When I first saw the Ohto Rays on JetPens, I wrote it off as another imported Parker Jotter clone. I remember thinking “there was no way this could live up to the legendary click mechanism of the Jotter,” and “how good could a Parker-style refill be in a $4 pen?” The Jotter is basically the standard for this type of pen. It’s simple, stylish, and very well built. The Parker Jotter has the single best click mechanism I have ever used in a pen; Firm click, solid housing, and it feels just as strong several years after the original purchase. If you have ever used a Parker Jotter, keep that in mind as a point of reference as you read this review.
The Ohto Rays is a fairly basic clicker pen with a plastic grip section and a metal click mechanism housing. The pen is available in six vibrant body colors which all include a 0.5mm “Parker Size” black gel ink refill. Although the pen’s plastic half does make it more light-weight than my all metal Jotter, it doesn’t feel cheap or fragile. The grip section has a slight taper towards the front, which is comfortable to hold and write with, The clip is very sturdy and strong enough to keep in in place when tucked into a pocket or pen case.
The clicker mechanism is where this transaction gets interesting. By virtue of its design, the Ohto Rays had a very steep hill to climb from the beginning. $4 is a decent price to pay for a good gel pen, but if the clicker is soft or hollow-feeling or just plain bad, there really is no point. The mechanism Ohto has put into the Rays is very solid. The button has weight to it, and does not feel loose or hollow when pressed. The clicker extrudes the ink cartridge smoothly, and retracts is just as well.
The click mechanism turned out to be an added bonus, but the real reason I bought this pen was the refill. The Rays uses Ohto’s “Flash Dry Gel” refill, which is one of the few .5mm refills available in that Parker size. Now, “available” is a relative term, since you can’t really just walk into Staples and find these. Jetpens is the only place I’ve actually seen this pen, and they even appear to be running low. But the market for this type of refill is very slim here in the US, so I took a (very inexpensive) leap of faith.
That leap of faith paid off. Big time. This gel refill is fantastic! It fits my Parker pens, my Render K Mini, my Retro 51 Tornados, and my Baron Fig Squire and Squire Click! I’ve mentioned in the past that the Schmidt refill, while immensely popular, is just not a perfect fit for me. This refill solves that problem. And it does so at a replacement cost of $1.90.
The Ohto refill writes very smooth, easily on par with the .5mm EnerGel refills I’ve been using lately. It lays down a dark line without skipping, though not as dark as the EnerGel. In fact, the only hard-start I experienced over weeks of use was when I started to write out the sample page for this review. Funny how that works out sometimes.
This is my first Ohto pen, and it has been an incredible experience so far. At $3.90 for the pen, or $1.90 for the refill, the Rays is performing well above expectations. I do have one minor design issue with the pen, and that is the small nose cone at the end. The way it is attached makes a small ridge that breaks of the smooth line of the grip, but that is an entirely subjective complaint. Another concern is availability. At the time of this writing, Jetpens carries 6 different body colors for this pen, half of which are out of stock. On the refill side, only black is available. I would love to see a few more color options brought in to the Jetpens catalog, as well as tip sizes if Ohto makes a .38, but this one option is better than nothing.
Listen, I am well aware of my capabilities as a writer. I am under no delusions that this entire post has been anything but a ringing endorsement for this pen. The price is right. The quality is there. The Ohto Rays fills a need, simple as that.
If you find yourself in need of a .5mm gel refill for your Parker (or compatible) pen, check out the Ohto Rays at JetPens.
Disclaimer: The product in this review was purchased by The Poor Penman for the purpose of review and to feed the addiction. All opinions stated are those of the author.