Demystifying our pens and pen refills

Confused about which pen refills you need? We really like how Pilot makes many of their pens refillable, but there are just SO MANY pens in their refillable ranges to get our heads around!

We have been working through our pen section to make it more transparent regarding which refills go with which pens. It’s a bit of a minefield out there, so we’ve been doing some research into refill styles and compatibility and wanted to share our findings with you.

It’s not a simple matter of connecting each pen to one refill. First of all, we can no longer supply the pens for some of our refills, and for other pens we can’t provide the refills. Some refills fit in multiple similar pens in both the Pilot range and across other brands.

Figure 1: Pilot Metropolitan Fountain pen with converter installed, with refill cartridge and bottle of ink.

However, in the pen product listing, we include refill codes and link the refills in “related products” if we can supply them, and vice versa.

If you come across any compatibility issues or are unsure about a product you need to fit your pen (or a pen to fit your refills!), please call us. If we can’t give you an immediate answer, we will clarify with our supplier so you get what you need. If we can’t take your call, we will call you right back – we are a small, family business and pretty good at answering the phone, in fact it’s usually faster than Live Chat. Contact details at the bottom of the post!

We have found an online pen store in the US super helpful when researching pen types and compatible refills: Jet Pens. The Pilot sites can also be helpful, such as Pilot Pen EU, but they aren’t user-friendly for refill-pen matching.

Wytebord Markers

Did you know Pilot make refillable whiteboard markers? How cool is that! This is the Wytebord range. There are refills of ink in various colours, you can also replace the tips for both chisel and bullet types. They are reasonably straightforward and without compatibility issues. You can find them under the category White Board Markers

Pilot Parallel Pens

Pilot Parallel Cartridges go in the Pilot Parallel pen series of calligraphy pens. These are pretty special and look like great fun if calligraphy is your thing!

Fountain Pens

Ink cartridge refills Pilot Fountain Pen Ink Cartridge Black 6Pk (IC-50-B) or Pilot Fountain Pen Ink Cartridge Blue 6Pk (IC-50-L)) are disposable fountain pen ink cartridges that fit in all Pilot Fountain Pens. They also fit other brands that use the international standard! They can be used instead of a converter to refill fountain pens.

Many of our Pilot Fountain pens come with a converter, but if you prefer not to deal with bottles of ink, these cartridge refills will do the job. A fountain ink converter slots into a fountain pen in the same way as the disposable cartridges but allows you to draw up ink from a bottle over and over again, with no throwaway parts.

Figure 2: Metropolitan pen with IC-50-B ink cartridge installed.

Figure 1 shows my MR1 pen with the end unscrewed to show the converter installed, with my refill options beside it – an IC-50-B cartridge or a bottle of Pilot ink. To refill with ink, I just dip the nib in and squeeze the converter until no more bubbles come out, pop the end back on and write.

After taking the photo, I removed the converter (it just pulled out) and replaced it with the cartridge shown – the end result is shown in Figure 2. Super easy and I’m back writing!

I like knowing I have a bottle of ink and a converter available, however. I have refilled my pen numerous times from the bottle which still looks just about full!

The ink bottles are recyclable and also useful and attractive! I plan on storing small sewing items like buttons in my Pilot Fountain Pen Ink 30ml Blue when I finally manage to empty it.


Ballpoint, Gel and Rollerball Pens

These are similar pens, with the same tip mechanism of a ball and socket, but the type of ink used by each is distinct and has its own advantages/disadvantages.

Figure 3: A selection of our ballpoint pen range: in the middle are very affordable Icon ballpoint pens, left: Pilot Super Grip G retractable blue ballpoint pens, right: Pilot BeGreen Rexgrip retractable blue ballpoint pens.

So, there are three main ink types:

  1. Ballpoint: These pens use oil-based ink, which has higher viscosity (runs through slower). It doesn’t generally smudge or bleed through the paper, it dries quickly and is cheaper. The refills also last a long time due to slower flow and less ink used (Figure 3).
    • Hybrid ink: ballpoint hybrid ink is formulated a bit differently to your traditional ballpoint ink, making it smooth writing but quick drying, combining characteristics of ballpoint and gel inks. An example is the Pilot Acroball pens, which use Acroball refills (code BRFV).
  2. Rollerball: These pens use lower viscosity (runnier) water-based ink, which results in easier, faster and more consistent writing. It takes longer to dry, though, and smudges easier.
  3. Gel: These pens use water-based gel, which comes in many vivid colours. They are also easy to write with as the ink flows easily. Some Pilot gel pens are shown in Figure 4.

Key points:

  1. Terms “rollerball”, “gel” and “ballpoint” refer to the INK used in the pen.
  2. Product listings/packaging may use confusing names e.g. my box of Pilot G2 Gel pens has the term “roller ball” on the bottom…these are gel pens. They use gel and NOT rollerball ink BUT… with rollerball ink pens, the ink does come out from a ball rolling about in the tip!

If the difference between these 3 pen types is still mysterious, check out the subheading “What is a rollerball pen?” by Jet Pens.

Refills (Ballpoint, Gel and Rollerball Pens)

There are a few standardised styles of pens and refills across brands.

Figure 4: A selection of Pilot gel pens, from left to right: Pilot G-2, Pilot B2P, Pilot Pop’Lol and Frixion Clicker. These all can take the same refills and write smoothly.

