Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.3mm Kurikawa (Chestnut Bark Brown)

Of the triumvirate of micro-tipped gel pens, the Pilot Hi-Tec-C is probably my least favourite.  Don't get me wrong, it's still a great pen, but I've never felt that it quite compared to the other two: the Uni-ball Signo DX and the Pentel Slicci.  The Hi-Tec-C is the scratchiest, the most uncomfortable to use (with its hexagonal body and lack of a grip), the most fragile (I once bent the tip of a Hi-Tec-C when I pressed too hard while writing), and it can, on occasion, be irritatingly slow to start writing smoothly.

But despite these issues (and before I alienate all the Hi-Tec-C lovers among my readers), the Pilot Hi-Tec-C retains a certain attraction.  It is probably the longest lasting of those three pens, its needle-point tip is a joy to use (just don't press too hard), and it comes in a truly diverse range of colours.  Some of the most intriguing of these colours are found in the Yawaragi series.  So when I was looking to check out the 0.3mm version of the Pilot Hi-Tec-C (my earlier review was of the 0.4mm), I thought I'd check out the Kurikawa shade, know in English as "chestnut bark brown", as well.

Unsurprisingly, the 0.3mm Hi-Tec-C is scratchier than the 0.4mm, and it is also scratchier than the comparable 0.28mm Uni-ball Signo DX and 0.3mm Pentel Slicci (the Slicci is the least scratchy of these three pens).  Although scratchiness is to be expected as the nib size gets smaller, writing slower or using smoother paper can reduce it.  With the Hi-Tec-C, this helps, but does not completely solve the problem.  Still, on smooth, high-quality paper, it can be tolerated.

Also, as I already briefly mentioned, the Pilot Hi-Tec-C is not the most comfortable pen to write with.  It has a hexagonal body of hard plastic, and not really any grip, just a section of ridged plastic.  I don't recommend writing with this pen for long periods of time.  The best feature is its cap, which snaps on and posts with a very satisfying click, and which is marked on the end with colour and nib size - a helpful feature if you have a collection of these pens (just don't put the wrong caps on the pens!).

Despite the scratchiness and discomfort, my decision to purchase this pen was mainly based on the colour.  I was originally undecided about whether to pick this colour or the Usuzumi (light sumi grey), but I eventually decided that I would probably like the brown better.  I have noticed that when choosing ink colours, I often prefer the more muted, darker shades over the lighter, brighter shades.  I have a particular fondness for colours that are close to, but not quite, black: blue black, lavender black, green black, and now dark brown.

Compared to black, this chestnut bark brown is a softer, quieter shade.  Black is fine for business or work and for writing things that are straightforward and concerned with hard facts or numbers.  Brown, however, is more suited to dealing with subtle nuances and for writings of a more ambiguous or emotional character, such as writing in your journal, composing poetry, or penning a letter to a close friend.  This chestnut bark brown is not a warm brown, but a dark, calming shade.  I enjoy using it; it is not an exciting colour, but rather one that will add a certain sophistication and elegance to your page.

I still have mixed feelings about the Pilot Hi-Tec-C.  I know there are probably people out there who adore it, but it just has too many issues for me to love it.  I appreciate its diverse range of colours, and I would definitely recommend the chestnut bark brown, but you'll probably want to check it out in the 0.4mm or even the 0.5mm, rather than the 0.3mm.  I suspect that the 0.3mm is simply going to be too scratchy for most people, and I'll probably be sticking with the 0.4mm myself from now on.

Related reviews: Gourmet Pens, Doodles in the Footnotes, The Pen Addict (blue black), The Pen Addict (violet), The Pen Addict (muscat), The Pen Addict (pompadour), The Pen Addict (mandarin orange), Shh, I'm Counting.


  1. I love brown gel ink as well. My signature pen is a 0.28 Signo DX in black-brown. It's a rich dark chocolate brown, dark enough to have excellent contrast on even light grey paper but with a softer look than just plain black.


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