The Pilot S20 is beautifully proportioned and balanced. If you are comfortable
writing with a slim profile ballpoint, this is a good workhorse for every day
use. My reason for awarding four stars and not five? The ink tended to build up
on the tip during extended use and I had to wipe it several times on a scrap
piece of paper. Perhaps Pilot recognized this and reformulated the ink in the
recent past...I have no way of knowing unless I buy another S20 because I gave
mine away to an admiring colleague some time ago!
The Zebra R-301 is a nearly perfect daily carry. It is well designed and well
balanced. Elegantly simple in the fit and finish of the barrel, clip, end caps
and finger grip. The ink flow is a bit "wet" or "fast," you may experience a bit
of bleed-through on thin paper but it dries quickly. My only reason for not
awarding five stars is the loose fit of the cap both when closing the pen and
when posting the cap on the back from writing. The cap stays on in both
positions but it rotates freely around the collar. Fortunately the cap for the
similarly designed Zebra V-301 fountain pen only rotates in the posted position.
I have written long hours with my Uni-Ball Pure Malt ballpoint loaded with the
black and red refills in the S-7S series and recommend them to anyone using one
of Uni's compatible pens. The blue and green ink refills are also vibrant,
smooth-running and reliable. They will last until the final whisper of ink is
gone. If you are a Pure Malt user as I am, you will find that Uni-Balls'
SXR-80-07 series of refills work just as well as the S-7S series...plus there is
a 4th refill "holder" inside the Pure Malt that you can slip a spare into for
safekeeping until needed!
The Kerry is a classic. Pentel has produced this pen for at least 40 years (I
lived in Tokyo in the 1960's and saw them at the time.) The design is good; the
color choices fine; and the lead advancement system is great. Kerrys are compact
and sturdy; definitely worth the price. Since there are so many choices among
0.5 mm pencil leads today, you really can't go wrong with this instrument.
The Uni Pure Malt Wood Grip is a fine "everyday carry." Two ink choices and a
0.5 mm pencil...that's perfect for daily use. (Although I love 4-color
multi-pens and have several different ones.) The balance is excellent -- a
little more weight in the point than the tail. The only refinement I can suggest
is that Uni consider offering exactly the same pen with a iPad-sensitive tip at
the tail. That would be the only way I would put my Pure Malt down in favor of
another alternative. Although the pen body is plastic with a metallicized
finish, I've carried mine in pockets, planners, and backpacks for 5 years and
the finish in only now beginning to wear off a little. Great product!
I like the design of the FriXion Ball 4; it's a pleasure to hold and use for
extended periods. The 0.5 mm ink lays down a line that's a tad too thin for my
liking and the black ink is a little closer to grey than I would like. The grip
is nearly ideal for my taste. I think it will stand up well to everyday use.
Good job, Pilot!
Personally, I find the Zebra V-301 to be worth the money. The nib takes some
time to break in and smooth out but if you are patient, I think it delivers a
smooth line to the paper pretty steadily. I appreciate Ron's 2012 review and the
recommendation to use a Lamy converter...I'll try that. The lack of a refill
pack of cartridges is a definite problem: what's the point of a cartridge
fountain pen if you can't get the cartridges...or an appropriate converter?? So
keep your used cartridges if you, like me, are satisfied with the V-301 as a
sturdy, everyday fountain that pairs well with the roller ball (R-301), pencil
(M-301), or ballpoint (F-301). Come to think of it, JetPens has refills for the
R-301 that MIGHT fit the V-301. What say you, JetPens?
The Kerry is a classic Japanese mechanical pencil -- compact, innovative,
understated, and reliable. I recall buying a Kerry as a highschool student in
Tokyo...that was back in 1965. Today's Kerry is wellmade and the plastic barrel
is serviceable, although Iwould prefer an all-metal body. Some may fined the
cross-hatched chrome-colored ring around the middle a little too much "bling"
but the ability to advance the lead when the cap is posted by simply clicking on
the button is still, I believe, unique to the Kerry. It's an "all-day"
The Uni-Ball Pure-Malt is a good pen for the price. I have purchased three so
far...one a navy Limited Edition. I use that one every day. The inks (black,
blue, and red) are vivid and flow easily. I haven't noticed any skipping yet. I
would like to see Uni-Ball produce a "3+1" version and utilize the fourth slot
inside the pen body. The clip could be improved but it works well. I'd prefer a
metal one along the lines of the Pilot Dr. Grip 4+1 multi-pen. I like the form
and it fits well in my hand when I've got a lot of writing to do. The fact that
the upper portion of the barrel is plastic with a metalicized finish is fine.