I think the 0.7 mm provides the best of everything this pen has to offer
September 27, 2013 12:04 PM   Subscribe

 
1. I love The Wirecutter and The Sweethome and will read reviews on there for things I will never, ever buy.

2. They dissed on my beloved Pilot Precise V5! NOT OK. Does your jerk Jetstream come in pink and purple and green?
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:10 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I just got my Jetstreams today as a result of reading this a few weeks ago. I felt so strongly I even blogged it, which isn't something I normally do about writing instruments.

You have to try this pen, I swear.
posted by tommasz at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2013


But what's the best rubber band? I need a collection of reviews to pore over.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Holy cow am I relieved that these people blog about pens rather than blog in pen.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:12 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I want is the Polar magnet pen.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:13 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I found a pen that I loved, stashed away in a glove box of the car I'm buying from my parents. I've gone to some lengths to keep it on my person. After accidentally bringing into our lab (with things I don't want on my fingers/face) I cleaned it more vigorously than I've seen the glassware here cleaned.

Looked over at it, after reading that article: its a jetstream.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:15 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why do they test them by printing instead of writing? Isn't the point of a pen to write?
posted by Justinian at 12:16 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know a single person under the age of 30 who ever, ever writes in cursive. Printing=writing, cursive=fancy olde tymey writinge
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:17 PM on September 27, 2013 [36 favorites]


Tiny-writers love pen that excels at tiny writing. Bah!

The 1mm Pilot G2 (and the 0.7, even) have beautiful figuration if you tend to write more fluidly with larger letter-forms, as I do. The G2 0.5 and 0.3 are a little fussy, tho... so if you like neat little letters in neat little lines, the smaller G2's may not be the pen for you. See also: .09mm and 1.2mm mechanical pencils.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:18 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't know a single person under the age of 30 who ever, ever writes in cursive. Printing=writing, cursive=fancy olde tymey writinge

I'm 25 and write in cursive, unless I'm writing postcards to my boyfriend, cause then he can't read them.
posted by carolr at 12:19 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


lead > ink
posted by cman at 12:19 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The pen is for putting glyphs of ink onto paper; whether you join the glyphs is a matter of taste, and diminishing market share.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:19 PM on September 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


I have a bunch of shitty disposable fountain pens in a wide range of colors that write horribly and blotchily but they make me feel fancy so I like them.

/information you did not request
posted by elizardbits at 12:20 PM on September 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


Surely you should test the pens with cursive, though. Even if many people don't use it.
posted by Justinian at 12:20 PM on September 27, 2013


I don't know a single person under the age of 30 who ever, ever writes in cursive. Printing=writing, cursive=fancy olde tymey writinge

I write in cursive (I'm under 30...barely). I actually have kind of beautiful handwriting which I'm okay bragging about. But the thing is, they don't even teach it anymore, so like...soon the kids won't even be able to read my writing. It is sad.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:20 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


But the thing is, they don't even teach it anymore

My son learned cursive in fourth grade (two years ago) but I think they mostly taught it so they could read the check when an old person paid them for shoveling the walk.
posted by bondcliff at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've been using the basic Jetstream uni-ball fine 0.7mm pen since my boss loaned me one four years ago. It really is the best everyday pen you can get without being ridiculous about it. Everyone who's borrowed mine has converted.
posted by snottydick at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2013


Also pens are pretty ok for twirling. They should have a separate post to rank affordable pens by twirlability.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


I am so glad there are other people out there who care as much about the way their pens write as I do. I recently bought a bunch of pilot g2 (in colors!) pens and I'm quite happy. Will check out this jetstream pen.
posted by royalsong at 12:23 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brad Dowdy, better known as the Pen Addict, is probably the biggest name in pen blogging. He got into the scene in 2007, and is probably the most widely read-and-respected pen blogger on the planet

THE BIGGEST NAME IN PEN BLOGGING

pen blogging
posted by elizardbits at 12:23 PM on September 27, 2013 [45 favorites]


i love you internets, i love you always
posted by elizardbits at 12:23 PM on September 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


The most important thing about my pen choice: It has to work. Every single frigging time. Even if it is -30C out and it has been in the car all night. Even if the receipt is a bit wet. If it doesn't put ink on paper it doesn't matter how smooth it is. Also, let's face it, someone is going to steal it or I am going to lose it. So it should not be too fancy.

Uni-Ball Power Tank with a space pen-style pressurized container for a fraction of the price. Highly recommended.
posted by Authorized User at 12:24 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


snottydick: "I've been using the basic Jetstream uni-ball fine 0.7mm pen since my boss loaned me one four years ago. It really is the best everyday pen you can get without being ridiculous about it."

And that's why I have a Pilot fountain pen. Eat flaming death nib, rollerball scum.
posted by boo_radley at 12:24 PM on September 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


And I never really though I would be the kind of guy who has a favorite pen but seriously. It's basically groundbreaking.
posted by Authorized User at 12:24 PM on September 27, 2013


elizardbits: "THE BIGGEST NAME IN PEN BLOGGING

pen blogging
"

"we call it plogging"

posted by boo_radley at 12:25 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


showbiz_liz: "I don't know a single person under the age of 30 who ever, ever writes in cursive. Printing=writing, cursive=fancy olde tymey writinge"

I'm almost fifty and never learned to write in cursive. But then other than post-it notes to myself, I never write anything by hand these days. I use whatever cheap pens they give us at work and at home I'm sure that there are a few pens around but I wouldn't know where.
posted by octothorpe at 12:25 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Uni-Ball Deluxe Micro forever, baybee. I admit to seeing the appeal of a refillable, but I don't want to mess with a good thing.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:25 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been using the basic Jetstream uni-ball fine 0.7mm pen since my boss loaned me one four years ago. It really is the best everyday pen you can get without being ridiculous about it.

That is a good pen. But I have to say, I prefer the Pilot G2 as a cheap, everyday pen.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pilot VBall .5 in the original no-grip barrel style, literally until the day I die. They started making these more cheaply and worse almost 10 years ago and they're still the best low-mid everyday writing pen on this blue Earth.
posted by penduluum at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2013


Now that I think about it, though, my pen needs are not really being met. I need something that doesn't bleed through to the other side of the page yet remains bold and legible.

I guess this could also mean that it is my PAPER needs that are not being adequately met but it is easier to acquire uniformity of pen than it is uniformity of paper thickness/quality.

fuck i'm a pen nerd
posted by elizardbits at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't know a single person under the age of 30 who ever, ever writes in cursive. Printing=writing, cursive=fancy olde tymey writinge.

I'm 51 and I haven't written in cursive since around 1992; coincidentally, the year I first got on the Internet.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I used to write only in cursive, from about 14yo to 16yo. Finally stopped when my latin teacher (Magistra! Magistra!) threatened to fail me if I even handed a test written in cursive again.

Other teachers followed suit.

I was hoping at the time, that the reaction would be to get the assignments digitized so as to promote typing.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:27 PM on September 27, 2013


There's something about pens and wallets that just gets stuck in peoples craw. I like a good pen as much as the next guy...but it's always been fascinating to me just how esoteric the pen / wallet / EDC crowd can get over this kind of stuff. I need a pen / wallet filter just to look at Kickstarter because every other project is a new kind of pen or a new kind of wallet...

That being said now there is a part of my monkey brain that is making this pen seem pretty important. I should probably go buy it.
posted by jnnla at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am too often at the mercy of other people's pens. I buy good pens, they get stolen or lost, and somehow I end up with other people's crap pens.

This is like one the lines that got cut from Yeats' "The Second Coming."
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is 100% dead-on accurate. The Jetstream is the best mass-market budget-friendly pen there is.

I"m a journalist. I don't need something with a gold plate and my initials on it to sign cheques. I don't need some kind of special ink and nib for blacking in the logo on the next Batman comic. I need a pen that writes reliably. I need it to be smooth and quick-flowing, so that if I'm taking notes as someone's talking to me, every mark shows up legibly on the page. I need a reliable pen, so I don't find myself many miles from my office or in another part of the building from my bag with a stalled pen in my hand. I need a pen that will work in drizzle and dust. I need it to write on the back of an ATM receipt as smoothly as in the Mead Cambridge hardbacks that are my go-to notebook. I need something I'm not going to fret over, something that I can easily and affordably replace if I lose it.

