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Pen Review: Uniball 207

Unb

I am a true pen geek. I spend more time testing, researching, shopping for, and writing about pens than I do actually using them. For a long time I was a fan of the Pilot G2 gel ink pen but recently, after much testing, I have thrown aside the G2 in favor of the Uniball 207, a pen with ink that meets all of the criteria of Mike Shea Certified Archival Quality ink.

In order to meet my standards for an archival quality ink, the ink must meet the following criteria:

It must be acid free so it will not degrade over time or eat away at the paper over time as highly acidic ink does such as old style iron gall ink.

It must be fade proof so it will survive even if exposed to the sun for long periods of time.

It must be water proof so it will survive even if it gets wet.

It must be chemical proof so it will survive even if subjected to chemical scrubbing or washing.

These sound like extreme criteria but when we now have pens available for around $1 each that meet these criteria, there is no reason to settle for anything less.

I recently performed tests on five different kinds of ink, from six different pens in addition to a Mirado Black Warrior pencil. These tests included subjecting the ink, written on a sheet of acid-free paper, to numerous chemical washing including water, bleach, and dish soap. I concluded from the results of the test that Noodler's black fountain pen ink, Fisher Space Pen ink, Mirado Black Warrior pencil writings, Sakura Gelly Roll ink, and Uniball  207 ink all survived these tests.

While it is unknown if the Mirado black warrior pencil or the Fisher Space Pen ink would also resist fading when exposed to light, the other inks are also labeled as "acid free" and "fade resistant" by their manufacturers.

The G2 ink, while acid free, fade resistant, and water resistant, is not resistant to chemicals and fades when submerged in water for long periods of time. For this reason, I no longer recommend the Pilot G2 as an archival quality pen.

It is important to note that the acid free nature of an ink is not nearly as important as the paper. When writing anything of any importance, one should always write it on acid-free pH neutral paper. While ink will change and possibly degrade over time if highly acidic, the paper will crisp and yellow within ten to fifty years if it is highly acidic. One can see these results in old newspapers or paperback novels.

Like the Pilot G2 ink, the Uniball 207 ink cartridge will fit many fancier rollerball pens including Waterman and Rotring rollerball pens. Uniball also makes a pen called the Uniball Primer 207 that resembles the larger Pilot Dr. Grip for about $5.

While my own preferred writing instrument is a fountain pen loaded with Noodler's Black fountain pen ink, this is not practical for most people and is far more costly than a traditional pen. The Uniball 207 can be purchased in many point sizes at a wide variety of stores including office supply stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies across the United States for somewhere between $1 and $2 a pen depending on the amount purchased.

For archival quality ink that will survive sunlight, water, oxidation, and chemical washing, one need not look further than the Uniball 207 gel ink pen. The Uniball 207 is the new official Mike Shea endorsed Archival Quality pen.

Mike Shea
http://mikeshea.net/

Comments

Adam Bair

I've been using the .05 Uniball 207 Signo (black) for six months now and it's awesome. Smoothest .05 I've used. No skipping or scratching. Very reliable. I'd also like to comment on their consistency across pens/batches. Each pen has performed exactly the same. I've had to pick up multiple packages (you know, life with kids) and each pen's performance is identical. If you lose one of these you know that it's not that big of a deal because they are all the same. This was not the case with other pens that I've tried (especially the .05 G2s).

Relatively cheap pen with consistently awesome performance.

Oliver Hill

I just bought a rotring 600 and wanted to buy some 207 refills, but was surprised to find them selling on ebay for $25 per pack of 2, how can this be when the pens are supposedly a buck each?. I ended up having to settle for the G2 refills for a buck each:(

Rod

Try the Uniball Signo .038 and .028 available in US from JPens. Never had skipping problems, and come in many colors. Designed for fine ideograms, but works well in small Moleskines in any language!

Steve

I have owned most of the above mentioned pens. One secret that I have found, and this sounds a little odd, so bear with me. In any gel pen, if it starts skipping, take the refill out and blow in the back of it, then put it back in. That should take care of most of it. With the Pilot G2's, you have to take off the little plastic screw top. I bought some G2 3.8's that were skipping like crazy and this worked like a charm.

