Best Gel Ink Pens

Best Gel Ink Pens

I was checking out Amazon.com for new office supplies to review, and I came across their list of the top selling gel ink pens and I thought I’d share how the best gel ink pens rank by Amazon sales.  So although this post is title best gel ink pens, I guess it should really be interpreted as being the gel ink pens that Amazon managed to sell the most of at the time of this writing.

1. Uniball 207

2. Pilot G2

3. Pilot FriXion

4. Vivo Triple

5.  Zebra Jimnie

So I’m just curious, which of these 5 are your top pens to use?  Personally I have a few in this list that I use, but its surprising to me that this is the list of the top 5 gel ink pens on Amazon, so share your feedback with me because I’d be thrilled to hear your comments and get to understand whats going on here.  I know that the readers of this blog definitely have some different opinions as to what the best gel ink pens are, and its better than just seeing what the common consumer buys the most on Amazon.

I’ve got my own issues with claims that the Pilot G2 is the best pen, and you can check that link out for some writing samples and other details on why I think it falls far short of those claims.  Again, those are my own personal issues, but over time I’ve heard and read many other people express similar concerns about the writing experience with it.  The only thing I really think that the Pilot G2 has going for it is the incredible ease of locating refills for them.   I mean even grocery stores and hotel gift shops have been known to carry the refills so you can always get your hands on one.  Maybe we should make an effort to revisit this list on a regular basis to see how it changes.

©2014, Brian Greene. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Rick Owen says:

    I don’t like to write with gel ink pens. There isn’t enough drag on the paper with the .7mm (or broader) and the .5mm pens just scratch rather that drag with the right amount of friction. That being said, I special-order Pilot FriXion pens with a .5 mm tip. They do not scratch, but have the same drag of a ball-point pen, and the ink is erasable! The pens I order come from Hong Kong and it takes two weeks to arrive, but other than that it’s not a problem.

  2. 2
    Colin says:

    I’m a multi-pen fanatic, and Uni-Ball’s versions from Japan via JetPens are a delight. My arsenal includes:

    1. The Uni-Ball Style Fit five. I utilize the Signo DX .38 gel inks combined with a mechanical pencil. It provides crisp, smooth lines and the colors, particularly blue and red, really jump off the page.

    2. The Uni-Ball JetStream 4 & 1. The paper in the notebooks at my office is pretty harsh on any pen, but this one glides very smoothly. I did swap out the .7 mm inks for some .5 mm refills (except for green, which I haven’t yet found on JetPens). The .5 mm line is very smooth but not as clean with some colors such as blue, which can glob up on occasion. Still a very good pen choice.

    3. Pentel Slicci Multi-Pen. This pen is writes very smoothly, but the lack of a firmer grip is a bit of an annoyance. I can tolerate this with the Style Fit as the body is a bit wider and more conducive to my writing style.

    The last two are the blue and black versions of the Uni-Ball Signo DX .38. However, those can change. We shall see when the next pen order arrives.

  3. 3
    sara says:

    Uniball 207 gel pens are a must. i have dozens – literally.

    Im surprised that Zebra Sarsa didn’t make the list. :( I’d put them above the G2 (I have several, don’t get me wrong.)

    i really like Zebra Sarasa gel pens. very smooth ink delivery and the colors are really nice.

    3, 4, and 5 – i’ve never used these. i have used the jimnie ballpoints though :)

  4. 4
    contentgrrl says:

    Gimme my Bic Grip Roller. From my experience, the ink always dries within seconds, handy when you’re signing hundreds of holiday cards or piles of mortgage pages. Not a fan of gel pens, ‘cuz they smear.

  5. 5
    Michael Ramm says:

    I am (almost) exclusively a gel ink guy now! I always have with me a Signo of some variety, usually a 207 0.7mm. I have some DXs and RTs in the 0.38mm variety, but i don’t use them in my day-to-day life. I abhor the G2 0.7mm pen…if feels like I am writing with tar or something (ok, not really).

    Like Sara, I am surprised the Sarasa is not on the list. That was my pen of choice until I started using the Signo. I, too, have never used pens 3, 4, or 5.

  6. 6
    Jim says:

    I too am a gel ink guy. My favorites are the Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.4, Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38, and the Zebra Sarasa Stick 0.4.

    I do have a Frixion, but have never heard of 4 and 5. The 207 is a nice pen, probably as common as it gets. I think what you’re seeing is that mass market pens are not the same pens that pen geeks gravitate too.

