Love At First Write: The UniBall Signo MF3 Multipen

Is it Uni-Ball or UniBall or uni-ball? Is it multipen or multi-pen or multi pen? You’re right. Who cares? (I’ll just pick one and try to be consistent. Or not.)

UniBall Signo MF3

Because I love my UniBall Signo DX so much, I did a little browsing on the JetPens site to see if there were any Signo multipens, and wound up adding the Signo MF3 to a recent order. Even though there were other pens in the order that I was more excited about, the MF3 quickly rose to the top of the pen heap. Let’s see if I can figure out, and explain, why.

Three options for all of your writing needs:

A writing sample

Most of the time, the three options (black gel, red gel, and pencil…all 0.5 mm) cover my writing needs. I’m a big list maker (in my Planner Pad, in my Field Notes, etc.) so I use all three equally. The gel inks are solid performers, which is not surprising given UniBall’s reputation. The pencil is fine, too. though I’ll probably swap the lead for a 2B one, as I prefer a softer, darker line. (Pencil OCD.)

Just the right size:

Not to get all Goldilocks on you, but the size of this pen is JUST right…not too thick, not too thin. It feels very good in hand. I haven’t experienced an iota of fatigue. (Well, not WRITING fatigue, anyway.)

Nice color chooser thingie:

Dialed in for red

Switching from black to red to pencil and back again takes just a little twist of the body. Once the clip is aligned with the desired color indicator on the barrel, you’re good to go. Set the clip in between the color indicators and all tips are retracted into the barrel. See?

Setting to retract the tip

You’re basically twisting across 180 degrees of the barrel, from black to red to pencil and back again. You can’t twist around the entire barrel (i.e., there’s no way to go from pencil to black without passing through red). Is this a hardship? Not to me. I haven’t experienced any issues with the mechanism hanging up, which can be a multipen annoyance.

I also like that the front end of the barrel is translucent so you can tell which tip you’ve deployed. As I’ve said in other reviews, this is a failing of mine…wanting to write in black, but having red selected. Your color choice is pretty obvious in this pen.

I want red & I see red. Perfect.

The grip:

The grip is smooth rubber and is well positioned. Some grips are placed too high on the barrel so that they aren’t much use to “low grippers.” Not so with this pen. There’s no texture, but there’s still enough grippiness (and I’ve been using it during sweltering days and evenings). No slippage, even at a zillion % humidity!

Though the Signo MF3 is fairly basic in design, and very reasonably priced ($6.75 at JetPens), it is a stellar performer.

I expected to like the UniBall Signo MF3, but I didn’t expect to experience love at first write.

Cheesy, but true. Very true.

Edited to add:
This is wrong: You’re basically twisting across 180 degrees of the barrel, from black to red to pencil and back again. You can’t twist around the entire barrel (i.e., there’s no way to go from pencil to black without passing through red). You CAN rotate 360 degrees around the barrel. I’ve been using this pen a lot this week, and discovered my error in the original review. All better now!

And the winner is…

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29. George P said: May 26, 2012 at 10:42 am Happy 75th Birthday to the Golden Gate Bridge! Good day to win an orange pen!

Congratulations, George! And happy birthday to the Golden Gate Bridge! I will send you an email so that you can respond and provide your mailing address.

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO COMMENTED! Rest assured, there will be more giveaways throughout the summer, so keep reading.

Happy writing!

Hey, it matches!(sort of)

Win-Win: The Uniball Jetstream, Rubber Body Series (Orange, 0.7 mm)

I remember the day distinctly. The scene: 2004, Staples, pen aisle. I was doing my usual pen stalking, on the look-out for anything new, intriguing, interesting, promising. I stalk with a very critical eye as I learned long ago that you can’t trust the promises plastered on pen packaging. Just because the package yells, “SMOOTHEST PEN ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH,” doesn’t mean it’s true. How many times had I been sucked in by promises of dark smooth lines, only to be disappointed by “meh” performances? Too many times. Too many times. And yet, the stalking continued.

This day, on an aisle end cap, I stopped. Stopped dead, and thought, “Hmmmm…what’s this?!” Maybe I even said it out loud. “Ooooo…an Uniball Jetstream…worth a shot.” I think it was a pack of Jetstream Sports that I picked up that day. Back in my car, I tore open the package and scribbled a few lines on the receipt and on the back of the package. I IMMEDIATELY knew that this pen/ink was different. No more “meh.” The ink was smooth. It was bold. It was solid. It was the blackest black I’d seen in a long time (or ever). Angels with tiny harps sang HALLELUJAH in their perfect angels voices. (Didn’t they?) The quest- the decades-long quest- was over. You don’t forget that kind of day.

