The Best Ballpoint Pen

Updated on 3 November 2022

After 8 hours of research among 19 popular pens and testing 6 of them, we finally voted the BIC M10 Original as the best value for money.

This comparison is certified 100% impartial and follows our selection process.

Our choice, Best budget

BIC M10 Original

This great classic from BIC is competitively priced and as comfortable to hold as it is durable. Our testers were unanimous in their praise of its value for money.

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BIC M10 Original

This plastic ballpoint pen has a slightly ridged barrel, making it comfortable for everyone to hold when taking long notes. During our test, we found it easy to handle, especially for those who hold it close to the tip. The tip is medium-sized (1.0 mm) and retractable to prevent the ink from drying out, and it retracts instantly with a push-button on the side. Compared to other models, the ink seemed slightly lighter, but it dries quickly on the paper, which is interesting for left-handed people. It also has a life of 2km, twice as long as a conventional retractable model, and its partially transparent body means you can tell when the ink is running out. Finally, the clip is useful for attaching it to a notebook and we felt it was securely welded.

 

 

Best mid-range

Parker Jotter

A true icon of the brand, it has a solid, sleek, elegant design suitable for professional environments. The replaceable cartridge increases its longevity, and its comfort of use is noteworthy.

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Parker Jotter

This biros made of brushed stainless steel with chrome-plated fittings stand out mainly because of its elegance. It is slim and smooth and sits well in the hand, making it easy to write with. The ink dries quickly and the writing is crisp, clean and precise. You can replace the cartridge with an ink refill from the same brand, which is easy to do, as we found when we tested it. Overall, we find this model suitable for any situation, although its elegance makes it more suitable for a professional environment. The arrow-shaped clip is solid, and the case it comes in is appreciated. However, we did notice a small noise when typing.

 

Best high-end

Fisher Space Pen Bullet

This model is one of the most versatile on the market. A work of art in its own right, it takes the form of a firearm bullet and can write at any angle, even in zero gravity!

£ 29.60 on Amazon

This ballpoint pen is a true work of art. Exhibited for several years at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, it is distinguished by its many idiosyncrasies. While it does indeed pour out black ink with its medium point, it can write at any angle – even in zero gravity – and at extreme temperatures ranging from -34°C to +121°C. In addition to its brass and steel design, it is shaped like a firearm bullet, measuring 13.5 cm when unfolded and 9.4 cm when folded. While these dimensions will allow you to take it everywhere with you, you will have to be careful not to misplace it.

 

Budget alternative

Paper Mate Flexgrip Ultra

In addition to its affordable price, its rubber structure and textured surface ensure an excellent grip, making it comfortable to handle in most situations.

5.30 € sur Amazon

Paper Mate Flexgrip Ultra

This model provides an excellent grip. It has a textured area which, together with the rubber, prevents slipping. During our test, we were impressed by its comfort and handling. The ink flow is regular and although the ink dries fairly quickly, we still recommend waiting 2 seconds before putting your hand over it. It is also necessary to take the pen apart to check the ink level. Other than that, the retractable nature of the pen is classic, and the push button is comfortable to operate. With its medium-sized tip (1.0mm), we recommend it for multipurpose use, and while we have checked its sturdiness, we have mixed feelings about the plastic attachment clip, which we think is less sturdy and smaller than the others.

 

Our selection

Our choice, Best budgetBest mid-rangeBest high-endBudget alternative
BIC M10 Original Parker Jotter Fisher Space Pen Bullet Paper Mate Flexgrip Ultra
This great classic from BIC is competitively priced and as comfortable to hold as it is durable. Our testers were unanimous in their praise of its value for money. A true icon of the brand, it has a solid, sleek, elegant design suitable for professional environments. The replaceable cartridge increases its longevity, and its comfort of use is noteworthy. This model is one of the most versatile on the market. A work of art in its own right, it takes the form of a firearm bullet and can write at any angle, even in zero gravity! In addition to its affordable price, its rubber structure and textured surface ensure an excellent grip, making it comfortable to handle in most situations.
See the price on Amazon £ 17.10 on Amazon £ 29.60 on Amazon £ 3.90 on Amazon

 

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How did we do the tests?

