Inktober lead me back to some of the “old classics”. I got out drawing fineliner pens and fine gel pens that I enjoy using for drawing. That lead me back to an old favorite which is the Uni Signo 0.38. Much has been written elsewhere about this excellent gel pen but I don’t think I’ve ever written about this classic pen. So, I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to compare the Signo RT1 (UMN-155) ($2.85) and the Signo Needle (UM-151ND) ($3.30).
The RT1 (Retractable) is, as it’s moniker suggests, a retractable version of the the regular Signo DX and features the classic, conical shaped tip but it’s housed in a wider barrel, quick-click retracable pen. The barrel is wrapped from the tip to halfway up the barrel in a grippy rubber and then smoothly transitions into a smooth plastic barrel. It features a built-in clip and the knock mechanism is a wide, flat button on the top of the pen giving you plenty of fidget space to click to your heart’s content.
The Needle is the same pen barrel design as the DX line. The barrel is a clear plastic with a rubberized grip section with divots and then the silver, metal cone that tapers to its unique needle tip.
This close-up photo above shows the difference in the tip designs. The Needle is on the left, the RT1 is on the right.
In writing and drawing tests, I had a hard time telling the difference between the two in terms of actual ink-on-paper coverage. The Needle gives a little more clearance from the paper so that I could see around the lines I’d previously made without the pen tip blocking my view. The RT1, however, with its slightly wider, grippier barrel was very comfortable in the hand and made me want to hold onto it. In the end, even though the tips were the same diameter, the RT1 seemed to lay down a bit heavier application of ink and the Needle seemed better suited for fine, detail work.
Once again, I did not wait long enough to test the waterproofiness. I only waited a couple minutes and got some smearing when I applied a water brush to the inks. I tried again this morning and the inks did not budge. I even went over the writing and the drawings and nothing happened except that I made the paper “taco” (that’s my husband’s official printer term for what happens to paper when it starts to bend).
My final note is that the capped Needle is not going to leak in a pocket or bag if stored closed. The RT1, with its easy-to-knock knock could accidentally be left open and leak if that’s a consideration.
Do I favor one of these over the other? No. I like them both. A lot.
- Paper: Rhodia Uni-Blank No. 16 with 6mm guide sheet
- Pens: Uni-ball Signo RT1 (UMN-155) 0.38 mm Gel Pen in Black ($2.85) and Uni-ball Signo Needle (UM-151ND) 0.38 mm Gel Pen in Black ($3.30)