Review: Pilot Couleur, Ballpoint, 0.5mm

At just over 3.5″ in length and weighing less than one-third of an ounce, the Pilot Couleur is certainly a tiny fellow. But tiny can also mean mighty – the Couleur is a durable pen with metal trim, a solid clip, and vigorous clicker. It is also wrapped in a matte finish that gives the barrel a nice texture.

As the pen’s name (sort-of) indicates, there are a bunch of color options available for the barrel, but the Couleur only includes a black ballpoint refill. The ink flows out sharp and smooth, though it’s not particularly dark. The refill is slightly above average on the whole, but nowhere near Pilot’s own Acroball ink.

Due to its size, the Couleur probably shouldn’t be used for tasks that require a lot of writing. It just isn’t comfortable for anything longer than a sentence. Rather, it would work best as a datebook companion or an ‘everyday carry’ pen, as it will easily slip inside a pocket or purse.

Overall, it’s a reliable little pen that can definitely take some abuse.

Review: Spiffy Lab Carbon Fiber G2 Pen, Gel Ink, 0.5mm


Originally crowdfunded on Kickstarter to the tune of $23,181, the Carbon Fiber G2 Pen by Spiffy Lab is a monster. Its long, rotund barrel reminds me of a Maglite, and its machined-aluminum and carbon fiber body makes it look like something that ought to be stored in a tool bench. On seeing it, I was enamored, and I didn’t think twice before throwing $25 at the Kickstarter campaign so that I could secure a pen for myself.

When I received the pen a while later, I quickly discovered that the Carbon Fiber G2 Pen isn’t really an item I can use on an everyday basis. I should have known better; it’s really too large to comfortably fit in a pocket. Moreover, the cap screws on and off, requiring three full, squeaky rotations. And to make things a little more difficult, the cap doesn’t post to the end of the pen, and the clip juts out much too far for most practical purposes – though you can remove it with a hex wrench if you’d be okay with no clip at all.


On the positive side, I find the thick barrel fairly comfortable to write with, and I especially like the carbon fiber texture. If there’s one lesson I take away from this pen, it’s that carbon fiber should be used more often. And given its size, it weighs less than you might expect, though anyone with smaller hands might still have some trouble. Also, as indicated by the pen’s name, it includes a 0.5mm Pilot G-2 refill, which shouldn’t dry out if left uncapped for an extended period of time. However, the refill included with my pen seems to be a dud – it skips in and out a lot. Luckily, G-2 refills are easy to replace, as they are available nearly everywhere, in many sizes and colors.

While the Carbon Fiber G2 Pen probably isn’t sensible for most situations, I still like it. Though, honestly, I probably wont get much use from it. But for those that might be interested in this gargantuan pen, it looks like you can still order one through the Spiffy Lab website for $55. That’s a markup from the Kickstarter campaign, but it will at least feel like you’re getting something substantial for the money.

Review: TUL Retractable, Gel Ink, 0.5mm


If you find yourself doing some back-to-school shopping at Office Depot, OfficeMax, or any subsidiary thereof, then you’ll probably spot some of the company’s TUL brand of pens. There’s actually a whole TUL family, which includes ballpoints, rollerballs, and mechanical pencils. But, of course, I was drawn to the TUL retractable gel pen – it has a needle point, a 0.5mm tip, and is exactly the sort of pen I typically like for daily use.

The look of the pen is right on. The black and gray fade on the barrel looks pretty cool, and the TUL logo right in the middle is simple and bold. I even like the demonstrator-ish look of the knock and the plastic, black accent on the clip. Although, in hand it feels a little cheaper than it looks. The aforementioned clip seems a bit flimsy, and the rubber grip could use a little extra cushion.


In terms of performance, the TUL retractable is good but not great. Its gel ink is dark and smooth with minimal smearing, though I had some issue with ink flow consistency. It sometimes fluctuated between finer and heavier lines, but this happened to only be an occasional problem.

Overall, it doesn’t fall on the top of the “retractable gel pen” heap alongside my favorites (e.g. the Energel Deluxe RTX and the uni-ball Signo 207), but I do like it nonetheless  If these go on sale after the back-to-school shopping season, then I might just have to pick up a couple more packs.


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Review: Baoke Office, Gel Ink, 0.5mm


From a good distance the Baoke Office may look like an expensive executive pen. In the hand, however, it’s easy to tell that this pen isn’t worth very much money. But don’t let that discourage you, the Office is still a pen that has some worthwhile aspects.


To start, the Office is reliable. It doesn’t skip or stutter, even when I’ve left it sit with the cap off for too long. The gel ink is dark, and it smears only slightly. But the best thing about the Office is its barrel, which is covered in a soft, almost velvety material – though I’m pretty sure its just some sort of rubber. It makes the pen easy to grip and comfortable to use.

Sure, there are better gel pens out there, and Baoke pens are not easy to get in the States (I bought mine off eBay for about $10 a dozen). So, I’m certain acquiring the Office is not worth the effort for most people. Still, despite the fake-gold trim, I find that I’m actually enjoying this pen.


Review: Ohto Words, Rollerball, 0.5mm


Expensive-looking pens with classic design features – cigar shaped, capped, gold trim – are often thought of as executive pens, but despite having this classic aesthetic, the Ohto Words rollerball is really more of a mid-management pen. Don’t mistake that as a negative, however. The Ohto Words is actually a good pen, just smaller, lighter, and a lot less expensive than something you might find sitting on top of a CEO’s desk.


Ohto, a Japanese company established in 1929, has been a major player in the pen market for quite a long time. Often credited with the invention of (water-based) rollerball ink in 1963, their experience as a pen manufacturer certainly shows. The 0.5mm refill included with the Words rollerball, the C-305, is smooth, dark, and low smear – Jetpens even claims it as one of their best-stelling rollerball refills.

The pen itself features an aluminum body, a comfortable, plastic grip, and it can be found in four different colors – black, blue, gray, and silver. It’s a good writing experience overall, and its 15-dollar price tag seems fairly reasonable. If you want a fancy-looking pen without having to spend a hundred bucks, the Ohto Words makes for a decent stand-in.