Recently, our staff tested 20 top-rated rollerball pens.
We threw some of our own pens into the mix and ranked them according to which rollerball pens we thought made the best gifts.
This article is about rollerball pens: what they are and what makes them distinct from other pens.
But it’s also a bit more…
Here at Dayspring Pens, our focus is on giving personalized pens as gifts. We’re intent on helping you give good gifts (especially personalized pens) in a way that helps you communicate how much you care about the people in your life. So we’ve ranked these pens to show which one we think will make the best gifts.
We’ll give a quick overview of rollerball pens generally, and then we’ll zoom in on the pens in our list.
If you already know a lot about rollerballs, feel free to skip down to the ranking.
A Brief Overview of Rollerball Pens
What is a rollerball pen?
A rollerball pen is a pen that uses a small ball in the writing tip to cycle water-based ink from the cartridge to the page.
Now, you might be thinking, “well, then there’s no difference between a rollerball and a ballpoint pen.”
What’s the difference between rollerball pens and ballpoint pens?
The difference is in the ink: Ballpoints have oil-based ink that dries really quickly and doesn’t smudge; rollerballs have water-based ink that dries a little slower, but it leaves a darker, bolder line.
What’s the difference between rollerball pens and gel pens?
The difference is in the water-pigment ratio of the ink: Gel pens have a significantly higher pigment level than rollerball pens do.
Other than that, however, rollerball pens aren’t all that different from gel pens.
DISCLAIMER: Because the difference is so small, there’s currently a heated debate in our office as to whether rollerballs and gel pens are really all that different. Our ranking of these rollerball pens, takes our little office debate into account and includes a few pens that are technically considered gel pens.
Why do rollerball pens make good gifts?
Simply put, we think rollerball pens make good gifts because they’re great pens for everyday writing. They offer a more tactile writing experience than a ballpoint, but don't have the hassle of a fountain pen.
One of the things we learned while testing these pens is that rollerball pens of a higher-than-office-pen quality make better gifts.
While I’m sure some people love getting cheap, disposable pens, you’ll likely want to get a pen constructed out of nicer material, especially with the option to personalize the pen with engraving.
How We Ranked Our Top Rollerball Pens:
We had nine staff members who know a thing or two about pens test and rate each pen on a scale of 1.0–5.0 according to 5 categories:
- Writing: how smooth the pen wrote without feathering or bleeding through the page.
- Feel: how comfortable the pen felt in the writing hand.
- Quality: the quality of the pen’s materials and construction.
- Looks: how well the pen was aesthetically designed.
- Giftability: how good of a gift the pen might be for the widest possible range of people.
We also rated the price of each pen according to prices:
- <$2 — 5
- <$5 — 4.5
- <$25 — 4
- <$45 — 3.5
- <$60 — 3
- <$80 — 2.5
- <$100 — 2
- <$125 — 1.5
- <$150 — 1
The ratings for each category were averaged out and ranked according to their overall point rating.
With the overview of rollerball pens out of the way, let’s get to our ranked list!
20 Best Rollerball Pens To Give as Gifts (Ranked):
20.) Pelikan Stola III
19.) Pentel Rolling Writer
18.) Papermate INKJOY*
17.) PILOT Precise V5
16.) Uniball Vision Elite
15.) PILOT G2
14.) Tul RB2
13.) Faber-Castell Hexo
12.) Kaweco Sport
11.) Tombow Zoom 505
10.) Dayspring Pens Alexandria
9.) Dayspring Pens Richmond
8.) Waterman Expert
7.) Ohto Dude
6.) Cross Bailey
5.) Parker IM
4.) Retro 51 Tornado
3.) LAMY Safari
2.) Waterman Hemisphere
1.) Parker Jotter
For a complete breakdown of our best rollerball pen rankings, you can download our chart in the form of a PNG or PDF.
Best Rollerball (or Gel Pen) for a Gift: Parker Jotter
The Parker Jotter is one of our favorites here at Dayspring Pens, and we’re glad it’s up at the top of the list.
The objection can be raised, however, depending on which side of the argument you tend to take, that the Jotter is technically a gel pen.
Granted, we still think it’s the best all-around pen on the list.
Our staff noted how affordable it is along with its classy design, satisfying click, and smooth writing.
For more on the Jotter, there’s more below.
Best Rollerball for the Lowest Price: Uni-Ball Vision Elite
We were really impressed with a lot of the cheap, plastic pens in the list, but the best one was the Uni-Ball Vision Elite. It’s rated really highly from other review lists as well, and now we know why.
