Pilot Dr. Grip Full Black Dual Layer Grip Ballpoint Pen – Black Accents

12 07 2013
Dr. Grip is here with your prescription FOR PAIN! Wait, sorry, that's wrestling. Dr. Grip's prescription is relief from pain.

Dr. Grip is here with your prescription FOR PAIN! Wait, sorry, that’s wrestling. Pen Dr. Grip’s prescription is relief from pain.

Eons ago, in a time before regular disposable income (a time also known as “childhood’), I owned some form of Pilot Dr. Grip writing utensil. The memories are a bit hazy—it could’ve been a pencil, or maybe it was a pen—but either way my writing instrument probably had a Ph.D in writeology (or maybe I’m thinking of the Paper Mate PhD) and because I had no discerning taste I probably loved it. Seeing these new Dr. Grip models in my local pen store, I decided to see how the modern model stacks up against the nostalgia.

"What are you going to do with your degree?" "Become a pen."

“What are you going to do with your degree?” “Become a pen.”

Though there is a statistically significant portion of this pen that isn’t, as the name claims, Full Black, I’m willing to give it a pass. I love the matte black bits, and wish the whole barrel had been made with that material. But what do I know, I’m not paid to design pens.

 I'm paid to ask you where your emergency is, provided your emergency is within a certain Southern town. Also paid to tell police officers to go to your emergencies, and you know, resolve that stuff being emergent. I also send firetrucks and ambulances, tell your friends!

I’m paid to ask you where your emergency is, provided your emergency is within a certain Southern town. Also paid to tell police officers to go to your emergencies, and you know, resolve that stuff being emergent. I also send firetrucks and ambulances, tell your friends!

The grip is supposedly some kind of fancy dual-layer construction which, like pretty much every other deluxe grip invented, seems patently designed to collect lint and debris on its surface. I’m beginning to think this is the weird trade-off for luxury grips. You can sort of get a sense in this picture of the two layers. It’s pretty comfortable, but I like a squishier grip (think Alpha Gel). But it’s undoubtedly a step up from a nothing grip.

It looks less messy than it should because the ink is on me

It looks less messy than it should because the ink is on me

Here’s the part I’m certain beats out whatever Dr. Chumpstick I had in days of yore. This refill is surprisingly smooth. And undeniably black. I tried to compare it to my 0.7mm Pilot Acroball (Pilot’s own supersmooth) and it was no contest; the Dr. Grip was hands-down the winner in terms of ink gliding across the page. Now, it’s possible my Dr. Grip is actually 1.0mm and I’m comparing that orange to the apple of a 0.7mm, or maybe the passage of time and not being regularly used has left my resident Acroball not as smooth as it once was…but this is a fine writing pen and I’d pick up my Dr. Grip a hundred times before I’d pick up my Acroball again, given the choice between the two.

You do this enough times and you'll have ink on your hands too

You do this enough times and you’ll have ink on your hands too

The Dr. Grip is not only refillable, but it’s solid enough to feel like it’s worth refilling. You can either take it apart in the middle, or take it apart utterly and completely because you want to watch the world burn.

1 out of 1 cats approve the Pilot Dr. Grip for superior deliciousness

1 out of 1 cats approve the Pilot Dr. Grip for superior deliciousness

I got this bad boy cheaper at my local pen store than what JetPens is offering, but if you don’t have a local pen store, and don’t want to set foot in a big box office supply store (which some of them surely carry this pen), you can fork over a little extra and get it from JetPens. Either way, it’s worth it.

Pilot Dr. Grip Full Black Dual Layer Grip Ballpoint Pen – Black Accents at JetPens

Pilot Dr. Grip refills also available at JetPens


Pilot AirBlanc Mechanical Pencil – 0.3 mm – Green

21 09 2012


A pencil is a pencil is a pencil. As far as I can tell, they’re all going to work about the same when it comes to standard mechanical pencils. There are rare, exceptional cases, but for the most part the pencil will be judged on aesthetics and comfort, with writing sample factoring in as a strong WHATEVER. But I’m not a pencil aficionado, so maybe I’m just missing something.

