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February 28, 2011 10:59 AM   Subscribe

'Poets don’t draw,' Jean Cocteau said. 'They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.' An ode to the Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine.
posted by shakespeherian (68 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
I still use a pilot pen for sketching. It's the only drawing took I feel I have a complete understanding of how to make it work exactly how I want to.

Also, side effect? My handwriting is impeccable
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 AM on February 28, 2011


For the record, this is the pen I use to write.

I actually prefer those Varsity disposable fountain pens but they're a bitch to unclog and are much more suited for writing than drawing (at least the way I draw); the Pilot excels at both.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:06 AM on February 28, 2011


my friend and colleague Molly Crabapple on the subject: I did pen work cause I was traveling in the middle east and I needed something I could take anywhere. They sell Pilot pens in Eastern Turkey as well as Morocco.
posted by The Whelk at 11:09 AM on February 28, 2011


Slightly confused - is the Precise V5 the same as the Hi-Tecpoint - if so it is a great pen.

Currently I am using the BiC Crystal, which I love for the fact that it is good enough but also very very cheap - $2 per box of 12.

Though of course the true best cheap-but-fine pen is the Uni-Ball Vision. Waterproof, and as smooth as any V5 I have ever used.
posted by chebucto at 11:11 AM on February 28, 2011


I love them and go through the 12-packs like crazy.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:11 AM on February 28, 2011


Great, great pen.
posted by brundlefly at 11:12 AM on February 28, 2011


Ode to the Right Pen

No, it doesn't have to be quite this one,
but you'll know it when
it sits just right
in between your fingers, and a thumb
or not,
I've seen some hold a pen in the most
awkward, cramping ways

The ink will flow
just how you like it
at the speed with which you prefer
not too fast, smudging your inner finger tip
or so slow that you're bored
to tears
with your own words

There's nothing quite like a pen that sits just right
balanced,
composed,
in harmony with your words.
posted by infini at 11:12 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to love these pens. However, the point is so sharp that it will often tear a fiber out of the paper and drag it around, leaving little hairline ink marks on everything. Or maybe it's latching onto an eyelash or something. No idea, but it happens all the time.
posted by DU at 11:15 AM on February 28, 2011


That's a great pen. I used to buy Uni-Ball Visions, but I noticed that I would inevitably pry off the little translucent hemisphere at the top with my teeth and chew on it until it looked like some shriveled chunk of keratin, which was absolutely disgusting. I've since switched to less delicious writing equipment.
posted by theodolite at 11:16 AM on February 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Funny looking stylus. What's the ink for?
posted by three blind mice at 11:17 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Currently I am using the BiC Crystal, which I love for the fact that it is good enough but also very very cheap - $2 per box of 12.

I defy you to find a Bic Cristal that has exhausted its entire ink reservoir without dying by some other means.
posted by theodolite at 11:19 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pilot Precise V5 is the pen I settle for.

The pen I actually miss, and compare every new pen to, and never cease seeking out a replacement for, is — the Pilot V-Ball Extra Fine, in black.

I don't know why this design has been semi-retired. I'll never love another pen the way I love the Pilot V-Ball. Until we are reunited in the hereafter, I will fill my life with Pilot Precises and Pilot G2 0.38 gels and Staedler liquids, countless and anonymous. And when I feel like treating myself, a nice Pigma Micron.
posted by penduluum at 11:20 AM on February 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Funny looking stylus. What's the ink for?

Making things that don't vanish when the power is off or cause a magnet looked at it funny.
posted by The Whelk at 11:20 AM on February 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


I used to use Pilot G2s all of the time, but after reading this (source) I had to abandon them. I'd be too paranoid about having data obliterated by a 70% ethanol spill bottle, or an accidental trip through the autoclave. Not that I think that last one's likely, but I did just launder my wallet last week, so who knows.

Anyway, the point is that I remain a little skeptical of the staying power of the ink in Pilot pens. (The Zebra Sarasa and Uniball Vision pens are great, though.)
posted by en forme de poire at 11:21 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm also a Pilot Precise V5 man, despite the fact that the ink dries at a rate that usually leaves me all smeared up on the outer edge of my right hand. And the fact that they seem to explode more ferociously than any other pen when brought onto a plane. I don't know... I guess for me it's one of those love-it-because-of-its-flaws things.
posted by COBRA! at 11:22 AM on February 28, 2011


I defy you to find a Bic Cristal that has exhausted its entire ink reservoir without dying by some other means.