On every count, the Jetstream wins. About two bucks a pen. Every Staples in the free world sells 'em. Smooth, solid ink flow, writes on any surface, never fails. I've sent probably a half dozen of them through the wash. They start writing the moment you fish them out of the bottom of the washtub. They feel solid in your hand but not precious. Just enough grip, but not gummy. Reasonably reliable clicker (though that part of the mechanism usually gets a touch sticky before I've used up all the ink).

I adore Jetstreams. Figures I'm not the only one.
posted by gompa at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


They dissed on my beloved Pilot Precise V5!

Looks like penaddict.com updated his CMS and a lot of his older posts (and the comments) didn't make it across. Anyway, I sent Pilot a fan letter because I like this pen so much. I did a guest post on Pen Addict where I posted the fan letter and Pilot's response. I referred to "pen nuts" in my letter, which got the comments section going, but it was fun, since you seldom meet such opinionated people.

Anyway, someone pointed out the Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine also comes in retractable! And refillable. I have a $50 Lamy on my desk. I prefer the $1.29 Pilot.

I love that pen.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


ALSO when pens begin run out of ink they should instantly cease all operations and not do That Thing where they start out writing fine and then run out mid-word and you have to do that scribbly thing on the corner of the paper and then it works fine again only to run out AGAIN mid-word as soon as you return to your sentence.

My pen needs are more complex than I originally realized.
posted by elizardbits at 12:30 PM on September 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


I taught myself copperplate calligraphy over the summer, and I often make mistakes. But the weird part is that I had become so accustomed to fixing typos from typing into a screen over the last two decades, that the first couple times I'd make a loop wrong, or leave an ink blot, or have other failure that would require scrapping the piece and restarting, there was some weird, animal twitch in my brain looking for a magical Undo button, somewhere, anywhere. Which is a ridiculous instinct for something permanent, like ink on paper.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:30 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm a big fan of the Pentel EnerGel 0.7 myself...
posted by stenseng at 12:30 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm actually in the market for a good ballpoint. I made some poor notebook buying decisions this semester and am getting more ink bleed than I like with most pens. The Lamy fountain pen is winning, but even that bleeds at bit in one of my notebooks.

Anyway, someone pointed out the Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine also comes in retractable!

Yes, but it's a nightmare to get refills not online. (Elmwood stationery in Berkeley stocks them, btw.)

I'm almost fifty and never learned to write in cursive.

I suspect there are factors beyond age--like where you're from (well, obviously--different countries have different writing systems, but restrict to places with two systems). My dad's handwriting is illegible, but clearly the descendant of cursive. My mom's handwriting is clearly a system someone made up on their own trying to write quickly. My grandad writes in block capitals.
posted by hoyland at 12:31 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two more things, both absolutely vital for a journalist taking field notes: the Jetstream's pretty much unsmearable. And it apparently does not burst and wreck your pants under any circumstances.
posted by gompa at 12:34 PM on September 27, 2013


I like the Pilot V5 in red; the black don't write very well for me. Anyone else have this problem?

Also: Don't bring your V5's with you on a plane; put them in your checked baggage sealed in an empty steel water bottle. Just sayin'.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:34 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pilot G2 0.7, green. There are no other options.
posted by spinturtle at 12:35 PM on September 27, 2013


Man I sorta hate Pilot G2s; they're messy and finicky. Now to get the boss to buy me some Jetstreams!
posted by Mister_A at 12:36 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suspect there are factors beyond age--like where you're from

New Jersey. In all fairness, the nice teachers at Alexander Hamilton Elementary did attempt to teach me but I never managed to produce anything legible and finally gave up around sixth grade and just reverted to block printing.
posted by octothorpe at 12:36 PM on September 27, 2013


I need a good pen that doesn't magically disappear. I have a chewed up ballpoint from the drycleaner I used to go to in 2005, but I cannot find any of the dozen PaperMate gel pens I bought a month ago.
posted by desjardins at 12:37 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was taught cursive, and was Not Good at it. And so my humiliating manchild printing. Fast, though.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man I sorta hate Pilot G2s

Sacrilege!!
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kind of related - Hotel Pens
posted by COD at 12:39 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pfft, clearly the best pens are 0.38mm Muji Gel Pens.
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:39 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Your favorite pen sucks!
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:39 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I bought a couple of disposable brush pens at Kinokuniya the other day and now I'm going to hand-write letters to all my friends just to have an excuse to use 'em.
posted by Sokka shot first at 12:39 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


You still need to know cursive in order to sign the oath at the beginning of the SAT, which my students say takes them forever, because they don't write in cursive anymore.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:39 PM on September 27, 2013


Ahh they did praise the Pilot Precise V5, which my creative dept. has been insisting on (and hiding from the covetous account team, who have discovered these aren't special creative-type pens, just nice writing implements). I have hoarded a few of these, but for real, I will try to get the co. to buy us some Jetstreams when these go kaput.
posted by Mister_A at 12:39 PM on September 27, 2013


Cosette has always professed her love for the Pilot G2, numerous attempts to demonstrate her error and the awesomeness that is the Jetstream have failed.

So, after reading this review, I renewed my determination, ordered a box, borrowed her work keycard, broke into her office, replaced every single G2 with a Jetstream and VOILA, she is now a convert!

Somehow I know this means I win, something...
posted by Cosine at 12:40 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Elementary Penguin: "You still need to know cursive in order to sign the oath at the beginning of the SAT, which my students say takes them forever, because they don't write in cursive anymore."

I was wondering about that... how will people sign checks? I guess that's not any more of a worry than buggy whip-related injuries though, come to think of it...
posted by Mister_A at 12:41 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pfft, clearly the best pens are 0.38mm Muji Gel Pens.

Joint firsties with the more finicky Pilot G-Tec-C, which gets a mention for being too fine for most people. Which is cool, because I read this last week and kept WTFing at the idea of a 0.7mm pen being a good thing.

(Lifetime member of the Pen 15 club.)
posted by carbide at 12:41 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can you not print your signature on official things?
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2013


THE BIGGEST NAME IN PEN BLOGGING

Then maybe he should be writing in like a chisel-tip marker, as better befits his stature?
posted by wenestvedt at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2013


OMG you guys! I think we're....



NERDS!
posted by Mister_A at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


You still need to know cursive in order to sign the oath at the beginning of the SAT, which my students say takes them forever, because they don't write in cursive anymore.

Funny story about that ... I was out with my son a few years ago and he watched me sign a credit card slip. He thought about it for a moment, then asked: "Dad, will I have to learn to sign my name someday?"
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lutoslawski, then it would be a printature. Words can't just change meanings over time!
posted by Mister_A at 12:43 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back when I still frequently used and had super-finicky preferences about pens, the Sanford Expresso pen (think they're discontinued now, though you can still order online from back inventory) was my go-to favorite. Because despite its being the most temperamental, easily damaged pen in the world (the things explode ink if you just look at them funny), I've never found a pen that can lay down as consistently black and clean a line of ink once you've properly mastered its use.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:43 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lutoslawski, then it would be a printature. Words can't just change meanings over time!

Giant block-print Xs have also been accepted as valid signatures for as long as signatures have been required. I don't think the meaning of "signature" has necessarily ever been limited to a particular form of script...
posted by saulgoodman at 12:47 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I need something that doesn't bleed through to the other side of the page yet remains bold and legible.

I, too, love cheap fountain pens, for they make me feel fancy. Your trouble ain't the pen, it's the ink.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know a single person under the age of 30 who ever, ever writes in cursive. Printing=writing, cursive=fancy olde tymey writinge

Most people seem to settle on that sort of hybrid print/script writing, where the first letter is printed, then the middle bits are cursive (or just joined without being actual cursive style letters) and the end letter is printed.

