Is the Pilot G2 the Best Pen

Pilot G2 Gel Ink Pen

Best Pen or not – the Pilot G2 Gel Ink Pen

The Pilot G2 Gel Ink Pen is one of the most popular pens out there according to various sources.  If you believe their own packaging it is the #1 selling pen in America.   It is currently in the #1 spot on Amazon’s list of Top Pens and Refills and is #1 on the Amazon list of Top Rollerballs as well.  Personally, I’ve never been convinced that it was the best pen out there.  This seems to go against commonly accepted opinion among people who enjoy their pens.

Criticism of what many call the best pen

Writing up a review of what many consider to be the best pen out there has the potential to be dangerous because I know that there are many people who are fanatical about the Pilot G2.  I guess I’ll take the risk of offending those folks if I say anything bad about it.  I don’t hate it, but I do have my issues with it.  I think some of my issues stem from the fact that I read a lot of hype about it before I tried it for the first time a while ago.  Maybe no pen would ever live up to the kind of hype it has recieved.  I do like some things about the G2 like the fact that there is no doubt in my mind that it is very comfortable to hold and write with.  The balance of the pen and the nice smooth and easy to hang onto rubbery grip make it almost as if it is an extension of your fingers.  I also like the firm and smooth action of the plunger when you click to expose the retractable tip.  Some pens are kind of loose or clunky feeling in that area but not so much with the G2.  I do somewhat enjoy the way the pen writes and I find it to be far superior to many other options out there.  I’ve found that there are just quite a few other pens that I think write nicer.   The good thing about this pen being so popular is that at least if you find yourself somewhere without a good pen, you can usually find these in a local convenience store or supermarket along with their refills as well, and they do come in a few different sizes and colors so you have some options there as well.

Pilot G2 Gel Ink Close Up

Pilot G2 Gel Ink Close Up

Now maybe I am being a bit overly critical, but for some reason there is one thing that has always REALLY bugged me when it came to the appearance of the G2.  It doesn’t take much to notice the strange rusty dirty looking gel that is behind the ink in the ink cartridge.  On most pens, this is a clear gel substance but for whatever reason, its this awful shade of dirty brown, which would be fine if it the pen didn’t have a clear plastic barrel that allowed you to see it so well.  One other thing that I don’t like about the visual appearance of it is the clip.  The round ball-like tip of the clip and the big gold ugly tacky font of the text on the clip cheapen the look of the pen in my opinion.  Personally I believe that in order to be considered the best pen there should be some visual design consideration that comes into play as well.

Pilot G2 Writing Sample

Here is the Pilot G2 Writing Sample in a Black n’ Red Notebook, with Some Comments in Red

Would the best pen write like that?

The most important thing that one should be concerned about with a good pen is how it writes.  The above writing sample for the Pilot G2 was done in a Black n’ Red Notebook, which handles most pens very well.  As I said before, it writes much better than most other pens you will find, but I guess Im holding it to a higher standard because of its amazing popularity.  I’ve found in my writing with it that although it lays down a nice line, the ink tends to feather just a bit, and it even skips a tiny bit here and there.  If you click on the photo, you can see where I’ve pointed out a few of these instances in the red writing.  The last part of the writing sample you see up there is the test I did to see what they dry time was.  It pretty much took about 9 full seconds to dry.  Usually I dont care too much about dry time, but I know that for left-handed writers it can be an issue.  When it takes THIS long to dry it does become an annoyance for me.  Between the skipping and the incredibly long dry time, I really cant see how this could be considered by some as the best pen out there.

Luckily there are lots of options out there to try, and although in my mind, one of the best pen s available is the  Uniball Signo DX, its not easily available other than at JetPens so I might just have to do a review/comparison of the Amazon list of  Top Rollerball Pens. For now though, this office supply geek does no think the Pilot G2 is anywhere near being the best pen out there.

You can also check out the write up that we did showing the Best Pen as per a recent Amazon listing, but the best part of that write up is all of the great response in the comments section from readers about what they believe the best pen is.

©2015, Brian Greene. All rights reserved.


  1. 1

    I think it is a fair review of the G2 I have to confess when not using my trusty old Parker 51 I grab a G2 to scribble notes with and it can skip occaisonaly.

    I have not tried a uniball Signo DX yet but will make sure that I do.