I defy you to find a BiC Crystal that has exhausted its entire ink reservoir.

That is, I generally lose cheap pens before they're out of ink. I tend to take better care of Pilots and Uni-Balls, making them the only pens I've actually used until empty.

But your point is well taken - the BiC's do seem to fail before they're empty (I'm never sure if the ink travels up the barrel or if it just dries out.)
posted by chebucto at 11:28 AM on February 28, 2011


I realized the other day I've been using the V5 for more than 20 years, all the way back to high school for me. At my previous job the first three things I ordered when they asked me for a list of supplies was Post-It notes, a red stapler, and two boxes of V5s, one in black and one in blue.

Nowadays I use Sakura Pigma Micron pens for note taking, but for everything else it's the V5.
posted by dw at 11:28 AM on February 28, 2011


Great pens. Sometimes they leak though.
posted by Xoebe at 11:28 AM on February 28, 2011


I'm all about the Uni-ball Jetstream Bold - fine tips have never worked for me.
posted by zamboni at 11:34 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a Pilot G-2 (either black or the super vibrant red) or a Uni-ball Deluxe fine man myself.

For a long time, I tried to stick with fountain pens, but ultimately, I just got sick of the problems with them leaking or needing a detailed cleaning before they'd continue to work, and I discovered that the G-2 was almost as smooth.
posted by quin at 11:39 AM on February 28, 2011


Previously in MeFi stationerdery:

Auto lead rotating!!??!
The Pen Addict
Fountain Pen Mania
Pens! Pens! Pens!
posted by zamboni at 11:40 AM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Though for general awesome, the Inka I have on my keys is actually pretty hard to beat.
posted by quin at 11:41 AM on February 28, 2011


The V5 actually factors into one of the worst fights my wife and I ever had, just a week or so before we were married. I'd bought a bunch of new work clothes, and she thought it nice to try and wash them. Unfortunately, she threw in a pair of my shorts, and having never washed my clothes before, didn't think to check if I'd left a pen in my pocket.

Whole load was ruined from the V5's ink. But crazily enough, after going through the washer and dryer, the V5 still worked.

She always checks my pockets now.
posted by dw at 11:43 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Will it really mighty my penis, man?
posted by FatherDagon at 11:44 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess we each have a favorite one and what works for thee might not for me. One thing though:
The Mont Blanc is nice but a lot of its "goodness" is the "class" it carries along with it. I have seen a filler from this pen used in a non-Mont Blanc holder and it was no longer the same. And I am fairly certain that those Mont Blancs handed out at presidential signings are really what (see Google) are called Faux Mont Blancs.

The one thing I learned about the V5: do not press hard. If you do, it is no longer the smooth writing pen you wanted it to be.
posted by Postroad at 11:45 AM on February 28, 2011


Yes, some of us write with a death grip that rips and tears through the paper, and the Pilots can't always handle the stress. Lovely otherwise.
posted by theredpen at 11:53 AM on February 28, 2011


Although I appreciate the appreciation for it, I deeply dislike that sort of fine point. Everything feels scratchy and spidery and rippy. For me I far prefer a chunky Pigma Micron, at least an 05 but preferably an 08.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:55 AM on February 28, 2011


"I'll take 'The Penis Mightier' for 500, you smug bastard."

I carry around six to eight Pigma Microns of various colors for filling my notebooks with doodles of combinatorial objects... (My co-advisor has buys piles of the old-school four-in-one colored ballpoints, for the same purpose, and doesn't mind losing one nearly as much as I mind losing one of my Microns.) But the microns were settled on after many, many years of shifting allegiances, searching for the perfect pen for my purposes. Their only issue is that they sometimes explode on plane journeys, though I haven't had one do so in a while.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:57 AM on February 28, 2011


