Perhaps you realize that pulling out a disposable or stick pen doesn't express your personality or station in life the way a nicer pen would, but you're not yet ready to try a fountain pen. What choice do you have? Since almost all the pens listed on the Best Fountain Pens for Everyday Use are available as rollerballs, ballpoints, and some even as mechanical pencils, you may use that as a guide after reading the rest of this page.
More than the outside that's not much more than a holder for the refill, your greatest consideration for buying a non-fountain pen is the refill. In general, the smoothest refills are rollerballs, followed by gel pens, then ballpoints, with fibertips being the least smooth. Since the majority of the world's pens accept Parker-style ballpoint and gel refills, selecting that type of refill will give you the widest selection of pens. If you think you'd like to buy a rollerball because its liquid ink is more like a fountain pen with the convenience of a ballpoint, please be sure to first buy one each of all the refills available to avoid buying an expensive pen and discovering that the refill doesn't meet your expectations. I recommend the Parker fine (.5mm) rollerball refill because it's among the very best. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the Parker medium which is either good or among the worst - but, Parker's working on improving it. If you like Waterman rollerball pens but are leery of the fairly bad reputation of the Waterman rollerball refills, use the Pilot G2 gel refills instead.
Those who have developed a preference for the Pilot G2 gel pens will be pleased to learn that there's a variety of pens that they fit. The Zebra Sarasa gel refill seems to fit many of the same; take a refill along when you buy your pen to make sure. According to Pilot, the G2 fits the rollerball pens made by the following:
Dani Trio Usa
Graf von Faber Castell
Sheaffer Slim II
S. T. Dupont
For those who care about such things, the write-out distance of the G2 .5mm is 2,953 feet while the write-out distance of the .7mm refill is 2,297 feet.
The G2 is also a replacement for the Schmidt 888 ceramic rollers and can be made to fit Sheaffer Balance, Balance II, and Prelude pens by cutting 1/4" off the end of the refill. Sensa rollerballs need 1/16" trimmed.
In like manner, you can make the G2 refill fit an old Cross rollerball pen by removing the plug, cutting off about 1/16" and replacing the plug. This won't work for the newer pens, however, because Cross made their barrels too narrow for the G2 to fit after they realized what customers were doing.
For those who need a pen that writes where others don't, I recommend one that uses a Fisher Space pen refill. In addition to the Fisher Space pens, the refills fit Sensas, and with the included adapter, Parkers and pens that use a Parker-style refill. Fisher also makes refills to fit other pens such as Cross which is the same style refill for Sensa's Cloud 9. What's so great about these pressurized refills is that they write in the cold, against vertical surfaces or upside-down, and on paper that's not pen-friendly, etc.
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