Since then, I’ve been a faithful Jetstream fan. I’ve purchased and used capped versions, retractable versions, and a bunch of multipen versions. The low viscosity ink is just amazingly smooth. I’ve never been without some form of Jetstream pen. Even as I branch out into other brands, other price points, and other ink types, the Jetstream remains a “go to” pen. Want a superb writing experience? Grab a Jetstream. It’s that simple.

Uniball Jetstream Rubber Body Series

This particular model is from the Rubber Body Series (0.7 mm, orange body), purchased from JetPens, and is a current favorite. The rubber body is smooth and warm, with just a bit of grip. I like the matte finish on the knock and the…ummmm, what’s it called?…the nosecone?

At work

At play

Monday morning

Relaxing on Saturday

At $4.25, it’s a great pen at a great deal. You simply can’t go wrong with a Jetstream. And you REALLY can’t go wrong with a rubber body ORANGE Jetstream.

Writing sample

Ah, yes…2004. It was a very good year.


AND NOW, YOU can WIN this pen! That’s right (write!)…I have a brand new orange Jetstream to give away. Here’s how it works:

1) Post a comment here (one per person, please). Say hi, offer an opinion, tell me why you’d like to win, tell me about your favorite pen(s)…

2) The deadline for commenting is 11:59 pm Sunday May 27th.

3) The first entry will be assigned #1, the 2nd will be assigned #2, etc. You get the drift.

4) On Monday May 28th, I’ll select the winner via a random number generator, and post the result here. We’ll sort out the mailing details after that.

5) Until I figure out what shipping pens internationally entails, this contest is open to US residents only. (Sorry about that!)

The best part? Even if you don’t win, you can pick up this awesome pen at JetPens yourself for less than the cost of a McDonald’s lunch. THAT’S a WIN-WIN situation.

Good luck.

A Stunner: The Monteverde One Touch Engage Retractable Ink Ball Pen

A mouthful of a name, to be sure. This is a pen I’ve had my eye on for a LONG time. It’s been docked on my Maybe/Someday list for quite a while. But I haven’t been able to track down any comprehensive reviews, and because I didn’t know how it wrote, and because it IS a bit on the pricey side, I kept pondering (as is my MO). Eventually the pondering got tiresome (as pondering does), so after a brief email exchange with Brad at Daly’s Pen Shop, I decided to just go for it. (Shocking, I know. I bet you thought I was going to write, “I decided not to buy it. The end.”)

It arrived last week. So cool.

Monteverde One Touch Engage

And a writing sample…

Let’s get to the obvious stuff first. As you can see, this is not a fine line, and the writing experience runs on the wet side. Let me back up a bit to explain that this pen is a retractable rollerball (actually, “ink ball”) that uses fountain pen ink (via the included cartridges or converter) rather than a standard rollerball refill. Thus the wetness. And thus the coolness. I’m currently using the cartridge that came with the pen, but I also ordered a few packs of Private Reserve cartridges in other colors (Lake Placid Blue, Copper Burst, and Chocolate) to mix things up a bit. There are 30+ colors of Private Reserve cartridges available, so if you have no desire to work with bottled ink, you can still experience a world of color options. A converter is included with the pen, so I may get brave and explore the world of bottled ink someday. It could happen!

Disassembled One Touch Engage with cartridge installed

When the pen arrived, I popped in the cartridge (a nice little pamphlet explains what goes where), topped it with the cartridge adapter, reassembled the pen, and grabbed a sheet of paper. The One Touch wrote immediately. I didn’t even have to make a tiny scribble to get it going. This pen is a very smooth writer, but as I said (and as you can see), the line is on the thick side and is wetter than your run-of-the-mill rollerball– more like a fountain pen, which makes total sense.

Because of the wetness (which I enjoy!), I quickly realized that this pen requires paper that is able to handle the free flow of ink. The Levenger Circa paper on which I initially wrote this review does very well, but after doing a little poking around, I decided to also order a stack of Clairfontaine notebooks from Goulet Pens as this paper sounds like it’ll be just the ticket. If you write on any old paper, you will see feathering and bleed-through. But with good paper, it’s a dream.

Page one of this review, on Levenger Circa paper

The body is simply stunning, which is why I couldn’t stop pondering it. According to the Monteverde website, the One Touch is “made of handmade high quality Carbon Fiber,” and I can attest that this is true. This pen is solid, shiny, subtle, and very, very sturdy. The knock is also substantial and engages easily (with “one touch”). I especially like the Monteverde logo on the knock…a great detail.