I saw this and panicked that it was a eulogy for the V5. Thank Christ it's not.
posted by liketitanic at 11:58 AM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pilot G-2 man here. Cool tip: writing nice letters to pen companies lands you free swag
posted by p3on at 12:09 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right now, I prefer the Staedtler lp7. Super fine with none of that scratchy business.
posted by HumanComplex at 12:12 PM on February 28, 2011


Fine-point black ink Pilot EasyTouch standard (not retractable). Been using for years. They've disappeared from the stores around here, weirdly, all I can find are Medium, so I wind up ordering online.
posted by curious nu at 12:13 PM on February 28, 2011


I'm fond of the Sakura Gelly Roll Fine (name changed from the BallSign for probably good marketing reasons) for my general writing needs. It is a very nice pen that writes down to the end of the reservoir way more often than not. And it comes in many colors, and it is not excessively delicious.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:13 PM on February 28, 2011


I'm a felt-tip guy. Pilot V Razor Point! I have two in my shirt pocket, one in the Princess Leia mug on the desk, and there's at least one on every horizontal surface at my place.
posted by steef at 12:21 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


...the Sakura Gelly Roll Fine (name changed from the BallSign for probably good marketing reasons)...

I can't imagine what those reasons might be. "BallSign" sounds like the visible surface effects of the subterranean passing of the mighty sandballs of Arrakis.
posted by The Tensor at 12:26 PM on February 28, 2011


My Ode to the same pen. (Guest post I did on Pen Addict).
posted by cjorgensen at 12:35 PM on February 28, 2011


Anyway, the point is that I remain a little skeptical of the staying power of the ink in Pilot pens.

Solution: Use Montblanc refills in your G2 pen.

Step 3: Profit!
posted by J.W. at 12:36 PM on February 28, 2011


Oh come on. Pilot makes some much, much nicer writing pens. It's just that your local office supply store doesn't carry them.
posted by circular at 12:41 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you like to write underwater, then this is a good pen for you.

The various underwater papers and notebooks on that site work great with a pencil, two. Just don't let the pencil float away.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:41 PM on February 28, 2011


Funny looking stylus. What's the ink for?
Making things that don't vanish when the power is off or cause a magnet looked at it funny.


Odd, my clay tablets don't require power and are not affected by magnets.
posted by Jahaza at 12:58 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Uni-Ball here, too.

Wait...
posted by tumid dahlia at 1:10 PM on February 28, 2011


The Pilot V-5 was a Christmas gift this last year. I got several. Some refillable. Some Retractible. I love this pen. I've been using them for about two years now almost exclusively. Cheap enough that when I lose them I don't have to cry. Nice enough that I can sign important stuff with them.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2011


This Precise V5 is my favorite pen of all time. I used to have a stack of them. One by one, they've dwindled away, and little by little, I write less and less. One does not have anything to do with the other; they just seem to occur naturally together.

But this pen: the sound it makes on notebook paper, just the barest skritch. The tip lends elegance to my spider-like scrawl, so that in a room quiet save the fan whirring out through an open steamed window, I could sit at the plain desk for hours and just sing in a whiskey voice: look down and see lines joined riotously like the cacophony of my thoughts.

I have other pens, including one incredibly nice one which was far too expensive and considerate a birthday gift. But that one is heavy in my hand, so the things I write with it are momentous: bill payments, solemn signatures, condolences. This pen is like air. It doesn't ask me to make it matter. It always waits while I forget what I love, until something reminds me of that faint chitter and I return ruefully to a pen that says, child-like on the ride, let's go again.
posted by Errant at 1:15 PM on February 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh and theodolite, I hear you about the chewing thing, it's a habit for me too. That's why I have put together a team of scientists and chefs to design a range of "pen-snacks", which aren't treats for your pen, but which are instead like those novelty erasers you can buy and slip on to just about any pen or pencil to act as a food-buffer between your mouth and the implement. You chew away the treat and install another, keeping the pen in tip-top shape. So far we have key lime pie (shaped like a lime), and another one we just call "chemical cherry".
posted by tumid dahlia at 1:16 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's crazy how one can become totally dedicated to a pen. Uni-ball Roller Micros came out sometime while I was in college (late 70s/early 80s) and to this day, the 0.5mm Roller Micro is the only pen I'll buy. Uni-ball and Levi's are the only companies I've stuck with that long.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:23 PM on February 28, 2011


HumanComplex: "Right now, I prefer the Staedtler lp7. Super fine with none of that scratchy business."

