Tag Archives: gel

TUL GL1 Retractable

I make no secret of my dislike for gel pens. I find the ink dries to slowly making it easy to smear. I have had several that leaked, or often needed the tip cleaned before use. In general, I avoid them.


There is one, however, that I use often; the TUL GL1. This is my go to pen for editing. When I’m writing on my computer, I will occasionally print out my work and go at it with a red pen. You know, like your teacher used to do to your term papers. A red pen just seems natural for editing.

So, let’s have a look at this pen and why I think of all the gel pens I’ve used, I find it a keeper.


The TUL GL1 is a plastic bodied pen with a rubber grip. It comes in a number of colors and tip sizes, so finding one to match your writing style should be fairly easy. The GL1 is a fairly light pen.

In Use

TUL GL1 writing sample

I use the GL1 primarily in red for editing. I have done some note taking with it, and find that unlike most gel pens I’ve used, the ink dries quickly and does not smear. Ink flows smoothly with no skips. The red ink is vibrant, which is why I use it for edits – they are very easy to spot!

The pen feels good in the hand and has a textured rubberized grip. The retraction mechanism is smooth and I have had no issues with it. Unlike many pens I have used, the clip is extremely sturdy. It is a wide strip of stainless steel with excellent tension. I don’t tend to clip my pens to things, but if I did, I would expect this one to not break or lose tension unless seriously abused.


Speaking for the red ink, it is bright and clean. This pen does not skip. Lines are smooth and uniform. The ink also dries very fast. The pen, itself, is sturdy. While this is marketed as a disposable pen, refills can be found.


Refills are only in black, as far as I’ve been able to find. No good for my red pen! Compared to other disposable gel pens, the TUL GL1 is a bit pricy. I could find single pens for just under $2.00. A pack of four different color pens cost me a tad over $6.00.

Final Word

Would I recommend this pen? If you like gel pens, but hate the smearing often associated with them, then definitely yes. This is the only gel pen I currently use, and, admittedly, my use is pretty limited. I typically only use the red pen from the four-pen set I purchased, but the other colors are equally vivid and quick drying. If TUL’s gel pens had been the first gel pens I had ever used, I might not have such a bad opinion of gel pens in general.

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Filed under GL1, Pens, TUL

uni-ball Gel RT

I am not a fan of giving bad reviews. However, anyone who collects and uses a lot of pens knows that from time to time, you come across one that just does not work for you. Could be that it has an unusual weight, or it is fragile, or the ink does not dry. Any number of things could be wrong with a pen.

Unfortunately, the uni-ball Gel RT falls in this category for me. But before I totally rag on the pen, let me get some of its strong points out.

Like the Bic Cristal I reviewed yesterday, the uni-ball Gel RT certainly does “write the first time, every time”. In that sense, it is a reliable pen. Just remember to take the small rubber nib off of the pen tip before the first use.

uni-ball Gel RT

The feel of the pen is good and easily held thanks to a rubber grip. The uni-ball Gel RT is a very light pen, so depending upon your writing style that could either be a pro or a con. I find it a bit lighter than the pens I usually use, yet still find it comfortable.

My first real con is not really a comment on the pen itself, but the ink. You will find, as I review more pens, that I am not a fan of gel inks in general. While I find they do produce nice, vivid colors, the slow drying times prove easy to smear. This pen has done nothing to assuage my dislike of these inks. My primary use of the Gel RT is note taking at work. Since I am often writing fast, as my fingers brush over previous lines tell-tale streaks often follow.

uni-ball Gel RT broken

One of my uni-ball Gel RT pens with typical breakage.

The plastic clip on the pen is another source of concern. I have used many of these pens at work and every single one of them has a broken clip. They always break at the curve, and it does not seem to take a lot of pressure to do it. I do not tend to clip my pens to things, so it really is not a bother, but it does make the pen look bad.

The Gel RT is also one of the few pens I have owned where the click mechanism has broken. The push button is made up of two layers of plastic. If the clear outer plastic breaks, getting the pen to click in place becomes quite difficult.

Would I recommend this pen? If you are a fan of gel pens and can keep it from breaking, it is a fine pen. Ink flows smoothly and it feels good in the hand. My experience, though, suggests that the plastic is simply too fragile. I may use them at work, as that is what is available, but I do not use them at home.

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Filed under Gel RT, Pens, uni-ball