Smooth Writer
April 2, 2011 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a great pen. Something that writes very smoothly, (as in low friction to paper) with consistent ink flow, which won't stain the outside of one's pinky.

Would prefer plastic over stainless steel, but all suggestions are welcome.
posted by parallax7d to Shopping (29 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
I'm really into the new-ish Sharpie pen. Specifically I like the retractable ones; I got mine at Amazon.

Or are you looking for something a little higher end?
posted by hansbrough at 9:55 AM on April 2, 2011

I use a Uniball Jetstream. For a three dollar pen, it really can't be beat.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 9:56 AM on April 2, 2011 [6 favorites]

What kind of ink/tip do you like? I like super fine points and the darkness from liquid/roller ball pens (Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine, to be specific), but when they tend to smear if I use highlighter over them. So I went looking for a super fine ballpoint, and the only one I have yet seen that is available in a store (not online) is the Pilot EasyTouch Fine.

Obviously if you want something super fancy or expensive, these aren't for you. I'm pretty tough on pens, though, so I like not worrying about taking care of a fancy pen.
posted by eldiem at 10:02 AM on April 2, 2011

I just stocked up on Pentel Energel Metal Tips 0.7 mm tip. I really like them.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:05 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

The ones I like also say "Liquid Gel Ink" on them. I don't understand any of these terms -- I just bring in my last one and say "Got any more of these?".
posted by benito.strauss at 10:07 AM on April 2, 2011

This is a matter of opinion, so you'll end up having to try a lot of pens no matter what anyone says. However, one objective fact is that you don't want a ballpoint ben. You probably also don't want a retractable one because those are a bit less "solid-feeling" (the tip will move back a bit when you press down on the paper).

Of the common disposable rollerball pens, many people's favorites are the Pilot Precise v5/v7 (not refillable) and Pilot G2 (retractable, but refillable) or comparatively new ones from Uniball (Jetstream, Signo--I hated the latter). The Pilot v5 is my second-favorite pen and the most "slippery" one I've used. My favorite is the old Uniball Deluxe (rare in stores now but still available online) because I find the Pilot v5 is a bit too slippery.

I never tried the sharpie pen, so I'm curious: is an actual pen, i.e. not felt-tip?
posted by Chicken Boolean at 10:13 AM on April 2, 2011

posted by Chicken Boolean at 10:14 AM on April 2, 2011

Huge fan of Uniball Onyx Micro-point.
posted by jayder at 10:40 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

The last pen nerd thread inspired me to try out a bunch of different pens, including v5 and G2. The Pigma Micron 0.5mm is absolutely my favorite for smoothness and clarity. The smaller Pigma Microns are great too, if you like incredibly tiny writing.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:42 AM on April 2, 2011

A usual division I find is between the .05 and the .07...the latter flows with greater ease but at times seems too big (aka full, large, )...I have begun to feel that one ought to carry a number of different sizes the way a carpenter or plumber has a variety of bits etc for drills etc to suit the tool to the specific task as needed.
posted by Postroad at 10:42 AM on April 2, 2011

I love (and basically only use) the Staedler Liquid Point 7's.

I don't buy them from Amazon (I find them at my local university book store for ~3/each). There is a lot of variability in the nibs of the pens and I prefer to choose the smoothest of the pens available for purchase. I find the blue pens to be the smoothest, followed by black. The green and red are almost always quite scratchy.
posted by jz at 10:44 AM on April 2, 2011

I swear by the Zebra F-402, and any other pen that takes the Zebra F-refill. I like the weight of the stainless steel F-402. I never used to use ballpoint pens but I always got super inky using roller ball pens and just dealt with it because I liked how smoothly they wrote. Then I picked up an F-301 and was so impressed with the ink cartridge that I ended up trying out a bunch of different Zebra pens.
posted by troublesome at 11:02 AM on April 2, 2011

I LOVE SKB Pens! Even the fine point writes very smoothly with no roughness or interruption in ink flow even on cheap paper (but it is amazing in a Moleskine).
posted by stevechemist at 11:04 AM on April 2, 2011

I'm going to disagree that ballpoint pens are an immediate disqualification. I spent years hating on them, too. And then I tried the classic Parker Jotter. Smoothest writing experience in the world. You're not drenching the paper in ink the way you are with the roller balls. And don't even get me started on gel pens and their constant interruptions.
posted by AndNeverWell at 11:42 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, seconding Uniball Jetstream, especially in the 1.0 size - so inky and smooth. Not smudgy, and I'm a lefty, so I know from smudgy. I get them "borrowed" permanently all the time, so I've had to stock up.
posted by clerestory at 11:44 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

My all time favorite pen is the uniball vision,,3,2 it is the most water resistant ink I've ever used and the writing is very smooth. The only reason I don't use them right now is that the ink doesn't absorb into moleskine paper, but it was perfect for all other paper.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 1:32 PM on April 2, 2011

I never tried the sharpie pen, so I'm curious: is an actual pen, i.e. not felt-tip?

