The Tools & Toys Guide to Fine-Tip Gel Ink Pens

Fine-Tip Gel Ink Pens

Digital-shmigidal. Who doesn’t still appreciate quality analog products like a good pen? Here is a look at some of the best fine-tip gel ink pens you can buy.

Pilot Hi-Tec-C

The pen that launched a thousand Kickstarter Campaigns. The Pilot Hi-Tec-C is easily the most well-known fine-tip gel ink pen. But is it the right choice for you? Designers, engineers, and architects champion its fine, clean lines, and students appreciate the dozens of colors available.

When it gets writing, there is no better in my book — but that is the kicker as well. This pen is often a slow starter, taking a few scribbles to really flow properly. If you can accept that fact, you will find no better pen available in 0.25 mm, 0.3 mm, and 0.4 mm tip sizes.

Uni-ball Signo DX

I get asked all the time to recommend the best fine-tip gel ink pen. You think the Pilot Hi-Tec-C would be the easy answer, but for those just getting started in this realm the Uni-ball Signo DX is a much better choice.

The DX uses a more durable conical-shaped tip as opposed to the needle tip of the Hi-Tec-C and has a stronger, more comfortable barrel. It is also a more consistent writer. If you are looking for a pen that will make you toss out those old hotel ballpoints and never look back then the Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38 mm is for you.

Editor’s Note: The Uni-ball Signo DX is hands-down my personal favorite. And I’ve used all the pens in Brad’s list plus a few more. — S.B.

Zebra Sarasa Clip

There is a clear top two in this space, but the Zebra Sarasa Clip has one thing that the Hi-Tec-C and Signo DX do not: it’s retractable. For many people that is the only type of pen they will use for fear of losing the pen cap. Fortunately, the Sarasa Clip is an excellent writing pen, albeit with a little more scratch from the tip than the DX (some people like that, some don’t, so it is worth mentioning). Smaller ink capacity is also worth mentioning — if you write a lot you will burn through these at a faster pace. But Zebra makes up for it in price. It is the cheapest of the bunch.

Pilot G2 / Uni-ball Signo 207

Picking between the Pilot G2 and Signo 207 is like having the Coke-vs-Pepsi argument with your friends. They are both good choices and it all boils down to personal preference.

For the longest time I was firmly in the G2 camp because of the availability of the 0.38 mm tip size. Uni-ball came to their senses last year and began offering 0.38 mm in the popular 207 barrel and I made the switch. Uni-ball’s Super Ink technology also played a role, offering up ink security that Pilot cannot match. Bonus points: Both of these pens should be available in your local office supply retailer while the first three mentioned above are predominantly available only online.

* * *

This article was written by Brad Dowdy. Brad has been scouring the globe for the best pens and paper since 2007 on his blog, The Pen Addict. You can also find him tweeting regularly @dowdyism.

Find more: Guides, Writing