What's the best pen to get?
December 26, 2013 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a refillable ink pen that I can use for years to come.

I've been buying a Dr. Grip Gel pens every few months. They break or fail for various reasons, so I seldom wind up actually buying refills for them. This seems dumb. THEREFORE, I'm looking for a reliable refillable pen that I can carry in my pocket every day. It should probably be made of some kind of metal for durability and it should be easy to find refills for it.

I used to have a Rotring Quattropen, which was a cool gadget with how it had black ink, red ink, a highlighter, and a mechanical pencil all in one device, but the refills weren't super easy to find and the black painted shaft got all scratched up in my pocket and it wound up looking cheap. Also I feel like gel pens are pretty nice, but I could be convinced to go with something else. I'm not terribly price sensitive, but I'm looking for a writing tool and not a status symbol or a piece of jewelry.
posted by chrchr to Shopping (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have been using the the Zebra F-402 for the last 5 years or so and I had the same criteria as you did. Highly recommend it and the matching pencil.
posted by Snazzy67 at 11:54 AM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Fisher bullet pen is a good bet. Putting the space-related gimmickry aside, it writes nicely, feels good in the hand, and the refills last a long time. The pen itself is a perfect size for a pocket and is practically indestructible. I've had two of them in the past thirty-five years; I'd probably still have the first one if a kid at school hadn't stolen it from me (I remember, Jason. Don't think I don't remember!)
posted by pipeski at 12:08 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

What kind of pen are you after? A really great fountain pen could fit the bill. Bonus points: there's a thriving and wonderful fountain pen community online if you choose to go down that rabbithole.

My everyday carry is a Kaweco Classic Sport, an ancient Lamy Safari, that was my gateway pen, and a beautiful Visconti Rembrandt that my fiance got me for my birthday. I use converters in all of them, so I fill them from an ever-growing collection of bottled inks.

At the moment I've been reaching mostly for the Kaweco, which has a gloriously smooth, fine nib, but the Lamy is also really great. Both are at affordable price points.
posted by nerdfish at 12:20 PM on December 26, 2013

IME, Noodler's, Pilot, and Sailor make an indestructible pen. Also, for a regular ballpoint, the Parker "Jotter" is cute, readily availabble, durable, and the refills last a good long time.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:20 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I second the Fisher recommendation. If you get a bullet, get a clip (on their site) so that the pen doesn't roll away.
posted by jgirl at 12:23 PM on December 26, 2013

I like my Zebra F-701 a lot. Good heft, the ink is easy to find, and it is quite affordable.

Another possibility is to do the ol' Montblanc ink in a Pilot G2 trick.
posted by synecdoche at 12:29 PM on December 26, 2013

Sorry, I disagree about the Fisher. I love the story behind it and had wanted one forever but I was disappointed with the way it wrote. It takes a lot of effort, is the only way I can think to describe it. I also wasn't happy with the way it fit in my hand. But it is a handsome, sturdy pen.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:31 PM on December 26, 2013

The Wirecutter has some thoughts on the subject...
posted by ph00dz at 4:14 PM on December 26, 2013

I just bought someone this tactical pen. I mostly bought it so they can pretend they are Sterling Archer, but I don't think it's going to break and it takes all kinds of refills (including the Fisher.) It actually feels very nice in your hand, and he really likes it.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:32 PM on December 26, 2013

How about a machined metal pen from Karas Kustoms? Perhaps the Retrakt or the upcoming Ink...
posted by kidbritish at 8:15 PM on December 26, 2013

I like the Pilot Dr. Grip 4+1 and have had the same one for the past five years. It has four colors (fine line) plus a mechanical pencil (0.5 mm). The quality of the ink isn't that exceptional-- it's not a gel pen-- but it's still better than your average ballpoint pen and it's nice to have different colors on hand. The refills are not too expensive and easy to get on Jetpens.com or Amazon. The shaft isn't painted (it sounds like you already have experience with Dr. Grips -- it's the same material) so it can't get scratched up; there are a lot of color options available as well.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 8:40 AM on December 27, 2013

I'm with Snazzy67 and the Zebra F-402. I just replaced my belov'd 6 year old F-402 this past week with a new one I've been saving (for four years.)

The threads finally gave out on the old pen and it would no longer stay together. My misfortune was exacerbated by the fact that I then had to go buy refills for the 'new' pen as I had cannibalized the inner workings years ago to replace the guts of the 6 year old pen a few years back.

I miss my old pen. It had worn so perfectly.

(I'm also going to try the Jetstream as recommended by the Wirecutter, because... pens!)
posted by Mysterious Trousers at 12:37 PM on December 27, 2013

Okay. I ordered a space pen. Everyone should probably own one at least once in their lives. I also ordered a Zebra 701. I'll scatter them around and see which winds up in my pocket the most. Thanks for all of your ideas.
posted by chrchr at 7:20 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

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