I’m always excited to see new innovations from pen companies; new designs, new ink formulation, new colors. Anything that’ll stand out from your run of the mill pen offerings. When I heard that Sharpie was developing their own gel and rollerball pens, I was excited to see what the pinnacle of permanent markers could do. Luckily my local office supply store had plenty in stock, so I picked up some packs and got to testing.
Let’s take a look.
Sharpie Roller ($7.99/4pk)
The Sharpie Roller is a fairly standard capped rollerball pen. The one-piece grip and body of the pen are black plastic, with translucent colored end caps to indicate the ink inside. The 0.5mm needle-tip writes fairly smooth with minor feedback depending on your paper of choice. All the basics are here; red, black, and blue ink flowing smooth and laying down clear consistent lines.
Sharpie S-Gel ($7.99/4pk)
The S-Gel is Sharpie’s first foray into this war-torn GELscape of a marketplace. With three tip sizes and three colors currently available, Sharpie covered the bases of a standard gel pen pack. The barrels have a similar matte black plastic body to that of the Roller, but also feature a hard rubber textured grip section. Inside the barrel, we have a Sharpie branded G2-size refill, though the pens are slightly resistant to refilling. The red and blue ink versions feel as though they are glued shut, and the black pen opened up after a slight struggle. At the time of this writing, no refills appear to be available, and the pen is not specifically listed as refillable on Sharpie’s website.
The 0.5mm gel pens write fairly well. It is not the smoothest pen on the market, but there are certainly worse ones. I have experienced a few hard starts and skips with the red and blue pens, with the black ink being the most consistent. One other feature of note is that the S-Gel barrels are manufactured in the USA, as indicated by a small origin stamp under the clip. This likely only has an impact on back-end cost and not overall quality, but it is worth noting that the Roller is produced in China.
Both the Roller and S-Gel pens are good writers, neither exceptional nor poor, just good no-frills pens. This may sound unfair, but that is my main criticism of the product. At around $2 per pen, I wasn’t expecting any game-changing ink technology or remarkable smoothness, but I was hoping for a little more from Sharpie. They have become a household name for permanent markers, and obviously, that is their main moneymaker moving forward, but these feel like just another cheap pen with the Sharpie logo on the side. Permanent pigment gel ink would have been a nice feature, and one I had assumed would be present. But as it stands currently, the Sharpie Roller and S-Gel pens are just average pens.
If these show up in your office’s supply cabinet, by all means, give them a try. Beyond that, I don’t see these making it into my personal rotation.
Additional Note: I’m seeing a lot of reports that the S-Gel pens tend to run through ink rather quickly. While Sharpie hasn’t widely-launched their own refill brand, the S-Gel pens are fully compatible with Pentel EnerGel refills. Please refill your gel pens, when possible.