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Ink Cartridge Selection

posted Jan 2, 2014, 1:06 PM by Taylor Peterson   [ updated May 20, 2015, 12:47 PM ]

   Bill of Materials
Before starting this project, I knew that I wanted a pen nib smaller than 0.5 mm. Anything 0.5 mm or larger is too large (especially when you are trying to put subscripts on subscripts). However, I didn't know how much smaller I wanted to go or which refill worked best for me. To that end, I went to the Internet for advice. The majority of pen users (especially pen fanatics) prefer larger nibs (usually because they write smoother). There were a few pen forums (The Pen AddictGourmet Pens, and No Pen Intended) which advocated pens with smaller nibs, but they were not as definitive as I would have liked. So off to JetPens I went.

I started off by looking for every pen with a nib smaller than 0.5 mm and readily available refills, focusing exclusively on black (non-erasable) ink. The first round of pens I got were:
Unfortunately, the Ohto and Jetstream turned out to be too scratchy for my taste. In addition, ink cartridges in pens with caps (the Signo and Slicci) generally cannot be placed inside a pen with a bolt action mechanism. The reason for this is two-fold. First, a pen with this style mechanism requires a spring, and these cartridges have nowhere to rest such a spring. Secondly, when actuating the mechanism, the tip has to be pushed further out than its final location, which requires a long, slim leading section, which these cartridges also lack. 

With this in mind, I made another trip to JetPens and came up with one more order:
When testing the new batch of pens, the Hi-Tec-C blew everything else away. It was just so smooth and precise. The only problem with it is that its refill is tiny. And I mean really tiny! The below image shows it below a standard G-2 style cartridge.
Sarasa cartridge (top) vs. Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock cartridge (bottom)

It turns out that there are three other (potentially suitable) refills available for capped versions of the Hi-Tec-C. 

The first is the generic Hi-Tec-C cartridge. As you can see below, it has an incompatible tip design.
Profile of the generic Hi-Tec-C cartridge [CW&T]

The second is a multi-pen cartridge. This one has an incompatible body style. Moreover, there doesn't appear to be any more ink in one of these cartridges as compared to the Slim Knock cartridge (and these cartridges cost almost three times as much!).
Multi-pen style [JetPen]

The third style is for the high-end version of the Hi-Tec-C, the Cavalier. Unlike the others, this appears to have a compatible tip and body design. The below image compares the Cavalier refill to the Zebra Sarasa refill, which I know I can work with.
Zebra Sarasa refill top; Cavalier refill bottom. [Pen Addict]

Cue JetPens order #3!

As for the other pens, the Pilot Juice turned out to be a duplicate of the G2, the Signo was scratchy, and the Sarasas not quite as smooth and precise as the G2.

The third batch of pens turned out to be a disappointment. The Cavalier catridges turned out to be too messy and inconsistent - they tend to get ink balls and be slow to start after a day or two of no use. While they were phenomenal when they worked, they just can't match the consistency of the G2. 

So in the end, the G2 0.38 wins.