Solid Aluminum Pen and Stylus

Solid Aluminum Pen and Stylus Standard Length and XTS

The Solid Aluminum Pen and Stylus Standard Length and XTS

A few weeks ago we reviewed the Solid Titanium Pen and Stylus from Big Idea Design, and they were kind enough to send up these aluminum versions to check out next.  In addition to this review, we will also be doing a giveaway later this week of both the standard aluminum version and the XTS which is the shorter version you see here, so be sure to check back in for that.  If you can’t wait for the giveaway, feel free to head on over to the Big Idea Design website and pick up one of these pens for yourself though.

Solid Aluminum Pen and Stylus and Titanium Version Clips

Solid Aluminum Pen and Stylus and Titanium Version Clips

Visually the titanium and aluminum versions of these pens look almost identical, if you ignore the fact that I happen to have different colors of them.  The only real difference besides the color is the periodic table style emblem laser etched onto the clip of the pen to indicate whether it is the titanium or aluminum version.  The most notable difference when you hold these in your hand though is that the aluminum version is much lighter, and according to the Big Idea Design website its actually 35% lighter than its titanium counterpart.

One thing I noticed in terms of the functionality of the pen is that the threaded caps on the aluminum versions seem to have fewer threads than the caps on the titanium version.  The titanium version takes about one and a quarter to one and a half turns to fully open or close it, while the aluminum version takes only about one full turn to do the same.  Personally I like the slight extra bit of rotation required to open/close the pen, but at the end of the day I didn’t notice anything good or bad other than personal preference in this department.

One thing I was very curious about with the aluminum version was to see if it was still a bit top heavy to write with while the cap was posted.  I found that the weight of the titanium version along with the slightly long body made for a top heavy feeling in the hand which is a bit tiresome for a long writing session.  With the lighter aluminum version the experience was better, but still slightly top heavy in the hand, which I can now attribute more to the actual length rather than just the weight of the material used in the pen body.

Solid Aluminum Pen and Stylus Modified Pilot Precise Refills

Solid Aluminum Pen and Stylus Modified Pilot Precise Refills

Something that I came to learn which is not specific to just the titanium or aluminum version is that with some ink cartridges there might be a need for minor adjustments still.  For example, one of my favorite refills, the Pilot Precise V5 RT was actually fitting in the body perfectly, however the tip was pressing up against the inside of the cap just slightly which caused the tip to accumulate a bit of ink on it.  Simply pulling out the plug on the back of the refill and cutting it down by about 1/8″ made it so that this problem was averted.  You can see in the image above that the refill on the left is the one that I cut down and the one in the center is the full size version, with the one on the left being a mini Pilot G2 refill that fits snugly in the XTS version of the pen.

Speaking of the XTS version, it measures 3.93″ as compared to the 5.35″ that the full size version comes in at.  Weight wise, the full size aluminum version is .913 oz (the titanium version is 1.34 oz) while the smaller XTS version is only .687 oz.  Personally I like the heftier titanium version, but they both feel pretty comfortable to write with and are very well constructed, so again it just comes down to personal preference.  I did find that the XTS version is much more evenly weighted with the cap posted, so if you are someone that does a ton of writing in one sitting and likes to post the cap on your pen, the XTS may be for you, although the refill situation will be a bit trickier.  My suggestion for those that like the mini XTS version is that they should just use their favorite refill in the pen it originally comes in until the ink gets low enough that it can be modified as I did with the Pilot Precise V5 RT refills, although you will have to use more of the ink so it gets low enough that you can trim it down.

If you missed the original review, I listed all of the refills that work with the pen, as well as my own testing of what refills I found definitely did not work with the pen, so I’ll share them here again as a reminder:


