! I do have to concentrate a little more when I make square tops and bottoms because the tines are less flexible and don’t open as easily.
GILLOTT 404: my go-to when using metallic ink or handmade paper. The 404 isn’t quite as sharp and pointed so it’s great for gliding across rough surfaces like handmade paper or cold press watercolor paper. I don’t even know why it works so well with metallic ink, but it does and I don’t question it! I don’t use the 404 if I’m using non-metallic ink or a smooth surface. The hairlines are definitely not as fine. BUY HERE
GILLOTT 303: very similar to the Hunt 101, but even more flexible. Great nib! BUY HERE
LPEF: Leonardt Principal Extra Fine. Flexible, fine hairlines, great swells. I need to use it more! BUY HERE
BRAUSE ROSE: best nib for writing with very large x-heights. A must when you need it! BUY HERE
CAGED NIBS: these nibs have a coil glued to the underside which allows you to write a LONG time before re-dipping. Be careful not to let ink drip on your paper if you use these caged nibs! BUY HERE
Suzanne Cunningham is a world-class pointed pen calligrapher and instructor with 28 years of experience. She offers commissioned calligraphy services and teaches a range of live and pre-recorded online classes; topics include Copperplate, Modern Calligraphy, flourishing, envelopes & etiquette, and layouts. She was one of three co-editors of the 25th edition of The Speedball Textbook.
To commission work: email@example.com