Other popular styles include "fancy Cursive! first letter and print thereafter" or "Mostly cursive, but printing the letters that no one remembers how to do, like z or b"
posted by madajb at 12:49 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, even the uni-ball vision elites are bleeding through on my check register. MOST VEXING.
posted by elizardbits at 12:49 PM on September 27, 2013


Dear god, 6,767 words for a pen review? That said, I just bought a box of them without reading the article.
posted by slogger at 12:49 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have a $50 Lamy on my desk. I prefer the $1.29 Pilot.

My Lamy clogged somehow, in a way I have never been able to clean, and I was so bitterly disappointed that I never bought another pen again. Now I just use some half-dry Sharpies, and when those are done, I suppose I will simply stop writing.
posted by mittens at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


But how good is it for surreptitiously drawing gonads in a public restroom?
posted by Renoroc at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can you not print your signature?


I have been using a stylized* printed signature since I applied for my learners permit 30 years ago. And no one has said a damn thing about it from banks to passports, etc.

*first initial of first and last name a little larger and with some flourish.
posted by birdherder at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's wrong, of course, because the best pen is the Hi Tec C 4mm. Even setting aside the fact that Jetstream ink is sticky and globby and it smells funny and comes in a severely limited palette of colors, 0.7 mm? Seriously? We're even entertaining this as an option for small writers?
posted by BrashTech at 12:50 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Since we are pen geeking, I'll say that my favorite pen is the Pelikan Junior, which was recommended in a fountain pen thread in either Ask or the blue, I don't remember. I love that pen so much I am more organized now because I write detailed to-do lists by hand just to have an excuse to use it.

My favorite rubber bands are made by Alliance.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been using 0.3mm Microns for writing in my journal after I surprisingly found that my handwriting looks much better using those than any other pen in recent memory. I love a good pen and would probably go down the pen nerd path if I really wanted to.
posted by gucci mane at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know that they're the best pen from a technical pen point of view, but I always returned to the trusty Bic four-colour pen. Useful particularly since my notes are at least 10% doodle and 30% infographic or diagram as the subject depends on. Handling a modest spectrum of inks in any other fashion is too clunky.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this the place to start a broken-bottle fight over favorite notebooks or is that next door?

moleskine forever!
posted by kokaku at 12:52 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know what's fun? Signing your name with your finger on those Square+iPad point-of-sale setups.

Mine looks more and more abstract every time. I expect it will be more or less an ensō by this time next year.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:52 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am seriously considering leaving work a bit early to go LOOK AT PENS. Good job internets!
posted by Mister_A at 12:52 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


also i like pencils
posted by elizardbits at 12:54 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is there a place we can geek out on pencils? I don't know much but am willing to learn!
posted by Mister_A at 12:55 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't deal with ball-point or gel pens; they glide too much for my taste. I like porous-point pens, and feeling the distinct raspy texture of the paper underneath the pen.

Micron 01 (0.25mm), Le Pen, Papermate Flair fine point, Pilot Razor Point, etc.
posted by suedehead at 12:55 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is this the place to start a broken-bottle fight over favorite notebooks or is that next door?

I just bought a Miquel Rius four subject that I'm fond of. Wicked cheap, too!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:56 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does the jetstream do the thing most gel pens do where any contact, no matter how slight, with the paper sucks ink out and makes my writing have all these stray marks and connectors? I write in little pocket notebooks and on non-hard, flat surfaces a lot. I have trouble finding a good pen that requires pressure, not just contact, to leave ink.

So far my winner is the ubiquitous US Government - Skilcraft ballpoint. In blue, though.
posted by ctmf at 12:56 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is there a place we can geek out on pencils? I don't know much but am willing to learn!

pencilrevolution.com
PENCIL REVOLUTION.COM
PENCIL REVOLUTION.COM
posted by suedehead at 12:56 PM on September 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Rhodia or gtfo. Also: mech peceils.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:57 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


PENCIL REVOLUTION.COM

See also Dave's Mechanical Pencils
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:57 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem with Rhodia pads for me is that I'm not made of money, and I feel bad actually using them. But, having tasted the fruit of good paper, I can't go back to 12-packs of recycled paper legal pads from Staples, so I scrounge clearance sales at bookstores for random journals. It's a desperate existence.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:59 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like papermate clicksters even thought I have not yet successfully been able to replace the lead stick once it runs out. Also the free ones from Ikea are great because they are little and you can steal like 10 of them every time you go for meatballs.
posted by elizardbits at 12:59 PM on September 27, 2013


I have piles of Pilot G2 05s. I have sworn by them for ages, and I always have one nearby. The only thing I don't like about them is that at some point in their old age -- but before the ink is all gone -- they will randomly spew forth this tiny metal stinger that will scratch and bleed ink everywhere at the most inopportune time. You wanted instant failure -- that is what it looks like. But I still love them.

Then, I read this review and tried to dismiss it as insane before finding myself endlessly clicking around Amazon looking for one thinking I could find a better deal, and then dismissing it again as stupid. But then I would go back later and reconsider. I was actually spending a LOT of time debating whether to get this stupid pen because of this stupid review that I read half-jokingly.

And then I broke down and ordered the Uniball Jetstream 4 + 1 pen. It is FOUR 0.7mm jetstream pens in black, red, blue and green. Oh, and the +1? The clip slides down to produce a 0.5mm pencil. Now, instead of carrying my Pilot G2 and my colored pen and a pencil, I have this one glorious pen. And now maybe I should get another because I am so attached that what will I do if I lose it? Maybe I should hide it so no one steals it? But I should use it!? But should I hide it? Maybe I should have never written this in case they sell out and I can't get more...Should I get more of this pen...my precious pen....my precious...
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 1:02 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm in the porous-point camp myself; I write with a very light touch, and dislike having to press down. (Truly, different pen strokes for different folks.)

I'm partial to the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner, though the Pigma Micron 01 is nice, too.

(On the pencil side, I go with the Pilot Color Eno.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 1:03 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Elementary Penguin: "I just bought a Miquel Rius four subject that I'm fond of."

They made excellent quad ruled lab books at one point in time. I don't think they do any more, sadly.
posted by boo_radley at 1:04 PM on September 27, 2013


Sakura Pigma Micron is my pen of choice, both for writing and doodling. One in every width. Also, an embarrassing assortment of Gelly Rolls in assorted neon and glittery colors. I do like the Muji pens, though. If I lived closer to a Muji store I'd own more.

Sharpie pens are bleed-ass suck sticks and I don't know why those reviewers like them. The original Sharpie in ultra-fine point is so much better.

I'm skeptical of the Jetstream praise because I dislike most ballpoints. But that's based on the cheap ones, the Bic Round Stics and so on. I'd rather write with a broken crayon than a Round Stic.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:04 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is there a place we can geek out on pencils? I don't know much but am willing to learn!

Apparently the Blackwing is Back!
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:06 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


My hunt for a Rotring 600 1.0mm pencil in silver or lava continues...
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:07 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mechanical pencils??? I'd rather be chased by a tiger, then fall off a cliff at the base of which is a stampeding herd of elephants (who, I would learn whilst being stampedized, are stampeding because bad Gamera from the first movie is coming to fry and/or squash everything), and then get fried and then squashed by Gamera, and then finally have to endure the tiger from earlier in the sentence eating my pathetic squamous form (he having taken the long way down, thus missing the Gamera incursion), than use a mechanical pencil!
posted by Mister_A at 1:08 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Most people seem to settle on that sort of hybrid print/script writing, where the first letter is printed, then the middle bits are cursive (or just joined without being actual cursive style letters) and the end letter is printed.


This is exactly how I write, and how I've written basically ever since teachers stopped grading me on it. I always got a bad grade, which I still insist is unfair because I am a lefty.
posted by sweetkid at 1:09 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Paper Mate Sharpwriter 0.7mm Mechanical Pencils are the only daily pencils worth using and I will stab you in the scalp and give you graphite poisoning if you try to come after my supply during the zombie apocalypse.

