Wondering what the best pen brands are? Wonder no more. Below we break down the top names in pens, from the affordable classics to the luxury heirlooms. Before we begin, keep in mind that the top pen brands aren’t necessarily the most expensive. The best pen is the one that does the job you need at the price you want. If you’re journaling poolside, leave the Waterman at home. If you’re signing your marriage license, well, we humbly suggest you can do better than a Bic. The pen brand you pick should suit your budget, your taste, and your preferences for pen tip size, ink type, and functionality.
Enjoy our guide featuring the best pen brands for every pen palate, including top drawer taste to supply cabinet practicality, click-tops to caps, fine points to wide tips, hybrid gel to tried and true ballpoint pens. From a thick-barreled ergonomic wonder like Pilot’s Dr. Grip to the thin-barreled elegance of the Cross® Classic Century, the top pen brands are at your fingertips.
The famous and ubiquitous Bic pen (also known as BIC Cristal) defines the Bic brand as a timeless, reliable, affordable pen suitable for every (single) purpose. Made in France and introduced in 1950 (along with other soon-to-be classics like James Dean and Charles Schulz’ Peanuts comic strip) Bic is the best-selling pen brand in the world. The Bic Cristal, with its decidedly chewable cap and transparent, pencil-like hexagonal barrel shape are recognized around the globe.
Another favorite is the Bic Round Stic, which swaps out the hexagonal barrel for a round one, and the clear barrel for solid colors. Although the Bic pen brand offers various styles and ink types, including gel ink, rollerball, and artist-inspired Fineliner, their ballpoint offerings remain the frontrunners. Bic’s proprietary ballpoint ink is called Easy-Glide System and delivers a smooth, fluid ink flow.
Bic Round Stic Pen: This variation on the Bic Stic theme features a round barrel, meaning more room for your logo, and solid barrel colors so your messaging pops. Customize a bundle for distribution at customer service counters, conference rooms, registration tables, and more.
Founded in 1846 in Providence, Rhode Island, A.T. Cross Company, LLC. is one of the oldest pen manufacturers in the world. The Cross brand is synonymous with the highest quality in serious writing instruments, including fountain pens, ballpoint pens, and rollerball pens, with refills that are second to none.
Cross is known for its sleek and stunning silver and gold pen barrels. Presidents Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Joe Biden all used Cross pens to sign legislation during their time in office. Presidential pen favorites include the Cross Townsend model and the Century II model in black lacquer with a medium point refill in black ink (Barack Obama’s choice).
Classic Century 18KT Gold Pen and Pencil Set: Just a wee bit pricey (coming in at over $7K), here’s a perfect reference point for the prototypical high-brow, slim girth pen. This one comes as part of a set that is appointed in solid 18 karat gold. For a less expensive version (around $25) that comes laser engraved with your company name, check out the Cross® Click Chrome Ballpoint.
No guide to top pen brands is complete without Paper Mate®! Founded in 1940, the Paper Mate company manufactured ballpoint pen parts and invented the first ink that was said to dry instantly. Other notable milestones in the pen brand’s history include the introduction of the Eraser Mate erasable ink pen in 1979; a collection of biodegradable pens in 2010; and the InkJoy brand in 2012, which is a super-fast drying hybrid gel ink. The popular Paper Mate logo (two hearts) was developed 50 years ago and is still in use today.
For brightly colored barrels and the fastest-drying ink, pick the Paper Mate® InkJoy RT Pen – Translucent. It’s retractable, with ink as smooth as silk, and a price that can’t be beat.
When considering the best pen brands, we think a brand preferred by world leaders must be worth a second glance. Founded in 1888 in Wisconsin, the Parker Pen Company is a manufacturer of luxury pens. Parker is famous for the Parker 51, the most widely used model of fountain pen, which is used by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. Another winner, the Parker Jotter, was the preferred pen of several presidents including John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton. (When the company moved manufacturing from the USA to England and then to France, USA-made Cross Pens became the pen of choice at the White House.)
