Uni-ball Signo RT UM-138 Gel Ink Pen – 0.38 mm – Blue Black

24 05 2011

I had a lot of fun with the doodles. Always a good sign(o)

My fourth goody generously provided by JetPens :) I feel like I don’t even need to tell you guys how awesome the JetPens team is at this point; it is naturally assumed to be part of the very definition of JetPens; the phrase “awesome JetPens” is just redundant. But I’ll keep thanking them anyway. Another set of thanks to JetPens!

The Uni-ball Signo line was probably the first sub-0.5mm pen to work its way into my regular rotation of pen use about a year ago. The model was the Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38mm in brown-black and bordeaux-black, which, though enjoyable, was plagued with issues of ink blobbing. But the pen had otherwise endeared itself to me, and I put some other Signo models on my wishlist over the following months, unwilling to write this pen off.


What we have here is an ideal candidate for a perfect office pen. The design is pleasing but unobtrusive, with the entirety of the pen working together to broadcast the color it contains, including a blue tint on the translucent parts of the barrel. Nothing flashy, which is probably ideal for the stereotypical office setting, but no dead-fish design either; all of the Signo RT line has richly colored barrels that match the ink they contain. The only reason the blue-black may look less than bursting with vibrancy is because blue-black is inherently a more toned-down sort of color.

The plunger has a very sturdy clicking mechanism. I bet it would hold nicely if you needed to enlist your pen in weaponized, stab-like activities.

The grip is simple rubber with some slight, subtle curving to it; narrower toward the tip, thicker toward the back. The plunger has the nice, satisfying sort of click that every retractable pen should have. It’s a simple design, but absolutely suited to the task of inexpensive office pen.

I like a sturdy, conical-tipped microtip pen. Feels solid. Nothing to break or snap here.

The writing experience was much better than the Signo DX. I never had a single issue with ink blobs. I can write with a light touch and it’s just as dark as with a heavy hand—actually, it might even be a little darker. If you write with too much pressure, you get lightness and almost streaking in the middle of the line itself (look at the writing sample bigger; it’s very evident). Writing with a light hand is much smoother, and gives a more consistent line. In spite of the slight consistency of ink line problem with the heavy pressure writing style, I never had the pen not put down ink. No skipping, no smudging. The smoothness isn’t phenomenal, but for a pen that’s $1.50, it’s quite satisfactory. And it’s another fun little sketching pen; not an art object, which I don’t want in an office pen, but it can still hold its own when a boring meeting needs some doodles to flourish in the margins of notes.

I think the best place for this pen is within a multi-color array of microtip pens in a nice cup at your desk. It’ll do well for daily work needs (and every job, in my opinion, needs to have a cup of pens in multiple colors and tip sizes available at all times), but isn’t something you need to shed a tear over if a coworker wanders off with it. And since it’s retractable, there’s no cap to worry about losing. Exactly what an office pen needs.

I'll help you make intricate and detailed notes, figures, and margin doodles!

Thanks again to JetPens for providing me with this pen! :)

Uni-ball Signo RT UM-138 Gel Ink Pen – 0.38 mm – Blue Black at JetPens




4 responses

2 06 2011

Awesome, I’ve been a fan of this pen for years. At the shop I used to work, this was our pen of choice for glass & millwork drafting. The local Office Depot (?) carried them for a hot minute, then stopped, so we regularly ordered them in 12xred/blue/black boxes from Amazon. It was the first time I saw a non-specialty pen below 0.5mm, and will always have a(n awkward, cheap little) place in my heart.

3 06 2011
Economy Pens

Now I have to go back and do a comparison of the Signo RT with my Signo DXs, because I thought the DX was better (smoother, more consistent). Maybe I just got a bad batch of Signo RTs? This is just a crisis…

On a serious note, great review!

12 06 2011
No Pen Intended

Heh, to be fair, I think I need to try more DXs and RTs…maybe I just got two DXs that were really prone to blob problems. Science says that I must buy more pens to resolve this conundrum. Can’t argue with science!

11 07 2011

You’re right, the body ain’t much to look at but…here’s what I did. I bought a Pilot G2 Limited (I liked the silver one, but they also come in other colors.) at Walmart for about $10. I put the 0.38 uni-ball inside (I think I had to trim it a bit.) and never looked back. It’s a great combination.

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