August 7, 2012

Pen Lineup: Part 1

I thought that at least one person would like to know a little more about the pens in the pile-up shown in the previous post. I extracted a group of exemplary models from the pile for this lineup:

From left to right: Uni-Ball Micro rollerball 0.5 mm (the offending standard issue office pen); Uni-Ball Jetstream 0.7 mm; Pilot EnerGel Needle Tip Retractable 0.5 mm; Uni-Ball 207 Signo RT 0.7 mm; Zebra F-301 ballpoint; Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.5 mm; Pilot Hi-Tec-C with Grip 0.4 mm; Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38 mm; Pentel Slicci 0.4 mm; Zebra Sarasa Stick 0.4 mm; Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.5 mm; Uni-Ball Signo RT 0.38 mm; Pilot G-2 0.7 mm; and Pilot G-Knock 0.38 mm.

As mentioned before, I'm retiring the Uni-Ball Micro rollerball from the stable. It just plain sucks. The Uni-Ball Jetstream uses ink that is somewhat like a ballpoint pen and somewhat like a rollerball pen. Basically, somewhat ballpoint + somewhat rollerball = somewhat sucks. I don't like this hybrid ink style; it's too much like a ballpoint with the ink blobs and smearing. Next we have the awesome-writing Pilot EnerGel. The needle tip is great, and the 0.5 size is ideal for me. The only downside to this pen is that the grip portion of the barrel is a little fat for my liking. The Uni-Ball 207 retractable pen is way too blobby at 0.7 mm, resulting in long drying times and ink smears.  Meh.

This leads to the Zebra F-301 ballpoint. Now, I generally despise ballpoint pens and I prefer to use pencils and rollerballs. My anti-ballpoint stance developed over many years of suffering with leaky tips, ink stains, and otherwise poor writing from el cheapo stick pens, giveaway pens, and the like.  Just awful.  For home use, however, nothing beats an inexpensive retractable ballpoint for everyday use, especially when spouses and kids tend to lose pen caps.  Although the F-301 is far from perfect, it seems to be one of the better retractable ballpoint pens that can be found virtually anywhere (drug stores, office supply stores, hardware stores) for a very reasonable price.  This will be my go-to ballpoint pen for general use.

Next in the lineup are two versions of what I feel are the best gel pens that I have tried thus far.  Yup, these are the very well regarded Pilot Hi-Tec-C pens from Japan.  The Japanese just do it right.  Look at the simple yet eye-pleasing design!  Look at the color coordination!  Needle tipped configuration!  Did I mention that these pens come in a billion different tip sizes and colors?  These Hi-Tec-C pens exhibit no blobbing, smooth writing, and quick drying times.  The 0.4 mm size is very good, but it can get a little scratchy on the paper and a little skippy depending on how fast I'm writing and how I'm holding the pen.  The standard Hi-Tec-C has texturing in the barrel near the grip area, and the "with grip" version includes a rubber grip (color coordinated to match the ink color), which I prefer.  So I'm currently leaning toward the 0.5 mm gripped version as a reference standard.

Several Hi-Tec-C competitors appear next in the lineup:  Uni-Ball Signo DX; Pentel Slicci; and Zebra Sarasa Stick.  I like the Hi-Tec-C better than the Signo DX, the Slicci is too thin and tiny for me, and I haven't used the Sarasa Stick enough to form an opinion.  I do like the design and appearance of the Slicci and Sarasa Stick pens.  A few retractable gel pens finish the lineup:  Zebra Sarasa Clip; Uni-Ball Signo RT; the very well-known Pilot G-2; and the G-2's close cousin, the Pilot G-Knock.  I haven't used any of these very much except for the G-2, and in my opinion the 0.7 mm size is just too large.  I bought the G-Knock in 0.5 mm and 0.38 mm sizes for comparison to the 0.7 mm G-2 pen, so stay tuned.  By the way, why does the American market flood us with 0.7 mm pens?  Do Americans really prefer these fat, imprecise, leaky, ink blob creators?  Lame.


  1. Quick update: I've been eliminating pens from my very short "favorites" list. Unfortunately, I don't have any red or blue pens to use at the office. The whole point of this exercise is to find good replacements for my day-to-day blue and red pens. Such a tool. I foresee another order of pens in the near future!

  2. Hi tec writes beautifully, without blobs, but isn't water of lightproof.
    The DX also writes beautifully, but with HUGE blobs! And it is water and lightproof. Love them both, and hate them both.