Over the past few months, I've been trying out a collection of extremely small mechanical pencils. Earlier this year, I started this experiment with the adorable Zebra Techo TS-3, and was mostly happy with it as long as I threw in a couple of (pretty large) caveats:
Ultimately, I still like the Zebra Techo TS-3 strictly as a backup utilitarian option. It's not the first thing you reach for, and possibly not the second. But when all other options have failed or aren't nearby, it gets the job done.
When I started using the Pilot Birdy Switch, my opinion was almost identical, but the added length of the Pilot, along with the additional hidden ballpoint pen, push it further down the line of utility. The Pilot Birdy is about the same diameter as the Zebra, which means it's not comfortable for long writing stints. This is certainly still in the "backup/last resort" category of writing instrument, but it's marginally more comfortable to use given the extra length.
But, the slim profile and relative short length still give it some major advantages in terms of where you can store it. Sliding this pen into between two pages of a notebook is easy and allows the notebook to still close without much of a bump or gap. And, the aluminum construction make it resilient enough to be stuffed and crammed into tight spaces that may exert a lot of pressure on the pencil. It handles these situations with ease. Like the Fisher Bullet, it just takes whatever you throw at it. Unlike the Fisher, the Pilot can definitely get a little stabby in your pocket if it is oriented the wrong way, so beware.
The main function of the Pilot Birdy Switch is a 0.5mm mechanical pencil. The pencil works great, and I haven't had any issues with it. I'm guessing it's the same mechanism that Pilot uses in their other multi pens, and I've always been happy with those. This one is just wrapped in a thin aluminum shell that makes it seem like you're writing with a long, bare multi pen refill instead of a real pen. But, that's what affords it the transport and utility points. To extend lead, click the cap. To retract it, hold down the cap and push the lead back into the tip. Unlike a lot of mechanical pencils, this one does not sport a tiny eraser or lead clog remover.
Instead, removing the cap reveals a tiny ballpoint pen. Honestly, I picked this pencil up in a JetPens order without fully reading the description. I just bought it because I was on a mini mechanical pencil kick, and all I needed to know was that it was a mechanical pencil. It wasn't until I got the pen, used it for a while, and then became curious how much lead was in the reservoir that I actually removed the cap. I was stunned to find the ballpoint tip! What a pleasant surprise. Of course, I tried writing with it and discovered that it's pretty smooth. I don't know for sure if it uses the same ink formula, but it feels a lot like the Pilot Acroball 0.7mm refill. This thing is tiny! Unfortunately, it only comes in black, but you can at least pick up refills.
Even more, I realized that the cap can post on top of the mechanical pencil component. When using the pen, the only thing that looks odd is the clip on the wrong end. This is such a simple and clever design. If you've ever written with a Vanishing Point, then you know whether or not you can comfortably use a pen with a clip next to your fingers, but the Birdy is obviously less comfortable given the size.
Still, having a pen of this size with both a pencil and a ballpoint pen is a great tool to have when you're in a pinch. The size makes it great for squeezing into a checkbook, wallet, purse, bag, notebook, and other small spaces. Like I said in the Zebra Techo TS-3 review, it's definitely not a workhorse writing instrument, but it's a great backup option. And at just $8.25, the Pilot Birdy Switch won't break the bank either.
(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!