What's the Best Ink Refill for an Everyday Carry Pen?

So you've finally upgraded to a machined pen for your everyday carry. It's built like a tank and handles like a dream. Now, the next step to having an awesome writing experience in your day to day is finding the right refill to put in it.

Machined pen makers, especially on Kickstarter, love bragging about how many different refills their pens can accommodate. While the Fisher Space Pen and Pilot G2 refills are the most popular, there are hundreds more to choose from (yes, really).  

Since you can only use one refill at a time, I'll help you find your go-to with this guide by comparing the three types of ink refills and recommending the best ones to pair with your favorite EDC pen.

Caran d'Ache 849

If you're still reaching for a disposable plastic pen on your desk, maybe it's time for an upgrade. You deserve a nicer pen, especially since you do so much hard work with it (and definitely not spend any time doodling during meetings at all). I'm not saying you have to splurge on a luxury pen just yet. But you can get a modern classic in the Caran d'Ache 849 without needing a bigwig C-level salary either.

As good-looking as its iconic Swiss design is, the 849 has all the makings of a functional everyday pen too. Unlike screw-on caps you'd find on most other all-metal pens, the 849's clicky top is quick, easy, and impossible to lose. Its robust and flexible metal pocket clip keeps the pen handy, while the aluminum hexagonal barrel lends durability and anti-roll functionality.

The 849's overall balanced and well-proportioned body comes as a ballpoint or mechanical pencil in plenty of finishes and colorways, so you can find an 849 that suits your use and style preferences. My personal favorite is the original grey finish (front and center), available at the link below.

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Tactile Turn Slider and Glider Bolt Action Pens

With several successful Kickstarter campaigns under their belt, Tactile Turn knows how to machine and deliver a quality EDC pen. After releasing a clicky pen and fountain pen, they're at it again with a duo of bolt action pens—the Slider and Glider. These EDC-ready writing utensils are 100% made in-house with a unique mechanism to open and close the pen.

A bolt action pen typically features a J-shaped groove, which isn't the easiest to use with one hand. The Tactile Turn Slider and Glider use a C-shaped groove that’s easy to engage and disengage with just your thumb. The action feels natural and it’s fun to play with.

The shorter “Slider” model accepts Parker-style refills, while the longer “Glider” model fits G2-style refills. Combined, they’ll accommodate over 50 different refills so you’re sure to find a sturdy EDC pen that's compatible with your favorite refill. Finally, the deep-carry stainless steel clip lets the pen sit in your pocket without sticking out.

Unlike with other Kickstarter campaigns, these pens are already in production, meaning you can expect to only wait 'til early October to get one in your hands. The Slider and Glider are available in several heavy-duty metals including titanium, brass, copper, zirconium, and damascus steel. Check out the campaign page for detailed specs and a video of the bolt mechanism in action.

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Ti Arto Pen

"With nineteen Kickstarter projects under their collective belt and almost half of them pens, Chadwick Parker & Joe Huang know a thing or two about making tools for writing. The Ti Arto Pen, like many they designed before it, is made of titanium, uncoated in this case and with a unique grip pattern under its cap that makes for a good hold. Already the compact pen is built for the ages but it’s also compatible with a staggering 200-odd refills refills..." (via GearHungry)

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Quick DisConnect 2.2 Bolt-Action Pen

We're not here to tell you to carry a pen, because you already know it's a great addition to your kit. The trick now is figuring out how best to take one along so it's always ready to jot but never there to get in your way. MC Fabrications out of North Aurora, IL may have just figured it out with the latest iteration of their QDC (Quick DisConnect pen). It  gives you all the benefits of a heavy-duty machined pen while making it compact and convenient to carry.

Some key features make the QDC an ideal EDC pen. It comes in either aluminum or brass, giving you an option for lighter weight or collectibility. A bolt-action mechanism makes it a joy to fiddle with and engage its Lamy M22 refill, chosen specifically to keep the QDC as compact as possible thanks to the refill's 2.375” length. The quick-disconnect feature, of course, is what makes the pen. In addition to making it an easy way to include a split ring so you can hang the QDC off your bag or keychain, it makes use of a canted coil spring that lets you pull off the pen from the brass base as soon as you need it. No need to break your nails prying off the keyring or having to write with your entire keychain in your hands—just tug off the QDC and start writing.

There's a little over two weeks left to back the QDC at the Kickstarter link below, so head over to add this bolt-action ballpoint to your everyday carry.