  7. 7
    Rhonda says:

    I like Pilot G2.

    I DESPISE Pilo FriXon when the ink heated up and DISAPPEARED. I lost a lot of material of both personal journal and prose writing work. And this wasn’t necessarily “left in the car for long periods of time” kind of heat – but normal travel to and from work heat. Poof. Gone. DESPISE this pen.

    The 207 and Signio do run close to the G2 in my usage and opinions. I also like the Uniball Onyx – though they’re harder to find.

  8. 8
    Mark Kawakami says:

    I’m really surprised how well the Pilot Frixion is doing (though if you need an erasable pen, that is the one). I’ve never heard of the Zebra Jimnie, though that doesn’t surprise me, they’ve got pens they don’t even mention on their website.

    Also interesting that the Uniball 207 comes in ahead of the G2, looks like their ads are working. Anyhow, of these, the only ones that I use regularly are the G2 and the Uniball 207. But I prefer the Zebra Sarasa to both of those.

  9. 9

    @Rick Owen – I like it, although I have different preferences its cool to hear the specifics of what goes into your thought process…and also cool to see the lengths you will go to in order to get that perfect pen for you. Exactly the kind of stuff I was hoping to hear from folks on this post.

    @Colin – Im with you on the Uniball Jetstream, that is my all purpose back up that is always in my bag for work because I know it can handle any paper well. Have you tried the Pilot Hi Tec C Coleto? that is probably one of my favorite multi pens.

    @Sara – Totally agree on the Uniball 207s, they are awesome, same for the Zebra Sarasa, but I think Id put most of my pens ahead of the G2 though. :)

    @contentgrrl – I have not had much luck with most Bic pens, but I’m always willing to try some others. I’ve been able to find quite a few gel pens that dry quickly enough that they dont smear, but it also depends a lot on the type of paper you use too.

    @Michael Ramm – Im in the same boat as you with the Pilot G2s and the Signo, although I tend to lean more towards the DXs in a .38, especially my blue black or green black

    @Jim – I think you are probably correct in that the Amazon list skews more towards mass market and probably bulk purchases for folks with small businesses, so if they can get a pen that averages out to about $1.00 ea. instead of $1.50 or so, that adds up. Pen geeks mostly look the other way on the prices.

    @Rhonda – That is terrible about the FriXions. Did you try putting your paper in the freezer? :) I know it sounds funny, but with the FriXion highlighters, putting paper in the freezer brings the ink back after you have erased it.

    @Mark Kawakami – Yeah, the Pilot FriXion was a bit surprising to me as well. I didnt think about the connection between the 207 vs. the G2 possibly being related to the recent spurt of advertising by Uniball…great point.

  10. 10
    Chris T. says:

    Interesting results, I am a little surprised at the bottom three.

    My guess is that their great amazon price in larger quantities for the Jimnie makes it a good choice for a business looking to stock up. In my own experience, I recommended the jimnie as the default office pen in a previous job partially because it was one of the least expensive gel pens. Two weeks later, we had a few dozen of blue black and red in the mail from staples. They aren’t my favorite, but if i had the choice between a dozen bics and a dozen jimnies…

    (I was surprised they took any of my recommendations, turns out i was the only one in the office who responded so they bought everything i suggested… LOL but i digress)

    I think I know why the vivo is one of the top selling pens; cart filler for free SuperSaver shipping!

    I have a few deals sites and forums in my rss reader and these communities have complied large lists of very inexpensive items to break the threshold for free shipping on amazon and other sites. I recall Vivo pens being posted as a filler since somewhere $1-$2. When you have a 24.95 item with no tax, you are 5 cents away from the threshold so it’s cheaper to add a cart filler than to pay shippping.

    I wonder about the Frixion pen… they are relatively inexpensive and plenty easy to get acquire in a B&M store. I was surprised at how well they do erase, but i wasn’t impressed with their overall writing characteristics and kinda think an erasable pen was already created. I think it’s called a pencil. (All joking aside, I’m sure there are folks who have a very genuine need for an erasable pen, it’s just not for me) For once, I’m at a loss for words.

  11. 11
    Paul says:

    I use the Medium needle point 207 occasionally… I find that a lot of the gel ink pens skip. I’ve also had really bad luck with G2s, apparently. The ones I have either don’t have very good ink flow, or they leak.

    The FriXion? I don’t like the erasability, as Calfornia summer = ink disappears.