They also come in blue!
posted by nicebookrack at 1:13 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


HAHA I BEEN USING THAT PEN FOR YEARS MOTHERFUCKERS!

And fuck these skinny needle tip pen assholes. Are you trying to fucking scratch the paper or write something, you stupid fuckface?
posted by mullacc at 1:14 PM on September 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also the free ones from Ikea are great because they are little and you can steal like 10 of them every time you go for meatballs.

My library has a convenient supply of miniature pencils available. Plus, I get to feel all civic-y and smart for visiting the library!

(They're like the penny tray, right? Take one if you need it?)
posted by madajb at 1:15 PM on September 27, 2013


Pencils? Cedar Pointe.
posted by box at 1:16 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Paper matters. These writing samples were on a Black n’ Red notebook.

Bloggers, don't do this. An important comparison illustration should not be a little 600x397 px graphic.
posted by crapmatic at 1:17 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm a big fan of the Pentel EnerGel 0.7 myself...

My boss uses those exclusively. Us underlings are Not Allowed to know where they are stashed. We all have to use crappy PaperMate pens, or PaperMate knockoffs.

Mind you, I only use pens for signing. The rest of the time, I use a pencil, which apparently is My Thing. I did have to fight a campaign to get the office to order actual-goddamn-wood pencils, instead of cheap mechanical pencils that never work, just stab and break.

I have nice Lamys at home. No way are those ever to leave the house.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:19 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the Pilot V5 in red; the black don't write very well for me.

Well there's your problem. Blue is the One True Ink Color. Anything else is just for apostates writing heretical thoughts.
posted by slogger at 1:20 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


For real wood pencils I like the Dixon Ticonderoga #3, but I tend to prefer the mechanicals because I like the clicky noise, but only when I am doing the clicking. Others may not click in my presence.
posted by elizardbits at 1:23 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Pilot G-2 0.38mm is the best pen I've found for the way I write. I must write very small or something, because I can't stand 0.7 being called fine point. I might as well be pressing a stick into a clay tablet at that point.

I must try the Muji pens now.


The best mechanical pencil is the Pentel Twist-Erase III. It's got enough eraser, the good kind that actually erases pencil rather than smearing or tearing the paper, to actually last several packets of lead refills and you don't have to worry about breaking off those stupid narrow erasers that competitors use.


I almost forgot, Prismacolor Col-Erase® Colored Pencils are the best colored pencils for diagramming and such as the color actually does erase rather than smudge all over the paper. The colors are bright and vibrant as well.
posted by sopwath at 1:24 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Late to the group hug. Introducing the Jetstream to me was one of the reasons I love my husband.
posted by of strange foe at 1:26 PM on September 27, 2013


Ima let y'all finish, but the best pen clearly is the Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen, medium nib.
posted by wintermind at 1:27 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Best Pens:
/sees picture of multiple ballpoint pens but no fountain pens

/arrogantly and dismissively closes tab
posted by oceanjesse at 1:27 PM on September 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


Is there some kind of magical fountain pen that works for left handers? They seem neat, but that's always been my sticking point.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:31 PM on September 27, 2013


If it doesn't suck ink from a bottle, it's not a real pen.

Put another way...

All a ball pen is is a fancy holder for the refill.

To quote from Anathem, by Neal Stephenson...

“I couldn’t get used to the way the disposable poly pen shat pasty ink onto the slick machine-made paper.”

/Not impressed
//Lamy Safari for life!
posted by MrGuilt at 1:36 PM on September 27, 2013


Pilot G2 0.5 user for ages. Have to make work people order them cuz stores only stock the 0.7's.

I generally dislike ballpoints, but you all are telling me this Jetstream is a ballpoint? And you think it's better than my gel-ink G2? This does not compute to me.
posted by dnash at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2013


I may or may not have run downstairs to the Walgreens in my office building to see if they had this famous Jetstream (they did not, alas.)
posted by misskaz at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are reviews of the Jetstream 1.0mm pen. One millimeter tip? Are you kidding me? 0.5mm is considered medium point, .7 wide, and .38 fine. I prefer the .38, and I even own a Uniball 0.18mm pen which of course I pen blogged.

I prefer mechanical pencils. But lately I have been working in a job that requires marking Scantron forms all day long, using only a #2 pencil. Mechanical pencils are prohibited. The pencils they provide are crap, so I have been using my own expensive fine-art quality Faber Castell 9000 HB pencils. Notice the beautiful point, which I carve by hand with a pen knife (my BFA degree has to be useful for something). I use a triangular pencil grip to prevent writer's cramp. I sure wish I could find some more grips, online they cost about almost $2 each. I'd buy some but they come in distracting neon colors, and cost more to ship than they cost to buy.

However, while browsing The Pencil Revolution blog last week, I stumbled upon perhaps the perfect writing instrument, the Faber-Castell Grip 2001. It has a triangular body, so I wouldn't need a separate grip device. But it certainly would be difficult to sharpen with a penknife. I am sure I could adapt.

But of all the wood pencils I have tried, even from my recent review of various #2 pencils scrounged from my box of like 40 years of odds and ends art supplies, none has matched the quality of the Mitsubishi Velvet. It appears to have been discontinued long ago. But again, Pencil Revolution comes through. The Mitsubishi Hi-Uni appears to be a re-issue. They report that "mixed grade" Hi-Uni pencils are available with different diameter graphite cores in the same diameter wood casing. I may have to buy some, to see if the quality is similar to the Velvet.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pen Addict on the Lamy Safari

Of course, the Parker 51 is better still.
posted by MrGuilt at 1:39 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Any pen that can best a Pilot G2 has to be worth trying. I buy Pilot G2's just to know they're in the house.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:42 PM on September 27, 2013


No one else loves the Vision Elite BLX? The black-gold ink is lovely.

Also, 100+ excited comments about pens! I love you all.
posted by mochapickle at 1:44 PM on September 27, 2013


They lost all credibility with me when they started talking about the Signo 207 being great. OK, I just dragged one out of the disused pens pile, and I'll try it again. Maybe its not as poor as I remember.
posted by DarkForest at 1:45 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This may be an apocryphal story, but it was one I heard over & over again from secondhand bookstore owners in Copenhagen, Denmark in the mid-1990s.

There was this guy who was maybe in his late 50s. He looked like he hadn't used a comb in years and he always walked around carrying the same old backpack. But he would drop serious money on rare books. Some bookstore owners started specialising in books they knew would interest him: early printed books, books with particularly beautiful illustrations or just hard-to-come-by titles. They'd tell him something had just arrived and he'd show up with his backpack. He died fairly young and at least one bookshop went as a result.

The guy didn't work and had never needed to: the story went that his dad had patented a process for creating the ink that goes into ballpoint pens.

Ever so often I find myself writing something with a biro (or a nicer pen) and I think of this guy. Spending the money you've earned from other people's writing on .. other people's writing. I just really like that.
posted by kariebookish at 1:45 PM on September 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


If ya got the nerve, duck past the guard at a medical event (scary cryptic topic like gastro cardio introzapification) at a local hotel. The pens given out free to doctors are always the best. And FREE.
posted by sammyo at 1:47 PM on September 27, 2013


Yeah but they always seem to advertise penis cream or similar.
posted by elizardbits at 1:48 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


THE BIGGEST NAME IN PEN BLOGGING

OWNS A MANSION AND A YACHT ON PEN ISLAND
posted by zippy at 1:52 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think they outlawed the free drug pens for doctors. My mother is a doctor and I always had some in my backpack growing up because she got so many. They really were the best - I had no idea what drugs they were. They were never recognizable to me.
posted by sweetkid at 1:54 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Any time it is my turn to do a mefi gift exchange, I stick in a pile of quality pens, including the Jetstream and the G2 and some others from my dragon horde of pens. I figure, I should not be alone in trying out pens. The Jetstream is my present favorite. It is so smooth and it just works beautifully without bankrupting me. Unlike the Pilot retractable fountain pen that I have been coveting. Namiki/Pilot are the STUFF.
posted by jadepearl at 1:57 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oooh, a Mefi pen exchange. That would be the best thing.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:00 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


This thread is so much more awesome when you substitute the word penis for pens.
posted by Annika Cicada at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2013


Well, I hear the pen is mightier.
posted by blurker at 2:06 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pen Island. They specialize in wood.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:08 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the Pilot V5 in red; the black don't write very well for me. Anyone else have this problem?