OH YES. That's the one I was trying to remember. Writes like a dream. The ink is a little heavy, which I greatly prefer. No scratching. Dark ink like from a fountain pen. Thanks for the reminder!
posted by theredpen at 1:24 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recently switched from the Pilot V5 Hi-Tecpoint to a Muji .38mm gel pen. Thinner line, doesn't leave as much ink on the page. Much cleaner.
posted by krunk at 1:34 PM on February 28, 2011


No love for the V7?
That's my favourite: I like my lines a little bolder.
They burn through ink like crazy though.
posted by Flashman at 1:42 PM on February 28, 2011


Ah, the Pilot Precise V5, my favorite pen for most of the 90s. I used to write with one of these until the ink reservoir was completely empty and then I would mourn it. After opening up a brand new one I'd have to get used to it and find that sweet spot on the nib all over again. By the late 90s I'd switched over to fountain pens, but now I rarely write with a pen because my handwriting's illegible. I miss the Pilot.
posted by cropshy at 2:00 PM on February 28, 2011


Yeah I've got notebooks packed to bursting full of awesome ideas I can't fucking decipher because my handwriting is so godawful, no matter what pen I was using.
posted by tumid dahlia at 2:19 PM on February 28, 2011


No love for the V7?
That's my favourite: I like my lines a little bolder.
They burn through ink like crazy though.


Yeah, I'm a fan of nice, inky .7mm pens too. Or even 1mm pens! The uniball impact RT is probably my fave.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:30 PM on February 28, 2011


and to this day, the 0.5mm Roller Micro is the only pen I'll buy.

Dad??
posted by theodolite at 2:44 PM on February 28, 2011


I used to buy Uni-Ball Visions, but I noticed that I would inevitably pry off the little translucent hemisphere at the top with my teeth and chew on it

The Uni-ball Vision Elite is similar, but made of hard plastic. They also made the tail piece an integral part of barrel, rather than an insert. Since it doesn't have a joint, there is nothing tempting you to pick at it.

I never lose my pens—every one is used until failure. I have never had a Vision Elite stop working for any reason other than exhaustion of ink.
posted by ryanrs at 3:14 PM on February 28, 2011


I enjoyed the essay. My current pen of choice is the Zebra M-701. I love the design of it, Zebra pens in general. For a while I was using the F-301 and still keep a couple handy as backups. Just today, I bought the V-301, my first fountain pen. With that said, I'm really excited to try the Montblanc ink in a Pilot G2 trick mentioned on the green a few days ago.
posted by synecdoche at 3:15 PM on February 28, 2011


And the fact that they seem to explode more ferociously than any other pen when brought onto a plane.


Yes, godammit. (Just lost two more, one black, one red, between JFK and AMS. When will I learn?)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:50 PM on February 28, 2011


when brought onto a plane

Is that still allowed these days?
posted by ryanrs at 3:59 PM on February 28, 2011


"I like my lines a little bolder."

You know, I sang that comment to the tune of Your Love by The Outfield.
posted by Eideteker at 4:15 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's all about the V7, preferably blue, though the V5 will work in a pinch. I have a bunch of G-2 O5s around the house, and while I like the squishy grip, they're just not the same. W/r/t the V5, I also am someone who presses down way too hard and tears through pages (though I admire the V5 as a pen I'm pretty sure really could incapacitate an assailant -- that thing has got a killer point on it). I've been using V7s for over twenty years now, and will go on a huge hoarding frenzy if it ever looks like they could fall out of fashion.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:29 PM on February 28, 2011


The Precise V5 is a classic. I tend to prefer the RT, but the clicking drives my friends and family crazy. The RT is also refillable, which I tell myself is more economical and environmentally friendly (but I have no evidence for that).

My personal favorite pen is my shiny black Lamy Safari with Noodler's Black, but I always keep at least one Precise V5 around.
posted by willhopkins at 4:39 PM on February 28, 2011


Uniball Signo UM-151. I just got some .28s and .38s from jetpens.
posted by oonh at 5:04 PM on February 28, 2011


I defy you to find a Bic Cristal that has exhausted its entire ink reservoir without dying by some other means.