    1. Jetstream Color 0.5. Blue-black. Smooth and precise.
    2. Pilot Hi-tec C 0.4, orange. Needle point.
    3. Jetstream 1.0, Blue. I put the refill in an old G2 body, and this was what I used before getting the Jetstream Color.
    4. Uni-Ball Vision Elite 0.5, Blue-black. I don’t know… I’ve been using it for a long time and don’t want to put it away.
    5. Signo 207 Needle Point 0.7, Black. Rubber grips seem to lose the smooth feel after a while, which is annoying because I shift my grip a lot.

  12. 12
    Der Bingle says:

    I’m not a gel pen guy, I just use them a lot. ;-)

    Uni Signo DX
    Uni Signo RT
    Zebra Sarasa

    Those would be top three, I guess. But not necessarily in that order. And it is hard to leave out excellent pens like the Slicci or Hi-Tec.

  13. 13
    Carlos says:

    Pilot G2 is way overrated.

    Zebra Sarasa is way superior, Uniball 207, Pentel Slicci, Pentel Hybrid Technika…. etc.

    The pilot G2 is inconsistent, and fades to red when bleached ;)

  14. 14
    Monica says:

    Haha, the freezer thing made me laugh. That’s pretty cool! I like the pens as an eraseable pens. Light years beyond those old ballpoints with the eraser. EWW! But I hardly use them. I don’t like the uniball 207, whenever I use them, my ink constantly skips… which is a big nono for me. Haven’t tried the vivo or Zebra…

  15. 15
    Rachael says:

    Honestly, I don’t use any of these. I feel like those are the top 5 gel pens for people who don’t know better.

    If they did, Uni Signo DX, Pilot Hi Tec C and Pentel Slicci (and probably Zebra Sarasa Clip) would comprise of most of the list.

  16. 16
    TonyB says:

    I’m a big fan of the Pilot FriXion, mostly as just a novelty, I guess. I love the way it feels when writing, and it erases incredibly well. Plus, the barrel looks kinda cool. Downside is that the ink is a little light.

    The Signo 207 is just not smooth enough for me, while I find the G2 a much better writing experience. However, for overall smoothness and line appearance, right now I’m using mainly the Jetstream and the Pentel EnerGel Deluxe.

  17. 17
    Der Bingle says:

    Carlos said:

    “Pilot G2 is way overrated.

    The pilot G2 is inconsistent, and fades to red when bleached”

    I, too, think the G2 is overrated. I like the Pilot Hi-Tec line more. However, I read (can’t recall where) that the inks in the two pens are the same or essentially the same.

    That is actually an interesting topic: how much difference is there in the inks used in various lines by the same company?

  18. 18

    @Chris T. – That is a really interesting insight into the Vivo ranking so well because of its status as a cart filler. I was also wondering if its possible that such a small volume of all the pens were sold that even just an order of 10 packs could move it up that high on the list.

    @Paul – I think I’ve ONLY ever gotten bad G2s, which makes me wonder. Also, I never thought about the issue about hot outdoor temps impacting the ink. Thanks for sharing your list there, those are some good pens, funny that you mention the grip shifting with the Signo 207s, I do that quite often too, but I think I have so many pens that it never became an issue on those for me.

    @Der Bingle – Thats a good top three, I’ve been on a kick with the Uniball Signo RTs. Thanks for sharing!

    @Carlos – Totally agree, the Pilot G2s, just never impressed me.

    @Monica – Yeah, the first time I heard the freezer thing I totally didnt believe it. True about the difference between the old school erasable bps and the FriXions. As for the 207s skipping, thats a surprise, I’ve never had much of an issue with that. Definitely give the Zebra’s a shot, but Id steer clear of the Vivos

    @Rachael – Pretty sure you are 200% correct on that assessment.

    @TonyB – I have to agree with you on the look of the FriXion, they do look pretty cool. Really cant go wrong with the Uniball Jetstream, or the Energel for that matter too.

    @Der Bingle – I’ve been wondering the same thing for a while regarding the real differences between some of these inks. I feel like the companies are probably pretty tight lipped about what they actually use though.

  19. 19
    Carlos says:

    Der Blinge said
    “I, too, think the G2 is overrated. I like the Pilot Hi-Tec line more. However, I read (can’t recall where) that the inks in the two pens are the same or essentially the same.”

    Maybe both have the same base, but i doubt they are exactly the same.. you need different viscosity for the Hi Tec Needle tips.

