OTC: The AvantNext 0.5 mm Gel Pen by Staples

[Click on any picture to enlarge it. But then, you already knew that.]

AvantNext Gel by Staples

AvantNext bullet points

Honestly, I don’t buy many pens over-the-counter (OTC) lately, having come to prefer the ever-changing selection available online. I’m pretty much a walking commercial for Jetpens, The Goulet Pen Company, and Daly’s Pen Shop. BUT, I happened to be in our local Staples store on Sunday for a quick errand, and couldn’t resist moseying around the store a bit. The pen section was full of the same, same, same been there/tried that offerings.

On my way out, I came upon one of those free-standing pen displays. You know, the kind with pens on cords and a few scribble pads. Hmmmm…something new? Really? So I scribbled, as the pads urged me to do. AND I WAS IMPRESSED. AT STAPLES.

After the inevitable “I don’t need any more pens”/”Yes I do” internal debate, I caved and picked up the AdvantNext (0.5 mm gel) model. The whole Avant line is on sale so I selected a 2-pack of pens for $4.00, as well as two 2-packs of ballpoint refills (red & black, 1.0 mm) for a buck each. Why ballpoint refills? I’ll get to that in a minute.

AvantNext…2-pack for $4.00 (normally $5.99)

Besides the AvantNext (gel/plastic body), there’s also the AvantStyle (ballpoint/plastic body), and AvantPro (ballpoint/stainless steel body). In the store, I was impressed by the performance of both the gel and ballpoint inks, and then I noticed a note on the back of the packaging that said, “Interchangeable ink system- works with any Avant ink refill.” Thus my decision to buy the gel PENS and the ballpoint REFILLS. I can mix and match as my pen mood changes. Kind of cool.

Avant SilksScribe 1.0 mm ballpoint refills…just a buck each (normally $2.99)

Here are my impressions, after three days of use…

I love the packaging, in that you can open it without cutting your fingers to bits getting to the pens. The front and back plastic pieces can simply be pulled apart. No scissors needed. It’s a little detail, but one that’s appreciated.

I have to say that I really hate the name. Avant. AvantNext. Maybe it’s me, but I can’t remember it (I keep typing ADVENT!), and it sounds clunky to my ear…more like a pharmaceutical product than a pen. Avant/Advantix. Pen/flea treatment. See what I mean?

AvantNext branding & clip. Both look cheesy.

The pen is lightweight plastic, and feels and looks like a pen you’d pick up at a trade show or from a pharmaceutical rep. It doesn’t scream, or even whisper, quality. The grip area of the pen contains a ribbed section that’s made of the same hard plastic as the rest of the body. So don’t expect anything cushy.

AvantNext grip. Nothing to write home about.

Despite all of my griping about the cheap feel of the body and the not-very-catchy name, I am happily using this pen because of the wonderfully crisp, smooth, and dark line of the 0.5 mm gel refill. It really IS superb. There’s not a hint of feathering or bleed-through. It’s wet enough, but not too wet. Just perfect. The writing experience reminds me of the Moleskine pen, but without the $14.99 price tag. It so good, that I’m willing to overlook the el cheapo body and boring branding.

0.5 mm gel refill. Very, very nice.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive, but stellar, writing experience, Staples Avant line is certainly worth a look. After a test drive, my bet is that you’ll say, “Avant this pen!” (Get it? Avant? I want? Oh, never mind.)

Drop what you’re doing and get to Staples. Stat.

16 thoughts on “OTC: The AvantNext 0.5 mm Gel Pen by Staples

  1. I listened to what you said & bought the black & blue gel refills today, lol. The refill is compatible with the Uni-ball 207 and regular Zebra Sarasa barrels, so I’m just going to use these combinations. The blue is the same shade as the Sarasas. Overall, the ink is pretty nice. I probably would have ignored it if you hadn’t written the review!

    • Thanks for the compatibility info! The refill DID look like it would fit in other bodies, but I haven’t had the chance to play around with any “hacks,” so your info is appreciated!

  2. I am a big Jetstream fan and recently tried and liked initially but less with use, the Zebra Zmulsion 1.0. So the silk scribe 1.0, actually more of a hybrid, seems very good. The metal pens are far more solid but on sale for $4 now. I like the feel of the capped one (though I wish it was a bit more cushioned in the grip. (In fact while I love its soft grip I wish the Jetstream premier was as solid and actually had metal in it!) I’ve tried the Silk scribe in black and blue (only a 1.0 point) and the blue one I just put in and I found 2 separate samples of the blue to be FAR less silky than its black ink equivalent!! Curious. Anyone else have same experience? Anyway in black and with the metal bodies a nice nice pen

    • By the way, hack-wise, the Zmulsion refills are perfect fits with Jetstreams. The Staples SilkScribes are WAY wider in barrel and look size wise more like Uni 207s

    • I haven’t broken out the Silkscribe refills as yet, but did scribble with the black one in the store. I bought red and black refills and am curious to see if they are equally “silky.” I’m STILL loving the 0.5 gel pen, despite not loving the body. Maybe I’ll pick up the Pro version while it’s on sale.

  3. I went through the same internal dialogue before buying these. They really do write well, but my 4 year old broke the clip off just trying to get the cap off to sign a card… cheap feel, yes. I wonder what else the refills fit into? I’ll have to play with that!

  4. Pingback: Link Love: Pen and Papers and Inks, oh my! | The Well-Appointed Desk

  5. Just like you I happened to see the Avantnext display at Staples & took a chance with .05mm tip. So far I like it. Also like you I have several pen cups. My wife thinks I’m crazy. It’s hard for me to resist buying a new pen to try. I was going to send you a photo of my various pen cups but there no way to attach it. Probably just as well. This is my first time to see your blog. I look forward to viewing some of your blogs.

  6. I got the capped Avant 0.5 Gels, hated the pen. Love the refill. With some filing, I was able to put it into a pen taking a Waterman-Style rollerball refill. Really great. Always smooth, never skips, unlike the Moleskine and Cross gel refills I’ll use sometimes.

  7. I was looking around for a good replacement refill for my Pelikan Souveran rollerball, because I love the pen, but didn’t care for the original refill. I tried couple of options including Pilot and Mont Blanc. It was a great fortune that I found Avant .5mm refill. I had to shave off some extra plastic near the tip, and cut an air hole to allow continue ink flow. After this minor hack, this pen is impeccable. I love the lines and writing feel. It’s not scratchy or fragile like pilot C-series, and ink doesn’t spread crazy. It lays down perfect .5 line with a great writing pleasure. This may be the cheapest refill around, but I would choose this refill over Mont Blanc, Pilot or Pelikan any time of the day.

    • I love it as well. Always super cheap, and yet a great performer. I put it into any rollerball pen that I can. Glad you like it, too!

  8. I had purchased a pair of these about a month ago. And i liked them. bUt within 2 weeks the tip went rigid and stopped working. GAaaa!!! GOing to staples tomorrowto see about gwtting refills. hOping its just a bad or old batch.

    • Very strange! I still use these in a couple of machined/handmade pens and haven’t had an issue, even with refills that I’ve stored for awhile. Hope you can get this resolved!

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