When a pen doesn’t write, it’s probably crappy ink. When a pencil doesn’t write, it’s probably out of lead.

The AirBlanc is a peaceful-looking pencil. Very fresh. Very springtime. The kind of pencil a clucking rabbit might hatch. All that green, plus the translucent-pearlescent upper casing…just lovely. The clip especially is a nice piece of design work.

Try to act like that isn’t neat. YOU CAN’T

Unfortunately, I don’t have a heat chamber where I can test the alleged cooling properties of the grip, and the typically sweltering Southern weather in these parts has begun its autumnal temperature descent. I will assume that if it’s hot enough for me to desire a specially aerated grip, it will be too hot for me to want to do any writing.

Though JetPens assures me that I do have a constant hothand problem that this pencil will fix.

As for writing, well, it writes. What else can I say?


The lead it comes with sufficiently transfers itself onto the paper when applied. Nothing particularly phenomenal, nothing problematic presenting when used. Maybe one day I’ll learn pencil nuance.

Until then I’ll just keep buying pencils and probably underappreciating them

All in all, a neat little pencil. Be sure to keep it in mind when your favorite springtime gift excuse holiday rolls around.

Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample!

Pilot AirBlanc Mechanical Pencil – 0.3 mm – Green at JetPens

Zebra Airfit LT Ballpoint Pen with Push Grip – 0.7 mm – Pearl Green Body – Black Ink

4 08 2012

One day I will collect all my best doodling ballpoint pens in one place and draw myself into oblivion

Ten points to Zebra, for making a “feminine” version of an already gender-ambiguous pen, without offending the entire human race. Many thanks to JetPens for providing this sample!

Before I froth and rave about its predecessor, let’s evaluate the Airfit LT on its own merits

It’s a standard-sized, lightweight plastic body, simplicity done well. You’ve got 3 colors, nicely balanced—mostly pearlescent mint green, with main accents translucent-clear, and just the right amount of silver shine.

It sparkles! Like fairy dust magic! …or vampires, apparently. I know when I look at sparkles, the first thing I think of is the blood-sucking undead.

I wasn’t expecting a ballpoint, for whatever reason (the reason being that I didn’t pay enough attention when reading the product description). I’m curious why, if the original Zebra Airfit is a beefed-up version of the Sarasa Push Clip, they wouldn’t outfit the ballpoint version of the Airfit with a Surari refill.

Not pictured: the Surari refill that SHOULD be the standard for the Airfit LT

It makes a difference. While this pen is decent for doodling, for writing I’m not thrilled. Surari smoothness in this pen body would be thrilling, as would having a deluxe version of the Surari (comparable to the Jetstream, which has quite the snazzy deluxe version). It’s a good pen, but it could be better.

AIRFIT BATTLE! Featuring adorable cell phone charm by Chiou!

A quick rundown of their differences: the Airfit LT is obviously thinner, and slightly shorter, with a smaller grip section. The big advantage in the LT’s design: much smoother transition between the grip and the nose cone. Very well done, and undoubtedly superior to the abrupt stop between those elements on the original Airfit. Now, what the LT gets wrong:

Pretty much this entire area here

I’m biased. I’m a HUGE fan of the clip on the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip. Really disappointed it didn’t put in an appearance on a pen of the same size. I’m willing to sacrifice some of the minimalist appeal for a clip that functional. Especially if it has accommodations for an adorable little cell phone charm.

As far as refills go, I have been unable to get the Sarasa Push Clip, Uni Signo & Jetstream multipen refills, and a handful of assorted other refills to fit, though I have not yet had a chance to try the Surari refills I have. Will have to update that later today.

While it’s a good pen, I still prefer the original Zebra Airfit (which fits Sarasa Push Clip refills and Jetstream RT refills). But I’m a sucker for that clip. If you hate the Push Clip’s clip, and want that neato airfit grip without the oversized barrel, then this is probably the pen you’ve been looking for!