    But either way the ink in the G2 is not impressive… it reacts to water, alcohol, bleach…. the 207 and Sarasa, Pentel Hybrid Ink Doesnt. For lots of people that is not really important, the G2 is Acid Free and archival free anyway… but i am an Ink Chemistry freak. :)

    For a replacement of the Hi Tec line i suggest the Pentel Slicci… the ink seems to be better.. but you need to bear the thin body of the pen.

    In all my test the UNIBALL inks are really superior… followed really close by the PENTEL HYBRID INK… and then the ink in the SARASA… the you got the rest… including the G2…

    But the Resistance of the ink is not all the story, its a matter of taste.. i prefer Pentel and Zebra over uniball products, even if the ink of the Unis are a little more strong.

  20. 20
    Carlos says:

    Ok, i just make some new test with the following pens..
    Energel
    Pentel Slicci
    Pilot RT V5
    Pilot G2
    Pentel Hybrid
    Zebra Sarasa
    Zebra Kendo
    Uniball 207

    I Was WRONG about the PENTEL SLICCI.. this doesnt have quality ink…in water it lost 50% of saturation, and with bleach it becomes red, then it fades completely (just like the G2 but quicker).

    Sorry for the wrong recommendation. (the winners were the 207, Sarasa and Hybrid Gel)

    Cheers.

  21. 21
    Colin says:

    @OfficeSupplyGeek – It’s funny you mention the Coleto because I’ve been in the market for it. I’m going to go with the four-barrel version, given it’s rubber grip.

  22. 22
    Der Bingle says:

    @Carlos – Thank you for the information.

    I like the Slicci a lot, and may even prefer it to the Hi-Tec. The Hi-Tec does come in more colors, which is nice. The Slicci is a nice looking pen line but, yes, the barrels are too thin. It was disappointing to read your results re: the Slicci’s ink.

    Why is it that you prefer Pentel and Zebra over Uni even though you like Uni’s inks better? The designs and barrel comfort?

    Based on your tests, the Slicci’s is not an archival quality ink then, right?

  23. 23
    Carlos says:

    @ Der Bingle
    I prefer the Pentel and Zebra because of their comfort in my hand, and they are a little smoother than the 207. But the 207 dry faster on my Moleskine, and since im a lefty i use the 207 for my Journaling, and the Zebra and Pentel for everyday use.

    Im surprised by the Slicci.. i love how it writes but the ink is terrible, worst than the G2.. It fades almost completely after 1 hour below the water… it seems that the formulation of the ink is similar to the Energel Liquid Ink… good for everyday, not good for archival.

    You can use the Slicci refill into the barrel of the Pentel Hybrid Gel which is more comfortable.

  24. 24
    Der Bingle says:

    @Carlos – As I’ve written before, Uni’s grips aren’t as good as Zebra’s or Pilot’s, at least not the best Pilot and Zebra grips. The 207′s, for example, is sort of an odd, neither fish nor fowl, grip. It is rounded, but has this ridge in the front of it. I don’t know what the point of it is.

    Btw, regarding this water test, do you just write on a sheet of paper and place it in a tub of water? Is it that simple? Or should you use a particular type of paper, etc.?

    This might be a silly question, but what is the permanence of pencil lead? Assuming, of course, one doesn’t use an eraser or wipe it away with something else?

  25. 25
    Carlos says:

    “Btw, regarding this water test, do you just write on a sheet of paper and place it in a tub of water? Is it that simple? Or should you use a particular type of paper, etc.? ”

    No, any kind of paper, i have use typical 72grm2 paper, Moleskine Acid Free, etc.
    Is that simple…. the only thing to remember is to wait at least 5 min to let the inks dry. Lots of ink formulation make a chemical reaction with the paper in order to make it permanent, and it can take some minutes to actually happen. Even the fabulous Uniball ink could easly fade by water if you wet the paper right after you write.

    The same with bleach, alcohol, etc.

    “This might be a silly question, but what is the permanence of pencil lead? Assuming, of course, one doesn’t use an eraser or wipe it away with something else?”

    Not silly, but lead, graphite and almost any type of pencil is waterproof, fadeproof, and can stand lots of chemical products… well that is until you use a soft eraser :)

    In another topic, i just found a nice surprise from the guys of Pilot, and that was the P-500 (700) precise gel pen. It was waterproof.. bleachproof etc, i tested the pen several days ago. I dont know why Pilot did not use the same formula for the G2.

  26. 26
    Der Bingle says:

    @Carlos – Thank you for the additional information.