I have the exact opposite problem. Reds will give up the ghost about halfway through the visible ink reservoir, while blacks and blues will go on forever.
posted by LionIndex at 2:10 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


My pen!
posted by MUD at 2:16 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


After trying a lot of other pens, I use a Uniball Jetstream as my everyday pen. Although I wouldn't praise it as enthusiastically as the writers in this blog, I do think it's a very good all-round pen that writes smoothly, feels solid, and isn't too expensive. The colour of the red Uniball doesn't seem quite deep enough for me. Uniball Jetstream on a Moleskine notebook is a very smooth combination.

For a long time, I wrote my very deep thoughts with a Pelikan fountain pen in a Canson sketchbook, which is also a very good combination of smoothness and "tooth".

Speaking of odd signature-signing practices, my former manager had the odd practice of writing his first name, then backing up to the beginning of his first name, and then writing his surname directly on top of his first name. I've never seen anyone else do that.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 2:23 PM on September 27, 2013


The Zebra F-402 and F-701 have a cult following at my paperwork-heavy job where gel pens and rollerball pens are verboten. Some of my coworkers take eight pages of logs every day, in very small capital letters, on paper that gets dirty and oily. I filled out and signed a hundred forms in one afternoon this spring. I don't leave home without my 402 now.

Of course, we also have have dozens of the famous Skilcraft U.S. Government pens, which are the best pen you can buy for under 50 cents, but they'll cramp your hand something fierce if you try to write with them all day.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 2:24 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


My favorite pen is/was a Muji fountain pen. It was leaky and somewhat unreliable and a pain in the ass to fill, but man was it pretty.

Right now I get by with Uni-ball onyx micros, so I'm curious to see how the Jetstream compares. In print, of course, because I am a 30-something who was never taught to write cursive.
posted by joan_holloway at 2:39 PM on September 27, 2013


For real wood pencils I like the Dixon Ticonderoga #3
My father will use nothing else for his crosswords. He swears by the Ticongeroga and advocates it relentlessly. I got him a pack for Christmas, along with a crossword dictionary and I won Best Daughter of the Year.*

I've always been a fountain pen girl, and I adore my Pilot Cavelier, but I've discover that the frequent capping and uncapping is more annoying now that I'm just writing quick notes and not taking reams and reams of notes in school.
Much to my dismay, I've shifted to the retractable Sharpie Pens and like them a lot. However, I now am compelled by pen envy to try the Jetstream.

Damn you, Metafilter.



*I am an only child, but it was still cool.

posted by teleri025 at 2:46 PM on September 27, 2013


I ACTUALLY WRITE LIKE THIS, THANKS TO TAKING DRAFTING CLASSES AND WORKING IN ARCHITECTURE FOR OVER A DECADE. BACK IN COLLEGE, I'D STILL USE LOWER CASE LETTERS, BUT ONCE I STARTED WORKING ON BUNCHES OF HAND-DRAWN PROJECTS, I JUST GOT SO USED TO IT THAT I CAN'T REALLY STOP OR GO BACK TO REGULAR PRINTING OR CURSIVE. IN NORMAL WRITING, I JUST MAKE THE INITIAL LETTER IN A SENTENCE A LARGER CAPITAL LETTER THAN THE OTHERS, JUST FOR CLARITY, BUT THEY'RE ALL THE SAME SIZE IF I WORK ON A DRAWING.
posted by LionIndex at 2:47 PM on September 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


So let's say I have some sort of moleskine knockoff as a journal. My handwriting is sloppy when the pen is thick, so I've figured out that I need a 0.3mm pen to write to my personal standards. I am obsessive about my handwriting: if I loop something and it doesn't look "neat" to me (and only me, other people don't matter in this context) I will re-write it over and over again until it's how I want it to look. Every letter is that way.

What pen should I get? I have three in my bag right now: a Micron 0.3mm, a US Government Skilcraft I found on the ground, and a Zebra F-402 that is a bit on the thicker side (I think it may be 0.7mm). I find that the Micron is the best out of my current choices, but I really love clicking the F-402. Is there a good middle ground where I can get what the Micron gives me but also click?
posted by gucci mane at 2:50 PM on September 27, 2013


Dang, I gotta re-up on my stock of Pilot Varsity fountain pens. (And okay, I guess I'll try the Jetstream while I'm at it.)
posted by Iridic at 2:52 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pen See Blue?
posted by symbioid at 2:53 PM on September 27, 2013


I have a Lamy fountain pen, and I have a lot of trouble making it work. It feels scratchy and the ink flow varies with the direction of the stroke. I wonder if maybe I'm fountain penning wrong.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:59 PM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is no accounting for tastes, and so some of us prefer .05 and some .07 for width...but for cursive, I suspect the answer is that by using this rather than printing to test a pen you are able to judge the flow of the ink as it puts down a line, and this is why many pen lovers prefer the fountain pen.
posted by Postroad at 3:03 PM on September 27, 2013


Personally, I prefer the Schrade SCPEN3S tactical fountain pen. Inexpensive, durable, writes smoothly enough that people routinely comment on it, and in a pinch can shatter a car window.

That said, I also always carry a Rite-in-the-Rain notebook and a Pilot G-2 Mini mechanical pencil, because Rite-in-the-Rain is a bit too liquid-resistant sometimes and G-2 Minis are the perfect size to carry in your pocket.
posted by chaosys at 3:08 PM on September 27, 2013


My hunt for a Rotring 600 1.0mm pencil in silver or lava continues...
posted by Slap*Happy


I've never seen a 1.0mm Rotring 600 pencil, but I have two of the silver 0.9mm, two black ones, and a 0.7mm retractable lava.
posted by jamjam at 3:14 PM on September 27, 2013


> Also: Don't bring your V5's with you on a plane; put them in your checked baggage sealed in an empty steel water bottle. Just sayin'.

And even then... be prepared with some rubbing alcohol the next time you use it. Which is some serious irony from a pen company named PILOT.

BUT! The retractable RT V5s and the refillable BeGreen V5s (both of which take the same refill) are totally plane-safe. They even say so on the packet, though I was initially skeptical given the how many regular V5s have blown up on me. My skepticism was unfounded: I fly 2-3 times/month, and they have held up gorgeously ever since I got them last May. I write with them on the plane, on the ground, everywhere in between... and not a single leak.
posted by Westringia F. at 3:32 PM on September 27, 2013


I developed a liking for the Pilot Hi-Tecpoint 0.7 after having worked in places which got them; from my experience, they're probably the king of stolen office supplies pens used at work; good, smooth feel and a solid, even flow. Are they far below the pens of choice mentioned here?
posted by acb at 3:34 PM on September 27, 2013


I was a long time devotee of Sharpie ultra fine points, but then the Sharpie Pen came out and I switched because holy cow no bleed-through.

I did a little dance the day I found a box of a dozen red retractable Sharpie Pens on Amazon for $9.99 (editors need red pens).

And then a couple weeks later I discovered the Pilot Frixion. It doesn't write as nicely as a Sharpie, but the erasability more than makes up for it. They have Frixion markers in Japan now. I'm hoping that means a Frixion line of fine fiber tipped pens soon.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:39 PM on September 27, 2013


Back when I still frequently used and had super-finicky preferences about pens, the Sanford Expresso pen (think they're discontinued now, though you can still order online from back inventory) was my go-to favorite. Because despite its being the most temperamental, easily damaged pen in the world (the things explode ink if you just look at them funny), I've never found a pen that can lay down as consistently black and clean a line of ink once you've properly mastered its use.

