Posts filed under Multi Pen

Pilot Dr. Grip 4+1 4-Color Multi Pen Review

Pilot Dr. Grip 4+1 4-Color Multi Pen Review

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

As this pen hobby continues to grow and transform, I seem to have an endless fascination with multi pens. This goes back to my early school days where the BIC 4-color pen was the envy of every student. What makes it so enjoyable these days is the superb quality of the refills available to us.

Speaking of school days, the Dr. Grip exploded on my radar during my middle school years. It was so unique and intentionally different from every other pen available at the big box retailers. Even though it was over the ten dollar mark, it was still a pen I had to have.

Pilot Dr. Grip 4+1 4-Color Multi Pen

With the Dr. Grip 4+1 multi pen, you have the best of both worlds. The grip section shares the same excellent grip from the original Dr. Grip, which lends itself nicely to the larger barrels that multi pens require. The grip isn't as "squishy" as the regular Dr. Grip pens, but it still has a great feel.

As for the rest of the body, you might assume it's a variant of the Acroball multi pen line, which is fair. The grip and Dr. Grip branding on the barrel are the only unique features that distinguish this multi pen from the Acroball line. Luckily, the 0.7mm refills provided with the pen are the same found in the Acroball multi pens. And, if you prefer, you can also use Uni Style Fit gel refills in this body. The Style Fit refills are a personal favorite, so the options are a nice perk.

Pilot Dr. Grip 4+1 4-Color Multi Pen Colors

The colors provided with the pen are black, blue, green, and red, as well as a 0.5mm mechanical pencil module. Like the Acroball line, the colors are vibrant, bold, and clean. I especially love the red because of its near fluorescent glow.

Like a lot of multi pens, there are slim tab buttons at the top of the pen that you depress to extend the color you want. To retract, just half press any other button. The mechanical pencil shares its button with the clip, which works great. The clip also manages to be quite strong, which is helpful in securing the pen to pockets, clothes, and other items.

Pilot Dr. Grip 4+1 4-Color Multi Pen Eraser

To extend the lead, simply press a bit harder on the clip/pencil selector. There's also a small eraser hidden under a small cap at the top of the pen. I worry that I'll either lose the cap or that it will fall off in my bag at some point, but this hasn't happened yet after a few weeks of jostling around. It's a pretty firm fit, and given the smooth surface of the cap, it would take a lot of effort at the right angle to accidentally knock it off. To add more lead to the pencil, just remove the cap and the small eraser to uncover the lead tube.

In use, this pen has been really enjoyable. It reminds me of my old Dr. Grip from the late 90s, but updates it with much, much better refills and more color options.

At the $14 mark, it's a bit pricier than the Acroball counterpart, but the Dr. Grip branding and grip are worth the premium. Plus, the Acroball version doesn't include a pencil module. Overall, it's a great value and joy to use. There are several body colors to choose from, as well as options between 0.5mm and 0.7mm refills.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Pilot Dr. Grip 4+1 4-Color Multi Pen Writing sample
Posted on June 13, 2018 and filed under Pilot, Dr. Grip, Multi Pen, Pen Reviews.

Tombow Mono Graph Multi 2 Color 0.5 mm Ballpoint Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil - Mono Color Review

Tombow Mono Graph Multi Pen Review

The Japanese are known for two things around these parts: Amazing stationery and terrible naming conventions. Luckily for my sanity, the former outweighs the latter by a large margin, but sometimes I have to post the full product name solely for the humor it provides.

While the name leaves a lot to be desired, the pen does not. The Tombow Mono Graph Multi Pen - yes, I’m shortening the name - is a great choice in the 2+1 multi pen category.

Tombow Mono Graph Multi Pen

What is a 2+1? I’m so glad you asked! It may not be the textbook definition of describing multi pens, but I refer to any multi pen with a pencil component as a +1. This Tombow has two ink cartridges and one pencil cartridge, therefore it is a 2+1. I like that designation because it saves me from writing “multi pen and pencil” over and over again. These are multi pens, with a pencil component.

Uni-ball, Pilot, and other Japanese brands make multi pens up to a 4+1 size, which requires a wide barrel, as you can imagine. One of them made a 1+1 in the past - I’m thinking Uni-ball or Zebra - but I don’t see it as available right now on JetPens.

When thinking about buying a multi pen, I consider barrel diameter first. How many components can I jam into one barrel and still feel comfortable writing with it? Secondly, I consider the refill choices. If the first part doesn’t satisfy my needs, the second part doesn’t matter, does it?

Tombow Mono Graph Multi Pen Writing

This Tombow multi pen fits three components in just a slightly larger diameter barrel than most standard gel ink pens. That’s a great thing, primarily for one rarely talked about reason. More components and a wider barrel lead to the refills being deployed at a less-than-vertical angle. That means the tip of the refill looks like it comes out of the front of the barrel crooked. Rotate the barrel in your hands, look at the tip, and you will see.

This isn’t always avoidable from a design perspective, but some companies do it better, and some do it worse. Another thing to keep in mind when shopping for multi pens.

In lieu of a knock mechanism, this Tombow uses a twist to engage the component you want. Rotate the clip around the barrel in any direction (there is no hard stop at any point) to line it up with the component name you wish to use. This one has black and red 0.5 mm ballpoint refills plus an 0.5 mm mechanical pencil.

