For a blog that reviews pens you would have thought I would have reviewed one of the most famous pens in the world by now. But I hadn’t, despite many, many calls to do so. Why has it taken so long for me to review the Bic Cristal ballpoint pen? I have no idea.
The fact is, this is a good pen, if not a great one. Released to the public in 1950, it has had a 65-plus year run and shows no signs of slowing down. The design is revered too, with its clear hex-barrel being featured in the Museum of Modern Art. A design classic that has stood the test of time? Sign me up.
From a performance perspective it has a wide variety of uses. The oil-based ink writes well on many surfaces, is smooth, and dries quickly. It is also water-resistant, making it a good choice for outdoor use as well as waterproof paper such as Rite in the Rain.
What I find the most impressive is that the Bic Cristal has been the choice of designers, engineers, architects, and artists for decades as well. Just look at the detail someone like Andrea Joseph can get with a balpoint pen. Google “ballpoint pen drawings” and your jaw will drop.
I don’t have the artistic chops to appear in those search results, but I do enjoy writing with the Cristal. It’s lightweight, smooth, surprisingly clean - no globs or mess from the ink around the tip - and you can get shading variation depending on the pressure used. There is some white space in the lines, which is the primary downside. It’s not as solid or deep in color as a Uni-ball Jetstream or Pilot Acroball for sure.
The best part about the Bic Cristal? It will cost you about .20 cents per pen. Grab a dozen or two, throw them around the house, car, office, gym - anywhere a pen might come in handy - and know that you are covered in a pinch. You may discover that it ends up in your writing rotation more than that.