I get asked frequently my opinion on various pens, and one of the more common themes is that people want to know what is the best pen they can run down to the store and buy right off the shelf. The way I am approaching the list below is not from the standpoint of which pens are my favorite, but more of which pens would I recommend to a newbie pen addict to try out first from their local office supply store or big box retailer. I hope you enjoy, and please feel free to add your favorites in the comments section below.
The elusive Uni-Ball Signo 207 Needle Tip - where does it rank?
1. Pilot G-2 0.5mm Black
It literally took me years to try out my first Pilot G-2, but once I did, I was hooked. I kept overlooking them on the shelves thinking that they looked a little weird, or maybe just too basic to be any good, but the performance of the pen really outshines the rest of the competition. The line is clean and pitch black - something not every black ink can say. To feed your true inner addict, you can grab the G-2 Limited Edition barrel, or if you are like me, load up on the 0.38mm version.
2. Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine Black or Blue
The granddaddy of all needle tip pens. It may not be the first, and it may not be the oldest, but in my book it is the pen that all other liquid ink needle tip pens must go up against, and not one of them has taken down the Pilot Precise V5 yet. If you are a heavy Moleskine user, this is also one of the best performers for long journaling sessions. Ink flow is important for liquid ink pens. Too much means it will bleed easily through the page, but the V5 seems to have the flow perfected and I never have any issues with it. It also comes in a retractable version (RT) if you are looking for more portability.
3. Uni-Ball Signo 207 0.7mm Black
Make note of the 0.7mm size recommendation. That is not usually my forte, but with the Uni-Ball Signo 207 line, it performs better and more consistently that the 0.5mm version. Every size will protect you from check washing thieves though, which has made this one of the most popular pens around. There are many different colors and barrel designs to choose from, and even a needle tip version if you are lucky enough to have a store in your area that carries them.
4. Sharpie Pen
You didn't think I would leave this one out did you? This is probably my personal favorite pen on the list (right there with the Pilot G-2 0.38mm anyway), but I will say it may not be for everybody. It is a plastic tip pen, meaning that if you use heavy pressure to write, you may wear the pen out sooner than you would like. But if you are used to using plastic or felt tips pens, this is easily the best one on the market. If you are looking for not your regular everyday pen then the Sharpie Pen is for you.
5. Uni-Ball Jetstream Sport 0.7mm or 1.0mm
This is not the standard Jetstream that comes in the nice dark blue or black barrel with silver accents, but rather the line that comes in the fun, retractable barrel colors (and I believe cheaper to boot). For some reason, I have terrible luck with the ink flow in the original Jetstream models, but the pens in the Sport line write like a champ. If you haven't used a Jetstream before, the ink is different than what would might be expecting, and is more of a hybrid between a rollerball and a ballpoint. Definitely worth a look.
I hope everybody finds this helpful, but realize this is just one pen addicts opinion. We all have our favorites, so lets hear what yours are.