If you've been paying regular attention to this blog and my social media feeds, you might have noticed that rollerball pens have been gradually working their way into my carry. Everyone talks about the Schmidt P8126/P8127 capless rollerball refill - and that refill is indeed one of the best out there for retractable pens. But what about other options for rollerball pens with caps? I'll walk you through two of my favorite refills here.
In terms of overall quality and available color options, Montblanc makes my favorite rollerball refill. I've never had one dry out prematurely, the ink flow is consistent, and they're threaded, which eliminates any "tip wiggle" when used in authentic Montblanc pens. They also come in a wide range of colors, including not only black and blue, but red, green, turquoise, brown, and purple, in addition to periodic limited edition colors. The downside? As you might expect, price, which can run upwards of $7 per refill, depending on where you shop.
For a more economical take, my go-to option is the Schneider Topball 850, another quality German refill that I first discovered when I purchased the Field Notes "Brands Hall" rollerball pen a couple years back. It's possible to find these in a 10-pack at around $1-2 per refill, which is exceptional value, and the best part is that the Topball 850 comes in a .5mm tip size. I currently have this refill loaded into an Aurora Optima rollerball, a Karas Kustoms Reaktor Galaxie, and even an Inventery Bolt Action Pen (though I'm not sure how long it will last, given that it's not technically a "capless" cartridge - so far, so good though). Size-wise, the Topball 850 seems to be compatible with most pens that take a Pilot G2-size refill, though note that it is NOT compatible with Montblanc pens, and I've not yet had the chance to experiment and find a less-expensive Montblanc refill option. It does appear that Monteverde makes a refill advertised as compatible with Montblanc pens, though I've not tried it so YMMV.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
Rollerball pens can serve as a much more functional writing instrument than fountain pens or even ballpoints, especially in a work environment. The main downside is that refills can get relatively expensive, especially on pricier cartridges like Montblanc. For general writing, I use the Schneider Topball 850 (purchased from Amazon) in most of my pens, which is quite economical when purchased in packs of ten. Colors options are limited to black and blue, though.
Montblanc rollerball refills are still among the best I've used over the years, and their "fineliner" option is exceptional. Montblanc cartridges are available from any authorized Montblanc retailer, but as I mentioned, they are quite pricey. I tend to bargain-hunt and stock up whenever I find a good deal, and Amazon is usually the easiest way to do that. As discussed above, if you can live with a "medium" tip size, Montblanc offers a selection of colors you can't find elsewhere in a rollerball. Note that Montblanc also releases rollerball versions of certain limited edition inks, such as Le Petit Prince, Lucky Orange, UNICEF Blue, and Writers' Edition inks such as Homer and Antoine de Saint-Exupery. These can be hard to find but do turn up if you look around or purchase directly from Montblanc.
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