I think the Sanford Expresso was also known as the Papermate Expresso, which is now known as the Papermate Liquid Flair, or something like that.
posted by flod logic at 3:45 PM on September 27, 2013


For real wood pencils I like the Dixon Ticonderoga #3

The Ticonderoga is almost the worst brand-name pencil I tested. And I tested dozens. The #2 is more like a #3, and the #3 is more like a #4. This is most likely due to improper proportions of clay and graphite in the core. The graphite lead is long lasting but brittle. And the quality of the wood covering is poor. The core is frequently off-center, this is a clear sign of poor manufacturing (and my personal pencil pet peeve). Their only virtue is that they are cheap. And they're not really that cheap, considering what you get. They are poorly rated by any objective standard. You deserve a better pencil.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:51 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know a single person under the age of 30 who ever, ever writes in cursive

I'm 31 now, but in my personal papers, I've been writing almost exclusively in cursive for years. I love cursive.
posted by Coatlicue at 3:55 PM on September 27, 2013


They lost all credibility with me when they started talking about the Signo 207 being great. OK, I just dragged one out of the disused pens pile, and I'll try it again. Maybe its not as poor as I remember.

Uni-ball Signo 207 FTW!!!

No, but seriously, I was pleased to see that it got a number of positive mentions as a runner-up. Sure, the Signo is impossible to use on superglossy paper or tape, but otherwise, it's my favorite pen (and my predecessor at work's favorite pen, too). I have at least a few dozen right now, and since red refills are available on eBay again, I recently bought two boxes of refills (one red, one blue), filled up about two dozen of my old Signos, and donated them to the office pen box. Soon everyone will understand...

I was a long time devotee of Sharpie ultra fine points, but then the Sharpie Pen came out and I switched because holy cow no bleed-through. I did a little dance the day I found a box of a dozen red retractable Sharpie Pens on Amazon for $9.99 (editors need red pens).

Sharpies aren't archival—if you want your edits to last, use a Signo!
posted by limeonaire at 3:56 PM on September 27, 2013


Elsietheeel, be careful with the Frixion pens. The ink turns colorless at around 60°C, regardless of the means involved, so my wife had a postcard she'd written turn blank after leaving it in the car in summer.

Of course, I hear you can toss it in the freezer then and the ink will turn colored again, but I haven't tried that.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:59 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have a Lamy fountain pen, and I have a lot of trouble making it work. It feels scratchy and the ink flow varies with the direction of the stroke. I wonder if maybe I'm fountain penning wrong.

You may want to start over with a $20 - $50 japanese fountain pen that has positive reviews on jetpens.com. (The Platinum Carbon Desk Pen is extraordinary as a desk pen/artist's pen, but leaks a bit if it's shaken around by carrying it, so I'm always swabbing the barrel with some paper towel.)

I'd monkey around a bit with different inks and papers first, though. You may want a thinner, faster-flowing ink and Rhodia pads or the current inkjet paper de jour that's popular in some fountain pen paper. And swap in a new nib from a online or local pen seller.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:06 PM on September 27, 2013


I wonder about this cursive thing a bunch. To me it is a great mad skill, but the ditching of it may well be the best move for cost & benefit. As best as I can recall nearly all of the most productive time (say, 9:15 A. M. to 11:00 A.M.) of every day of the first half of third grade was devoted to learning and practicing cursive handwriting and I am almost sure that my third grade teacher spent more time looking over penmanship practice sheets than on any other grading task. We didn't have computers until high school. If you are going to teach that something else has got to go and I guess cursive makes sense.
posted by bukvich at 4:13 PM on September 27, 2013


Also, was anyone else's first reaction to seeing this FPP "Oh, has it already been a month since this ran in The Magazine?"
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:17 PM on September 27, 2013


Pentel Energel here. The point about ink transfer is well taken, but I'm right handed so it's less of an issue. There's something about the blue Energel 0.7mm pen. It's a solid, electric blue line that you can slash out onto the page. It's also a capped pen, which I like, because it helps me be disciplined about knowing where my pens are and how many are in use, and the barrel of the pen is heavier, which may not be an advantage for everyone, but I like how it feels in my hand.
posted by Grimgrin at 4:36 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pilots leak on air flights. Something about the lower pressure. I always put them in plastic bags when I fly.
posted by bad grammar at 4:37 PM on September 27, 2013


chrysostom: Is there some kind of magical fountain pen that works for left handers? They seem neat, but that's always been my sticking point.

I am a lefty and a sworn FP user for about the last 10 years. I find they work better, write more smoothly and comfortably, and smear less than any office-grade ballpoint or rollerball I've used in a long time. You know how, you pick up a new rollerball and it writes like a dream for about 8 hours, until your weird lefty hand angle messes up the nib and it starts to splotch and break your heart? A properly selected FP doesn't do that, you always have that smooth ink flow, and no ballpoint shmutz on the back of your hand.

It can sometimes take some experimentation to find the right combo of pen and ink for you but I promise once you find the pairing you'll never look back. I started with a Lamy Safari, which was...okay. Discovered I could get a lot of different pens to try for cheap on e-bay. My favorite for a long time was a waterman laureat which I ultimately wrecked by putting it through the laundry... :( I am currently using a Lamy Studio and noodler's ink (very quick drying, good for lefties, smooth writing and comes in great colours. I favour brown and green but have been thinking about purple).

Lately I am confronting the fact that as much as I love cursive notetaking with my FP, I can't take notes quickly or comprehensively enough to support the daily demands of my job anymore, and am trying (yet again, sigh) to go over to Onenote to make everything searchable and trackable.
posted by hearthpig at 5:08 PM on September 27, 2013


I have a Lamy fountain pen, and I have a lot of trouble making it work. It feels scratchy and the ink flow varies with the direction of the stroke. I wonder if maybe I'm fountain penning wrong.

Lamy pens are kind of scratchy. I don't mind it personally (and I'm a complete sucker for Lamy's design aesthetic) but I can easily imagine that one might not like them. I do have a really smooth Waterman that my ex found on a ferry. We looked it up once--it's a bit more expensive than the Lamy Safaris, but not a whole lot. If you can find somewhere that stocks the Safaris, they'll probably have some other less expensive pens you could try out.
posted by hoyland at 5:15 PM on September 27, 2013


I am currently using a Lamy Studio and noodler's ink (very quick drying, good for lefties, smooth writing and comes in great colours.

Do you find that Noodler's ink smells? My brother gave me some for Christmas and it's smells noxious.

Also... I really, really, need to not buy a Lamy Logo ballpoint this evening.
posted by hoyland at 5:27 PM on September 27, 2013


I had to write in cursive in order to take the GRE in 1998 (they made you copy out an anti-cheating statement entirely in longhand) and it was AGONIZING. I had totally given up cursive in less than 10 years since high school, and already I wrote it like ABBA sang English. If there'd been a capital Q in my text I would have been completely fucked.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:40 PM on September 27, 2013


just piping in to put in a word for the Signo DX in 0.38mm nib. They have my favourite blue-black ink.

Sometimes I think my love for fountain pens is a bit unnecessary considering all I ever want is a fine fine fine point.
posted by cendawanita at 5:46 PM on September 27, 2013


In a world where incredible bespoke handmade pens are available and affordable online why would you waste your time on some mass manufactured garbage.
posted by humanfont at 5:54 PM on September 27, 2013


Because I want my pens to be $2 per and available within twenty minutes when they break/get lost/run out of ink?
posted by restless_nomad at 6:05 PM on September 27, 2013


I don't like super-fine gel pens (like whatever the Japanese ones my friend recommended). I do kinda like G2s as a baseline.

For just holding them, I really like a Lamy AL-Star.

Gonna have to try this Jetstream.
posted by Foosnark at 6:09 PM on September 27, 2013


In a world where incredible bespoke handmade pens are available...

I would watch this movie. Starring Sean Penn and Uni Thurman, music by Lamy Gaga and The Strokes.

