Posts filed under Pilot

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...

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

An Introduction To Brush Pens

Fountain pens are pretty awesome, and gel and ballpoint pens have their place. I'm not totally on the pencil bandwagon yet, but I have been experimenting for a while with another genre of writing instruments: brush pens.

Before JetPens, I didn't know that brush pens existed. They're not a typical item you find in a office supply store or even an art store. I worked in a college bookstore that stocked lots of fancy art supplies, but never saw anything like this. That's why I purchased a couple so that I could see what they're about.

There's many different brands and models to choose from when you decide to try out a brush pen, but I went with the Pilot Petit3 first. I already owned a couple of Petit1 fountain pens and loved the form factor, so I knew the brush version would at least feel good in my hand and make me smile when I noticed the charming translucent design.

I won't lie – when I first tried writing with these pens, I was really turned off by how they felt. It's so different than anything I've tried. Most pens have a very firm tip that allows you to write in a very controlled way. Brush pens offer a different kind of control. You just need to back off a little.

Brush pens write the way they do because of a cluster of tiny fibers that form the tip. Since there's hundreds (thousands?) of these fibers in a cluster, you get a beautiful variation of line widths and ink flow. I would compare it to a flex nib, but I don't own one to compare it with.

After figuring out to press lightly and limit my upstrokes, I began to really enjoy writing with the pens.

These aren't pens that I would use to write for long periods of time. I've mostly used them to jot down notes and (more often) draw quick doodles. These pens are fun to play with, and that's a good enough reason to have a few. They're fun.

At just under $4, it's a pretty low risk experiment. Whatever you do, be more adventurous when you're picking out your colors. I went with black and blue, and the former is pretty boring. Check out the vibrant colors as they'll shade more and have more character! Personally, I think the Apple Green and Apricot Orange are a great combo.

Also, these pens (as well as the rest of the Petit line) are refillable. For about half the price of the pen, you can pick up three more cartridges. All 8 colors are available as refills, which is awesome.

These are a great introduction to the brush pen category, and you can't beat the value of the Petit line.

(You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution, Twitter, and

Posted on August 27, 2014 and filed under Brush Pen, Pen Reviews, Pilot, Petit.

Pilot Lucina Fountain Pen Review

The Pilot Lucina is a pen that I've often thought about getting, but couldn't really justify the almost-premium price tag. I'd look at pictures and read about it, but I couldn't understand why it was in the mid-$80 range. Basically, it's a unique design for Pilot, and it has some really fun colors. What else? Well, not much. But, if you like the looks of it, I guarantee it will charm you if you decide to pull the trigger on the purchase.


The Lucina comes in a standard Pilot flip box – nothing fancy, but classy and reserved. It's tucked into a plastic sleeve inside the case, which is something I wish the pen manufacturers wouldn't do. It takes away from the experience of opening a new toy.

After getting the pen out of its packaging, you notice that it's a lightweight pen and really well balanced. The plastic doesn't feel cheap, and the attention to detail is superb. I'm not a huge fan of gold trim, but I think it works well on the Lucina. It has the right style to sport the gold trim well. The black accents also add more punch to the main color. In my case, I went with yellow because I really had no other choice. The red also looked interesting, but not nearly as much as the yellow. It pops.

The cap screws on and off, and posts perfectly. The nib is also gold in color and has a bit more decoration than the cheaper Pilot nibs. There's some scroll work and a Pilot logo above the standard Pilot name and nib size. The clip is what I consider to be the perfect mixture of strength and flexibility. It just works and never requires fiddling.

One thing I dislike about the looks of the pen is true of every lighter-colored pen barrel that secures the cap with threads – dirt gets into the threads and shows up instantly. My hands are pretty clean, but the dark specks still get into the threads and I can't stand it. When I uncap the pen it's the first thing I see. Yes, you can clean them, but it's not easy and it's never quite perfect again. I prefer snap on caps, but I can get over my silly OCD tendencies if the pen writes well enough. And the Lucina does.


In my experience, Pilot always delivers a well-behaved nib out of the box, and the Lucina is no exception. The steel nib is a smooth and dependable writer. I've used it on a number of different papers, and it works well on them all. Being so fine, it doesn't bleed much on cheap paper, although it can tend to snag if the paper surface is rough. On smooth paper like Rhodia and Clairefontaine, it glides like an ice skate and fresh ice.

