Few things are as frustrating as having your pen run out of ink when the words you want to write are flowing, although having to track down the right size refill when you’re not really sure what you’re looking for might come close.
Understanding how your ballpoint pen works will go some way to helping choose the correct refill for it. The pen dispenses its ink over the metal ball at the point – the “ball point” – and as it is a more reliable option than fountain pens for giving a consistent finish, the ballpoint is now the most widely used refill across the globe.
Because of their widespread appeal, some of the bigger pen manufacturers have started to adopt a more universal sizing strategy. There are lots of pens on the market today that can take a “Parker-Style” refill – often referred to as a G2 – though Pilot also makes its own G2, and to confuse names further, there are also lots of models that take Hi-Tec C refills, also by Pilot.
Some of the most popular pens that need a Parker-Style refill include Faber-Castell’s Ballpoint Pen and Scribero Gel Ink Roller, Moleskine’s Ballpoint, Gel Refill and Roller Gels, and several from the Monteverde range. Obviously, pens in the Parker range fall into this category, and also models from Pelikan, Schmidt, Schneider and Visconti.
There are stories of people opting to “cut to fit” when it comes to refills, and making the cartridge they have fit the pen, though there is plenty to go wrong with that option. Brands are becoming aware that people are ‘customising’ the refills to the point that Karas Kustoms, makers of Retrakt, Bolt and Render K pens have taken to providing a piece of plastic tubing with their pens to allow you to ‘customise’ refills to mix and match the pens and other brand refills.
Although not identical, Euro G2s are often very similar to Pilot G2 refills and can sometimes be used interchangeably. They are 110mm long and sometimes referred to as Schmidt or Euro Rollerball cartridges, as they fit the Foray Schmidt Rollerball pens. Confusingly, they will also fit Faber-Castell pens, though in different models from the Parker style.
Other pens to fit the Euro G2 include some Caran d’Ache models, Monteverde, various Pilot and Schmidt models, as well as the Sheaffer fineliner and others.
If it’s not a perfect fit, adding a spring to the tip of the new cartridge will help stabilise it. The one provided by the manufacturer of the pen should work, but alternatively, using one from any cheaper, non-branded roller pen will help you get the perfect fit.
Pilot Hi-Tec C Cartridges
Fewer models fit the Pilot refills (just selected Pilot and Uni-ball Signo pens), though the cartridges come in so many different tip widths and colours that they provide very varied options.
There are many more options that we have not discussed here, and manufacturers are constantly working to improve compatibility to give their customers more options and value for money.