Zebra Airfit LT Ballpoint Pen with Push Grip – 0.7 mm – Pearl Green Body – Black Ink at JetPens

Holiday Gift Guide — AND GIVEAWAY!

24 11 2011

It’s just about that time of year, my good people, when all your favorite gift-giving holidays convene. That’s right, such holidays as: my mom’s birthday. My grandmother’s birthday. National Fritters Day. Letter Writing Day. Pepper Pot Day. AND MANY MORE!

You will need to be armed to the teeth with gifts if you hope to make it to the other end of December alive. Personally, I like to do all my shopping from the same location, as far away from humanity as possible, and preferably while sitting. I think you know what that means—online shopping! This post will almost entirely feature items from JetPens; maybe, if I’m feeling particularly industrious, I’ll do another (or more?!) post(s) involving writing utensils from other websites.

And! As promised in the title, there will be a giveaway associated with this post. Details will follow. But first—pens!

I’ll organize this into two major categories—pens I own, and pens I don’t own but am going to recommend anyway—and for the first category, I’ll break it down by price. Let’s begin!


Pens I Own

$1 to $10

There are far too many pens in this category to list them all individually. So I’ve compiled a wish list of them on JetPens! And now it can be your wish list.


$11 to $30

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for Calligraphy – $13.50

Great for artists and people who can write in Japanese.

It’s got individual synthetic fiber bristles, and it’s refillable. Can write from a hair-thin line to an I-can’t-be-bothered-to-measure-how-thick broad line. Comes with 2 refills.


Uni-ball Alpha Gel Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm – $14.00

This has all my favorite things in a mechanical pencil. All of them. Including lead.

Fantastically comfortable Alpha-Gel grip + Kuru Toga lead-rotating mechanism = maybe the best pencil ever? Especially helpful for those who have to take a bunch of scantron tests / handwrite a bunch of essays in pencil. A.k.a. students.


Uni-ball Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip Series Ballpoint Pens – 0.7mm – $16.50

There is possibly nothing I can do to make this ballpoint pen better.

Can’t have my favorite mechanical pencil without my favorite ballpoint pen. As an added bonus, I have reviewed this one before! This body takes any size Jetstream retractable refill (I currently have the 0.5mm refill in mine), and also fits the Zebra Sarasa gel refills.


Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s Fountain Pen – $16.50

Be careful, you're gonna put your eye out with that thing.

I’ve reviewed this one before, too. It’s a nice fine nib pen. Warning: doesn’t come with a refill. I’d advise buying the converter; it’s cheaper than the cartridges, and easier to refill. Warning: I bought the cartridges (which I refill by syringe), but I have not personally tried the converter.


Akayashi Sai Watercolor Brush Pen – 5 Color Autumn Set – $17.50

Convenient watercolors? Yes. It can exist.

I would recommend buying these brush pens with the Akashiya Sai Watercolor Mini Pallet ($4.50) and a waterbrush pen like the Kuretake Small Compact Size ($4.25), which actually pushes the total cost of this set up to $26.25, but I think it’s worth it. And the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen works great with these for a watercolor black.


J. Herbin Tapered Body Frosted Glass Dip Pen – Large – $20.00

Fun fact: I studied abroad in Venice before my fine pen obsession kicked in. I only bought 1 glass dip pen from Murano. I REGRET THIS VERY STRONGLY.

Impractical, but beautiful. Especially nice for ink enthusiasts (I recommend Noodler’s, which you can get through places like Goldspot Pens or the Goulet Pen Company). Easy to clean; just don’t drop it.


Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen – $21.00

Alas, the price has gone up on these since I bought this one. Curse you, modern economy!

From extra-fine nib to broad nib in a variety of colors. Also check out the Kaweco Ice Sport line if you like translucent and bright colors. I have the medium nib, which I find to be one of the thinner mediums I own.


