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Sheaffer VFM

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Sheaffer. I wanted to make sure I got a review of one of their pens this year, and I’m glad I did!

Sheaffer VFM Fountain Pen

I first saw the Sheaffer VFM while browsing my favorite local store, If Only…, looking for something else. I check the pen cabinets every time I go, and this time this little pen came home with me.

Now, when I say little pen, I mean visually. It is a very simple design that appears unobtrusive; a basic tapered cylinder for barrel and cap, and clip. Not a lot to it, yet even in its simplicity it has a rather elegant style. The barrel comes in a number of different colors.


This is a metal bodied pen with a weight you would expect from a metal pen of this size. The pen body comes in a number of colors to match any preference. I picked up a Maximum Orange body, which suited the Fall mood. The store did not have Shaeffer refills in the Universal cartridge that this pen takes. I filled it with a J. Herbin Universal refill in Bleu Nuit.

The nib is steel and can be found in Fine and Medium. The medium nib I chose writes with about the same width as Lamy’s fine tips.

Sheaffer VFM Nib

The Sheaffer VFM with ink cartridge weighs in at 20.4 grams. Closed, it’s just shy of 5.5″ long. Open and posted, it is a tad over 6″. Don’t post your pens? Open without the cap, it is 4.75″.

In Use

Before I open my mouth and reveal myself as the new-found Sheaffer fan-boy that I am, let me state that I bought this pen purely out of curiosity. I liked its clean looks, but that was all I knew about the pen. That said, this pen has become my daily use pen, pushing aside my Lamy Al-Star at home and my Parker Jotter at work. Let me tell you why…

First and likely foremost, this is one durable pen. The body has a nice, solid feel to it. There are few edges, and no sharp corners that could catch on anything, and this includes the clip. Its edges are all rounded, so nothing to poke. Why is this important to me? It makes it comfortable to carry in pants pockets. This means it is with me where ever I go.

While it took a bit to get the ink to flow the first time I inserted a cartridge, it has never skipped since. Lines are clean and react nicely to differing pressures, laying down a clean line. With the J. Herbin ink, this means you can shade letters and drawings.

Sheaffer VFM writing sample


Among many, it is an inexpensive pen. I see them on Amazon for between $15 and $17. I paid a bit over $16 locally, which puts it right in that range. Not a fan of fountain pens? The Sheaffer VFM can also be found in ballpoint and roller-ball versions. This is also one tough pen, a thick metal body making up the bulk of the pen. I throw mine in my pocket with loose change and it has yet to scratch the surface.


I’ve only found two items I would consider cons. First, the cap, when posted, seems a bit loose. I can wobble it around. The cap has a plastic inner liner that should hold it snug against the pen barrel, but even if I press it as tightly as I can, after a while it works loose and begins to wobble again. Not really that big a deal for me as I can write fine, posted or not. Usually, I simply don’t post the cap.

The second may be primarily an issue with local availability. Since this pen takes Universal cartridges, I’ve found myself oddly limited with the local shops. I can only find Universal cartridge ink by J. Herbin locally. While they do have an excellent selection of colors, I’d like to try other brands before settling on an ink. I’ll likely have to shop online to either find other Universal cartridges, or a piston/plunger converter.

Final Word

As noted above, this has become my work-horse pen. I carry it everywhere. If the style fits yours, it is definitely worth picking up. At less than $20, it certainly won’t break the bank.

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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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