Many of those who are unfamiliar with the mechanics of pens assume that rollerball pens and ballpoint pens are the same. The truth is, they are both vastly different, with rollerballs using water-based ink and ballpoint pens using oil-based ink.
There are distinct disadvantages and advantages for each, however, most people who get ahold of a rollerball find that it is far preferable over the ballpoint. However, a rollerball pen does have a few disadvantages as the ink they displace takes longer to dry and is susceptible to smudging.
Water-based ink is not as thick as oil-based and it simply takes a long time to dry, whereas oil-based inks dry faster and rarely smudge. Rollerball pens also have a much smoother glide across the page. It’s definitely a much more satisfying experience writing with a rollerball.
If you’re looking to make an upgrade from your boring ballpoint to a rollerball, you’ll be happy to know that there are a lot of options out there and the last thing you want to do is end up with a cheap, half-functional rollerball that will end up spoiling the entire experience for you.
Table of Contents
- 1 What to Look for in a Rollerball Pen?
- 2 Best Rollerball Pens
- 3 Final Thoughts
- 4 More Great Pen Coverage
What to Look for in a Rollerball Pen?
Rollerball pens are pens that fountain pen users can truly appreciate, as the feel of the writing is very similar, despite the drastic difference in visual construction and style. The smooth flow of a good rollerball pen is addictive and much like the fountain pen.
So what are the other reasons for going with a rollerball over a ballpoint, or any other pen-types for that matter? Well, there are plenty of them and the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
- Higher consistency level than a ballpoint
- Cleaner, lighter pen with less stress on the hand and wrist
- Far more color options than ballpoints
- Clearer and bolder visuals against a paper backdrop
- Ink is replaceable
Like fountain pens, there is also some dry time required when you lay down some fresh ink. Now that you know the pros and cons, there are several features that you should not only look for in a rollerball pen but also come to expect.
- Smooth glide with every pen stroke
- Consistent flow
- Fast dry time
- Less pressure when writing
The smooth glide comes from the water-based ink and the rollerball mechanism that displaces the ink in a straight line. You want a rollerball pen that consistently displaces that ink without breaks or bumps along the way.
That is part of the consistent flow as well. Over time, as you use the pen over and over, you would expect a small degree of degradation. A good rollerball pen will continue to deliver consistent ink flow, with no breaks or bumps, over a long period.
Fast dry time is also something worth considering. The faster the dry time the better off you are because that means you can turn the pages faster without the pages touching and smearing the ink, or smearing it yourself on accident.
Lastly, you shouldn’t have to apply nearly the same amount of pressure with a good rollerball pen, as water-based inks lack the viscosity of oil-based inks, so it’s not necessary to apply additional pressure to put ink on paper.
What it all boils down to is the fact that you want a consistent pen with quality ink that is durable, efficient, and reliable over a long period of time.
Best Rollerball Pens
There are a lot of rollerball pens on the market, from the 10-packs of cheap and replaceable pens to rollerballs that are ludicrously expensive. We based our list on the above-listed criteria to separate the weak from the strong, compiling an index of the best rollerball pens available.
This is a truly nice pen and comes in a variety of colors for the pen aficionado buried deep within your soul. Aurora has gotten quite good at this, as they’ve only been at it since 1919 and the Aurora Bourdeaux Resin Rollerball is a testament to their commitment and quality over the last century.
The cap is a snap cap and can post to the pen if you prefer to have a longer writing instrument in your hand. The burgundy color is a deep and rich color that really sets off the gold-plated trim.
The body of the Bourdeaux is made of hardened resin and polished to a lustrous shine that seems to draw in the light around it. The pen “looks” expensive and it really stands out as a professional piece.
The ink flow is incredibly smooth as you would expect from a rollerball and even more so with the Aurora Bourdeaux. This pen is perfectly balanced and feels great when you’re writing with it.
- Bordeaux resin barrel
- Gold plated trims
- Black lacquer ring
- Outstanding ink flow
- Great balance
- Posted cap feels great
- Very little dry time
- Gold plated trim and burgundy resin body is a great aesthetic
Montblanc is the one name that represents the pinnacle of all things that fall under the umbrella of writing stationery. And here we are with another Bourdeaux and it’s arguably better than the first one.
This is a smaller version than the Aurora but it handles very well and in terms of balance, it’s second to none. The pen feels light in the hand and with the addition of a very smooth and fluid ink flow, even if you whip the pen around on the page and get a little crazy with it.
It’s more than enough to keep up with whatever flourishes you decide to throw at it. Like the Aurora, the body of the Montblanc is resin and polished to a professional sheen. Also, like the Aurora, the Meisterstuck comes with gold plated trim.
The largest difference between the two is the name, Montblanc, and the fact that it’s probably slightly better on the functionality front.
- Rollerball pen
- Black precious resin inlaid with Мont blanc emblem
- Three platinum-plated rings embossed with the Мont blanc brand name
- Delivery with genuine presentations box and manufacturer warranty
- Ident Number: 2865
- Excellent balance
- Precision and consistency are perfect
- Gold plated trim
- Burgundy resin gives off a great aesthetic
This pen is a beautiful homage to the silk road trade route that connected the east and the west, uniting Chinese cultures with those of Europe. The pen’s artwork manages to capture the weight and feel of the historic caravan passage, echoed into modern times.
