The writers of New York Magazine’s Strategist tested “dozens upon dozens of gels, rollerballs, felt-tips, ballpoints, and fountain pens” and put together a list of the top 100 pens currently available. I expected that I would open the list, scoff at a collection of $500+ pens and quickly close it. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a list of affordable options.
While the number one pen isn’t cheap at $55 for a rollerball, it isn’t going to break the bank either, and the rest of the top picks are cheaper: number two is the $8 OHTO Needle; number 3 is the Prismacolor Premier ($6 for 5). One of my favorite pens sits in the #6 spot, the Tornado Retro at $20.
Of course, any review or ranked list is subjective, but this is an affordable jumping off point for finding a pen you really love.
One note: A lot of what makes one pen better than another is completely subjective. Some of us prefer a finer line and some of us a thicker one (even within the Strategist’s ranks, there is dissent). One person’s beautiful pen might be no more than inoffensive to another. The finer the point, the scratchier it’s likely to be. And if you disagree (or have a favorite we missed), share it in the comments — we just might test it when we update this list in the future.