The Vision Elite is well worth getting for those who prefer disposable pens.
Our staff preferred how smooth it writes over and against a lot of the nicer pens, and those of us who preferred a darker, bolder line found ourselves sneaking away from the test with a few in our pockets.
Keep reading for more on the Vision Elite.
Best Rollerball at Any Price: LAMY Safari
The LAMY Safari is known for being a really incredible, affordable fountain pen, but we decided to get the rollerball version and see how that stacked up.
Our team loved the grip, the non-nonsense resin construction, and how smoothly it wrote. It also only costs around $18.
Biggest Upset: Pelikan Stola III
We were really excited for the Pelikan Stola III. We’d heard really great things about it, and it was ranked very highly by a ton of lists out there.
When we first got it, there was a tiny blue spacer in the cap meant to protect the tip, but it was placed incorrectly: the cap couldn’t be fastened because the spacer blocked it.
The tip had punctured a hole in the spacer. It seemed to have damaged the ball, and it was unable to write.
We quickly requested a replacement because we wanted to give the Stola III a fighting chance.
When we got the replacement, the spacer was placed correctly, but the exact same result happened: no ink and major skipping—a real let-down.
If we’ve been unfair in our treatment of the Stola III please let us know. As we said, we were really excited about it, so we hope that what happened to us was just a fluke.
Part IV: A Closer Look at the Best Rollerball Pens:
20. Pelikan Stola III
Let’s start with the bad news: our hopes for the Pelikan Stola III were dashed by faulty ink cartridges, and there’s also the issue of the cap not posting on the back of the pen. There’s a plastic tube in the cap that clips it over the writing tip, but it’s too narrow to fit around the back of the barrel.
But there are some great things about this pen that hold a lot of promise, otherwise its fountain pen version wouldn’t have made it to #16 on the Strategist’s list.
Some of us really enjoyed the weight of the pen. It’s a lot heavier than most of the other pens on the list, but not everyone loves that. Overall, the construction is solid.
The clip design is really great. It’s a modern flourish that looks a bit like a pelican bill (get it?).
We hope we can retry the Stola III soon and raise its spot on the list; we don’t want to nay-say it without giving it every chance.
19. Pentel Rolling Writer
The most affordable pen on the list, the Pentel Rolling Writer aims to do a lot with very little.
There’s no single aspect of this little disposable pen that stands out with utter excellence. However, if you pick it up and write with it, there’s a good chance you’ll find the pen rather… endearing.
It doesn’t pretend to be the best; I mean, it even has an entirely plastic writing tip.
The design is uninspiring and made of the cheapest plastic in the multiverse, but it’s honestly really comfortable, and it feels pretty smooth on the page.
It does, however, draw a pretty thick line that is a little more in danger of bleeding through paper than other rollerball pens.
It ranked low on our list because it’s so cheap and economically constructed that it just doesn’t have the right stuff to make a meaningful gift.
In short: a quintessential bank teller pen.
18. Paper Mate INKJOY*
The Paper Mate INKJOY is a really decent, cheap, note-taking click-action, gel pen with a comfortable rubber grip.
It’s not designed to be groundbreaking or stand-out, but it’s one that gets the job (any job) done easily.
We thought this pen made a great note-taker, but it just doesn’t really speak the language of gifts, so it’s low on the list.
17. PILOT Precise V5
The PILOT Precise V5 is an extremely popular, super affordable, plastic rollerball pen with a top-quality writing feel.
If you’re a student or chronic note-taker, chances are you’ve used a Precise V5 and enjoyed it.
It writes well, and it makes a finer, bleed-resistant line. It feels really good on the page, too: a tiny bit of scratchiness, but it’s kind of tactile and haptic rather than crunchy and grating.
This pen also doesn’t rank highly as far as gifting goes: however, it might make a good addition to a bundle of gifts for high school or college students.
It might also make an even better gift for someone who is constantly in need of good, cheap pens.
16. Uni-Ball Vision Elite
The Uni-Ball Vision Elite is a surprisingly smooth writing pen that outshines most of the pens in its category (and a few others outside of it)
It was ranked as the top rollerball by Jetpens.com whose testing of the pens’ writing capabilities is incredibly thorough. Likewise, Unsharpen crowned it with the title “Best Mainstream Rollerball.”
The difference between the Vision Elite and other pens in the same price range is almost shocking.