I typically write unposted when using normal pens. The Lucina is about the size of a Metropolitan, but I really enjoy writing with this pen posted. I think it was designed to be used this way because the balance is perfect when it's posted. It feels a bit off when unposted – like writing with a Kaweco sport or TWSBI Mini unposted, but not as exaggerated.

I bought a pack of Pilot blue-black cartridges with this pen, and tried them out first. The ink flows well and the pen never skips or has issues starting – even after being idly uncapped for a few minutes. That's rare with the rest of the pens I own. They get a bit dry after a minute or two of being unused and uncapped.

The grip section feels good on this pen. I'm not very picky when it comes to how the grip feels when I'm writing as long it doesn't distract me. I don't notice the grip when I'm writing with this pen, and that's good.

The nib is extremely forgiving. There's no sweet spot on this nib, it just works however you're holding it. Fantastic.


Here's the deal. I love this pen. It's a great writing instrument and I think the style is charming and unique. I get a great deal of enjoyment out of the pen, and I have no issues with what I paid for this pen.

However, unless you're just really attracted to the unique style and colors of this pen, I can't say it writes better or offers any other advantages over the Metropolitan. The Metropolitan is a killer pen, and I could say many of the same things about it as I said about the Lucina. The main difference is the price – a Metro runs under $20 while the Lucina is right over $80. That's four Metropolitans.

It's not a pen for beginners just because of the price, but it's still a fantastic pen. If you like the way it looks, then I say go for it. It won't disappoint. If you're still trying things out, I'd put this one on a lower priority list for now.

If you decide to grab one of these beauties, you have a choice of black, blue, red, and yellow bodies. All of them have gold trim, and only the black ones offer different nib sizes than fine.

So, there it is. The Lucina is a fantastic pen in a confusing price category. I love mine.

(You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution, Twitter, and

Posted on August 20, 2014 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Pilot.

Pilot Vanishing Point Gun Metal Black Matte Fountain Pen Review

I didn't need another Pilot Vanishing Point. I already had two: the famed Black Matte, which became one of the "pens who shall not be named" on the podcast, and a retro Black Faceted model, which is a mainstay of my collection. So why did I NEED this new Gun Metal Black Matte Vanishing Point? I rarely need any new pen, but this one I had to have.

It took a while for me to get on the Gun Metal bandwagon. I wasn't sure of the color scheme at first, but after seeing multiple pictures of it and checking it out in person I went for it. The barrel is slightly different than the full black matte version, with the grey area being smooth as opposed to a satiny matte feel, which is reserved for the tip, clip, middle band, and knock. It's quite a stunning look, especially in person.

It also sports one of the recently introduced black nib units, which I am in love with. I went for the EF nib, which is ridiculously small, even for me. I never recommend this size to anyone but I love it. Paired with a well lubricated ink like Sailor Nano Black, this nib writes wonderfully smooth and consistent. But boy is it fine. You really need to manage your writing angle with this one to make sure you are hitting the sweet spot.

Many people have asked what fountain pen best compares to the Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.3 mm/0.4 mm gel ink pens. Pilot's EF nibs, as found in the Penmanship (which can be swapped into the Metropolitan or Prera) and the Vanishing Point, are the closest I have found. Looking at the writing sample in my Field Notes it is closest to the 0.28 mm Uni-ball Signo DX and 0.3 mm Hi-Tec-C, so that seems like a good range. Ink and paper will cause this to vary of course.

But back to this whole idea of needing this pen. Although yes, I got this pen for free as part of my JetPens sponsorship, I still couldn't justify it without selling one of my current Vanishing Points. I didn't see myself actively using two similar pens, so my trusty black matte VP, one of my first big fountain pen purchases, has found a new home. More than any other fountain pen I own, the Vanishing Point is made to be used, anywhere and everywhere. That is this pens job, so having one sitting around collecting dust would be doing it a disservice.

My friend Mel found the words I was struggling to find about my Field Notes Butcher Orange, and it applies here too: "By using it, it is now truly yours and you've fulfilled its purpose." Words to live by.

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

Posted on July 21, 2014 and filed under Pen Reviews, Pilot, Vanishing Point, Fountain Pens.