This is one of the more expensive rollerballs on the list thanks to the fact that it is almost entirely constructed of silver and gold plating. It includes a jade tip that embellishes the cap. However, precious gemstones and metal don’t encompass everything there is about this pen.
The Omas is an incredible pen to experience as well as look at. The ink to page transition is superb and if you decide the hold the pen—an arguable point since it’s so nice to look at—you’ll find that it is well-balanced if a little heavy, due to the excess metal that went into the construction.
It’s a very precise pen, which is a bit of a surprise when you’re operating off of the assumption that a great deal of effort went into the aesthetic presentation.
- Precision writing instrument
- Excellent level of ink flow on the page
- Gorgeous aesthetic
- Gold and silver plated
- Jade embellished cap
The Kaweco Dia 2 is a fine rollerball addition to your stationery arsenal. It has the look of a classical executive pen, with a black, acrylic body that’s accented with chrome plate bands and clips.
Unlike many pens of its type, the Dia 2 has a screw-on cap which adds a layer of security, however, you will have to set the cap aside when it comes time to write since it won’t post to the pen.
The black acrylic housing contains a ceramic rollerball and the pen is filled with a water-based gel that is extremely vivid and clean on paper. The Dia 2 was originally launched in 1930 and has been a mainstay in the Kaweco lineup for nearly a century.
This is an easily refillable pen so when you run out, you’re ready to go again in a heartbeat. However, the replacement refill is only available in medium size, which is pretty restrictive for a pen that has been around the block for 90 years.
Granted, this pen isn’t the same as the 1930 version but it is built to echo the original design. One thing that hasn’t changed is the precision and flow that you get with this rollerball pen. It also comes in a fountain pen and ballpoint variation but the rollerball really stands out.
- Reliable every day – the Kaweco DIA2 rollerball with high-quality gel refill made in Germany allows comfortable...
- Proven design since 1921 – the decorative elements and proportions that make the scooter so special correspond to...
- The nostalgic Kaweco roller impresses with its pleasant feel, a noticeably soft writing feel and the classic shape,...
- Quality since 1883: The production is carried out by hand and individually inspected in the pencil city of Nuremberg....
- The perfect writing tool is guaranteed to be found in our extensive range - from pencils to fountain pens to ballpoint...
- Durable, black acrylic housing
- Excellent classic aesthetic
- Screw-on cap for security
- Easy replacement refills
- Precision and great flow
The Lamy 2000 fountain pen was so successful, it was only a matter of time before they released a rollerball version, especially since the two pen-types are so similar in how they write.
The Lamy Rollerball version is very cigar-shaped and is nearly identical to the fountain pen. Instead of the piston knob on, like the fountain pen version, it’s a screw-off section with the rollerball version, so you can remove the ink cartridge.
The Lamy 2000 is an incredibly smooth writing pen and it’s easy to become addicted to the feel and flow of this pen across the page. The grip design on the wide center tapers towards the point quickly and it’s easy to handle with large or small hands.
- Ramie 2000 Rollerball Pen
- Makrolon Fiberglass Finish
- Stainless Steel Trim
- Medium Black Liquid Ink Roller Ball Refill Included
- Made in Germany
- Incredible precision and ink flow
- Excellent grip
- Easy to change the cartridge
- Executive aesthetic
The Zebra G-301 looks more along the lines of what you would expect from a felt-tipped pen in terms of body and style. Its constructed almost entirely of stainless steel and so it has a crisp, clean look and feels to it.
The steel is broken up with a rubber grip The cap is a snug fit and posts well and with or without it, the pen has a light and breezy feel to it. You will definitely be able to get long writing sessions out of it without your hand tiring or cramping up.
Despite a cheaper aesthetic, the writing side of this pen is phenomenal. Out of all of the pens on this list, the G-301 probably feels the best when scribbling across the paper. It has a great feel and the ink flow is precise and superb.
It is a very wet ink that may turn off some, however, it dries faster than many of the drier inks on the market. Unless you are truly flying across the pages, you will be able to flip through to the next page without worrying about turning the previous page into a smeared mess.
It’s one of those interesting rollerball pens that simply doesn’t make sense when compared to the others. This pen won’t cost you much more than a standout BIC rollerball. In most markets, the price is roughly $3.
In terms of aesthetics, the cheap price certainly shows, although it is far from an ugly pen. The fact that this pen outperforms most of the pens—with the possible exception of the Montblanc—is truly astounding at the very low price point. It’s really a life lesson in expectations.
- The sleek metal design uniquely combines both style and professionalism making this pen suitable for everyday use.
- Its compact and lightweight body, coupled with its plastic grip, helps to give a comfortable and precise writing...
- Each pen writes a medium 0.7mm line, and the pen is refillable with the JK refill.
- Features a stainless steel pocket clip that can be secured to clothes and books.
- This pack contains six rollerball pens with black ink.
- Sturdy design
- Lightweight and simple to use
- Wet ink stands out on the page
- Dries quickly
- Phenomenal writing feel
- Very low cost
There you have it, the best rollerball pens that made our list. Every pen on here is a great addition to your collection or even as a first pen. Once you delve into the world of higher-tier pens, you’ll wonder why you’ve been pulling cheap, throw-away pens out of plastic for years.