It’s rare that you are in the market for a pen refill, rather you are likely trying to buy a refill for a specific pen. Even so, here are some truly exceptional pen refills that are worth keeping an eye out for when you next need a new refill for one of your pens.
These are refills that simply make me happy each time I use them and surprise me with their quality when I revisit them. These are refills that are worth buying a pen so you have somewhere to put them.
Uni-ball Jetstream SXR-600
The Jetstream SXR-600 will likely be the least surprising refill on this list. This is the Parker-style “G2” size of the Jetstream ballpoint ink. Yes, you can finally get Jetstream ink in your Rotring 600 and Parker Jotter ballpoint bodies.
The SXR-600 is exceptionally smooth and super reliable, just like you’d expect from a Jetstream refill. This is, of course, a modern style ballpoint ink (sometimes known as a hybrid) that combines the smoothness of a gel with the longevity and versatility of a ballpoint. And the refill lasts for a long time because it’s a ballpoint ink and it writes on just about anything, like most ballpoints.
The SXR-600 is sold in black and in 0.38 mm, 0.5 mm, and 0.7 mm sizes. The refills sell for about $6 each.
Uni-ball Jetstream SXR-10
The SXR-10 is the 1.0 mm version of the standard Uni Jetstream refill. This refill will fit in almost any Jetstream pen body plus it can fit in some Pilot pens, like the Axiom.
The qualities of this ink are the same as the SXR-600 — an exceptional combination of smoothness, versatility, reliability, and legibility — but the SXR-10 turns the smoothness up to 11 because its 1.0 mm writing ball glides along the paper with a huge cushion of ink.
The SXR-10 will run out much faster than a smaller refill and is more prone to smudging, but the smoothness and bold line you get for this refill makes it a fantastic choice for many people.
The BRFN-30 is a series of refills from Pilot. It’s a metal refill that is an upgrade from the plastic body of the BRFN-10 refills found in the Dr. Grip line. The BFRN-30 refills are exceptionally smooth, long lasting ballpoint refills that are well-suited to the pens they are found in — high-end ballpoints, like Pilot’s S20.
The BRFN refills use a proprietary shape that is similar to a Parker-style, but they are shorter with a different sizing to the writing tip, meaning the two types are not interchangeable. This means the uses of this refill are really quite limited, with a handful Pilot pens being the only practical application for these. There are some very good pens in this set though, like the Pilot AcroDrive, Pilot S20, Pilot Timeless, and any Dr. Grip pen.
Even so, the BFRN-30M, at 1.0 mm, is the widest of the BFRN series which means a wide, smooth ballpoint, with a more traditional feel than the EasyFlow or even the Jetstream refills mentioned above.
Zebra Surari EQ-1.0
Zebra’s Surari refills are part of the company’s line of “Emulsion” ink, which are its take on a modern ballpoint, just like the Uni Jetstream and Pilot Acro inks. The Surari EQ-1.0 is a wide, super smooth, highly legible ballpoint, in keeping with the BRFN and SXR-10, but the EQ-1.0 will fit Zebra pens, like the Blen, Surari 300, and Kado2.
If you are looking for an upgrade to your Blen pen or simply want the smoothest ballpoint style refill possible, this refill is hard to beat, despite the excellent competition from Pilot and Uni. It’s a toss-up to say whose refill is best, but no conversation is complete with the Surari.
Pelikan 338 Rollerball
If you want to upgrade a standard rollerball pen then the Pelikan 338 is an excellent choice. This is a high-end rollerball refill with wonderful blue coloring or a deep black. It’s commonly sold in medium but you can fine the refill in fine as well — both are excellent. The 338 is sold in a broad too, but now you are talking about a refill that lays down a lot of ink and is better suited for signing a document or marking up a contract than doing heavy amounts of writing.
If you want a bold, elegant refill that brings fountain pen-like color and smoothness to your rollerball, this is one of the best picks. The Pelikan 338 is not cheap, selling for about $8 per and it doesn’t last nearly as long as a ballpoint refill, but it’s still an exception refill and one that will bring a serious upgrade to almost any rollerball.