Cameo by Pat Smear as Flair Felttip.
posted by zippy at 6:10 PM on September 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


For most writing, I use a Pentel Graph 1000 For Pro (PG1005). (The "For Pro" is actually part of the name; without, it's a different model.) It's a 0.5mm mechanical pencil with superb weight, grip, control and mechanism. I've had my oldest for about 20 years and the mechanism is only just now starting to give out. I use my 1000s pretty much only with 4B or softer lead, which means smooth, dark writing.

For pens, my addiction for the past couple years has been the Uniball Vision Exact Micro, which is like the V5 except finer and with -- I find -- better control and less sloppiness. Looks like Uniball's stopped making them, though, so they're apparently now something of a collector's item.
posted by jiawen at 6:13 PM on September 27, 2013


I do have to say that I am slightly alarmed to realize that a) I have been buying the same model of pen since high school and b) high school was kind of a long time ago.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:22 PM on September 27, 2013


Let me fix this for you …
  • Best pen: Rötring 600, medium nib, Herbin Lie de Thé ink.
  • Best cheap pen: Platinum Preppy (if you can live with the squeakiness).
  • Best rollerball: Stabilo pointVisco.
  • Best pencil (mechanical): Rötring 600 ½mm semi-retractable, Pilot blue lead.
  • Best pencil (woodcase): Staedtler Tradition HB, or Castell 9000.
  • Best highlighter: Faber-Castell Textliner.
  • Best paper: Rhodia, Clairefontaine (hint: if it comes in 8½×11", it can't be the best.)
  • Highly commended for technical innovation: Uni Kuru Toga.
  • Surprisingly good for a yellow pencil with a *^@ing eraser on the end: Dixon Ticonderoga, USA made.
  • Commended for threatening behaviour: Lamy Safari, broad nib, Noodler's Black.
Yellow pencils are scratchy and cheap, as any fule kno. Pencils also don't need erasers on the end; it wrecks the balance, and anyway, one doesn't make mistakes …
posted by scruss at 6:29 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dunno, not a lot of flex in the 600 nib... Pelican M200 with a Mottishawed nib is probably where it's at for me.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:51 PM on September 27, 2013


Am I really going to like this more than my Sharpie pens? The Sharpie pen in my go-to day to day pen that I constantly am replacing because I am always losing it.
It will never replace my Micron pens tho. I love them. The 05 is about perfect for writing.
I can't get behind .7mm pens they just seem so fat and clunky. I've reluctantly come to accept .7mm pencils for most of my pencil work tho.
As for wood vs mechanical pencils. That is a no brainer, obviously mechanical.
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:56 PM on September 27, 2013


I don't know a single person under the age of 30 who ever, ever writes in cursive.

I’m almost 50 and I rarely wrote in cursive except when I had to specifically for school. Except when I was younger everyone thought it was strange. Now I’m realizing I don’t really know how to do it well at all and I want to. It just looks so much nicer, is quicker, and you don’t look like a kid.
posted by bongo_x at 6:57 PM on September 27, 2013


@hoyland, I've gone through three bottles of noodlers (blue, brown, green) and never noticed a particular smell... The Le Herbin green I have probably smells the most, but even then I don't mind...
posted by hearthpig at 6:58 PM on September 27, 2013


And I’m also voting Gubmit pens. Black, of course. Made by blind and disabled workers in the USA.
posted by bongo_x at 7:05 PM on September 27, 2013


The new Uni-Ball Vision Elite with the BLX inks (blue-black red-black brown-black
purple-black green-black) write better than the old Vision Elites. I say this somewhat
dolefully as I am ... heavily vested ... in the older pens. Curse those Amazon Gold Box deals!!
posted by Chitownfats at 8:17 PM on September 27, 2013


Nothing beats those German magnesium alloy pencil sharpeners that Kum makes.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:08 PM on September 27, 2013


I find that the uni-ball 207 Impact RT bold works nicely with the TOPS Wirebound "The Docket" Legal Writing Pad, 8.5 x 11.75 Inch, canary yellow, 70 Sheets per pad. I've never learned to like Rhodia notebooks, or trust people who carry them.
posted by jcrcarter at 9:27 PM on September 27, 2013


Anyone have any pen suggestions for someone who writes in cursive for an hour a day and holds pens in death grips so that I have a callus on my finger from it. Which may be the last handwriting callus in history. Those triangle grips always hurt my hands and I like a wide barrel.
posted by kanata at 9:31 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


In a world where incredible bespoke handmade pens are available

LOL, good one, sigh, ok quick paste to google, nooooo, really huh? Oh right forgot rule 34.

Not a rule, a friggn Law of Nature 34.
posted by sammyo at 9:35 PM on September 27, 2013


kanata, there are different grips available, some curvy and cush. Poke around a Staples try a few styles. Or possibly use a few different sizes pens to vary the grip.
posted by sammyo at 9:39 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll never quit the old Uni-Ball "Stick" Micros I got in the habit of using as an editor. (You can scrunch a lot of bickering line edits in a margin with this pen!) About 10 bucks for a box of twelve. Writes flawlessly on just about everything, lots of colors, and no clicky parts or fat grippy parts, just pen. Great line for drawing too. When they quit, they quit, no long, tortured break up.
posted by Lot's ex-girlfriend at 9:51 PM on September 27, 2013


I don't use pens all that much, but I bought a pack of Jetstream retractables when this last came up (I was sure it was here). They do write very nicely, however they all failed after the top cap came loose. You'd click to retract and the top + internals would shoot across the room. My wife just bought me a quite lovely Visconti rollerball for our anniversary. I don't know if the refill is necessarily any better than what you would find inside a disposable rollerball, but the whole package with the heft of the pen etc is very nice.

I'm left handed so I've tended to avoid fountain pens, but maybe I'll take another look with the advice from upthread. in mind.
posted by markr at 10:12 PM on September 27, 2013


Uniball jetstream 4+1 for the win. I just lost two, and had to break out the emergency backup one I keep sealed in a drawer... I guess I should buy a new one. The key to the 4+1 is never losing your last one, because then you would be sad.
posted by nat at 10:56 PM on September 27, 2013


The best pen is of course the Montegrappa Chaos Limited Edition 18K Gold Rollerball Pen. A reviewer has posted its many virtues:

-Self-refilling ink
-writes underwater/upside down
-creates it's own gravitational field
-spell check
-easily located if lost with built in GPS or telepathy
-night light
-ability to bring random people into being with you
-communicates with dead trees
-wifi/usb/320DDRAM
-built in vibrator with 3 speed settings
-remote control
-translates any language (except Yiddish)
-built in parachute
-microphone/webcam
-82 mpg
-interface allows you to use pen on a computer screen & words will show as type
-fire retardant
-wind proof

posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:38 AM on September 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


You may want to start over with a $20 - $50 japanese fountain pen

Or a $5 to $10 Chinese one. How a pen blog thread has got this far without anyone mentioning Jinhao I do not know.

Cheap as chips, solid enough to cudgel a man with (if you're really patient), and they write like a buttered kitten sliding down silk slide with little velvet bootees on. Also some of them have embossed dragons.
posted by titus-g at 6:49 AM on September 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Based on this thread I got a pack of Jetstreams today (0.7, black). So far, I was able to get a good smudge once, but in general they're fast drying, and it's nice not to see my fingers slowly turning inky as I go across the page. They're scratchier on the paper than the Vision Elite, but then I guess they would be. Less scratchy than the Pilot G2 or V5. (Apparently I have been stealing pens from people...I don't remember buying any of these!)

I just wish they had a thicker, mushier grip, as I tend to hold onto pens like they are the branches of the stunted tree at the top of the cliff, and if I let go, I will plummet to my death, but I suspect that is more my problem than the pen's.

I'm not finding the Jetstream very expressive...the line is very consistent, which is great if that's what you're wanting, but I do like the pen to respond to position and pressure more than this.

Also, you can draw snails in the margins of the page with it.
posted by mittens at 11:21 AM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the lefties in the thread considering getting into fountain pens: you're looking for the Pilot Metropolitan with some Parker Quink Black ink. That's a great starter combo for lefties (or anyone else, really) based on what I see recommended (er, that is, I can recommend that combo from experience, but I am not left-handed.)

