While I still enjoying writing with my fountain pen collection, I have found that I prefer the offerings from several pen manufacturers in their new Ultra Micro/Extra Fine point lines. The largest size I would consider in this line is the 0.38mm size. Here is a quick breakdown of my collection so far with my likes and nits about each along with links to Jet Pens.
The Pentel 0.3mm EnerGel RTX Retractable – This pen is a needle tip style, which means the tip of the pen narrows drastically about 4mm before the tip. While I would assume the size would result in a weaker pen overall, the tip seems to handle angled pressures well and I have not seen one of these bend. As far writing, the pen is comparable to the others, but not quite as smooth as the Signo RT1 0.28mm. The line being a 0.3mm is hair bigger than the 0.28mm as well, but barely noticeable on most paper stock. The extend and retract mechanism has not shown any issues.
The Pilot G2 0.38mm Retractable – Pilot claims this pen line is the most popular in sales, but I doubt that would apply to the specific 0.38mm size. The mechanics of the extend and retract clicker are solid. The grip is comfortable and the pen is very smooth on paper. However, this pen has the largest tip size at 0.38mm, which is very much noticeable on paper compared to the others in my list.
The Uni-ball Signo RT1 0.28mm Retractable – This pen seems to be a Japan model that a few dealers are importing for the US market. While there is the similar Uni-ball Signo in the U.S., it isn’t offered in the 0.28mm size. First complaint about the RT1 is the clicker / retract-extend mechanism. I had a couple of these that have quit working due to the clicker. They get stuck and disassembly and lubrication does not result in a working mechanism. But other than that, this has to be my favorite among the retractable offerings. The pen is not a needle tip, but does claim to have a beveled tip to allow writing with the pen at a lower angle than competitor pens. The pen is not scratchy on most paper and with the right amount of pressure is a true glider across the paper. This line comes in many colors in the 0.38mm size, but is limited to Blue, Black, Blue-Black, and Red in the 0.28mm size. From an ergonomics standpoint, I really like the rubberized portion of the grip extending to within a new millimeters of the tip. Most of the other pens, including the US Signo, stop the grip about 0.75 centimeters above the tip.
The Pilot G-TEC-C 0.25mm Stick – After spending some time talking with Alan, the owner of the Crazy Alan’s Emporium and Gifts in Chapel Hill, I ended up picking these up as they are the smallest tipped pen I have been able to find locally. I bought a blue and black version of this capped stick pen. While I like the convenience of retractable pens, these make the finest line of any pen I have ever owned. This model takes needle tip to the extreme with the tip having two step downs into the needle tip range. This pen could be the choice for close contact assassins needing an ordinary looking concealable weapon. Writing with this pen on plain paper is a little scratchy with too much pressure, but the line laid down is not closely contested by any of the others in this review.
For more fine tip gels, check out the Jet Pens round up here.