BTW favorite pen= Uni ball deluxe micro. Harder than heck to find, but they don't use the tip on anything else.

noyb

Hate to say this pen is a rip-off but there it is. Ink resevoir is blocked to limit ink quantity. Looks impressive...but holds very little ink. Too much money for too little pen...and ink. Better buys out there but if you MUST have one, open the package and unscrew the barrel and look for yourself...

Brinstar

This review was really helpful to me because I was looking for a refill for my Pentel Energel Alloy, but could not find any Energel refills in 0.5mm line widths. I found out from another side that the Signo 207 refills are compatible with Energel pens. I've tried out the Signo 207 Micro (0.5mm) and so far it's great. Smooth writing experience, no skipping so far (contrary to what others reported here), and a good line.

PeteAsh

Wow, you do like testing pens and ink, don't you! Great and very thorough review, now i'm going to have to go out and buy a few more pens for myself.

Samantha

I love the Uniball 207, we buy them imprinted as gifts with our company logo and everyone loves them. If you get them imprinted I have shopped everywhere for the best price and found them here:
http://www.penimprint.com/Uniball-Pens.aspx
Their Prices include your logo imprinted on them and Free shipping.

Johnny

I'm not a huge Space Pen user these days, but they did update their ink a few years ago. It's actually black now (!) and pretty smooth.

Adam

Just bought a pack of 207's too bad i cant return them, absolutely terrible. I cant get a smooth line no matter what hand pressure i use. Thoroughly disappointed

Mark Hall

PEN OF THE YEAR!!.. I'm a fellow struggling pen geek - i have an ability like no other, yet no one respects my amazing talents. my pen enthusiasim lead me to birth a local pen appreciation club. sadlly no one attended the first meeting. My only friend, ted aka Bic is the only one who understands my obsession.

lets be penpals (excuse the pun). lol.

Jeff

As well I gave up on the Fisher Space Pens years ago!
The writing always seemed kind of gritty, not so easy flowing.
The tips were messy needing to be cleaned off and when the cartridge came close to the end of its life it was over very quickly.
If you need to write on some difficult surfaces the pressurized pen may be the one for you but I never appreciated the writing experience.

Jeff

Just got a Surefire pen (yes the company that makes tactical flashlights).
It is a retractable twist style pen that can accommodate different lengths of pen refills.
The pen came stock with a Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 M (G2 format metal refill).
After writing with the Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 pen I was dissatisfied.
For the past year I have been using the Parker GEL (G2 format metal refill) in my Retro51 Tornado pens.
I found the Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 to be more like a cheap ballpoint and not enough ink delivery to the page.
After reading some of the above raving of the Uni-ball 207 I tried one of these refills in the Surefire pen and had terrible results.
Understanding the 207 cartridge is a plastic tube with some thick jell in the butt end and requires good air flow for the ink to flow properly.
The Surefire pen unfortunately has an adjustable cone shaped screw plug that basically seals off the air flow to the butt end of the and reduces the the ink flowing to the page after only a few sentences.
So the Uni-ball med 207 refills get shelved into the desk.
Back to the trusted Parker GEL 0.7 Medium one that I have had great success with.
They say gel pins may run out sooner but I get nicer darker flowing print on the page so I more than fine with this.
Not sure how the Parker GEL rates as far as washing, fading, and or acid content.
I don’t really care, the writing experience is what I appreciate!
What a bummer I would have like to use the Uni-ball 207 in my new pen.
I was also hopping that the Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 would have been more easily flowing but that was a joke!

Anquan

Well I had my opinion on the answer to that right away, but for fun, I took the question you posed and did some surveying of co-workers, family, and friends over the past 2 days. It confirmed my opinion anyway, and that is that hardly anyone likes the MICRO point pens. The office chains do not stock them because there is not enough sales of them, thus taking up shelf space with large quantities is a money-looser. In the 2 dozen people that I surveyed, not one...not even one, liked or preferred micro tips. I did have a few people say micro's were 'OK', they use them if they have nothing else, but its a last resort, so to speak. As for me, I hate micros as well. Ive bought many makes over the years, and chucked them all, threw away money, rather than finish them out. Not worth it, to me...and it seems, most other people.

