New Math: The Pilot FriXion Ball 3 Metal 3 Color Gel Multi Pen in Gradation Blue

When does 1+1+1 = 1? When you’re using the new 3-color FriXion Multi Pen from Pilot.

Pilot FriXion Multi Pen

Pilot FriXion Multi Pen (0.5 mm) in Gradation Blue

I’ve reviewed the Frixion pens before. (Remember the “hot car” experiment?) Around the time I posted that review, I asked Pilot, via Twitter, if they’d ever thought about making a FriXion multi pen. So maybe I nudged them towards this latest Frixion incarnation? Or more likely, it was already in the works. In any case, it’s here, JetPens carries it, and I ordered it. I seem to be a sucker for all things FriXion.

Pilot FriXion test drive
FriXion Multi Pen vs. retractable single pens

Looking closely at the sample, it appears that the black gel ink in the multi pen is a touch lighter than the black from the retractable single pen. And that’s really my only knock on this pen. The blue is strong, the red just a little less so, and the black definitely leans towards gray. Because the ink erases so cleanly (see the previous review for details on this feature), I’m willing to concede a bit on the darkness of the black ink. But if you require a pitch black ink, you’d better pass on this pen.

The eraser uses friction (FriXion!) to create heat to “erase” the specially formulated gel ink. If you’re like me, you spend the month of December writing lists, lists, and more lists. And correcting those lists. And color-coding those lists. Now you can do it all with one erasable pen.

FriXion eraser
FriXion eraser

The grip is rubberized and firm, and makes for easy handling. No slippage! The metal body, in Gradation Blue, fades from royal blue above the grip, to teal at the eraser end. It’s a novel, eye-catching look.

The best thing, though, is that I’m carrying one pen instead of three. With the FriXion Multi Pen, 1+1+1 really does equal 1.

1+1+1 = 1
New math

That’s one equation I don’t need to erase.

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!

The Pilot Acroball 3 (0.7mm): A Bad Joke & A Review

First the joke…

Then the pen…

The Acroball 3 is one of those pens that grows on you…unlike that lame joke. When it first arrived, I liked it just okay, but lately I find myself using it more and more. Even though it’ll only run you 675 pennies (hardly anything!), there are a number of details that add up to making this pen a favorite.


The clip sports a super sturdy spring that makes it easy to clip the pen onto notebooks, pockets, messenger bag pockets, or purses. It simply stays put. It’s also fun to play with when you have some nervous energy to burn. Not that I ever do that.


This section of the pen is rubberized, with a subtle herringbone texture that makes the grip feel exactly right. Under the rubber, the body of the pen is not entirely solid, but feels to be constructed of narrow, but sturdy, ribs. (I’m guessing here, but that’s what it feels like.) Because of this, the grip area “gives” just a little when you press on it. Again, it feels absolutely perfect to me. If you look VERY CLOSELY at the picture, you can just about make out the “ribs” that I’m talking about.)

A few samples…

As you can see in the above samples, the colors are true and the lines are crisp and clean. I think the writing experience has gotten better the more I use the pen (e.g., the black seems to have gotten blacker), which may be why I went from feeling “meh” to feeling “wow.” Because it’s a ballpoint, there is just a bit of white space in the line, but it’s so slight that it doesn’t bother me at all (and I’m a stickler for that).

Jetpens describes the ink as being a “newly created oil-based ink that has 1/5 the viscosity of conventional oil-based inks.” The result is a super smooth writing experience. REALLY smooth…not Ink Joy smooth. (Hee.)

Now here’s my favorite part…
The biggest problem I have with multipens has nothing to do with the pens and everything to do with my brain (or lack thereof). I pick up the pen intending to write in black, but then I forget to check which tip has been deployed, and, DARN, I’m writing in red. HAPPENS. ALL. THE. TIME. That issue disappears with the Acroball 3 as there is a visual clue…a tiny band of color just above the actual writing point. Black, blue, red…there it is…right where I’m looking when I’m ready to write. The mush brain issue is GONE.

Black ink clue

Blue ink clue

Red ink clue

My knock-knock joke was bad, but this pen will knock your socks off.

Orange you going to buy one?

Another one of the multiple multi pens: Zebra Surari 4-Color Emulsion Ink Multi Pen (0.7 mm)

So is it multipens, multi-pens, or multi pens? And why do I care?

Let’s get to it.

This Surari, with its orange body, is a flat out winner. No doubt about it. In fact, a sane person would stop buying pens after they acquired this one. After all, you’ve got all four of your daily ink requirements packed into one medium sized pen body. Black, blue, red, and green. This team can handle any jotting, editing, drawing, scribbling, list making, color-coding need.  Buy this and you’re ALL SET.

The grip is just right, too. It’s grippy enough to be helpful, but not so grippy that it’s distracting. Know what I mean?

The ink color is selected by sliding down the associated plunger button thingie (is there a technical term for that?), except for black, which is selected by sliding down the pen clip. But you would’ve figured that out for yourself.

And the emulsion ink is just wonderful. You can tell that by the green. SO many times, the black, blue, and red look great, but the green is anemic and disappointing. Not so in this one. I don’t use a lot of green, but when I do, I want it to be GREEEEEEN.

Emulson ink is, according to Jetpens, low-friction, smear-proof, and water-resistant. All this for $4.95. Mere peanuts.

You’re welcome.

Jetstream F*Series 2 Color 0.5 mm Ballpoint + 0.5 mm Pencil

Sooo…multipens. Addicted. Totally addicted. Which is kind of crazy given that having one multipen should be sufficient to meet all of one’s pen needs, right? In theory, yes. Problem is, once you try one multipen, you need to (okay, want to) try more. And more. And more. Until there are multiple multipens in your pen cup. And purse. And messenger bag.

Here’s one of my favorites…one that I recently re-discovered…the Jetstream F*Series 2 Color 0.5 mm Ballpoint + 0.5 mm Pencil (quite the name!). According to the description on the Jetpens website, the “F” stands for “feminine.” I don’t see this pen as being all that feminine, though I suppose the slim design, stripes, and little charm on the end could be considered more feminine than masculine. All I know is that I fell in love with the stripes and the fact that I could carry black ink, red ink, and a pencil in one pen body.


Because it’s a Jetstream, the 0.5mm line is sharp and crisp and the colors are true. Black is black and red is red. No wishy-washiness. Jetstreams, as a rule, do not disappoint. Simply twist the pen body forward or backward to rotate through the three options. My only beef with multipens is that I sometimes forget to check which point I’ve selected, and I wind up writing in red when I want to write in black, or vice-versa. But that’s not the pen’s fault, just user error. And age.

The pen tips are sharp, but smooth. Just perfect, especially if you prefer a fine line. There’s not even a HINT of scratchiness. Smoooooth.

And on the end…a tiny charm. Thus the F series, I guess.

A charming pen, no?!