An Open Love Letter to the Uni-ball Gel Impact Pen
I don’t remember when we first met. All I know for certain is that my life has not been the same since. I confess that back in high school and college, I was not a one-pen kind of guy. I bounced around between Pilot’s Razor pen and the original uni-ball pens—usually in the 0.5mm size, thinking that the finer the line, the better. Then sometime in my 20’s, I got a Gel Impact pen from Uni-ball in a 1.0mm size, and I was hooked.
The gel ink combined with the 1.0mm nib lays down a river of jet black ink that gives you the closest thing to a fountain pen you can get from a rollerball pen. It’s even a tad pressure sensitive, depending on what kind of paper you are using. So, you can get some thick and thin weights on the pen strokes. It’s a beautiful line.
I remember when an assistant of mine found refills online for the pens. We would buy them in bulk from some obscure distributor online for about a dollar apiece, and that’s when the obsession fully took over. I would buy the pens in bulk so I had a lot of pen bodies, then I would just refill them over and over again.
Through the years, I’ve lost or broken many of the pen bodies, but I still have some of the originals from way back in the day. I bet some of these are more than 15 years old.
When I bought my first Moleskine notebook in 2001, I found that their paper drank in the gel ink. This was a revelation because the gel ink stays wet for about 10-15 seconds on the paper before it dries. You can smudge pretty easily if you don’t know this, so getting the right kind of writing surface is key. The Moleskine notebook is perfection for the gel impact pen.
[I remember seeing a post from Kevin Rose, the founder of digg.com, and some of his early sketches of the website drawn in, yup… a Moleskine with the Gel Impact pen.]
This brings me to today…and a bit of a confession: I have developed a paranoia about these pens. I’m worried that they are going to be discontinued. So, when I go to Walmart, I buy all of them on the shelf. I go online and buy them in boxes of 12 and when I see the refills, I buy them all. So, I have drawers and pen holders full of these pens. [let ye who is without random obsession cast the first stone]
I honestly cannot imagine writing with any other pen. If I ever run out of ink or forget my pen, then I will type my notes instead of writing with some other kind of pen. I don’t even want to think about a world without them. Not. Even. Joking.
So, uni-ball, if you are out there, reading this and you’ve recently decided to discontinue the 1.0mm Gel Impact, then please get in touch with me. I’ll buy all your inventory, or perhaps I’ll just buy the rights to the pen from you and start making them myself.
P.S. I had a small crisis when you switched the ink to the Signo 207 ink. It’s not the same formulation and doesn’t perform quite like the original gel ink, but I’ve gotten used to it. All’s forgiven…just thought you should know.