In Praise of the Uni-Ball 207 Pen
The perfect pen is the Uni-Ball 207 Ultra Micro (0.38mm) retractable pen with black ink.
I hear legions of fans of other pens crying out in horror and disgust. How can you proclaim so confidently that this, of all the pens in the world in the year 2021, is “the best”? Is there no room for debate, for disagreement?
Alright, I concede that there may be no one universal “best” pen. But this is the best for me and according to me. (I have no conflicts of interest and no relationship to Uni or anything; this is just one person’s opinion.)
Here are my main criteria for a great pen; the Uni 207 ticks all the boxes:
- Smudge-resistant ink
- Thin, dark line (0.5mm or less)
- Not too scratchy, but not too smooth either.
- Not overly prone to bleed-through on thin paper
- Good overall design, comfortable grip
- Nice enough to enjoy but inexpensive enough to lose
Let’s run through a few other contenders:
- Uni-Ball Signo DX
- A great pen, and I appreciate that it comes with more ink in the barrel. But it’s a bit too smooth, the ink smudges easily, and it has a cap instead of retracting the tip into the pen body.
- Uni-Ball 307
- A good pen, and it writes better on glossy paper. But the writing is uneven (random globs of ink on the page) and it smudges more than the 207.
- Pilot V5
- This was my favorite years ago, but I found that over time the tip just doesn’t last; it degrades and the line it writes gets wider. It’s also prone to ink leakage and weird issues.
- Zebra Sarasa
- Just doesn’t do it for me. I wanted to like it, but it was disappointing.
The Uni 207 ink refill can also fit into other pens; if you want a heftier, classier metal pen that writes just like a 207 (but still won’t break the bank), pick up e.g. an Energel Alloy pen and put the Uni 207 ink barrel in there; it fits perfectly. (For other options, look up Uni 207 refills on JetPens.com and click on the link to find compatible pens.) Note that unfortunately the 207 refills do not appear to be sold in the Ultra Micro (0.38mm) size, so you have to buy the whole pen.
Is it worth it?
Are any of these better than a cheap ballpoint pen or whatever pen you have laying around? I think so, but it’s not critical. You can write with just about anything; I bet Tolstoy or Melville would be envious of our pen options, even if you limited the choices to the free ones you get from work or the bank or whatnot. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy using nice writing tools (as you can tell from my Leopold keyboard review).
But if you’re not as picky as I am, just write with what you have! A good pen does not make a good writer and a good writer can use any pen. (When I was getting into bicycling in my 20s, someone pointed out that for all the obsession and time spent on eliminating every gram of unnecessary weight from bike equipment, a world-class racer on a crappy old mountain bike could blow past most people regardless of how fancy and expensive their bike might be. A famous bike racer titled his memoir, “It’s not about the bike,” and it’s also “not about the pen.”)
Where to buy
The Uni-Ball Signo 207 Ultra Micro (0.38mm) may be available locally, and it can also be found (at the time of this blog post) on the websites of JetPens, Staples, and Target.
Happy writing, everyone! Let me know your own favorite pen in the comments!
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