Fountain pens (and inks) are an illness, and if you (like me) are the kind of person who can happily just wander around an office supply store, beware.
Pen-wise, I'm currently lusting after the Sailor 1911 Pro Gear Imperial Black Edition, and my next ink purchases will almost certainly be a bottle of Diamine Registrar's and a bottle of Platinum Carbon Black.

Of course, with the use of a good pen comes the need for good paper (something I've talked about before.) I'm hearing great things about Tomoe River paper, and that's on my must-try list sometime soon too.
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:10 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Onyx Micros skip when writing on Post-It Notes. Feel my pain.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 7:24 PM on September 28, 2013


namewithoutwords, that Tomoe River paper review is extremely seductive.

Just to weigh in on the pens, I'm not parting with my Pilot Hi-Tec-C Cavalier. I also love my Sailor 1911 Mid Size fountain pen, black with a red cap, which I use with J. Herbin Lie de Thé ink, which I chose despite its flaws because it is neither red nor khaki but brown, though not too brown–like the sepia!

A little story: I felt very privileged to finally go to college at age 42 so I was determined to wring every good thing out of the experience and hold onto it. I was accustomed to using a technical pen with drawing ink in previous work and I stocked blank books in the bookstore, so I started using those for class notes and just kept it up. Those pens had to be well-maintained and were temperamental but I loved them and am very happy I persisted. I still have those notes from every undergraduate course I took decades ago, lined up in bound volumes on my bookshelf, with course titles lettered on the spine. I've even leafed through them from time to time. Some classes were not all that conducive to note taking, so I find the occasional doodle or more ambitious drawing scattered through the pages. (Sadly, no snails.)
posted by Anitanola at 9:08 PM on September 28, 2013


Between penis pics and pen pontification, this has been a very good night on MetaFilter indeed.

for me, anyway...
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:11 PM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen

This is what I'm using now, and it's wonderful!
posted by dhruva at 7:43 AM on September 29, 2013


> J. Herbin Lie de Thé ink, which I chose despite its flaws …

LdT fun fact: it scans or colour-copies as grey, which makes it easy to identify originals.
posted by scruss at 8:31 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pilot HI-TEC-C 0.4 or go home. It was the first pen that actually felt good to write with on nice smooth paper. They don't skip, blot or smudge—and skipping is the Ultimate Deal-Breaker for me with pens. I draw with them, and I write with them (I use the 0.3 red for hand-editing at work).

If my local Staples carries this magical Jetstream, I'll pick one up because I cannot resist buying new pens, but after a childhood and adolescence blighted by, among other things, crappy, spitty, blotchy ballpoint pens, it may have to make me dinner and warble showtunes to effect a conversion.

Again, Pilot HI-TEC-C 0.4. Ask for them by name wherever Japanese pens are sold.
posted by the sobsister at 8:37 AM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pilot HI-TEC-C 0.4 or go home. It was the first pen that actually felt good to write with on nice smooth paper. They don't skip, blot or smudge—and skipping is the Ultimate Deal-Breaker for me with pens.

See, they do skip for me. Or just pack up randomly for a few minutes periodically. I really like them when they're working, but when one's being crappy, it's just frustrating, so I think I'm not buying more.
posted by hoyland at 12:02 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hoyland,

I've had a few (out of many) that completely stopped working for no discernible reason at all, but never skipping problems. Hmm... I can't imagine that sourcing makes a difference, but, FWIW, I get mine from Kinokuniya on 41st and 6th in NYC.
posted by the sobsister at 12:06 PM on September 29, 2013


I'm a fountain pen user 4 lyfe (mostly use a Visconti Rembrandt my fiance got me for my 30th, but I dropped it and it's currently in Italy [!!] being repaired [!!] by the company [!!!] under warranty [!!!], so I'm back to my old Lamy Safari until a Kaweco EF Sport arrives from Jetpens), but I feel forever indebted to The Wirecutter for introducing me to the pen blogging world, AKA My People.

Also, Moleskine is for peasants. I'm all about that Leuchtturm1917 life now.
posted by nerdfish at 5:32 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I bought the Jetstream 1.0mm (blue) today and it's good, very good. Especially if you're a leftie because the ink dries instantly. Like tried-to-smudge-the-ink-quickly-after-writing-and-it-has already-dried instantly. Also ordered the 0.7mm (black) to see if it's better in any meaningful way.

Was really close to buy a new Pentel Graphgear 500 0.7mm (I lost its little hat. Little dude has to have a little hat, you know?) but I rarely use pencils anymore. A shame because the 500 is well-built and beautiful with its futuristic metal and plastic in silver, gray and blue. oh 500 y u so segsi?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:25 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks to this thread, I just spent the future mercenary earnings of the next five batches of my clone warriors at Mai-do.
posted by zippy at 11:39 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


"you get a smoother, more compliant clone from Mai-do. They're better on the draw, and less susceptible to Jedi mind tricks. A great value."
posted by boo_radley at 3:55 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Carbon Fiber Desk Pen

So I went looking to buy one of these thanks to this thread, but it only seems to come in extra fine nib? You all seem to love it, but I can't imagine an extra fine nib that's not super scratchy.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:41 AM on October 2, 2013


So I got one. Seems that the 1.0 is easiest to get in Canada. It's a very smooth ballpoint. What am I missing?
posted by scruss at 4:24 AM on October 2, 2013


scruss: "What am I missing?"

An obsession over pens.
posted by boo_radley at 10:54 AM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I went looking to buy one of these thanks to this thread, but it only seems to come in extra fine nib? You all seem to love it, but I can't imagine an extra fine nib that's not super scratchy.

It's not.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:48 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, the Tomoe River paper came today. A note came with it written with fountain pen ink, of course!
posted by Anitanola at 9:20 PM on October 2, 2013


> An obsession over pens.

No, I've got that. There are at least 20 different writing instruments on the desk in front of me.

I think it's the obsessing over cheap plastic pens I don't have. These Pilots are only slightly nicer than the Bic Round Sticks you can nick from any hotel chain.
posted by scruss at 7:16 AM on October 3, 2013


OK, picked up a three-pack of 1.0mm Jetstream retractables, one was turqouise blue, one was forrest green, and one was give-it-to-my-wife purple. The reviewers don't know what they're talking about. It lays down way too thin a line for a bold point, and is smooth to the point where it was like trying to write with melted butter on teflon. Little to no paper-feel or line control, it all had to come from the wrist and fingers. This meant it was hard to write with any kind of speed or flourish, and the line skips and fades out rather than gracefully tapers, so it's got poor figuration to boot. It's dry as soon as it hits the paper, but so's my pencil. It's also uncomfortable and cheaply made compared to the competition. No way the pen lasts as long as the cartridge.

Compare with the Sharpie pen I picked up at the same time - teeeeny little felt-tip needle that has a scratchier tooth than I like, but great controllability and surprisingly nice figuration for such a narrow line: no skips or fading. Sublimely comfortable, very good fit and finish. Quite nice for a fine point.

The Zebra G-301 gel pen, my go-to at work, has smooth, controllable paper-feel, and lays down a nice, thick line with beautiful figuration. It says it's a 0.7mm, but writes closer to Pilot G2's 1.0mm, and a skinny little refill gets you a lot of milage. It's not great, ergonomically, but its slender profile almost makes up for its hard plastic grip - not as durable as a real stainless pen or a G2, but I haven't broken one yet. I already broke one of the Jetstreams.

The Parker Jotter stainless with a blue gel cart is very nice, too, and can be used as a melee weapon if required.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:59 AM on October 4, 2013


Alright, so as I said upthread I am a diehard Pilot G2 user. I went to Target yesterday to get some refills, and as I stood in the pen isle, I found myself myself staring at the Jet Stream. So I though, screw it, and I bought jet streams instead.

So okay. They are good pens. Very, very good. I kind of miss the gel ink though, I gotta say. Something about how deep colored and flowing the gel is. Even if it leaks through the page and smears on your hand. Something sort of old school about it. I dunno.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:36 AM on October 4, 2013


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