There are many excellent ballpoint pen artists out there, but…
As you might or might not know: I prefer pencils and fountain pens to ballpoint and similar pens. This means I try to avoid using ballpoint pens if I can. Recently I had a good reason to use one, though. I’ll spare you the details why, but suffice to say that I first tried to avoid using a ballpoint pen.
Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Gel pen
Instead, I first tried to use my seven year old Faber-Castell Grip 2011 Gel pen. Well, it was worth a try, but it didn’t work. The refill cartridge was either dried out or used up. I assume it was used up, because I tried to squeeze any leftover gel out, as you might see from the dented cartridge in the photo, but I was unsuccessful.
Staedtler stick 430 M
As the Gelroller didn’t work I tried Staedtler’s Welsh-made stick 430 M (also discontinued – at least the Welsh version was) which I stored in the same pencil case as the Grip 2011. After many years of neglect it started writing immediately and left a clear line without any skipping. What a tough worker the Staedtler stick is! I was positively impressed.
Faber-Castell Gelroller Refill Blue
I remember that I loved the line I got from the Grip 2011’s original cartridge, a Faber-Castell Gelroller Refill Blue (24 97 51), but unfortunately Faber-Castell stopped making these refills. I was searching for alternatives for quite a while, but all I could find was either very expensive, from the more luxurious brands, or erasable (using an ‘ink killer’). The erasable version was even from Faber-Castell, but I wasn’t keen on erasable ink for this pen.
Schneider Gelion 39
In the end I found Schneider’s Gelion 39 Refill on The Pen Company’s web site. I ordered the blue version for £1.70 (~$2.45; €2.25).
It’s a Standard G2, Parker style ballpoint refill size so it did fit the Grip 2011 Gel pen perfectly. As far as I can tell the Grip 2011 Gel pen is using exactly the same body as the Grip 2011 ballpoint pen, but with an additional “Gel” imprint at the end of the pen.
My impressions, based on the memory I have of the original Faber-Castell refill, are quite similar to The Pen Addict’s (assuming that Schneider’s Gelion pen uses the Gelion 39 refill). I didn’t see his review until after I tried my refill, so I wasn’t influenced by his thoughts. However, in a nutshell: I think it’s a great refill, but on the type of paper I have tried so far the refill’s ink will get (slightly) soaked into the paper, so the border of the lines you write are not as clear as the one Faber-Castell’s discontinued refill produced. I love clear, sharp lines, but everyone is different – you might not mind.
Overall, this is a very reasonably priced refill that provides great value for money. Once it’s used up, which might take years, I might be looking for a refill with crisper line borders, though.
Price: January 2016
Exchange rates: February 2016