First, we looked at the material quality and design of each model. Then we handled each ballpoint pen in various everyday situations and made sure to take long notes. This allowed us to judge the practicality (push button, cap, etc.), the general comfort (through weight and size, for example), and the colour of the ink (as well as any leaks).

We made sure to put them in the hands of several people (left- and right-handed) to evaluate their ambidexterity, writing accuracy and grip. The second time after writing, we ran our hands over the writing to check the drying of the ink. Finally, if it was necessary, we looked at the method of refilling the ink.

 

How to choose a ballpoint pen?

Although the ballpoint pen seems to have been a part of our everyday lives for almost as long as we can remember, it is less than 80 years since it was invented by the Hungarian journalist Lazlo Biro. And while its functionality was already highly appreciated before, it is this same efficiency that continues to seduce consumers.

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Indeed, this universal writing instrument has very quickly replaced the traditional fountain pen thanks, in particular, to its ability to adapt to any medium, its durability and its self-sufficiency, as almost no maintenance is required.

But how do you make the best choice among the many models? To help you, we have listed a few criteria to consider carefully:

  • Materials: as with its traditional counterpart, the ballpoint pen’s reservoir is likely to change depending on the model offered. For example, while some have a metal design, others have a durable plastic design. Depending on the choice you make, the price and weight will vary.

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  • The grip: because the quality of writing inevitably depends on how the pen is handled, the grip is an essential factor. Note that an effective grip does not hurt and allows the writing arm to move smoothly.
  • Ergonomics: comfort is a key factor, and your ballpoint pen should be able to fit the shape of your hand, whether you are right- or left-handed. While right-handedness is generally not a problem, left-handedness is a complex issue. If you are left-handed, then triangular grips and models with fast-drying ink are preferable. This will avoid dirty sheets and dirty hands.

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  • The tip: ballpoint pens have different tip diameters, which you should choose according to your writing style. If you write small, choose a fine tip. If you write in standard handwriting, go for the medium nibs, then, if you like to write in large characters, go for the wider nibs. In case of doubt, always choose the intermediate option, which has the particularity of adapting to all types of writing.

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  • The ink: while there are several types of ink, most current models use an oil-based “fuel”. Generally viscous, it takes the form of a paste which reduces the risk of spills and lasts longer. Gel pens (or rollerballs) are also increasingly present on the market. They have the particularity of offering a regular line as well as resistance to water and light.

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  • Refills: this last point is so crucial if you are going to invest in a high-quality model. It would be a shame to opt for a luxury design only to have to throw it away once the ink has run out. So be sure to check that your ballpoint pen has refills that are easily available if possible!

 

Other recommended ballpoint pens

BIC Cristal Original (x10) (£2.38 upon publication): a market benchmark. Although it is not the strongest, it has a strong case for being the best-seller in the world. Its slim, hexagonal body does not roll off the desk and provides a good grip. The ink dries quickly, but is less dark than other models, giving it an exceptional lifespan (3 km of writing). In addition, the transparent barrel allows the ink level to be seen. Unfortunately, the clip on the cap is not very solid, and during our test, we lost the pen a few times when hanging it in a pocket or a notebook.

BIC Atlantis Soft (x5) (£4.00 upon publication): a versatile pen, but with a fragile clip. Its tapered shape and soft rubber coating promise a slip-free and comfortable grip. It provides smooth, flowing writing and its slightly transparent design allows the ink level to be seen. Upon receipt, a small ball protects the medium-sized (1.0 mm) tip before first use. The tip retracts with a click via its push button, which we found less pleasant to use during our test. The metal clip used to attach it to a notebook also seems more fragile and it seems to come off easily.

Uni-ball SXN210 Jetstream (x3) (£8.18 upon publication): ideal if you usually hold it higher up. This retractable ballpoint pen is equipped with a push button and operates with a pressure mechanism. Its gel ink dries immediately, making it suitable for both right- and left-handed users. In our test, we found the ink to be very dark. Despite this, we found it to be a little slippery for those who hold it close to the tip, but those who hold it higher up don’t have this problem, as they benefit from the anti-slip grip. The clip seemed to us to be quite solid but we noticed that it tended to move away from the pen quickly.

 

 

Translated by Ramsés El Hajje

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