    I tried my own water test and included a Pentel Slicci. After about an hour, one could see that the Slicci sample had faded to some degree. The lead writing sample had not! ;-) That is something. On the one hand it can be wiped away so easily (an eraser or even just a finger or thumb), but on the other hand it is permanent if you leave it alone.

    I haven’t tried a Pilot P-500, but I did a search. The barrel looks a little too thin (as the Slicci’s is) but I will give it a try sometime.

  27. 27
    jeff says:

    Pilot G2 Limited with a Mont Blanc refill in it. best there is.

  28. 28

    @Colin – I have the 3 barrel and it also has the rubber grip if you are still looking.

    @Der Bingle and @Carlos – Lots of great info being shared there, thanks so much.

    @Jeff – I’ve still never tired the Mont Blanc refills, guess I should at some point, but still not thrilled with the G2 body though.

  29. 29

    I am kind of a fan of the Frixion myself, I was going to buy a g2 the other day at Walmart but didnt decided to buy my son some hotwheels instead lol. I am pretty new to the pen world but have always loved them. That and notebooks! I am quickly falling in love with this website.

  30. 30
    Recycle Pens says:

    I have a recycling program for ink pens. If any of you would be interested in sending me your used up pens I would love to have them. I will check back on this site in a few days to see if there is any interested persons. No quantity too large. Thank you

  31. 31
    Michael says:

    Got a good chuckle reading this. As I was twirling a Uniball 207 in my hand and have a G2 sitting to the side here. I go through many different Gel pens trying to find one that suits me. And the Uniball 207 is the best I’ve come across so far. Price/performance are just right as I do a ton of writing. The ink dries really quick and the accuracy and contrast are great.

  32. 32

    @Michael – Glad you enjoyed the write up, thanks for stopping by. I agree with you that the Uniball 207s are a gret pen for the money, such bold colors and smooth performance.

  33. 33
    Gel Pen Addict says:

    Ok so I kinda did my own mini-test on 10 black ink 0.7 mm gel pens: Pentel Energel, Uniball Signo 207, Avery EGel, Zebra Sarasa Stick, Pentel Hybrid Gel Grip, Zebra GR8, Zebra Z-Grip Gel, Zebra Orbitz, & Uniball Signo Gel Grip. I still have to try out the Papermates, Sakuras, and etc but the BIC and Pilots suck so bad to me they are not even worth it. I tested these 10 pens based on appearance, comfort when writing, the flow of the ink, and the writing appeal when I actually get to see it on paper. Here are the winners:

    Appearance: Uniball Signo 207! Looks awesome. Not your plain ordinary gel pen, but very intricately designed and flashes a chrome/metallic look. Looking at the 10 pens and judging just from the looks, I woulda guessed that this was the most expensive of them all. Pentel Energel came in as runner up.

    Comfort: It was a tie between Uniball Signo 207, Avery EGel, and Zebra Z-Grip Gel. All of them fit well in my hand and did not give me an awkward feel, felt just right. The grips are well made so that I could write in ease. I did think that Uniball Signo 207 was kind of small for my hand at times, but still workable.

    Flow: Avery EGel for sure. Flow was just amazing, sooo smooth, did not need to apply pressure to the point like some of the other pens. Coming in a close 2nd was Zebra Sarasa Sitck (I was surprised how smooth it wrote as well) and 3rd would be Uniball Signo 207.

    Writing Appeal: For me, I love my black ink not to be so bold, thick, or too dark. Avery EGel and Uniball Signo Gel Grip wrote in a way that appealed to my style. It’s as if there is a hint of grey and silver in the ink and I love that kinda color, but it did not at all lose it’s blackness if you know what I mean.

    Overall: I was impressed at ink quality of Avery EGel, and the superior appearance of Uniball Signo 207. I wish I could breed them so that they could birth the ultimate pen. But for now my best option is to buy Avery refills and stuff them into the Uniball LOL. I think Zebra brand is average, I don’t really see anything special in them appearance and ink quality-wise, and sometimes it smudges too lol. And yes I am a GEL pen freak/GEL pen addict. I hope this can help others in their quest for the ultimate GEL pen. By the way I might change my mind yet again once I get a feel of the other GELS I have yet to try.

  34. 34
    Guinness1977_99 says:

    I’ve used zebra 301 for ever the gels write better, I wish there 701 came in gel

  35. 35
    SlushieDee says:

    I LOVE my Pentel EnerGel. I have an Alloy RT on me at all times, and I have more .5mm blue refills than I could ever use. I don’t like the .7 size as much, because I have incredibly small handwriting.

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