For quite some time now, there has been a trend away from standard ballpoint pen ink refills towards hybrid ink refills that look to take the smooth and consistent flow of a gel ink and combine it with the quick drying durable ballpoint ink that people had become accustomed to. It seems like the Cross Satnink Hybrid refill (via Amazon) is a bit late to the party, but when it caught my eye I figured I would grab one to check out and review.
Because the Cross ballpoint refills are pretty proprietary, they require you to use a Cross ballpoint pen in order to test them out, so I grabbed myself a Cross ATX (via Amazon) in Basalt Black to run through the paces. It had been a while since I wrote with a standard ballpoint refill, or maybe I just blocked out the experience because its generally awful and painful as far aw writing pleasure goes. Sure enough, when I used the Cross ATX with its standard (non-Satnink refill) it really wasn’t something worth writing home about. After switching over to the Cross Satnink Hybrid Refill though I was pretty impressed by the comparative difference between the two pen refill writing experiences. After spending a few days writing with the Cross Satnink, I found myself with consistently smooth, dark, and lump free writing samples. I also found that the writing experience was better with the Cross Satnink because it requires minimal downward pressure when writing, even just lightly grazing the pen over paper leaves a dark enough line to read. The same small amount of pressure with the standard ballpoint didn’t even leave the smallest trace of ink behind, so this is definitely a great pen for those that engage in longer writing sessions to avoid fatigue.
In this close up photo of the Cross Satnink (top row below the refill itself) vs. the standard ballpoint (bottom line close to the photo caption) you can see how much darker the Satnink is. Keep in mind that the Satnink refill I’m testing is a fine point, while the ballpoint was a medium point. You will also notice that it is much smoother and consistent as the standard ballpoint refill shows some lumpy tendencies on the swirling loops at the end of the writing sample. In addition to just writing significantly nicer than a standard refill, the Cross Satnink dries incredibly fast and is archival quality to boot. If you check out the reviews on Amazon, the sample size is very small, but you will see a few folks with some complaints, and to be honest I didn’t experience any of the same issues with this sample that I reviewed.
After having a pretty positive experience with my Cross Satnink refill, I was curious about the negative reviews that I saw on Amazon so I decided to dig around and see if I could find anything. For starters, since this is a relatively new product and since Cross ballpoint pens don’t tend to excite most people that are going to write reviews, it was not surprising that I didn’t find a ton of other people talking about these. I did however stumble across a post on EDCForums that may explain things a bit. User RMinNJ stated that they were in contact with their local pen shop about these and that there were some quality issues so they were not immediately available for purchase. Sounds to me like maybe there was an initial release that was faulty and Cross had to correct that before releasing more. This brings me to the date stamped on the barrel of the pen right past the word “fine” on there to the right in the picture. The comment on EDCForums was from October 9th of this year and they didn’t have a date when new refills were supposed to become available, so I’d assume my refill from 08/14 is before any supposed recall of these. Although I had a good experience with mine, I would be interested in seeing if I can track down any of these refills that have a date stamped on them that is sometime after 08/14 so I can compare to the one used for this review.
If you already have a Cross ballpoint pen, it might be worth checking out the Cross Satnink Hybrid refill (via Amazon) because regardless of any alleged manufacturing issues with the first batch of these, they do write significantly nicer than a Cross ballpoint refill. Definitely give these a try if you can find them and if the price suits your budget, they may just make you like that old Cross pen again.