K.

Does anyone know why the main office-supply chains (office depot, max, staples, drug stores) seem to have very limited supplies or options of pens that are considered "micro" 0.5mm? Everywhere I go, I can always find the Uniball 207 Medium points (0.7mm). If I'm really lucky, there will be some micro (0.5mm) in black. However, what I'm looking for is a 0.5mm in Blue.

Why are the most popular pens in US all medium or bold points? Is this a marketing thing (thicker pens run out of in faster) or due to consumer demand?

Cary

I have always preferred the Jimnie Gel 0.7 by Zebra. Anyone tried these? I haven't found anything better-dark black ink, smooth, writing every time.

Anquan

A Uniball pen is simply a brand name of pens, made in gel, ball-point, rollerball, etc. But Rollerball is a type of pen, or rather type of ink-delivery system used in various pens models of almost every pen manufacturer. Uniball is like saying Ford, a particular manufacturer. Rollerball is like saying 'minivan', which is a style of car made by almost all car manufacturers.

Rollerballs have a much more liquid (watery) ink than ball-points, so it flows more readily and makes writing feel more smooth, easy, and fast. There is a trade-off for that smoothness though. A good example is when you sign the back of your credit card. If you sign it with a ball-point, the ink will remain MUCH longer than it will with a rollerball, because the ink in a ball-point is more like PAINT, so to speak, and the ink in a rollerball is more like food-coloring, so to speak. So GEL pens were invented to try and be a happy combination of the pros of a ball-point and rollerball, and thats why I love a good gel pen. However, the ink is still not like the paint of a ball-point, no matter how archival and waterproof it is, it is just too thin compared to ball-point TAR-LIKE ink, and the gel pen will wear off your credit card too, compared to ball-point. See, its all in knowing what pen is best suited for each particular writing need.

Mark

What is the difference between a uniball pen and a rollerball pen? Thanks for any reply.

GraveRaven1911

To the guy that works at the chemical plant and needs a pen for extreme conditions. Try the "Uni-Ball Power Tank RT". I have not tried it myself but they say it will write in just about any condition and upside down. The ink cartridge is pressurized. The Uni-Ball 207 is not one that will write upside down but I know first hand that it's good for not washing off.

GraveRaven1911

I use the Uni-Ball Signo 207. I love this pen. The ink won't wash off. I Formulate and process Shampoo, Conditioners, home hygiene products such as laundry detergent and dish detergent, etc. I have contact with lots of water and chemical ingredients. My paperwork is also exposed to all this. The Uni-Ball 207 series pens, with the pigmented ink to prevent check washing, are the only ones that can stand up to that. Oh, and they write really well too. It's my pen of choice.

Johnny

Space Pen? You can write vertically, and the ink's never faded on me.

Anquan

Hey Doug, the Uniball 207 and Zebra Sarasa inks are very good at being weatherproof and fade proof, however such gel pens are NOT good for vertical writing. Sounds like your best bet is a regular pencil. Regular pencils will NEVER fade, are weatherproof, and write in any position...its just that it is not nearly as dark as a pen, and it can be erased. As far the perfect pen for your needs, I dont know.

Doug

I need a reliable for my work at a chemical plant. I need a pen that writes on a vertical surface and one that the ink doesn't fade. We write on paper tags that are out in the weather and sunlight. Can someone make a recommendation? Thanks in advance.

Roger

I don't know much about the archival quality of the ink because I don't test a pen that way. My favorites, and it own hundreds of makes and models, are the signo unibal RT gel .38 pens, and better yet the Sakura Gelato .4 pens and that is only because Zebra quit making the Jell 3 fine point.

