Posts filed under Pen Reviews

A.G. Spalding & Bros Bullet Roller Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Liquid ink roller ball pens seem to be more difficult to find than your average gel ink or ballpoint pen – even fountain pens are more plentiful. That's why I always enjoy trying out a new roller ball pen. I like roller ball pens because they're typically very smooth and lay down thick, dark lines that look so good on the page. Sometimes they disappoint, but other times they become new favorites. The A.G. Spalding Bullet easily became a favorite for me – right up there with the Retro 51 Tornado.

To be honest, I've looked at this pen on JetPens many times. It just never caught my eye. It looked boring, and I had other more interesting things in my wish list. For some reason, I decided to give it a go this time, and I'm really happy I did. I have a new favorite with this pen.

Like every pen, it has some downsides, but it's an overall great writer that looks good too.

Aesthetics

The Bullet (I keep shortening the name because it's so long to begin with) is incredibly simple in style. It's sleek, slim, and unique. I love the way the cap lines up flush with the body of the pen no matter which end it's clipped to. Capped or posted, it's still very sleek and slim.

I don't know what material the body is made of – some type of metal – but there's a clear coat on top of the metal that gives the entire body a nice shine and 3-dimensional look. It's really nice to look at, which is surprising for such a simple design. It just works really well.

All of the parts feel like they're made of high-quality materials. The tolerances in the threads and the cap are tight and feel great. Either I got a really great example, or there is a lot of care put into the quality control on these pens.

One thing I do miss on this pen is a clip. It rolls around very freely on a desk, and I've lost it several times for that reason. An optional clip (similar to Kaweco or Fisher's Bullet pen) would be a great accessory for this pen as long as it was equally stylish and sleek.

Writing

The real secret with this pen is in the refill. It's a Uni Mitsubishi refill, and it's absolutely fantastic. I love the Retro 51 Schmidt refills, but now I've found another go-to refill. I like it just as much as the Schmidt refill, and it's a different shape as well, so maybe I'll have luck transplanting it to other pens that aren't so well-endowed in the refill area.

The writing experience is smooth and consistent. The lines are dark and crisp. No starting or pooling issues that I've seen. I think this might be because the ink is a liquid gel, which might make it less runny than most liquid inks. Honestly, I really don't know what kind of ink is in this pen. The descriptions on JetPens lean both ways. Does it really matter, though? It's a great refill that I'm glad I discovered.

Downsides? Sure. I've noticed one downside when writing: the grip. It can become a bit slippery when writing for a while due to the finish on the body. It looks great, but it's not good for strenuous writing sessions.

Brad reviewed this pen way back in February of 2008, but it's definitely worth another look for anyone that wants to expand their roller ball collection with another beautiful pen and excellent writer.

Posted on November 19, 2014 and filed under A.G. Spalding, Pen Reviews.

Kokuyo Beetle Tip Dual Color Highlighter Review

I don't do too many highlighter reviews because I don't have many situations where a highlighter comes in handy. My highlighter replacement tends to be a multi pen like the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto where I can mark up or underline in a range of different colors. On the occasion where a highlighter is required there is only one brand for me though, and that is Kokuyo.

The original Kokuyo Beetle Tip 3way was the first, and probably only, highlighter to make me say wow. In one tip it has three different highlighting modes, and I can't imagine anything else I would ever need from a highlighter.

Since my experience was so positive with the 3way, I wanted to give the new Dual Color Highlighter a shot to see how it stacks up. The selling point of this highlighter are the two adjacent color tips. You can start with one color, rotate the pen 180 degrees, and pick up with the other color. You can also create a double underline by using the two tips at once right down the middle.

This all works great, but I had one annoying issue with the highlighter. The width of the barrel and the low profile of the highlighter tips caused me to tilt my head like a curious dog to see the line I wanted to highlight. It was awkward and I tired of doing that quickly.

Aside from that, the colors are on the light end of the scale, which I prefer, and the barrel quality itself is nice. Plus, I thought that was a Rebel Alliance symbol on the barrel the first time I looked at it. The Kokuyo Beetle Tip Dual Color Highlighter is not Empire approved.

(JetPens is an advertiser on The Pen Addict and I received this product at no charge.)

Posted on November 17, 2014 and filed under Highlighter, Kokuyo, Pen Reviews.

Levenger True Writer Select Fountain Pen Review

When I think of Levenger the first things that pop into my mind are their amazing leather accessories and, of course, their famous Circa notebook system. Pens have always been part of the lineup too, and they are becoming part of Levenger’s focus now more than ever.