Lamy Safari, Vista, and Al-Star Fountain Pens – $26, $26, and $37.50

So the Lamy Al-Star is technically out of this arbitrary price category I decided to sort things by. JUST TRY TO STOP ME!

Colorful, durable, with nibs ranging from extra-fine to broad, and in my experience, they’ve all been wonderful writers. I’d recommend getting the converter with this one, as these pens go well with having a nigh unlimited spectrum of ink colors to choose from. Warning: also recommending the converter because the Lamy takes a special cartridge rather than the standard international short cartridge. The pen is designed so that you just drop the cartridge in and then twist the nib section back onto the barrel; the cartridge then punctures itself. Warning: I’ve never actually tried to shove an international short cartridge into a Lamy, as far as I can remember, so I can’t advise what would happen.


Lamy Joy Calligraphy Fountain Pen – $29

Pen is conveniently named to describe what emotion you'll be experiencing while using said pen

Comes with a converter. And a lovely tapered body. And the cap posts on the end! Calligraphy nib options: 1.1mm, 1.5mm, and 1.9mm. Nibs are interchangeable with the regular Lamy nibs, if you just like the body.


$30 and up (except for the already mentioned Lamy Al-Star)

A. G. Spalding & Bros. Mini Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – $33.00

Sleek and classy, like a little sci-fi spaceship.

This pen has grown on me a lot more since I first reviewed it, and especially since I started using Rotring Turquoise ink in it (warning: that is a ridiculous price; I paid $4 for my refills at the Art Brown Pen Shop, but they don’t seem to sell that refill online). More of a medium or maybe even broad (what do I know; I never use broad nibs) nib. Warning: do not try to take the clip off or accidentally take the clip off. It comes off, and scratches the satin metal finish in the process. Oops.


Kaweco Liliput Al Fountain Pen – $53.00

This is such a disappointingly unsexy picture of a phenomenally sexy pen.

I got the fine nib. Yes, this pen is everything I hoped for, and also more. Yes, I desperately owe you all a proper review of this pen;  I am waiting for the opportunity and the lighting so that I can take the kind of pictures that do this pen justice.  Comes in extra-fine to broad nibs. Takes international short cartridges. Also takes….YOUR HEART.


Pilot Prera Clear Body Fountain Pen – $58.00

When I first held this pen, I couldn't leave the store without buying it. And now here we are!

I bought the fine nib, which was a Japanese fine nib—also known as an extra exceptionally fine line nib. Possibly the finest nib I own (too bad I dropped it on the nib (ARGH WHOOPS)). Also comes in medium nib. I’d recommend getting the Pilot Plumix as well (currently cheapest at Target, I believe); the nibs are interchangeable. You (like me) can have a Pilot Prera with an italic nib! Makes your handwriting look even fancier than normal.


Pens I Don’t Own

I’m only going to make two recommendations. First, the Uni-ball Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5mm Pencil ($16.50); I bought one for a friend and he loves it. Four colors of Jetstreams, a pencil, and an eraser all in one body! Second, the Zebra Sharbo X….specifically the Zebra Sharbo X LT3 Pen Body Component – Silver ($49.50). Look at that thing. I want it. Why wouldn’t you?





Brad at JetPens has generously offered up a $10 JetPens gift card for one lucky commenter on this post! The rules:

  1. Leave one comment on this post any time between now and Sunday, November 27th 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. This contest is open to all readers in any country! That includes you, international people!
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Just make any kind of comment—but only one comment! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
  3. I’ll post the contest winner in the evening of Sunday, November 27th (sometime between noon and midnight). Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.

Good luck! And preemptive happiness to your holidays!



P.S. I should have it set up so comments will post without my having to approve them all moderator-style. But if your comment doesn’t show up right away, that means I didn’t set that up correctly, and your comment will show up when I go through and hit “approve” on all of them. Don’t worry! Or, if you are worried, feel free to email me!