For all that, it’s still a cheap pen without a wider gift appeal. It might be a great gift, as the Precise V5 is, for students or people who take a lot of notes, but it’s probably not the best stand-alone gift.
Precious few people want cheap pens for their birthday, and it doesn’t matter how smoothly they write. Still, you might find someone in a given situation where these pens come in handy as a quick gift.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for cheap pens for yourself, we highly recommend these.
15. PILOT G2 Retractable 0.7 mm. Fine
The PILOT G2 is one of the most popular pens out there. Whether you know it or not, there’s little doubt you’ve written with one of these before. They’re just… everywhere.
A click-action, rubber-gripped “gel roller” pen, G2 takes the cake as far as quick, affordable, everyday-carry, throw-it-wantonly-in-your-purse/backpack style pens.
It also writes like a dream.
Don’t be too quick to think that it’s just a throw-away pen for uninspired cheapos either: Grey’s Anatomy creator, Shonda Rhimes, swears by the G2.
Part of the problem, however, is that, because they’re so ubiquitous, their gifting appeal is very low.
So, again, we’re seeing a trend in the disposable pens on our list: they’re throwaway pens, so if you get them, make sure your recipient really wants/needs them, or else tack them on as an addition to a bundle of gifts.
14. TUL RB2
The TUL RB2 ranked highest amongst the disposable rollerball pens in our list. It was a delightful surprise for us because we hadn’t really seen it given a lot of attention.
The pen features a truly cushy rubber grip, and it leaves a fine but defined line with only the slightest bit of feathering.
What we liked the most about it was that a lot of us have different grip styles (both tripod and quadropod), but all of us could write with it without the line or hand comfort varying .
The one downer about it was that the cap on two of RB2s we used cracked in the same exact place and in the same exact way. It seems like there’s a quality issue with the cap.
Other than that, we thought the TUL RB2 was the best of disposable rollerball pens for comfort and smoothness.
It seems, however, that they are going out of production, so get them while you can.
13. Faber-Castell Hexo
Bringing us into our “middle of the road” pens is the Faber-Castell Hexo, a light-weight plastic barrel pen with a unique hexagonal design.
Faber-Castell is probably one of the biggest pen manufacturers you might not have heard of since they specialize in art supplies. This means when it comes down to how the ink hits the paper, this pen is a winner.
One of the great things about this pen is that the thicker barrel with the hexagonal design means this pen isn’t going to go rolling off the table to get lost under a chair.
As I mentioned before, we loved how the ink rolled out of the pen onto paper, but the difficulties with this pen are in the design and construction.
The hexagonal shape is really neat, but it's a little clunky and difficult to grip. It also makes it difficult to post the cap on the back of the pen without it grating in a spine-tingly way.
It’s very light-weight, which makes it feel a little cheaper than you’d want for the price.
We think the Faber-Castell Hexo would make a great gift pen as a part of an art supply bundle with some drawing paper and pastels.
12. Kaweco Sport
When we started doing our research for this article, we were surprised and excited to see a rollerball version of the Kaweco Sport since some of our staff are big fans of the fountain pen iteration of this pen.
A near perfect pen for travel, this unique pen doubles in size when the cap is posted and offers a light-weight, portable pen that’s still luxurious.
The Kaweco Sport clip is removable, but still sturdy and dependable and adds to just how fantastic the details are in the design of this pen.
The general consensus was that the pen was a novelty, but in a good way.
What kept this pen from ranking higher on our list was how light it was, concerns about the plastic barrel, and how small the pen feels without the cap posted.
The all plastic construction is a double-edged sword. In the fountain pen version, the light weight body still has a good balance due to the weight of the internal mechanism.
Unfortunately, with the rollerball, the single cartridge just doesn’t give the pen enough heft for sustained long-term writing.
This problem could easily be fixed by getting the metal barrel version of the Kaweco like the Brass Edition. It would also make the pen much more durable.
Ultimately, we thought the Kaweco Sport would easily make a fun, thoughtful gift pen for anyone who does a lot of travelling or note-taking on the go.
11. Tombow Zoom 505
Tombow is primarily known for their brush pens and the quality of the ink-to-page experience definitely shows that they know how to manufacture a rollerball pen with a great ink flow.
The pen itself is well built and has a unique look that plays between really soft rounded edges and sharp straight lines.
The biggest issue we had with this pen was the cap. It is very lightweight and feels like its scraping when snapped into place. It makes the spine tingle a bit.