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Boker Plus Ti Tactical Pen

"The ultimate writing instrument for your backpack or bugout bag. It’s made from CNC milled titanium, has a bolt-action mechanism, and an integral pen clip. We’re particularly in love with the heat-colored flame titanium..." (via TheAwesomer)

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The Best Everyday Carry Pens for School and Work

We know how it goes. You’ve used up those student loans on ridiculously overpriced textbooks and now you're left with next to nothing for your actual school supplies. But to really excel in class, nothing beats tried-and-true pen and paper. Studies show handwritten notes help you remember things better, after all. 

So if you’re serious about starting this school year strong, pick up your next favorite pen from this guide—even if you’re on an instant ramen budget. You’ll find a pen that easily pulls double duty whether you're in class or out and about. If you’re left handed, tough on your pens, or simply just like that feeling of pen to paper, we've got you covered.

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Riind Pen

The Riind Pen’s most apparent feature is unique clip, which boasts a low profile and also maintains its clipping force through a large range of motion. But more than that it’s also equipped with a unique continuous cam design that extends the pen tip with a half-twist of its end in any direction and retracts it with another. The writing implement is also made to last with its machined aluminum body and fits over 35 different 110mm ink cartridges… (via GearHungry)

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Everyman Grafton EDC Pen

An elegant writing instrument for a more civilized age, the Grafton is perfectly weighted for writing. Its body is machined from durable anodized aluminum with deep grooves for grip, and has a bolt-on metal clip… (via TheAwesomer)

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Boker Plus Tablet Pen

If you EDC a smartphone or tablet and you've been looking for a tactical pen to carry, the Boker Plus Tactical Tablet Pen is for you. It sports a ballpoint tip for analog note taking and a stylus for electronic devices. Both lie protected under screw caps, with the pen at the front and the stylus at the rear near the clip like an eraser. The stylus is the capacitive rubber type, able to manipulate most modern screens. True to its application as an EDC pen, it accommodates the venerable Fisher Space Pen cartridge. Its durable, milled aluminum composition ensures it'll stand up to hard use. Between its ink refill and robust construction, you can count on this tactical pen being able to write in the most extreme situations. Do more with your tactical pen than just write. Make it a part of your electronic device ecosystem, and pick up the Boker Plus Tactical Tablet pen at the link below.

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Tombow AirPress Ballpoint Pen

There are plenty of write-anywhere EDC pens out there, but they're not without their problems. They're often too small to comfortably write with, lack a pocket clip, and all look relatively the same. What’s unique about the Tombow AirPress is not just that it writes upside down and on wet paper, but how it does it. Not to mention, there are other EDC-focused features that make it an excellent upgrade to your standard ballpoint pen.

Instead of using a pressurized ink cartridge, the AirPress has a self-pressurizing mechanism built right into the pen. Each click of the pen primes the ink cartridge to write for nearly 500 feet in less than ideal conditions. Once the pen is primed, you can write upside down, on wet paper, and through dust and dirt. There’s even a window in the side of the pen that lets you see the mechanism in action.

In addition to the compact size of the pen, the entire body is rubberized for a secure grip, whether it’s wet or dry. The heavy-duty metal clip opens wide enough so that you can clip it to a pocket, bag, or clipboard without breaking it either. You can grab an AirPress in your color of choice and get writing anywhere at the link below.

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ZeroHour Apex Tactical Pen

Your EDC gear should be reliable, functional, and comfortable to carry. ZeroHour know this, as seen in their successful flashlight projects they've completed. Now, they've set their sights on doing it again with a premium pen that ticks all the feature boxes for an everyday jotter at an affordable price.

The Apex is designed around the Fisher Space Pen refill, a community favorite thanks to its ability to write in every environmental condition or orientation. Many tactical pens are so long that they become unwieldy and heavy, but the Apex's total length of 4.7” makes it compact and easy to carry. It comes in 6061 aluminum or grade 5 titanium, popular materials that offer ideal strength-to-weight ratios and also fit the look of many EDC loadouts. Its skeletonized barrel cuts down weight even further and doubles in showing off the brass Fisher refill underneath. Finally, its tail end features a safety-capped tungsten steel tip, a hardened material that lets you use the Apex for emergency situations as a glass breaker or for self-defense.

There's under a week left to pledge for the Apex, which is already well on its way with its funding. Add this feature-heavy but pocket light pen to your carry by checking it out at the link below.

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