How Long Does Ballpoint Pen Ink Last?

You always want a pen that works well and is consistent. A ballpoint pen that fades or stops writing can be a major nuisance if you are in the middle of writing something, especially a letter or a note on a card. It’s good to know how long your ballpoint pen will last.

How long does ballpoint pen ink last? On average, a typical ballpoint pen can write for 300 legal-size pages. However, it isn’t as economical over the long term as a fountain pen. A 12-ounce bottle of ink can keep you writing for a year. The catch is that a fountain pen typically costs more money than a ballpoint pen upfront.

Read the article below to find out more about ballpoint pens and how to make them last longer. 

Ballpen Pen Ink Longevity

Some pen refills last longer than others so it does matter which type you get. Ballpoint pens tie for one of those lasting the longest. You will get the most, best use out of ballpoint or rollerball refills because they will last four years. Fineliner pen refills can last anywhere from two to four years.

A document marker refill will last around two years as well as the small ballpoint refills.

What’s the Difference?

Many people don’t understand the differences in all these types of refills. Here is a synopsis. 

Ballpoint Pens

Ballpoint pens utilize oil-based ink, which is thicker than many other types of ink. The writing with this type of pen is lighter and more deliberate than other types of pens. 

An oil-based ink doesn’t dry as quickly as others. While this can cause some smearing, keeping the pen ink over time is easy because the pen doesn’t need a cap to keep it from drying out. 

Ballpoint pens usually have a click or twist mechanism to produce the writing tip. 

Rollerball Pens

Rollerball pens use more of a water-based ink so it’s more like using a fountain pen. It is more fluid and makes for smoother writing. Its writing is vibrant and sharp. However, rollerball ink dries out faster than ballpoint. You must keep the tip covered to prevent it from drying out.

This is why rollerball pens usually have a cap.

Fountain Pens

A fountain pen has a metal nib, which is the point at the end, that holds a cartridge, an internal reservoir of ink, or a converter. The nib is usually made of solid gold. 

The fountain pen has a fine, even line. You refill it by buying ink by the bottle but you can buy a smaller bottle, and that will last for a year.

Fineliner Pens

These pen refills have fine plastic or fiber tips. They require little pressure and won’t skip as much as a ballpoint or rollerball pen. Many people use fineliner pens for sketching. 

It is a much softer stroke and has good variation in lines. Fineliner pen refills typically hold water-based ink but some also come with oil-based ink.

Fineliner pen ink dries more quickly because it’s water-based ink. However, it dries even faster than a rollerball pen because the ink in a fineliner is thinner than the water-based ink in a rollerball pen refill. 

Document Markers

Document markers are some of the high-end writing instruments like Montblanc. The document marker is created with black resin with gold-plated fittings and clips. The refills come in standard ink colors but also come in highlighter colors like green or yellow.

Small Ballpoint Pens

Ballpoint pens come in different sizes and that can affect how long the ink refills last. A ballpoint pen’s size is set by the ballpoint’s width. The width sill produces a line that is the width of its diameter. 

For instance, a .5 mm pen will make a .5-mm wide line. 

For writing, most want a line that’s between .5 mm and .7 mm. Culture plays a slight role because those in the West tend to like thicker lines while those in Eastern countries, like Japan, like writing to be finer. A fine point works best for those who write smaller and in a more deliberate fashion. 

The smallest ballpoint pen is the NanoPen. It is just under 2 inches long and is only .3 mm in diameter. The NanoPen is lightweight too. It weighs just .16 ounces and is made of aluminum. The tip is strong because it’s made of tungsten carbide.

Does gel pen ink last a long time?

The difference between gel pens and ballpoint pens is that the gel pen uses gel ink. It is thicker than most other pens and tends to skip more than rollerball pens. It takes longer to dry than ballpoint pens.

However, the gel pen has great color. 

What kind of pen should you get?

The type of pen you prefer depends largely on your writing style and how long you need it to last. For strict daily use and longevity, the ballpoint or rollerball pens work very well. 

Those who do specialized writing or sketching will put more emphasis on a finer point than on longevity so a fineliner may be their choice. It also ranks top for longevity. 

Some of the best brands are the Uni-Ball Jetstream Retractable Ballpoint pen for a ballpoint pen and the Uni-Ball Vision Elite Rollerball pen for the best rollerball.

The Pilot Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen is ranked as the best luxury pen and the Marvy Uchida Le Pen is tops in the category of the best felt-tip pen. The Pilot G2 Retractable Gel-Ink Pen ranks at the top of the best gel pens.

PILOT Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen, Black Barrel, Classic Design, Medium Nib, Black Ink (91107)
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  • nest quality at a mid-range price
  • Medium nib
  • Brass barrel with stainless accents
  • POWER TO THE PEN: Pilot makes exceptional writing instruments to suit all your needs. We have fountain, ballpoint,...

Final Thoughts

Ballpoint pens offer a great standard writing ink with refills lasting up to several years. They are also convenient to keep because they don’t dry out as fast as other types of pen inks. How long does ballpoint pen ink last? It can last for up to four years. 

Those who like a thicker style of writing will like ballpoint pens. It dries quicker on paper and gives the writer a tactile feel of ink on paper.

Is you Ballpoint pen skipping? If so, check out our article to help you fix it.

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