Some liked the unique design features; others felt it was a bit garish.
As a gift, the Tomboy Zoom will deliver a fantastic signature and looks presentable enough to stand alone.
We would recommend this as a specific gift to a person whose tastes and preferences you are familiar with. As a general gift, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
10. Dayspring Pens Alexandria
The Dayspring Pens Alexandria is a classic, big, fancy-looking pen.
Some of us felt like it was maybe too thick, but if you like a wide barrel it will fit the bill.
It has a nice weight, a solid feel, and a great snap to the cap.
It looks like the pen you would give out as a gift, especially as an award or for a bulk gift order since, as luxury pens go, the Alexandria is pretty budget friendly.
The pen has an uneven balance when the cap is posted on the back and the ink is occasionally splotchy.
All in all, the Alexandria is a noble, middle-of-the-road gift pen.
9. Dayspring Pens Richmond
The Dayspring Pens Richmond is a streamlined, minimal, and professional pen with a surprising heft.
The pros for us: the look of the pen, the nice weight, and the barrel size.
The cons: ink was a bit splotchy and feathered at times, a little heavy (if you prefer lighter weight), and the cap doesn’t post well
The Richmond is simple while still seeming refined, so it ranked high in the gift category. It's the kind of pen you can give as a congratulations, especially to an acquaintance or work colleague.
8. Waterman Expert
The Waterman Expert rollerball is the kind of pen you can drop some good money on.
Waterman is one of those luxury pen brands that gets thrown around with Monteblanc, so there was no question from our staff that this pen would make a stellar gift, especially for something big like a huge promotion or retirement.
It has a classic look with precious metal finishes, and it has a really great weight and balance that make this pen particularly easy to write with.
The cap does feel a little “eh” when snapping onto the pen, and its medium to large barrel size might not be the most pleasant user experience if large pens aren’t your thing.
The general sentiment of the staff was that we liked this pen much more than we thought we would with its smooth, inky writing line.
This is certainly not a budget-friendly gift pen, but it's luxurious and comes personalized for free. All that makes it a thoughtful gift.
7. Ohto Dude
The Ohto Dude is the most unconventional design to rank high in our list, and it's a real testament to Japanese craftsmanship and deliberation.
The pen has a unique look with a hexagonal shape and medium barrel that seems to hit all the missing points of the also hexagonal Faber-Castell Hexo.
The futuristic design was compared to a rocket ship and a trash can…but in a good way.
It has just the right weight and an ergonomic grip, and the pen’s fine point tip leaves a great writing line.
There is a slight scratchiness to the pen on the paper, but even that feels more haptic and responsive than grating and obnoxious.
For all the great features of this pen the cap feels a little weak and, although it posts well, it scrapes along the barrel when posted in a way that’s a bit like nails on a chalkboard.
With its innovative design and fantastic construction, we thought this would make a great gift for someone who is tactile-focused.
There this something akin to a fountain pen in how the pen writes and how the shape of the grip leads into the writing tip. If you are looking for a gift for someone who likes the fountain pen experience but less care-intensive, this would be a fantastic alternative.
6. Cross Bailey
Coming in at #6 is the Cross Bailey Rollerball. The ballpoint version is #43 on Strategist list and this pen has long been considered a staple of the modern professional.
Honestly, we were all a bit surprised by how much we liked this pen.
It had quality ink flow and construction, and its classy look made it a consistent pick across the board.
The Cross Bailey has a medium barrel and a lustrous finish. The clip was sturdy, and the double banding at the cap gives it a distinct silhouette. All in all, it makes sense why Cross has dominated as the “American Pen Company” when you see this pen.
What we are wary of with this pen is how slippery the grip is, so don’t let your hands get too sweaty.
Also, we noticed some bleeding and feathering with the ink.
Is this pen giftable?
Infinitely. Especially if you are looking for a gift for a professional, graduate, or a career milestone like a promotion.
We’d also recommend opting for personalized engraving for this pen because an engraved name fits perfectly between the two banding lines on the cap.
5. Parker IM
Complete with all the right finishes, the name, and decent writing experience, the Parker IM delivers.
Most of the staff said a solid pen with nice ink flow and good build, but others found the general aesthetic somewhat lacking. They were disappointed by small details like the snap of the cap and a weak clip.
We see why it ranked #39 on the Strategist list. Because it really does have a nice ink flow for the price, it’s hard to find a more affordable luxury brand pen.