D1 refill

  • 67 mm long, interchangeable – all D1 pens use all D1 refills
  • For standard ballpoint pens
  • Example – Pilot ballpoint refills BRFS-10F for the Evolt 2+1 Ballpoint pen (e.g. Pilot Evolt 2+1 Ballpoint Fine Blue Refill (BRFS-10F-L) and related products) – see Figure 5
  • Pilot also seems to have BRF-8 refills which are also D1 style

Parker style

  • 98 mm long, with long thin tip and wide barrel and plastic end piece with grooves
  • Premium ballpoint refill
  • Mostly interchangeable between pen brands
  • Also called G2, not often used so as to avoid confusion with Pilot G2 pens which are Euro style (see below)
  • We sell GBP Compatible Parker refills in black and blue (see Figure 8)
  • Pilot BRFN refills are like a Parker style refill but about a centimeter shorter (see Figure 5)
  • BRFN-10 are plastic, BRFN-30 are metal
  • For use in:
    • Pilot Metropolitan (MR)-1
    • Pilot MR3
    • Coupe
    • S20
    • Newer Dr Grip Advance

Figure 5: BRFS and BRFN refills showing the D1 and Parker-like characteristics of these Pilot refills.

Euro style

  • Commonly used for rollerball and gel pens
  • Around 111 mm long, 6 mm diameter, with short thin tip and long cylindrical barrel
  • Can be variable between brands – you will need to check the shape of the tip and whether small differences in length can affect how the refill fits in your particular pen
  • Pilot Frixion gel
    • BLS-FR7-B-S3 refills: code BLS-FR refers to the type of refill in this case the Frixion gel refills, the number refers to the ball diameter of 0.7 mm (1.0 mm ball sizes are also available, called “broad” and the code number is 10), and the B refers to colour black (other options are L=blue, R=red) – these other refill options are found in the related products listed for each of the others
    • Suitable for Frixion Ball, Clicker, Pro and even can fit in Frixion Point although will not have the super fine point of course
    • Pilot G2 gel refills will also fit Frixion pens
  • G2 gel pens
    • BLS-G2-7-L refills: code BLS-G2 refers to Pilot G2 refills, number 7 refers to fine 0.7 mm ball diameter, also available in black (BLS-G2-7-B)
    • Suitable for Pilot G2, G2 Stylus, G6, BeGreen G-Knock, Be Green B2P Rollerball pens
    • Also fit Frixion pens
  • Hi-Tecpoint liquid ink rollerball
    • BXS-V5RT-B or L are 0.5 mm ball diameter (extra fine) black or blue refills for Hi-Tecpoint pens, also come in 0.7mm (fine) ball diameter

Note: We supply refills for Pilot Clicker Erasable 3-in-1 pens although we don’t have the multi-pens themselves. These are too slim for single-colour pens so won’t fit other Frixion pens.

Figure 6: Pilot gel pens with refills removed to show compatibility. I have tested these pens with these refills – G2 and Frixion gel refills are interchangeable.

Japan style

  • Very common ballpoint refill – come in many different lengths, all 3 mm in diameter with a cylindrical barrel made of clear or white plastic
  • May be crimped about 20-30 mm from the tip to create a spring stop – some pens may need the refill to have this spring stop, and if the location varies by more than a few mm a new refill may not be compatible
  • If a refill is too long for the pen it can be trimmed down to size
  • Pilot RFJ-GP and RFN-GG refills – NO spring stop
    • Pilot Supergrip pens
    • BPS-GP Ballpoint pens
    • these are not retractable, just capped, so no need for a spring stop
  • Pilot RFJS refills – medium blueblack and red and Pilot RFNS refills – fine black – HAVE spring stop
    • Pilot retractable ballpoint pens, such as older Dr Grip models, Super Grip Retractable, Rexgrip Retractable, B2P Grip (all pens in Figure 3 use these RFJS or RFNS refills – note these are retractable pens so the refills must have the spring stop! RFJ refills without the S on the end won’t work even though the codes are so close!)
    • our Icon Ballpoint Retractable Pens use Japan-style refills – if you are careful, although these are designed to be single-use and affordable, you can pop the top out of these and remove/replace the refill (shown in Figure 7)
    • If you grab any old pen lying around most offices, you’ll most likely find a whole bunch of Japan-style refills

Figure 7: Disassembled Icon ballpoint pen to show the Japan style refill inside (these pens are not advertised to be refillable but you can carefully remove the clicker piece and put it all back together, so they could be refilled with Japan style refills of the appropriate length and spring stop position). Note the presence of a spring stop!

Cross style C1

  • Associated with the brand Cross pens, for slim twist action retractable ballpoint pens
  • Not relevant for Pilot pens which are the majority of our range, but we do stock Cross compatible refills by GBP in black and blue

Figure 8: Cross and Parker compatible refills from GBP.


So, after all that….if you’re looking at pens and refills and still find it confusing, that is completely fine – just contact us with any queries and even if we can’t answer on the spot, we will find out ASAP! Happy writing!
Tollfree: 0800 893 797
Phone support 9 am – 4:30 pm on working days.
(Outside these times try us on 021 178 7881 or send us a text).

Anna Moore has written 32 articles

Let us know what you think...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>