You know... I am actually not sure! I don't know how to tell. It's not a ball-point... so maybe it is a tiny, tiny marker. But you did inspire me to research a bit and I found this in-depth review with close-up photos (including one that shows the tip).

So many exciting pen ideas in this thread!! I love pens! :)
posted by hansbrough at 1:41 PM on April 2, 2011

Here is a gel pen that gets the job done. (At least the blue ink ones- I've noticed that different ink colors behave differently on different pens.)

Zero scratchiness, zero skips, zero blots. (Unless you are scribbling really fast.) I don't know about pinky smudging because I trained myself to write and hold the paper in a way that I don't drag my hand across already written text.

(Impact RT is probably a better pen, but much more expensive.)
posted by gjc at 2:11 PM on April 2, 2011

I love love love love my Lami Safari with Noodler's Black ink. I know it is a higher initial investment, but you can have my Lamy when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
posted by Dmenet at 2:20 PM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Go with a fountain pen. That's the smoothest writing experience you'll ever have. I love my Lamy Studio, although if you want a plastic pen the Safari is great.
posted by number9dream at 3:04 PM on April 2, 2011

And alternate track, you might try a different paper. I remember the Clairefontaine notebooks I had in college having incredibly smooth paper. I'm not going to recommend ordering them online, as this was 8+ years ago, but you might see if a stationary store or the bookstore of the local university has any of their notebooks.
posted by Hactar at 3:34 PM on April 2, 2011

And = an. I noticed just as I hit post. The rest of that is still relevant.
posted by Hactar at 3:34 PM on April 2, 2011

Uniball Deluxe, definitely. I have tried every pen under the sun, but I go out of my way to get these. Nothing compares. The ink never smears (it is permanent, water-resistant, and super-quick-drying), it requires no pressing at all in order to write, and it leaves a really nice line. Truly a magical pen.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 3:40 PM on April 2, 2011

2nd ing Pigma Micron.
posted by Dr.Pill at 4:40 PM on April 2, 2011

I use Pigma Micron 01's (note: no decimal point) exclusively which produce consistent 0.25-mm width lines, but they're probably not as slick on paper as gel ink pens. Microns are basically narrow felt tips, excellent line quality and no bleed through, but not the gliding feel or wispy lines of free flowing ink pens.
posted by mnemonic at 5:33 PM on April 2, 2011

I'm also going to recommend fountain pens, particularly anything made by LAMY, as they are easy to find, write well, and are fairly indestructible. I just hope your lettering is not too small, as my thinnest LAMY nib, the Extra Fine (EF), produces a 0.7mm line.

If you do intend to start off with fountain pens, go with the combination of Pelikan 4001 ink and any LAMY fountain pen. I find the Pelikan inks don't bleed through most paper I use and dry fairly fast, plus they're really cheap compared to other inks.

I have 3 LAMYs - a M Safari, a F Vista, and an EF Al-Star - and 1 Pilot SF Custom Heritage 91 so far. I like how they will stick around and eventually acquire a History, and how I don't have to worry that they'll go out of production unless I drop them or lose them, unlike my previous favourite Pilot Hi-tecpoint V5 Grip.
posted by selvaria at 12:13 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Our office just started stocking a few of these Jetstreams by Uniball. I hadn't realized that pen smoothness was something that manufacturers could exercise control over until I tried this thing. It's like writing on teflon-coated glass. Very smooth-- I am a convert for life now.
posted by holterbarbour at 4:57 PM on April 3, 2011

I recommend that you try the Uniball pens. Get a few different ones an see which you like best.
Also try the Pilot Precise Grip. It is my personal favorite at the moment. They can be a little difficult to find.
posted by Drasher at 9:11 PM on April 3, 2011

A few people already mentioned it: Uniball Jetstream is my favorite pen ever!
posted by sabh at 6:25 AM on April 4, 2011

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