I was impressed with the L-Tech Stealth I reviewed last year, and when Levenger offered up another pen for review I wanted to branch out a bit, choosing the True Writer Select in the beautiful Mediterranean resin barrel.

My pictures do not do this pen justice in several areas. For one, the Mediterranean blue swirl pattern of the barrel is stunning. It looks great in the hand, great on the desk, great anywhere really. The chrome accents really make it pop. Secondly, this is a large pen. Larger than I imagined when looking at it online. And that may be my favorite feature.

I don’t have many large, heavy fountain pens so using the True Writer Select was a bit of a new experience for me. Size wise, it is in the range of the Pelikan M1000 series - another popular large pen. I had concerns that it was too large, but those concerns were completely dismissed when I started writing with it. The pen is so well designed and balanced - it took Levenger over a year to perfect it - that the size isn’t noticeable when writing. That’s good design.

The True Writer Select is a cartridge/converter fill, using standard international size accessories. I inked it up with Pilot Blue Black and the ink flowed smoothly and consistently from the fine steel nib. My lines were clean and sharp right out the box with no adjustments necessary. It is a joy to write with.

There are no downsides as far as form and function go. The True Write Select is a fantastic pen all the way around. The only hangup I see is the price. At $169.00, you are paying more for a steel nib pen than some popular 14k gold nib pens. Nib material isn’t everything though - one of my favorite pens runs $350 and has a steel nib. The total package is what counts, and Levenger has put in the time and perfected the details to make an exceptional pen.

My thanks to Levenger for sending me this True Writer Select Fountain Pen for review.

Posted on November 14, 2014 and filed under Levenger, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.

The Pilot Better Retractable Pen Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Everyone has a pen or two that they feel nostalgic about, right? Something that you used in earlier days before you knew 1) that there is such a thing as "pen addicts" and 2) you are one? Yep. For me, that's The Better Retractable by Pilot with a fine point.

Way before I discovered the Pilot V5 Precise, I had easy access to this sleek 80s looking retractable pen. I'm not really sure when these pens started disappearing off shelves. I don't think I even bought any of these pens. They were always laying around, kind of like the Pilot G2 of today. I'm not sure if I'm correct, but something tells me this was a very popular bulk order item for large offices. And, like the G2, it's above the average in the category.

At the end of the day, this is still a ballpoint pen, so it's not displacing any of my favorite gel ink or hybrid ink pens, and certainly not any fountain pens. I definitely prefer this pen to something like a standard Bic ballpoint. And, depending on how you feel about Bic ballpoints, that's saying a lot.

The line from this ballpoint is really crisp. The ink can sometimes make a skippy line, but the feel is always smooth. In fact, it's so smooth that I don't enjoy writing with it. Strange, right? After using the pen for several writing sessions, I think I've narrowed down the reason that I don't like using the pen. It's a combination of a slim barrel/grip with a super slick writing experience that makes it difficult for me to use. I have a hard time controlling the pen and keeping my grip loose enough to not cause cramps.

But, that's not an entirely fair assessment. I'm using premium, glossy papers. This pen probably wasn't designed for that type of medium. This pen is probably intended on writing on the type of paper that a large office keeps on stock: cheap and crappy.

So, to sum it up, the refill in this pen falls somewhere between a standard Bic and a new Jetstream refill. It's smooth like a Jetstream, but skippy like a Bic.

Now, the design and look of the pen is what has always drawn me in. I love the way this pen looks. There are no unnecessary curves or bumps to make it look stylish or sexy–it's just a straight body with a tapered end to hold the refill. It has a grooved grip section and a nice click mechanism. The clip is really strong, and the clear body makes it easy to see what color you have (that and the colored barrel section that holds the click mechanism).

It looked different than any other pen I saw on a regular basis, and that made it attractive to me. After I discovered much better pens (first it was the Precise V5, and then the almost perfect Signo 207), I forgot all about the Pilot Better Retractable. At some point, I saw some pictures online that had the Better Retractable in it and I had to hunt some down so I could try them out again with a fresh perspective. Luckily, Amazon still carries them.

I'm glad I was able to track down and find a pen that I've always liked, but it's also funny to try something after your interests and knowledge have grown only to find that you no longer like the old thing. It's a great ballpoint pen, but there are just so many better performing options out there now.

Now, to find a great refill that fits in this plain but attractive body...

(This post contains affiliate links which help support PenAddict.com)

Posted on November 5, 2014 and filed under Better Ballpoint, Pen Reviews, Pilot.