I have drawn with the BiC Cristal medium tip ball point pen for over 25 years now and have gone through hundreds of them. In all that time maybe a handful stopped working before they were dry.

The thing with a pen like the Pilot is that no matter what you do with it, it wants to give you a good line that stays remarkably true. The BiC, however, is a lot lower in quality and that's what I like so much about it, I can do different things with it as far as line quality goes. This is excellent for the way I draw which involves a lot of cross hatching, over working of certain areas, and a wide range of line thickness. I can smudge it, blot blobs of ink with it, and just generally mess about trying different things out.

The BiC also has a certain resistance, a stubbornness on the paper's surface, that is perfect for the way I draw. No other ball point I've tried has this 'feel' to it. It's not so good for hand writing though and to this day there is a tinge of envy in my appreciation for anyone who has lovely handwriting, a skill I will never possess.

I quite enjoyed this piece also, and as you can see, I am a bit of a geek about pens. My other primary drawing tool, the STAEDTLER® Lumocolor®permanent universal pen, has a whole different set of concerns around it that I will not get into at this time.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 5:05 PM on February 28, 2011


I also use the Pilot G-2 07 (exclusively after my friend recommended them) but I mainly write words. I'm a blue ink type of person myself. It's just the write amount of contrast for underlining and marginalia. The only drawback is that the ink doesn't stick to human skin. It screws and unscrews in the middle so it even works as a fiddlything.

I don't know if it's just me, but every single Precise V5 I've ever used has turned into a disaster. The chamber in the front gradually fills with ink, and then the ink goes everywhere and everything is ruined. What makes that happen?
posted by fuq at 5:11 PM on February 28, 2011


Oh the PV5s fuck up royally. No idea why, but they do.

One good way of ruining Pilot pens is to write on human skin. It lasts for a while but it totally ruins the pen. No idea why, I suspect oils.
posted by The Whelk at 6:56 PM on February 28, 2011


Oh, V5's. I will never love another as I love you. I could never write very effectively with a standard ball-point pen. The V5 was a revelation. I have used nothing else since 1996.

I am sadly close to running out of the boxes I hoarded nearly 3 1/2 years ago when I was working as a purchasing assistant. (They were like $5 for a huge box. I could have been skimming much more expensive office supplies. Shut up.) And yes, they do occasionally explode. But most of the time, they're perfect. I can ask for nothing more.
posted by Because at 7:32 PM on February 28, 2011


I truly adore the Pilot Razor Point and am not so fond of the V5. I have discovered though that the Razor Points don't keep very well. After only two years or so, they will, when first uncapped, write perfectly for a minute or so and then a large blob of ink will start to form on the tip and then it will bypass the blobby stage and start to freely drip and at that point it is a race to get it to the garbage can.

I'm pretty darn fond of Pigmas, though.
posted by bz at 9:31 PM on February 28, 2011


> I defy you to find a BiC Crystal that has exhausted its entire ink reservoir.

Hold a small flame to the nib for half a second, then write with it straight away. Works every time. Well, 80% of the time. Maybe a little less. I'll be honest here, when you really want it to work for you it will let you down. There was one occassion where I did this in a bar for someone, I was a little drunk and couldn't entirely see straight and was convinced I was missing the nib of the pen with the flame. Long story short - they handed me the pen they were trying to take soneone's number with at my request and I gave it back to them on fire. Sometimes though a small flame to the nib of the pen will do wonders.
posted by vbfg at 3:18 AM on March 1, 2011


vbfg: "they handed me the pen they were trying to take soneone's number with at my request and I gave it back to them on fire"

Beautiful story.
posted by theredpen at 7:27 AM on March 1, 2011


With that said, I'm really excited to try the Montblanc ink in a Pilot G2 trick

I just did this; I found a Pilot G2 Limited for $10 (basically just a nicer looking opaque G2 that's a bit heavier and has some metal pieces) and put the Mont Blanc refill in, it took all of a minute and writes beautifully.

I've only been using it for about 20 minutes, but from everything I can tell; Recommended.
posted by quin at 4:18 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


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