  2. 2
    Steve says:

    I’ve never been crazy about the G2 either. The ink goes down too wet for my taste. A better pen is the Uniball Signo RT .38, which lately I can usually find at Office Max stores. It’s my first choice for a readily available, high-quality gel pen.

  3. 3
    dowdyism says:

    I really like the G2’s performance. The 0.7mm is a little wet compared to others, but I mostly use the 0.5mm and 0.38mm anyway. I find the 0.5mm to be more consistent than the Uni-Ball 207 Micro. I do agree completely that it is time for a barrel upgrade. I’ve been harping on that for a while, and would love to see Pilot at least move to the G-Knock barrel, which is very nice. The Acroball barrel style would be even better.

  4. 4
    Speedmaster says:

    My fav. non-fountain pen by far is now the Pilot Precise V5 RT!

  5. 5
    sara says:

    I prefer the 0.5 and 0.38 – but i must admit i own almost all of the available color options for the 0.7 :)

    My old 0.7’s which still write well – have a tinted plastic barrel where the newer ones are clear.

    I’ve never had smearing issues but I am right handed and quite patient.

    I do wish pilot would develop a permanent ink option ^^ (Uniball super ink is great for art work!)

  6. 6
    Natalie says:

    I generally prefer their .05 pen. I have their .38, but have yet to try it. The .05 does write well, and I’ve noticed I tend to write neater with the .5 than the .7.

  7. 7
    Kim says:

    As someone who used to regularly use the G2 1.0mm (!!) even I can recognize that these are fair criticisms of the G2. You want to talk about a wet line that never dries, try out the bold point. On second thought, don’t. It will only make you cranky. :)

    (I acutally used to really love the bold point! I just thought my handwriting looked better with thicker lines. Since then I have realized I should get better handwriting.)

  8. 8
    Chris T. says:

    Man I remember when this pen came out back in the day. I was blinded by the newness of the gel ink, but got annoyed with the pen pretty fast. The line is inconsistent and in my experience, there is only 1 good pen in a single package no matter what. Of the 3 i happened to have stuffed into my planner, one is considerably better than the others.

    I remember my initial gripe with these was the rattling of the refill(huge pet peeve of mine), but of the ‘modern’ ones I have, this is not an issue which is great, but it seems the ink going onto the page is not without its pecadillos for me. It’s like there is an ideal angle and pressure to get this to work at its best and I just can’t seem to get that sweet spot consistently when I use them. While I prefer the visuals of the .7, the .5mm line seems to be a little more consistent for me at the expense of smoothness.

    The pen to me has one saving grace (ok maybe a few)- I pick it up and it just feels good and solid. I feel ok leaving the tip exposed when i need to pick up, write, set down, and yet I dont’ like it enough to care for anything other than the financial loss if i were to lose it or break it somehow. (like the crappy clip,, that goes pretty quick)

    I have used G2’s to get through carbon copies without having to go ballpoint. (not as good but good enough for our bank at work lol) I’d also consider this to be pretty comparable to the Signo DX, the 2nd gel pen I ever got many years ago, and to this day, I still prefer the DX.

    To me, the G2, is sort of like the Starbucks of pens. Starbucks represents my base line for ‘good’ (for the sake of this analogy at least, no DD around here lol), but it still doesn’t compare to when I roast my own beans and meticulously manual drip at home.

    PS – the two nearly new blue G2’s i have a much better gradient to the ink as far as the rust-colored end of the black refill goes.

  9. 9

    @The Pen Warrior – Thanks, glad to hear from someone who uses the G2 that they think I was fair in my criticisms, I think you will like the Signo DX.

    @Steve – I didnt realize that OfficeMax was carrying those, thanks for the heads up.

    @dowdyism – The Acroball is a really nicely styled body, I like it much better than the G-Knock. Also, Im not at all surprised that you prefer a .5 or a .38 over the .7 tree stump. :)

    @Speedmaster – I might have to pick up some of those, Ive tried the regular versions and like them, never the RT though..and the barrels of those look really nice too.

    @Sara – From the comments here its sounding like the .5 and .38 are more popular and perform better. I feel like Ihave it stuck in my head though that the G2 just isnt the pen for me. Will the Uniball Super Ink make me a better artist? Im pretty bad. :)

    @Natalie – I’ve noticed similar in that a smaller tip tends to make me write better.