Monteverde logo on knock

One Touch clip and carbon fiber

Though I haven’t fully tested it out yet, the pen is touted as being “Capless Forever”– meaning that you can leave the tip deployed for extended periods of time without the ink drying up as would happen with a fountain pen. I’m usually quick to retract my pens when I’m not using them, so this probably isn’t a key feature for me, but it’s nice to know that if I forget, I won’t come back to a dried up mess.

The business end…Capless Forever

So after all of that pondering, I can wholeheartedly say that the Monteverde One Touch Engage offers a very unique (patented) writing experience. Will I use it every single day? Probably not, because of the need for good quality paper, but I WILL use it often because it is smoooooooth, because I can play with a wide range of inks and colors, and because it feels and looks SO GOOD.

Branding and carbon fiber

I was intrigued. NOW I’m ENGAGED– fully engaged. You will be, too.

A Kitten Pen: The Kaweco Liliput Fountain Pen (EF nib)

This weekend, on the way home from a meeting, the friend who was giving me a ride asked if I’d mind taking a bit of a detour to see some kittens who were recently discovered under the porch of an acquaintance. (I know…world’s longest sentence.) Would I MIND?! For KITTENS?! Heck no!!

I won’t go into a lot of detail here (imagine that), but let’s just say that there was some serious cuteness going on in that yard and under that porch. There they were…four calicos and one back-and-white…skittish and clumsy and oh so tiny. 100% pure cuteness.

And THAT is what the Kaweco Liliput has in common with kittens. It is tiny and 100% adorable. And tiny. Really tiny. You have to see it to believe it.

When Brad Dowdy talked about the Liliput on a recent Pen Addict podcast, I started browsing on JetPens right during the show– and I was smitten. I THINK I’d run across it before, but hadn’t given it more than a passing glance. I had my Kaweco AL-Sport. I was happy. But then, as the days passed after that podcast, I couldn’t stop thinking about this seriously small fountain pen. (I think I even had a dream about it. Yeah. Weird.) Long story short(ish), I cracked. And I’m glad I did.

Teeny tiny Kaweco Liliput branding

I have a few fountain pens- mostly Lamys- and they’re fine, but the EF nib on this Liliput is the smoothest nib I own. Like buttah! I ordered Kaweco sepia cartridges along with the pen, rather than my typical black, and love the ink as much as the pen. They’re just the perfect combo.

What’s also unique about this pen- at least to me- is that the cap threads onto the end of the barrel, giving you enough length to hold and write comfortably.

Threaded barrel for posting the cap

Because the cap and barrel are threaded, you can’t just whip the pen out, pull the cap off and write. There’s a little bit of time involved to unscrew the cap, then thread it onto the barrel. This doesn’t take long, but it feels like a tiny ritual, and I like that. Because so much of what we do and how we work is done almost by reflex, I like having something- or I should say, using something- that feels “mindful.” In the few moments that it takes to uncap the pen, then post the cap, I feel like I settle in and settle down. I exhale. I think about my words. I am present.

That’s not to say that this pen isn’t without its drawbacks. If you have large hands, or require a grip, or have a tendency to lose things, this probably isn’t your pen.

I’m a total sucker for this packaging.

So while this Liliput fountain pen is just as adorable as those five little porch kitties, its qualities run much deeper than its good looks. For me, this pen is my soulmate. And I’m not even kidding.

Short and Sweet: Uniball Signo DX 0.28 (Brown-Black)

I’ve been down with the plague, so I lost the weekend and the beginning of the week. Here it is, Thursday already. Time to post, but time is short. So let’s just get to it with this current favorite, the Uniball Signo DX 0.28 mm with brown-black ink.

I purchased this awhile ago and kind of back-burnered it, but recently picked it up again and boy oh boy, it’s pretty sweet. (Not short, just sweet.)

Super affordable at a mere $2.50, the Signo DX could be considered a basic gel pen, but that would be shortchanging it. The body, though plastic, is solid. Basic, but solid. The tip is sturdy, even at the ultra-fine 0.28 mm. You could lean on this bad boy point and not do it any damage.

The grip perfectly suits the pen, very functional with a simple “dimpled” design. It just feels good.

The best part about this pen is the ultra-crisp line that it lays down. There is a bit of feedback from the fine, fine tip, but nothing that I’d call scratchiness. I just love how super sharp my words look. How crisp. How clean. (Oh, my…it sounds like Sprite.) And I’m a big fan of the brown-black ink having recently developed a “thing” for brown inks.

There’s a satisfying, but subtle, “snap” when you post the cap or recap the pen. And a cute little reminder to “Recap After Use.” CLICK.

If you’re looking for a super affordable, but well-made pen, with an ultra-fine line, the Signo DX 0.28 mm is a sweet, sweet choice.

And that is that.