D1 refill comparison part 2 review

Guide to D1 Refills

20 November 2014 By ian

D1 refill comparison part 2 review

Many moons ago I did a comparison of six different D1 refills and called it ‘part one‘. I was fully intending to do a ‘part two’ soon after but it didn’t happen. Here it is now, though. Better late than never!

Just to recap, D1 refills are small refills used in many Kickstarter projects and multipens. They’re mostly ballpoints but Pilot and Zebra do gel refills too.

In part one Monteverde Soft Roll Mini D13 and the Faber-Castell Ballpen came out on top. Will they stay there?

D1 refill comparison part 2 writing

Lamy M21 ballpoint

This is a lovely smooth writer that puts down a consistent line, starts well and isn’t gloopy.

Zebra 4C ballpoint

This is a pretty standard ballpoint. It works okay although does feel like it’s trying to get away from you a little. There’s nothing special about it.

Schneider Express 56 ballpoint

In common with full-sized Schneider ballpoints, this is a very smooth writer but it always feels as if it wants to escape and write more quickly than I want to.

Schmidt S 635 ballpoint

This isn’t quite as smooth as the Lamy M21 but it has a blacker ink. It’s perfectly fine but not special.

Tombow BR-VS ballpoint

Pale ink, inconsistent line, not nice at all.

Platignum Dual ballpoint

This is okay. Nothing special and I could only find it with blue ink.

Tombow Outdoor Pen BR-VMP

This is another refill I could only find in blue. It skips a lot and isn’t pleasant at all. It is pressurised so you could write horribly upside down or under water if you wanted to.

Zebra JSB 0.5mm gel ink

This is a mighty fine gel ink refill. Lovely dark crisp line. After trying out all these ballpoints it was a real treat to finally get to a gel one, I can tell you!


I’ve now tried out twelve D1 ballpoint refills and two gel ink refills.

Of the ballpoints, the two Tombows and the Platinum SBSP-120S were terrible. The Lamy M21, Faber-Castell Ballpen and Monteverde Soft Roll Mini D13 (the latter two from part one) were all pretty good. The rest are all okay but, really, why settle for okay when you have so much choice?

The best of the lot is the Lamy M21. It’s the smoothest writer but doesn’t ever try to run away from you.

Both the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and Zebra JSB are great gel ink refills. Both are expensive because they run out of ink quickly, making the cost-per-word a lot more than any of the ballpoints. I haven’t been able to test this objectively but it feels as if the Zebra runs out of ink quicker than the Pilot. I prefer how the Zebra writes but there’s not much in it.

Extra special thanks to Cult Pens who supplied most of the refills I’ve tried out in this part. They have a huge selection of D1 refills including all the ones I’ve tried here and quite a few more too.

Update (13 December 2015)

As mentioned in the comments, since writing this I have discovered the Uni-ball Jetstream D1 refill. This is wonderful and, though quite pricy, is currently my D1 refill of choice.

D1 refill comparison part 2