Anquan

All these other mentioned pens may indeed be great, 'smooth' writing pens, but I think the point of this particular thread is ARCHIVAL quality for writing in Moleskin and other journals. Therefore, who cares if a pen writes like silk, but is not fully waterproof??? What is the point then?? My wife's Mont Blanc writes really smooth and skip-free, however the ink bleeds if you pour water on it. You could not give me a box of those $100+ pens, for that reason. So....I am not the creator of this thread and I cannot speak for that individual, but in my opinion, the ARCHIVAL QUALITY of a pen, namely the 207, is the whole point. So if you mention a favorite pen, it should also contain info on why it is good for ARCHIVAL writing, which can stand up against water, chemical, age, acid, etc. Why would anyone who finds this thread on Google, looking for a good ARCHVIAL pen, be interested to hear a peep about a Pilot G2, which will run like cheap mascara if it gets wet? Or a Energel gel wich will feather and bleed with water as well?

When I, for example, praise a 207 pen, or a Zebra Sarasa, its because I know my journal written with them could float in a lake for a week and it could still be read. I dont particularly care if it skips a little. I want it for its ARCHIVAL properties. Period. Not for its ability to write like silk and look good on a grocery list I am going to throw away in 2 hours.

Sorry, I just HAD to get that off my chest. Thanks for listening :)

Paul Brion

I can't stand using the G2 or the Uniball 207 for daily, constant use, they just skip way too much. As far as gel pens go, I have placed a Cross gel refill in my old G2 casing, and it works really well. I also use the Pentel EnerGel and it too works really well, no ckips, globs, or inconsistancies.

--Paul

bluescrubbie

For a left-hander, the UniBall 207 doesn't work very well. Like most ball points, it's designed to be pulled in the direction of writing, not pushed, so it tends to leave inkless strokes on the page. It's very frustrating to me when I'm taking notes, because I have to go back after each word and fill in the strokes that the pen didn't write on.

gotta write

do they still make the uniball micro 0.3 mm in black? i prefer it to the 0.5, though it does tend to tear carbons, for something that will never stick, my personal favorite is the poliot precise v5. what's interesting about the uniball micros is that with light pressure, i can use it as a stylus on a palm z22 and click on the icons without damaging the screen, or making the screen inky. i can switch back and forth quickly between a inked document, and a palm device for reference.... :)

Mr. G

If you want to try the newest in exquisite pens that work amazing on Moleskines and other journals:
PREPPY PEN from Japan.
They are refillable- they are 100% ECO FREINDLY -as they are even made with recycled plastic.
You can get cartridges to refill - they do not clog- even on the toothy papers- the ink dries pretty fast- acid free.
You can write any which way which is rare with fountain pens- so it is really more of a sketching style fountain pen.
Artist Alliance out of Denver Colorado has them and they ship really fast!- They also have other great pens from Japan- like the Tachikawa - Manga and Comic G pens and the full line of Pentel Brush pens.

Artist Alliance- here is their number 1 866 362 4149 they have a promo- order 4 pens get free pack of refills.
These Preppy pens are a must and more than 6 colors- they are even getting in Purple!

Anquan

To all the Pilot G2 fans: Just remember, if you like that pen for writing, thats just fine, but just know that the ink is NOT archival or waterproof. In the tests I and others have done, it is one of the worst gel inks there is. So for writing short term data, its fine. For your journal or scrapbook, do so at your own risk and pray your documents never get wet.

Anton

I am also a Pilot G3 (07) and Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen fan. I use the G2 at school (teacher) to punch through copy-forms and grading, etc. I use the Varsity for my personal writing away from work. For anyone who likes the G2 and similarly cheap gel pens, I recommend the Retro 51 Tornado roller ball pen. It's very nicely made and cost only $20. That's about as cheap as it gets for smooth-writing premium pen. Try one.

Anton

Ron G

I'd have to recommend the Sakura Gelato 0.4mm gel pen. As the inventor of gel pens, Sakura has really come a long way in making archival and vibrant inks. I believe that others have tried these pens and tested its waterproofness as well.