Tombow Mono Graph Multi Pen Eraser

Unlike other multi pens with a +1, this one has an eraser, and a killer one at that. Tombow makes some of the best quality erasers on the market, and this one has a jumbo twist eraser built right in. No dinky mechanical pencil eraser here!

From a writing perspective, I love the 0.5 mm tip sizes, but they aren’t for everyone. That is especially true for ballpoints, because an 0.5 mm tip gets you a line finer than 0.4 mm, or even finer, gel ink pens. And it’s not completely smooth due to the ink type. Know the fineness of this pen before diving into it.

I had zero issue diving into this one personally. In fact, if I worked at Tombow, this is a pen I would have designed for myself. Two extra fine refills, a fine pencil refill, a large, high quality eraser, as narrow of a barrel as I could fit it all into, and a killer paint job. All for under $10? Count me in.

I’ve been putting this one to good use over the last few weeks, and I can see myself carrying it for some time to come.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Tombow Mono Graph Multi Pen Review
Posted on June 11, 2018 and filed under Tombow, Multi Pen, Pen Reviews.

Sakura Ballsign Premium 4*1 Multipen Review

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

No matter what your preferences may be in terms of gel pens, you can probably find a multi-pen variant from that manufacturer or that will fit your favorite refills. Today, we're looking at the Sakura Ballsign 4*1 multi-pen.

The Ballsign 4*1 is available in several color options, but I have the all-black version, which looks fantastic. There isn't a single piece of bling on the matte black beauty apart from the colored refill selectors. It gives this pen a tactical feel, though I don't think the same is true in the other colors.

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Most of the pen is plastic, but the grip section is a coated brass that adds a nice balance when writing. With the center of gravity so low, it's easy to control the pen when writing. This is especially important when using such fine-tipped refills like those that come with the pen. At 0.4mm, they strike a good balance between ultra-fine and still wide enough to show off the colors.

Like most multi-pens, you select a refill by depressing a tab at the top of the pen. When you want to retract it or select another refill, just depress another one. While there are four different gel ink refills to choose from (black, blue, green, and red), it also features a 0.5mm mechanical pencil component. To use this, depress the clip! The integrated clip, pencil selector, and lead advancer is a great implementation for this pen. I've really enjoyed using it and haven't had any trouble with the pencil.

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At the top of the pen, there's a small eraser hidden under a black cap that snaps on and off. Like most pencils with hidden erasers, I worry about losing the eraser cap at some point, even if I'm not routinely using the eraser.

Unlike other mechanical pencils, you don't refill the lead by dropping in more lead in the barrel that also holds the eraser. In this case, you unscrew the pen and remove the mechanical pencil component. The lead drops into the small component, and you can reassemble the pen. All in all, it's only one additional step compared to normal mechanical pencils.

The 0.4mm gel refills that come with this pen are very nice — they are smooth, bold, and have great color. The green is a little dark and a tad blue for my tastes, but it's still an interesting color. It's not a typical hunter green that normally comes with a standard multi-pen. The line edges are crisp and clean, and I haven't had any issues with skipping on most paper. Oddly, the black refill doesn't play nicely with Rhodia, but has no issues on other papers. I assume this has something to do with the coating on the paper, so keep that in mind if you intend to use this pen on any paper that features a smooth coating (like Rhodia).

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As far as refill options go, you're pretty limited in the Sakura lineup. They only offer the same four colors that come with the pen: black, blue, green, and red. Unfortunately, I can't find anything else that fits. Pilot Acroball, Zebra Sarasa, Uni Style Fit, Uniball Jetstream, and D1 refills are either too short or too wide for the Sakura. This is a shame because an important part of any multi-pen is the ability to fill it with whatever colors fit your fancy. It's not uncommon for a manufacture to limit the color options in their multi-pen, but I wish it wasn't true. Either way, also bear that in mind if you're interested in this pen. The refill options are very limited!

Another aspect that somewhat soured my experience with this pen was upon initially opening it and trying to use it. Like most gel pens, each refill had a protective seal on the tip of the point. I've never had any problems removing these, as they simply slide off with a small amount of pressure. The Sakura Ballsign refills (all four of them) were a much different story. Using friction from your fingertips won't cut it; you have to use fingernails in order to accomplish anything, but it's slow work. Only small strips of the protective gel/wax covering came off with each attempt. Even after removing it (I spent 15 minutes doing this), the refills had trouble writing due to small amounts of sticky residue left behind on the gel ball. In time, everything started working perfectly, but it was a frustrating initial experience. Maybe it was a fluke, but consider yourself warned!

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Apart from the lack of color options for the refills and a frustrating unboxing experience, the Sakura Ballsign 4*1 is a solid multi-pen. The refills are all smooth and bold, and the pencil is reliable and well made. The weighted grip section gives the pen a premium and stable feel when writing, and the matte black color scheme gives it an intriguing aesthetic.

The Ballsign 4*1 is available in 2 varieties: standard and Premium. In the standard vein, you have an option of Navy, Red, Black, and Dark Brown. In the Premium vein, you have Black and Silver. The difference between the two is that the Premium pens have the weighted brass section, whereas the standard pens have a plastic, textured grip section. The prices range from about $15 to $25 for both lines, which are affordable and fair for the quality. Overall, these are great multi-pens!

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

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Posted on December 13, 2017 and filed under Sakura, Multi Pen, Pen Reviews.