The Parker Pen brand is focused on higher quality and price point, and key offerings include fountain pens, ballpoint pens, and Quink, its quick drying ink.
Today’s Parker Jotter is durable, decidedly clickable, and affordable, too. For a great giveaway at your next family reunion, client meeting, or special event, customize the classic Parker Jotter® Pen.
Pentel Co., Ltd. Is Japanese manufacturing company whose name is a play on the English words “pen” and “tell”. Pentel invented the fiber- or felt-tipped pen in 1963 and is also the inventor of non-permanent marker technology. One of Pentel’s current home runs is the Energel line of gel ink pens, which boasts a smooth flowing, quick drying hybrid liquid/gel ink and a latex-free grip.
To make a strong impression with a special gift, customize the Pentel® EnerGel® RTX Gel Ink Pen with your name, event, or logo.
The Pilot Corporation is a Japanese pen manufacturer founded in 1918. Based in Tokyo, Japan, Pilot is the largest pen manufacturer in Japan. Most of its pens are made in Japan, France, or the USA. Its offerings include myriad styles, inks, and accessories, including ballpoint, rollerball, gel, needle point and fountain pens, markers, highlighters, refills, and inks.
When it comes to best pen brands, it pays to be earth friendly. Pilot boasts a line of eco-friendly ballpoint and gel pens called Bottle-2-Pen (B2P). B2P is made of 90.4% recycled components including recycled plastic from bottles.
Another winning angle: Ergonomic is in! Pilot’s Dr Grip line of pens caters to those seeking a more comfortable writing experience. The Pilot Dr Grip Ballpoint Pen features an easy click top mechanism, soft rubber grip, and freely flowing gel ink. It earned an endorsement from the Arthritis Foundation for Ease-of-Use.
If you’re looking to hand out an ergonomically-inspired giveaway at your next event, look no further than the Pilot® Dr. Grip® Center of Gravity Pen (1.0mm). Calibrated for optimal weight distribution, this geometrically contoured pen is one of the most comfortable pens on the market.
The most pressing question about the ever-popular Sharpie marker is, can the permanent ink be removed? Turns out, yes—sort of. Nail polish and hand sanitizer help to make the permanent marker ink a bit less permanent. However, we suspect that, along with removal of the aforementioned Sharpie ink, the material on which it’s been used is likely to vanish right along with the ink.
Aside from the permanent ink, Sharpie markers and highlighters are known for having a tip option for every job, including fine tip (their most popular), ultra fine point, extra fine point, brush tip, chisel tip, and retractable tip. Along with permanent markers and highlighters, the Sharpie brand also includes gel and rollerball pens.
For a classic, can’t-miss Sharpie, the Sharpie Fine Point Marker is a sure bet. For a little more controversy (drama in the pen space? Well, a little….), check out the Sharpie® Gel Highlighter. Some love it, some hate it, but it doesn’t bleed through, even on very thin paper stock (scritta paper) like you’ll find in a bible or dictionary.
Introduced in 1979 (along with other notable hits including leg warmers and the McDonald’s Happy Meal), the Uni-ball® brand is dedicated to performance pens featuring water-based ink and a metallic tip. Like most top pen brands, Uni-ball pens were back then, and remain today, a great success in both Japan and North America (sadly, the same cannot be said of leg warmers).
Lefties, take note! The Uni-ball® brand features Super Ink, which dries so quickly that even lefties can take endless notes without smudges on their paper and a Rorschach ink blot on their palm. Super Ink is also water-, fraud-, and fade-resistant, making it a great brand for business use. To get a bundle imprinted with your small business or special event, customize the Uni-ball® Jetstream Sport Roller Pen.
When you choose a pen brand that’s just right for what you’re writing, it’s the one you reach for first. Check out the top pen brands above, consider your occasion and your budget, and buy the best pen brand to advance your own brand—whether that’s your small business, your school, or your special event.
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