The black ink is so dark and vibrant that I sometimes cannot tell it from photocopies. It hardly ever skips as well and does not blotch like the G-2. Try a side by side comparison with Uniball, Zebra, and Pilot. The Gelato's ink really stands out. However, I've read that the 0.8mm version does not write as nice.

The downsides are that the casing's material is not as nice as Pilot's, but it looks better. It is also more expensive and is not available in most areas. If you do find some of the 0.4mm, get them.

John C

HOWEVER, the Foray .7 gel retractable 'air-grip' pen and its refills do SKIP quite alot, as compared to the Sarasas. So its really a trade-off. If the ultimate in archival, water and chemical safe, pigmented ink is what you want, consider the Foray. If you want nearly the same quality ink, with less skipping, but at a slightly higher price, consider the Zebra Sarasa or the Uniball 207. Either one is excellent.

John C

A new contender for the ultimate archival gen pen has come into my possession and I am quite pleased. It is the FORAY .7 black retractable gel ink pen. As you know from my earlier posts, the Zebra Sarasa in the most waterproof, chemicalproof gel ink pen Ive tested so far. Over the past few days, I put the Sarasa and Foray gel retractables up against one another. There is a new king! The Foray is equally resilient ink as the Sarasa, but the ink is a little darker, and a microscope test proves the Foray ink has a more solid and consistent lay-down. Now for the icing in the cake. I got the Foray .7 retractable gels at Office Depot for $5 each, and its a very attractive pen, and the great part is the Foray brand gel refills for the pen are $2 for a 2-pack. Cheaper than refills for 207's and Sarasas, and better ink too. WOO-HOO.

YAY FORAY!!

John C

Well Ive done another round of gel-ink pen tests, testing waterproofness, bleeding, feathering. In my last test and post, I agreed the 207 was fantastic. The new tests, which include water submersion for 2 days, water/alcohol submersion for 1 day, sun-dried on a rooftop for a week (including rain and wind). My archival pen WINNER is the Zebra SARASA retractable gel pen (.7 and 1.0 models tested). Its my old favorite anyway. Silver medal went to the Zebra Marathon. Bronze was the Uniball Signo 207 .7 tip.

Nasty bleeding, NON-waterproof messes were the: Pilot G2, Uniball Jetstream, Pentel Energel series, Bic Velocity gels.

Michael Cordon

I have tested lots of pens and I'd have to say my favorite is the Uniball Jetstream.
It writes REALLY smooth and is dark and vivid (unlike the Signo) and it dries almost instantly. It NEVER smudges for me. It doesn't blot, skip, or anything like that.
It's just the perfect pen, except for writing checks, since a water and alcohol mixture can effect it, I hear... Also, it won't write upside-down. The grip isn't very comfortable (hard rubber, round), but it's okay if you don't squeeze very hard when you write...Those are the few cons.
You don't have to put pressure on the pen for it to write well. Pressure will affect the width of the line, though.
Plus, the pen looks AWESOME, IMHO. and it's retractable, no cap to worry about :)

Lesia Fontana

I have to avoid certain kinds of pens like the plague else the side of my hand is covered with ink and my words are all smeared. i remember one year i thought it would be festive to write my xmas cards with red and green gel rollers on the kinda shiny paper stock...i had to write from the bottom of the card up. Awesome.

John D

What is your favorite fountain pen. Im looking for a good one

Apollo

Over the years I've used a myriad of pens from cheap ballpoints to expensive fountain pens and although one of the nicest "inexpensive" gel ink models I've come to appreciate was the Pilot Dr Grip, my only criticism was it's bulk. I recently bought a Uniball Premier 207 and found it to be just about the most perfect gel ink pen I've come across yet. Even though they cost about the same, the Uniball Premier 207 is far better feeling than the Pilot Dr. Grip (which uses the same refill as the G2) and is also a tad slimmer than the Dr. Grip. Writes nice and smooth too.

Joe Haldeman

I bought a 207 after reading the Moleskine site, but I have to go with the people who find it skippy and blobby. I prefer a plain Razorpoint, which is what I keep taped to the Moleskine notebook.