The Parker IM also ranked high on our list because it is just so giftable.
If you get it from us, the IM comes with free engraving, and it has a notable brand name that means this pen can easily be the star present in a bundle.
4.Tornado Retro 51
Landing at #8 on The Strategist’s master list, the Tornado from Retro 51 is a very special pen.
The Retro 51 Tornado is a capless rollerball with a classy aesthetic and numerous color options. It has a tapered form with an etched twist-action mechanism at the top.
We ordered this pen to test, and, sadly, the first pen we got worked for the first day, but then it completely dried up. We were really disappointed because it wrote really well (in the ranking category alone, it's in the top 5) on the first day.
So, we got in contact with Retro 51, and in a flash they sent us a new pen and bunch of refills just in case. Their customer service is simply fantastic.
The pen has a unique profile and a sense of fun while remaining professional.
One of the only points of criticism we have is about balance: because of the taper, the pen weighs heavier towards the back. But that's really the only consistently noted issue with this pen.
We love the Retro, and we hope you'll give it a shot.
3. LAMY Safari
Number 3 is the LAMY Safari Rollerball and, as Jetpens.com put it, the best rollerball for lefties.
This pen had slight controversy around it due to our different grip styles.
Those with tripod grips (the more common grip) loved and swore by the triangular grip section. The quadropod grip users found it difficult to hold over long periods of writing, so keep that in mind as you shop.
The unique design is sleek, minimal, but still assertive. Despite being light-weight and made of resin (a type of plastic), the pen still feels chic and trendy.
The pen to paper experience is smooth and fluid, leaving a thick, dark line that didn’t cut in and out or leave splotchy ink globs.
Finding the right styling and coloring for this pen will be the defining factor of giving it as a gift.
An basic finish will be pretty underwhelming, but one of the limited edition finishes could be quite the impressive gift.
If you are a fan of the LAMY Safari’s famous fountain pen iteration, you will probably find the rollerball a great alternative for writing on the go.
2. Waterman Hemisphere
The Waterman Hemisphere is a slim-barreled, capped pen with pristine high gloss finish and precious metal appointments.
Waterman manufactures all their pens in France and has been revolutionary in fountain pen construction for over 100 years.
This pen really exemplifies that level of craftsmanship and reputation.
What we found to be really remarkable about this pen was how intentional each part of the pen felt.
Staff feedback consistently commented on how great the construction of the pen was, from how it felt in the hand and its thoughtful balance and weight to a great smooth ink flow to how classy the pen looks.
One person simply said “Stellar.”
As a gift, this is a standout for a personalized luxury gift pen.
1. Parker Jotter*
We really thought the Jotter would be dethroned in our staff-wide adoration with all the different, notable rollerballs we tried out, but honestly... All hail king Jotter.
The Jotter is incredibly well designed with a beautiful, tapered barrel and iconic arrow clip. It’s also very sturdy and air-tight, so there’s very little rattle except from the very minimal interior components.
It’s a very light pen, and the click is incredibly satisfying for fidgeters.
It's the perfect every-day-carry pen with its durability, smooth fine point writing line, and portability.
It also is both budget-friendly for a luxury pen brand without sacrificing the little things that make it feel intentional, rich, and well designed.
The Jotter wins out.
People Also Ask…
How should I store rollerball pens?
You should always make sure that the cap is securely fastened on your rollerball pens when you’re not using them; if left exposed, the ink can dry out a bit faster than ballpoints.
Where can I get rollerball ink refills?
We have a selection of rollerball inks, but you can find them on sites like Amazon or Pens.com as well.
What’s the Best Pen for a Quadropod Grip Style?
If you have a quadrupod grip instead of the more common tripod grip, it’s possible that a pen that everyone else likes isn’t going to be your favorite.
People with a standard tripod grip feel really comfortable with triangular shaped grip sections, but people with a quadrupod grip might find it unbearable.
A safe bet for quadrupod grips in a wider, circular grip section so that there’s more space for all four fingers to make contact with the pen without straining your hand.
We hope you've enjoyed our list of the 20 best rollerball pens to give as gifts.
Be sure to take a look at our complete collection of gift pens to find the right one for your loved ones.
And be sure to leave a comment with any questions, praises, or objections about the pens in this list.
For more pen reviews and gifting advice, subscribe to our Youtube Channel.
Finally, if you're looking for other options, check out our full collection great rollerball pens to give as gifts.