When I think of classic ballpoint pens, the first one that immediately comes to mind is the Parker Jotter. There are older ballpoint pens, and there are better ballpoint pens, but there is only one Parker Jotter.
It's place among the pantheon of all-time great pens is well-deserved. Parker has treated it as such, with regular updates over the decades.
The most recent to hit the shelves is the Parker Jotter XL. As a Jotter fan myself, I was anxious to give this one a shot. And, while I like it fine, it's not compelling enough for me to recommend it over the classic-sized Jotter.
Let's talk about the XL moniker first. As it relates to the original, yes, it is longer, wider, and heavier. That puts it squarely into standard pen size for me, as the basic Jotter is actually a smaller-sized pen. That small size was certainly closer to expectations from this ubiquitous pen in its 1960’s and 70’s heyday. But like almost every other product that has been around this long, bigger is assumedly better.
I don't think the larger size serves the Jotter well.
The Jotter has always been a small, skinny, lightweight pen, with a plastic lower barrel and a thin metal upper barrel and clip. It tapers down towards the tip of the pen, and yes, with that thinness I see it being a non-starter for those with large hands. The XL does solve that issue, but I think that is where the benefits stop.
Due to the taper that is also present in the XL, the pen becomes more unbalanced the lower you grip it. It is a high-grippers pen, if you will. The top weight shift is not drastic - it's still a generally light pen - but I could feel it instantly.
The refill also does this pen no justice. It shipped with a standard Parker 1.0 mm blue ballpoint refill, and while the smoothness and color were enjoyable, it was a blobby mess. Ballpoint refill technology has improved greatly over the years, so what passed for reasonable ink output a decade or so ago no longer cuts it. As I wrote, the ink collected on the tip, and subsequently transferred to the page when I rotated. I hate messy ballpoint pens, although it is correctable by swapping it out.
That brings up the biggest issue I have with this pen: The price. At over 60% more than the standard ($23.50 vs $14 at JetPens) it is only justifiable if a short, specific set of criteria are met. One, if you are a Jotter fan and the XL barrel fits your hands better, or two, if you are buying it as a gift. It's tailor made for engraving.
That's it in my book. It's not different enough for me to choose it over any of the few standard Parker Jotters I already own and love. Make it in bright orange or hot pink and I may change my tune (and the refill) but otherwise I'll stick with what has worked for decades.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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