For my everyday writing (I write for a living) I use a fountain pen -- one of fifty -- and Noodler's ink in various colors. Nothing can beat Lapis Legal for archival quality. It's also an awesome drawing ink, because it's water-soluble for a few minutes (so you can do washes), and then dries and becomes waterproof.

Leonard Andersson

I have had great success with just one model of Pilot Pens. The model is: PILOT G-TEC-C4 size is 0.4 This is a very long lasting, smooth writing pen perfect for Moleskine. I've been using them for a year.

John C

Hello Mike Shea. Anquan is my wife's nickname for me, but my name is John, and I, like you, are obsessed with finding the best archival pens. And I think its quite important too, something nearly nobody thinks about, especially if you have writings you want to insure will last decades.

Mike Shea

Thanks for advice on pens. It reiforced my idea this is the best. Also, my name is Mike Shea. Do you have same name or is this a name reproduction for benefit of the viewer? thanks

Anquan

207 refills are readily available at Office Max, Office Deopt, or Staples brand office supply stores (in the USA). They all have websites for ordering as well.

mark sharon

I just got my signo premier 207 one week ago. It is already
out of ink after a long work week. I love the pen but how and
where do I get refills, the quick print that I got it in in Wickenburg, AZ. can't get one for two weeks.
Can anyone help lead me to a site that I can order the 7 or 5 mm.
refills?
Thanks
Mark

Anquan

Recent review I did is the Uniball Jetstream RT. Advertised as being check-washing-safe, this is one of the worst inks I've tried. After just an hour submerged in a 50%/50% mixture of water and rubbing alcohol, the Jetstream BLACK in turned in bleeding, feathering, faded PURPLE, fuzzy mess. This is NOT archival and check-safe ink.

The winner is still the Uniball 207 and the Zebra Marathon. The Marathon ink is very slightly darker before and after watertests, giving is a slight appearance advantage, but the Uniball 207 ink is equally water and alcohol proof (nearly 100% it seems), and since the Marathon pens are discontinued and hard to find, the 207 is the winner for sure.

Anquan

I have tested gel pens with the water, sun, rain, wing, wash tests for years. Pilot G2 was my old favorite until I tested it. TERRIBLE waterproofness. It runs and smudges. No good. The Uniball 207 is my winner after years and hundreds of pens tested. GREAT pen!! My previous winners were the Zebra Sarasa and Zebra Marathon. Give them a try too. VERY good waterproof and fade/smudge resistant. Just hard to find sometimes anymore, but the Uniball 207's are all over the place, plus slightly better ink, so thats my winner. DON'T USE G2's FOR YOUR JOURNALS. It will not survive a flood or water damage as well as you think...

Clint

Just from reading the reviews on the super Promecha i purchased the .5mm and .3mm versions on ebay.. Can wait to try them out..

As to jeff. I have previously owned 3 space pens. Lost two of them.. The idea of the pen is great you can write upside down and underwater. But as you say the pen isnt smooth after a couple of months. Not to mention the quality of the pen goes down with it.. Also finding a replacment cartridge was next to impossible when i bought my first pen other then going online or using the included mail order form. Now i see them sold at the local staples office supply store.. My father swears by it though. But i have given up on them and just gone with the traditional pens. Still got my third pen but that just sits in its box now.

Gregg Kawakami

Does anyone know if the Uniball Power Tank refill fits any of the more expensive rollerball pens?

Mahalo

Jeff

Has anyone here EVER used a Space Pen to the very last bit of ink (resin?) left in its refill? I've been through 3 or 4 of these and the story is always the same.

They start off wonderfully - black, bold - almost "wet" looking in quality, smooth and creamy to use. About two to four months into it (I don't use it daily but keep it in my pocket for when I need a pen handy like at church or for signing my name) and it starts acting like it's out of ink.

I finally have to draw circles on a page to get it going again - and again, and again and finally, I give up and replace the refill. Each time I do, I break the previous one in half (expecting to see it's empty) only to find the pressurized vessel has another inch of ink left in reserve!

What gives???

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