    @Kim – I cant imagine using a 1.0mm G2, I think you are right, that might drive me crazy. :)

    @Chris T – That is a great historical perspective on the G2, something I was not able to capture with my review, thank you. I agree with you about the G2 being a pretty solidly constructed pen, so its not one you need to be delicate with. I love that comparison though, the “Starbucks of Pens” I dont drink coffee, but I know exactly what you mean. Also, good to know about the blue G2s not having that filthy look to the end of the ink barrel.

  10. 10
    TonyB says:

    I’m a big fan of the G2, especially the 1.0. Like you said, there’s just something solid about the feel of the pen, especially that plunger, that makes it seem like it gives more value than what it cost. I’ve had a G2 mini in my car for a couple years now, and even though I have abused the heck out of it, dropping it in puddles, leaving it exposed on the console in 100-degree summer heat, it has never failed me.

    On the other hand, for pure writing experience, I prefer both the Pentel Energel and the Uniball Jetstream, especially. They seem much smoother to me, and the Jetstream dries fairly quickly. Just wish any of them would come with big fat barrels…those are so much more comfy to hold.

  11. 11
    Monica says:

    I have always disliked this pen. Maybe because it is so popular??? Lol I don’t know why. I have a big problem with pens that skip. That’s why I love my Energels! Nice review, though.

  12. 12
    bangmaster says:

    The G2 as the starbucks of pens is an apt description. These are solid, dependable workhorses. You can go into any store and buy some and the .38mm is the only sub-.5 mm pen available at most big box office supply stores. I’ve tried just about ever other widely available retractable pen out there (including the signo, energel and sarasa) and I keep coming back to the G2, although I’ve come to prefer the G-Knock body.

    I’ll admit that they need to improve QC, though, because skipping pens are a problem, although in my experience, the skipping pen:smooth pen ration is far worse for signos and sarasas.

  13. 13

    @TonyB – Thats interesting that it held up so well in bad conditions like that. I use a Uniball Power Tank for that purpose, I’ve got it in my car and its been in the frozen temps here for extended periods of time with no problems. I agree with you on the Jetstream, its a really smooth writing pen.

    @Monica – The Energel is a really nice writing pen, and sometimes I fall into that same category, if too many people just love it, I tend to be suspicious of it or just give it extra scrutiny because when you are a market leader like that, I expect more. May or may not be fair on my part, but thats just me.

    @bangmaster – Thanks for sharing, Im glad to hear from someone who obviously has used it extensively along with some very similar pens. I’m trying to give it a second (or more like 4th or 5th) chance, I just picked up some new ones and new sizes.

  14. 14
    Diane says:

    I too have tried to like the G2 but just can’t. Worse, I had a bunch that dried up and so ended in the trash. Not good. :(

  15. 15

    @Diane – Nothing worse than dried out pens. I’ve ordered a few different versions/sizes that I’m going to take a look at just to make sure I’m being fair though.

  16. 16
    Diane says:

    It’s just a sign that I don’t need 10,000 pens (and pencils). I don’t write THAT much. :)

  17. 17
    ccorrada says:

    Have to side with the Uniball people. Uniball Signo 207 Micro is the best all around pen- comfortable, consistent flow, great barrel. I’ve never understood why the G2 sells better, besides the fact that is being sold everywhere and has plenty of colors. It’s kind of an ugly pen and the ink takes a bit more time to dry in my experience.

  18. 18
    Jason says:

    Thanks for the review! I’m glad I’m not the only person to think this about the G2. I find them “skippy” and they always build up blobs…perhaps that’s because I grew up on rollerballs that didn’t write straight up and down, so I had to tilt the pen such that ball was almost feeding ink.

    Anyhow, after Pilot finally made the Precise such that it wouldn’t skip (remember the old tan and sky-blue barreled pens?), I really haven’t gone back. And the precise RT has become my go-to roller – when I’m not using fountain pens.

    I would say though that the Uni signo series pens are probably my second choice. And for my “car” pen, the Jetstreams have worked well; haven’t leaked in the heat nor frozen up in the cold.

  19. 19

    @Diane – I dont think anyone writes THAT much. :)

    @ccorrada – I think the fact that it is so readily available and not one of the boring old $0.99 ball point pens is what makes it sell so well

    @Jason – Glad you enjoyed the review, and it always makes me feel better to know that there are some people out there who agree with me on some of my opinions I share here. I’ve never tired the Jetstream as the car pen, I’ve gone with the Uniball Powertank which holds up very well to freezing and hot temperatures.

