Pen Review: Uni-ball Jetstream 3 (0.7mm) & Signo RT1 (0.38mm)

Uni Jetstream 3 in Transparent Black, 0.7mm

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The Uni-ball Jetstream 3 is no ordinary ballpoint pen. First of all, it’s a multipen, which means that the body houses three colors–in this case, blue, red, and black. It’s a good choice for people who change between those colors often. I mostly just use blue, so the added convenience is lost on me. One of my gripes about multipens is that they often feel flimsy, with a lightweight barrel and lots of rattling. This pen is on the sturdier side, with no flex in the barrel, little rattling, and a nice silicone grip. The more important thing, though, is the ink. Though it uses a ballpoint mechanism to disperse the ink, the ink itself is not traditional ballpoint ink. It’s called “hybrid ink” (source), which is why you’ll see it described as both oil-based and pigment-based–because it is! The secret to the Jetstream is that its ink is a cross between ballpoint and gel ink.

As a result, it writes incredibly smoothly. It has the even flow and glide of a ballpoint pen with the reduced viscosity of a gel pen. I was initially put off by it, since I’m used so regular ballpoint pens where the ink comes out more slowly and requires more pressure to write. But I think it’s growing on me. I can see myself using a blue Jetstream in the future. The ink has remarkably bold color as a result of using pigments in the ink. Other things to note: the clip seems fairly weak on the Jetstream 3. I can see myself accidentally snapping it off at some point. At any rate, it’s an extremely smooth writer. I might pick up a blue at some point for regular use–I like that it doesn’t require as much downward pressure as a ballpoint pen does.

Uni-ball Signo RT1 in Black, 0.38 mm

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The Uni-ball Signo RT1 is a take on the classic Signo DX. (My guess is that the RT stands for “retract,” since this Signo model uses a clicker/knock to retract the tip, whereas the DXs have caps.) The Signo DX is a popular line of gel ink pens, and they come in lots of colors. When I was in Korea last summer, I bought a few gel pens, including DXs in black (0.5 & 0.28mm) and blue (0.5mm). I had no idea that they were well-respected models at the time; I just bought the pens that wrote the best. The RT1 also writes quite well. At 0.38mm, the tip is quite thin, and as a result it feels quite scratchy against the paper. Also, gel ink tips and ballpoint tips write differently, so the line from this pen writes only marginally thinner than the 0.7mm Jetstream above. On this particular model, “[t]he tip is rounded and edgeless to reduce friction against the paper, resulting in a super-smooth writing experience.” I did a quick test against my 0.28mm DX and indeed found this to the be case. Not Jetstream-smooth, but smooth for a 0.38mm gel.

I rather like the design of this pen. It has a minimalistic thing going on, with the silicone grip blending seamlessly into the body. It extends as close to the tip as possible, which is a nice design touch. The one hit against the design is that when the knock (the technical term for the clicky thing at the top) is depressed, it rattles when the pen is moved up and down. It makes a sound similar to one of those shaker mechanical pencils, and when I first got this I had a moment of confusion where I wondered if something was supposed to come out by shaking it. Then I remembered it was a pen. Anyway, it’s a pretty nice gel pen, so if you like gel pens or fine tips, you may enjoy the Signo RT1!

(These pens were provided free for review by the JetPens store, but the opinions contained herein are solely my own.)

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