Five Pens to Try – August 2017 Update

Almost two years ago, I put together a list of pen recommendations based on the 25 reviews I’d done up to that point. Now with over 100 reviews under my belt, it’s time to update it once again. So let’s get to it. Here are five pens that you should try:

1. If you’re looking for something a little nicer, get yourself a Retro 51 Tornado

Retro 1951 Tornado

At this point, it’s fair to say that I’m a  Retro 51 Tornado addict. If I’m counting correctly, I believe I have a dozen of these pens, and I’ve bought a handful more to give as gifts. Tons of different designs are available, and it’s a great option if you’re thinking about upgrading your writing experience. And while many nicer pens go for $100 or more, you can get a Tornado for as little as $20. It also might be worth checking out the Slim Tornado line, which the company has been expanding lately.

2. Need to fill up your pen cup? Place an order for the Pentel Energel Deluxe RTX

Pentel Energel Deluxe RTX

There are many great gel pens on the market, but the Pentel Energel is arguably the best. It’s durable, it’s comfortable, it has great ink, and it doesn’t cost a whole lot of money. This is really a great pen to have laying about in your work area, and it comes in a variety of colors and tip sizes. And if you really like this pen, you can get a stainless steel version for under $10.

3. For when you’re on the move, grab the Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen

Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen

If you need a compact pen that can write in variety of situations, the Fisher Cap-O-Matic is the way to go. The pressurized Space Pen ink cartridge will write upside-down or on wet paper, if you need it to. Though, I still really like my Tombow Airpress, the slim, metal body of the Cap-O-Matic makes it a bit more pocket friendly.

4. For your everyday writer, you’ll want the Foray Stylemark

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I’m constantly using porous point pens because they produce crisp and clean lines that make anybody’s handwriting look a little bit nicer. My new favorite: the Foray Stylemark. Its soft grip and good-quality clip are features that other porous points pens don’t typically have, making it the best one out there. But if you can’t find a Stylemark, the BIC Intensity comes in at a close second, and the Sharpie Pen will do in a pinch.

5. If you’ve been thinking about fountain pens, check out the TWSBI Eco

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Fountain pens are typically perceived as finicky, old fashioned devices, yet there’s still a large market for them because they provide such a unique and interesting writing experience. So if you or someone you know is looking to try one out, you can’t do much better than the TSBI Eco. It’s about $30, which is rather inexpensive for a fountain pen, and it looks great, writes great, plus it’s easy to use. It’s available in various nib sizes and styles, though I have to say that the stub nib is pretty killer.


So there’s a handful of pens for you to check out. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at atb@pensandjunk.com or just leave a comment below.

Five Pens to Try – May 2016 Update

This week, Pens and Junk reaches two milestones: 100 posts and 25,000 page views. To many it may be a relatively minor accomplishment, but I thought it worth commemorating with a quick look back. After all, I wrote my original Top Five list after reviewing my first 25 pens back in October of last year, and things have changed a lot since then – keen observers will notice that only one pen has retained its spot on this list.

So, to cut the waffling short, here are the five pens that you should be checking out:

1. For Your Pen Cup: Pentel Energel Deluxe RTX

Pentel Energel Deluxe RTX

The Pentel Energel is relatively inexpensive, durable, comfortable, and it has an ink that’s both smooth and dark. This is really a great pen to have laying about in your work area, and it comes in a variety of colors and tip sizes. And if you really like this pen, you can get a stainless steel version for under $10.

2. Your “Nice” Pen: Retro 51 Tornado

Retro 1951 Tornado

It’s safe to assume that the Retro 51 Tornado is a mainstay in my collection. Since buying my first one in August of last year, I’ve gotten three more for myself and given a few more as gifts. Tons of different designs are available, and it’s a great option if you’re thinking about upgrading your writing experience. And while many nicer pens go for $100 or more, you can get a Tornado for as little as $20.

3. Your On-The-Move Pen: Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen

Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen

If you need a compact pen that can write in variety of situations, the Fisher Cap-O-Matic is the way to go. The pressurized Space Pen ink cartridge will write upside-down on wet paper, if you need it to. Though, I still really like my Tombow Airpress, the slim, metal body of the Cap-O-Matic makes it a bit more pocket friendly.

4. Your Everyday Writer: BIC Intensity

Bic Intensity

With its porous-point tip, the BIC Intensity produces crisp lines that will make anybody’s handwriting look better. I almost always have one of these pens at hand. If you can’t find the Intensity, the Sharpie Pen is a great alternative, though it’s slightly less durable.

5. A Pen to Fix Your Mistakes: Pilot Frixion

Pilot Frixion

Let’s face it, most erasable pens on the market are pure garbage. Pilot, on the other hand, has really broken the mould with the heat-activated ink inside the Frixion. The ink comes smooth and dark, and it erases like a dream. If you always wanted to do your math homework in pen, this is for you.


So that’s it. I hope you were able to find something interesting and something new. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at atb@pensandjunk.com or leave a comment below.

Review: Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen, Ballpoint, 1.0mm

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Perhaps you’ve heard this story of the Space Pen:

During the space race of the 1960s, NASA quickly realized that a standard ballpoint pen would not work in space, as it relies on gravity to function properly. So, after spending millions and millions of dollars, they developed the Space Pen.

The Russian cosmonauts were faced with the same problem. They just used a pencil.

It’s an interesting story about government waste, bureaucratic incompetence, and the elegance of a simple solution. Of course, the story is mostly a myth.

In truth, NASA did originally use pencils in space – both wood-case and mechanical – but they were worried about the tiny bits of eraser, graphite, and wood shavings. All this detritus would float around the spacecrafts’ cabins, potentially damaging sensitive electronics and creating a fire hazard. Then in 1965, Paul C. Fisher  approached NASA with an invention; a ballpoint pen with a pressurized ink cartridge. After testing it for a couple of years, NASA agreed to use the Space Pen, paying Fisher six dollars per unit.

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Today you can buy the Fisher Space Pen in several different models and styles, such as this Cap-O-Matic version with a tiny space shuttle embossed in the middle of the barrel. It’s on the small side, comparable in size to the Zebra F-301, making it a pen that’s not particularly comfortable to write with for long periods of time. However, the pressurized ink definitely has advantages that aren’t offered by many other pens. Writing upside-down or against walls is the obvious one, but it also works well for writing on glossy, dirty, or even wet paper.

While I’m not personally inclined to pick up the Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen on a regular basis, it will definitely come in handy during travel. Those who spend a lot of time outdoors will also find a pen like this incredibly useful. It’s got a solid build, and it’s definitely worth the 10 or 20 dollars it costs today. At the very least, people will be impressed that you have the pen that (supposedly) cost NASA millions of dollars to make.

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