  20. 20
    Kaspero Dookelius says:

    Love this thread as I too am too enamored with all things pens. I have never really liked the G2s although I now have a Gold G2 Limited which is quite different. I like the feel of the Pentel Energel but their pens look like NASCAR outfits. I mean how many times do you need to put Pentel, Energel and the .07 or .05mm on a pen?

    I have mixed and matched various refills to other brand pens but I was not aware of the ability to use a Jetstream, or Uniball refills.

    Great work and I am glad to know that I am not the only one who can tell you what the displays look like at Staples, O-Max, O-Depot, Artlite and others!

  21. 21

    @Kaspero Dookelius – Glad to hear that you enjoyed this, and welcome…always nice to have another office supply addict contributing here. I love the comparison to the NASCAR outfit…such a great mental image to put it in perspective.

  22. 22
    the pen is mightier says:

    I don’t quite understand the phenomenon of G2 popularity. They are good pens, yes, but the ink is too messy and the smoothness of the roll leaves something to be desired.

    I and some of my previous G2 using colleagues have converted to:
    UNI-BALL SIGNO 207, MED/0.7mm
    …IT is the best pen ever, hands dizzity dizzown. Go getchu some. (no, I do not work for uni-ball)

  23. 23
    Xheia says:

    I have found that these pens are slightly unreliable under stress. I had two instances where they stopped performing well, once when I wrote very fast and hard for a timed paper, and another when I dropped it off a desk. I think the ink or ball got messed up somehow.

  24. 24

    @the pen is mightier – I’m still glad to hear comments coming in that confirm that I’m not crazy for not being such a big fan of these. Nice to see that you are showing people some better options.

    @Xheia – That isnt surprising, I just dont get the overwhelming love for them. Hopefully you have found yourself a better option.

  25. 25
    ian says:

    i like the g2 0.38mm a lot better than the 0.5 or 0.7mm. i find it much smoother and more reliable. when i pick it up to write, it works every time. no skipping. and the ink dries faster because it’s a finer line. i avoid all the thicker g2 pens. you can get the 0.38mm almost everywhere – walmart, target, staples, office depot, etc. it writes like a different pen than the 0.5 and 0.7, imo.

  26. 26
    ian says:

    i don’t see any review on your site of pilot’s g-tec-c gel pens, although i haven’t read every article. the GTC dries a lot faster, like 1-2 seconds. however, only the blue ink has good archival quality after soaking the paper in water. all other colors exhibit a strong bleeding after wetting and every color but blue and black fades (red worst).

    the best pens i’ve found archivally are: sharpie pens (all colors), pilot p-500/p-700 gels (every color except black), pilot g-tec-c gel (blue only), and office depot’s foray precision point gel. (dollar tree’s INC magna tank gel seems identical to foray’s big tank gel, including the 3x more ink than other gel pens and the somewhat wet ink which takes a 30 seconds or so to dry.) however, once dry, all the pens listed have exceptional archival quality. their writing will survive a flood.

  27. 27
    Dharrisjr says:

    Yes, it is the best pen.  I’ve been using it for a while and is my pen of choice at work.  I ask specifically for these pens when I need to make an order.  It’s the one I’ve chosen to use in my Moleskine journal.  The Uni-ball Signo 207 is a great pen, but the “needle point” tip makes it feel fragile.  The one I recently used today (a fresh pack of 4 bought from Office Depot) skips like crazy.  The skipping and fragile feel when writing is to great to consider this pens other benefits such as not smudging when the paper gets wet and archival quality.  The Pilot G2 is my trusty pen and refuse to use any other.

  28. 28
    Anonymous says:

    I agree completely! When I bought this pen I noticed that it skips and wasn’t the best pen to write with. Taking notes with this pen takes FOREVER because you have to press extra hard to avoid skipping! You have to write slowly to avoid skipping also! I would not suggest this pen for quick notes in classes or if you plan to write a lot! :-(

  29. 29
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the feedback, its always a good feeling to know I’m not the only one experiencing similar problems…I don’t feel AS crazy that way. 😉

  30. 30


  31. 31
    Greg says:

    I guess I come at this in a different perspective. I’ve never heard of this pens popularity, maybe being fresh out of college I just haven’t heard the water cooler discussions about it. But I just picked it up at the grocery store, it looked like a decent pen. And ever since, I have loved it. I’m sure there’s better pens out there, and yes it does skip occasionally, but never had a problem with dry time (and I am left handed). If there are better pens, I’d love to try them, but for now with its inexpensive cost, availability everywhere, smoothness, and comfort, I’m sticking with my G2

  32. 32
    Michael says:

    I put up with the G2 skipping because I haven’t found a pen that fits better in my hand. I hate straight barrelled pens. They make my arm ache after long writing sessions. The slightly contoured grip of the G2 just feels better when I’m writing to me.