Zebra Airfit Jell Gel Ink Pen with Push Grip – 0.5 mm – Yellow Orange Body

22 09 2011

I was in rather dire need of a nap when I drew this up; can you tell?

In my never-ending quest for the pen pinnacle of grip-based comfort and opulence, I stumbled upon the Zebra Airfit Jell.

Opulence is comprised of 49% pearlescent sheen

Design: love it. End of story. It’s fun, it’s color-coordinated, it includes bits that are transparent, translucent, opaque, and also shimmery and shiny. It has metal, it has plastic. I don’t know what else you could ask for it to have. Silk? Titanium? Wood? Come on, people, this pen is only $5. There’s only so much you can buy with $5. Speaking of price, every time I pick up this pen, I marvel to myself, “this thing really feels like you’re getting your money’s worth. THIS IS WHAT FIVE DOLLARS SHOULD GET YOU IN A PEN.” But no one around ever cares, so I keep that kind of thinking to myself.

Smooth like butter. Yellow like butter. Goes well with toast, popcorn, and deep-fryers at a state fair like butter.

The clip is an even better version of the one found the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip, which I already thought was the cat’s meowing at the bee’s knees. This clip style is tied with the Lamy Vista/Safari/Al-Star style of clip at #1 for what I think a pen clip should be.

This is probably not very stable.

If the clip can’t clip onto a pocket or lanyard without giving me the apprehension that I might, at the slightest sneeze, break it, then you might as well not put a clip on there. This clip is a clip’s clip. It can clip onto clips clipping onto other clips. The metal hinge is sturdy. And, in an improvement over the Push Clip, there is a little window-hole at the top of the clip, which I’ve finally figured out is for those ubiquitous (in Japan at least) cell phone charms to attach to your pen. Granted, this 1″ figurine of Hello Kitty dressed as an aardvark/rabbit/donkey on a surfboard is not the best thing to happen to the balance of this pen, but if you’re so inclined as to loop accouterments onto your pens, then your day has come.

Note: the cone around the tip is actually metal, not just plastic painted to look like metal. It's the little things that show a pen company really cares.

Let’s talk about grips. Since temperatures in my area have dropped recently, I can’t speak to the alleged cooling properties of the grip’s hollow air chambers, but I can attest to the rest of the grip. It’s long enough to accommodate  the way I normally hold a pen; the grip touches both the resting point on my third finger and the upper inside of my thumb, toward the hollow. These are two high-stress places in my hand, especially when I am writing quickly and forget that maintaining an unwavering death grip on the pen isn’t necessary. Of all the deluxe grips I’ve tried so far, the Airfit is easily the most firm. Compare:

The ungripped grip

not being held, to:

Gripped in the grips of gripping

holding the grip as if to write. Hardly any distortion. I think it’s largely a function of the air chamber supports. If you like a grip with the consistency of Silly Putty, then this is not the grip for you. It still has a bit of springiness to it, but like I said, it’s the firmest grip I know.

The only negative point: the Airfit grip does have the nice-grip tendency to magnetically attract microscopic debris, but not to a point that I find bothersome.

Too much holding and typing sweet nothings, not enough writing and typing sweet nothings.

How does it write? As well as any Zebra Sarasa of 0.5mm line width, which is to say, quite well. Smooth, consistent, no blobs, no skips. The gold standard of how a gel pen should write.

Gold standard remarkably not-so-very-gold colored...except for the deceptively lit parts

But if bright blue or 0.5mm doesn’t do it for you, just swap in any Sarasa refill. They all fit, so far as I’ve tried.

I dream of a day when I will see this logo on this pen in typical American office-supply stores.

The Zebra Airfit Jell is an awesome, inexpensive gel pen with a wide range of available refills. It also comes in several other inoffensively pastel accent colors, if yellow orange is the worst color in your visible spectrum. An especially awesome step up for fans of the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip.
Zebra Airfit Jell Gel Ink Pen with Push Grip – 0.5 mm – Yellow Orange Body at JetPens