The great pen search.
I am the kind of person that has spent two hours looking over an $8 pen purchase in a store. Obsessive in research, sometimes I get into things and it can progress to wasteful, and neurotic, and indecisive. The thing is, to me, it is fun. It is a search. It is self-discovery. Benefit from my research by having the best pens and getting on with living a full life.
I recently went on a deep dive into pens. My office no longer stocked my pen of choice: zebra sarasa. Hours of youtube video reviews and hundreds of reddit posts later, I've compiled below the choice bits of knowledge from pen enthusiasts, idiots, and savants.
Ink comes in ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain. Generally those are on a scale from writes on everything to writes special things and correspondingly writes bumpy and jumpy to writes so smooth it is like you never touch the paper.
There are exceptions.
There are also hundreds, literally hundreds, of types and categories of ink (gel, water based, archival, colors, fast drying, the list is dizzying)
I like gel, rollerball pens. They offer the best writing experience (almost as smooth as a fountain) and without the main downside (fountain pens lose ink regularly). My fountain pen needs to be refilled regularly, because the ink evaporates.
If you want a quick recommendation: get a parker jotter, and when the catridge runs out, then get a gel refill. Now, go use your gear.
General Pen Division
I think people get into pens by thinking they need a fountain pen. I did. I left that anecdote out.
Pen general camps
So I will divide pen types into a few general camps:
The closest pen
nice office pens
The closest pen - pick anything up, the counter at the hotel, the stockist favorites.
Office pens - I think the standard here is interesting. What are the best pens you can find in a general office catalog? Just because a pen is cheap, does not mean they are in your office catalog. Here the winners are pilot G2, zebra sarasa, uniball vision elite, and energel pens. These are pens that you might just run into in your everyday life. If it is a choice between one of these and a random pen, go with one of these.
Refillable pens - the quickest recommendation is a parker jotter. a great looking, stainless steel pen, available in many colors, the biggest trick here is that you can get it in ballpoint and in gel. Other recommendations are the zebra F701 or a Lamy Safari with cartridges
Super pens - never thought I would be looking here. There is an absolute delight of riches here. Late stage capitalism at its finest. Furthermore, if you have not considered the refills that go into the pen bodies, the results are unweidly. They are dizzying. There are hundreds of refill catridges, there are hundreds of pens. There are so many materials.
For me, Ti Scribe bolt copper in short or long if you like G2 gel refills, the embassy pen in brass if you like fisher refills, or the ti click / ti arto edc pen if you want something that takes anything possible. The tactile turn bolt pens are also on the list, as are karas kustoms if you want something more fun visually and colorful. Machine era designs also gets a fantastic mention.
Master and Commander - My personal rule on this site is to admit my ignorance. Fountain pens run deep and wide and have a storied history. They are more artistic watches. I might start looking at Montblanc, though I imagine that is akin to someone asking about watches and receiving the recommendation Rolex, or asking about cars and hearing to check out Mercedes. The huge caveat regarding fountain pens that no one mentions, and the reason that I do not use them anymore, is that the ink evaporates. So, I pick up my pen after two weeks of not using it, and there is no more ink.
My $25 fountain pen recommendation: Lamy Safari - use cartridges. If you like, switch to a refill catridge. THen, you can buy your own ink.
Bonus: the pen of convenience - The pen of convenience is a pen you can have all the time, slipped in your pocket. It may not write the best, but it is always there, and it will write when you need it. The fisher space pen is a crowd favorite here. The form factor is tiny, it is sleek, it writes andywhere and on anything. Is it smooth? No, but it is there.
I like gel ink, rollerball, refillable pens.
Here are the pens I mentioned:
- Pilot G2
- Zebra sarasa
- Uniball vision elite
- Parker jotters - I want to try the quink gel refills
- Fisher space pen
- Ti Scribe bolt copper if you like G2 gel refills
- Embassy pen in brass if you like fisher refills
- Ti click / ti arto edc pen if you want something that takes anything possible
- Tactile turn pens
- Karas kustoms
What will I actually get?
I am a big fan of what I have seen online from Tactile Turn. I am super interested in the Tactile Turn Bolt short in copper and titanium. I would like to compare that to the Tactile Turn Bolt regular length in titanium. I have never had a really heavy pen, but copper is the most compelling material for me. All of my favorite pens have been much lighter (0.5oz Parker Jotter, 0.6oz Lamy Safari Fountain Pen with converter cartridge, 0.2oz Zebra Sarasa).
I am also considering a Machine Era designs brass pen that fits the G2 cartridge.