  33. 33
    Brian Greene says:

    @Michael – I can appreciate that, but did you ever try the Jetstream Premier? It has a curved grip. Or you could just try a few different refills in the G2 body to see if they fit. You can definitely get better writing performance without compromising the comfort.

  34. 34
    Michael says:

    @Brian – does it come in a .5mm tip? 1mm is insanely big.

  35. 35
    Brian Greene says:

    @Michael – I’m sorry I totally neglected to consider the tip size, you are right though, its only available in a 1.0mm. Have you ever tried the Uniball Gel RT micro? It has a slight curve/taper to the grip section.

  36. 36
    Michael says:

    @Brian – I’ll check it out. Thanks.

  37. 37
    Brian Greene says:

    @Michael – Great, let us know how it works out, its always good to get perspective from other users documented here.

  38. 38
    Michael says:

    @Brian, so after a five days, it’s a better writing experience, but I have the same complaint about the micro that I do about the G2, in that I get annoying buildups of ink at the tip that require regular cleaning or I start getting smudges as i write.

  39. 39
    Brian Greene says:

    @Michael – I am glad to hear the writing experience is better, can I ask what kind of paper you are writing on? Changing the paper you use might help reduce or eliminate the issue with the ink build up.

  40. 40
    Erica Chua says:

    Honestly, I think I am going to receive a lot of flak for this but I am going to say it anyway =P

    Of all the pens I have tried since I was 8 years old, I find the best pens I owned are Pilot G2s (I have tried the cheap disposable Zebra plastic ones, Pilot G-Tecmatic, G1, G2, Supergel, Gel-X, Super Grip, Tecpoint(s) and Uni balls Signos and jetstream). Asian pens are rather widely available in Singapore, where I live.

    Now, the only pen that I have used so far that didn’t bleed horribly even for my exercise books , start skipping or smudging everytime as a left hander furiously scribbling, all the while maintaining that beautiful inky, bold lines I favour, will be G2 (0.5mm)
    Added bonus: it feels comfortable for long writing sessions like essays and never ever failed me with skips (I only experienced skipping with my .38mm and only when I keep it unused for too long with .5mm).

    I don’t like Jetstream as it isn’t the gel ink type I favour, I gave up on Signo DX as it is not retractable, ergonomics sucks for the pen that my finger hurts during essay writing. This is not the dealbreaker. The fact that I went through 3-4 Signos that skipped badly (it is actually more scratchy than G2 even when it does work which results in a more controlled ink output and minimal smudging issues) and leaked ink badly consecutively made me gave up on this. Signo went from a delightful waterproof wonder pen to my never-buy-again list. Other gel type I get from this brand are too wet — Signo 207 bleed through my thinner excercise book pages and smudges really badly T.T

    I rather like Zebra Sarasa: it seems to be comparable to G2. However, it costs more if you factor in refills for G2s versus buying a new pen each time for Sarasa.

    Pilot G-tecmatic needle point got bent and destroyed way too many times in my hands that I stopped buying them altogether. The refills QC is really bad (you get leakages through the gel a lot of times)

    I am open to any suggestion for a better pen (currently getting myself a Lamy Safari to test out 😉

  41. 41
    JC says:

    Pentel EnerGel uses Glycerol which is clear and easily reseals whereas Pilot uses Triethanolamine which is yellowish* and does not reseal

    *”strange rusty dirty looking gel” from OP

    for Uniball Jetstream it is too hard to find refill cartridges although it does have superior ink and widest color variety plus lower price (they use Polypropylene Glycol btw)
    Pilot has less color choices and is more expensive
    for studio/design I prefer Uniball Jetstream
    for everyday use and convenience and being more environmentally friendly I use Pentel EnerGel

  42. 42
    westy says:

    I love the feel and function of the G2 body but do not like the ink.

    So I use a G2 body with a Jetsream refill (which fits without modification) or a Fisher space pen refill (which requires a spacer easily made by cutting a piece off the back end of a G2 refill).


    Then I take a half used up Jestream refill and snip it down for use in a G2 mini. That’s the perfect front pocket pen.

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