clicky ink-sticks.

With all the fountain pen advocacy on this blog, some may be surprised to learn that <gasp> I don’t always use fountain pens for writing. In some situations, they’re not the best tools for the job. When I take the kids to the playground, for example, I don’t want to bring along a $100 pen with a screw cap–you need two hands to open it, and there’s always the possibility of a lost or stolen pen.

What, then, does the fountain pen guy use when he’s not using a fountain pen?

I’m a fan of these:

That’s the Pilot G2 gel ink pen. The two in front are the metal-barreled G2 Limited version in charcoal and champagne colors, and the one in the back is a standard plastic G2 in blue.

It’s not a fountain pen, but in all honesty, it writes almost as well as one. It also has the advantage of being cheap. The standard model is about $2 in most places, and even the much more expensive-looking Limited can be had for right around $10. The best thing about them is that the refills come in four point sizes and are available just about everywhere. Even my local pharmacy carries them. I like the standard “fine” 0.7mm point for my notebooks, and the “broad” 1.0mm for loose-leaf paper. On occasion, I also use the “ultra-fine” 0.38mm. The pens and refills come in a dozen or more different colors, and the gel ink is smooth and fairly durable.

Unlike a fountain pen, the G2 can be opened and closed with one hand, which is convenient when you do the kind of stop-and-go writing I practice during the day. If you can’t or don’t want to write with a fountain pen, the G2 gel pens are a pretty good alternative–not quite as good as a smooth fountain pen nib, but much better than any ballpoint pen, and less of a hassle to maintain than a fountain pen. They’re great little workhorses, and I always have a few of them on my desk.


21 thoughts on “clicky ink-sticks.

  1. FrankC says:

    I find that the best feature of a fountain pen, a gel or fiber tip pen, or even a pencil is the feedback you get from the tip. Ballpoints just don’t have that.

  2. LL says:

    That’s actually what I insist we order for our office. We have the .7mm and the .5mm. We have so many blue ones it makes me nuts though. I steal the black ones from the other office. Ha!

  3. fisher space pen, except I went super-cheap and just bought a refill and made it fit into an existing pen.

    Writes on the wall, writes over grease, writes on damp paper.


  4. Dan says:

    Ballpoint pens? Now you’re talking my language. I like zebra F-402s and F-701s, only with a G-301 gel refill (preferably). Always have a stash of G2s though, too.

  5. Ruth says:

    Love the pilot gel pens, they write very nicely

  6. Larry says:

    I have used and been a big fan of the Pilot G2 gel pens for years. Used them exclusively while working and now I don’t have a range bag without at least one in it.

  7. NYEMT says:

    I like those, too – I get the .05 version, because I have terrible penmanship and with a wider point I press down too hard. With a narrower point, for some reason I don’t press as hard, so I don’t constantly tear the paper or flow too much ink all over the page.

  8. NYEMT says:

    Oops – got my decimal in the wrong spot – I meant 0.5mm. Sadly, my typing is as deficient as my penmanship. 🙂

  9. paul says:

    The blue one at the top of the pic is my Sunday Chicago Tribune crossword puzzle solving pen. I love it.

  10. Bob says:

    I like the Pilot G2’s myself. I was briefly wooed away by Pentel EnerGels, which have a better point than the G2’s, but they’re harder to find in stores. The G2’s, on the other hand, are everywhere.

  11. I’m partial to the Zebra Sarasa gel pens myself. They’re a bit cheaper than the Pilots when you can find them (Staples carries them), less prone to sudden quitting or skipping, and the extra gel stuff behind the black ink isn’t that nasty brown-orange booger gunk the G-2s have.

  12. Bah!

    You need to get the Namiki/Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen. It clicks open like a ball point but is still a fountain pen.

    That said, I’ve been using the Tul Needle Point from Office Max lately and like them. Multipart forms do require a ball point unfortunately.

  13. Mike Dodson says:

    As a left-handed person I made the decision to abandon fountainn pens the exact second I moved from the 1st Grade to the 2nd Grade and no longer had to practice cursive writing. You may notice that none of the text of this comment is smeared.

  14. Ruth says:

    On a side note, the Pilot G2s are great to keep in the glove compartment of the car, or other places where extreame hot and cold can be a factor in the pen working (or not). I have yet to have one noticably impacted by the temperature.

  15. Evan Price says:

    Pilot G2 beats the pants off of nearly any other disposable pen for the price point. I prefer the clicky type pens instead of pens with caps because they are easier to use and you don’t have the cap getting lost. Mrs. Price is in a field where manufacturer’s reps often hand out scads of freebie pens and tablets & etc. and I always sort through and grab the gel pens. Got a lot of G2s with the name of a prominent pet food supplier for free that way.

  16. ccorrada says:

    people, people, Uni-ball 207 Micro is much better pen than the Pilot G2!!! give it a try.

  17. George says:

    Can’t stand the Pilot G2s…last few batches I have tried keep skipping and writing poorly (not to mention gel inks in general tend to make my bad handwriting look worse due to the very thick lines), plus the ones I used heavily went through a lot of ink quickly.

    I do love the Unibal Jetstream 101s…smoothest writing “cheapies” I have encountered so far, don’t smear for me AND the lines are thin but it’s very smooth flowing ink.

    I tried a Fisher “military” pen, but the very thin barrel with no grip was unusable to me, and the writing quality seemed to be that of a cheap Bic, if not actually a bit worse. Did not live up the the hype, IMHO…but Uniball makes the Powertank series if I need a pressurized pen.

  18. youcouldbelievethis says:

    They are my favourite pens in the world. I have them in so many colours it’s ridiculous!

  19. Jake says:

    Your definition of ultra-fine may vary. For certain drawing applications, I’ve been known to attempt microsurgery on a .13 Rapidograph, resulting in either a butchered tip, or a line fine enough to be the result of a .06 – if they made those …

  20. Carl says:

    Yep, once I discovered the G2, I won’t buy anything else! My handwriting is atrocious and a ballpoint just makes it that much worse.

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