Pen Name/ Refill Names that DO fit:
•Bic Velocity Gel 0.7mm (Medium)
•Cross Gel Rolling Ball Refill 0.7mm
•Dong-A Fine Tech RT Pen (GRC-43 refill)
•Duke Rollerball Refill (Medium)
•Faber-Castell Ceramic Rollerball Refill 0.5mm
•Foray (Office Depot’s Brand-USA) Replacement Refills
•Mont Blanc Fineliner Refills
•Mont Blanc 163 Rollerball Pen Refills  (M) & (F)
•Monteverde Rollerball Refill (Mont Blanc Style Replacements)
•MUJI 0.5mm Refill
•Ohto Ceramic Rollerball Refill (C-305P, C-307P)
•Pentel ENERGEL BLN105 pen (LRN5 & LRN7)
•Pentel HyperG Retractable KL257 Series (LR7 & KLR7)
•Pilot Frixion Ball pen BLS-FR5 (LFBK-23EF-B refill)
•Pilot Ge (America’s #1 selling ink gel pen, 0.38, 0.5, 0.7, &1.0mm)
•Pilot G2 Pro
•Pilot G6
•Pilot Hi-Tec-C Cavalier (Same performance as Hi-Tec-C, but with more ink) ****
•Pilot Precise V5 RT/V7 RT, named Hi-tecpoint V5 RT/V7 RT in Europe
•Pilot Q7 Needle Point Refill 0.7mm (BLS-GCK-7 / LHKRF-8C7)
•Pilot V ball RT (BLS-VB5RT)
•Pelikan Roller Refill 338 Rollerball
•Schmidt Safety ceramic roller 888 Fine
•Schneider Topball 850
•Staples Classic Grip Pen 0.7mm Gel (#31581)
•TUL GL1 Gel Pen Retractable Needle Point Fine 0.5mm
•Uniball Impact RT 1.0mm Bold (Signo UMR-80)
•Uniball Signo RT Gel 0.38mm & 0.5mm (UMN-138)
•Uniball Signo (UMN-152)
•Uniball Signo 207 Gel Refill 0.7mm (UMR-87, UMR-85)
•Uniball Jetstream 1mm (SXR-7)
•Visconti Rolling Ceramic 0.7mm (AA40)
•Waterman Rollerball Refill
•Zebra Sarasa Clip Pen Refill
•Zebra JF Gel Ink (JJ2; JJ15; JJZ15; JJ21; RJF5 pens)

***Note – This is not the standard Pilot Hi-Tec-C refill, the Cavalier takes a different size refill than the standard Hi-Tec-C

Pen Name/ Refill Names that DO NOT fit:

  •  Bic Cristal 1.6mm
  • Uniball Signl UM-153
  • Uniball Vision Insight
  • Magna Tank
  • Uniball Signo Bit
  • Uniball Signo DX .38mm
  • Pentel Slicci
  • Uniball Power Tank
  • Uniball Vision RT
  • Staedtler Maxum
  • Uniball Style Fit
  • Pilot Better Retractable Pen
  • Zebra JJ101 Hyper Jell
  • Uniball Signo Stick .7mm UMR-7
  • PaperMate Ink Joy 700RT
  • Pentel Vicuna BX157
  • Pilot Hi-Tec-C Standard
  • PaperMate Earth Write Bio-degradable pen
  • Tornado by Retro 51

The titanium and aluminum versions of this pen and stylus that take multiple refills are pretty awesome in my opinion.  There might take a small amount of tinkering to your favorite refill to get it to work perfectly as I learned with the Pilot Precise V5 refills, but for such a versatile pen and stylus that looks and feels so awesome, that is a very minor price to pay.  If you have a pen refill on the list of refills that fit, the to this is a fantastic way to upgrade the writing experience even further, so head over to the Big Idea Design website and grab one for yourself, or like I said, you can always come back here for the giveaway later this week too.

©2015, Brian Greene. All rights reserved.


  1. 1
    Steve says:

    I had the same issue with the Hi-Tec-C Cavalier, one of my G2’s, and a Pentel Energel. The issue is not just that ink will accumulate, but I feel like some of the tips can get damaged from hitting the inside top of the cap. All three of those refills were ruined for me and they all wrote scratchy after just 1 or 2 days in the titanium pen–I had to throw out about $10 worth of refills because of that.

    I contacted them through their support email and they assured me it must have somehow gotten through quality control. They very kindly offered to give me another one, although I decided to go with the aluminum version (since they didn’t have the chrome titanium version).

    I’m worried that maybe it wasn’t simply a quality control issue but an issue with the cap being too short and having the cap make contact with the pen tip. I hope they resolve it in future iterations, because I really do love the feel, look, and weight of the aluminum version of the pen.

    I haven’t had the same issue with the aluminum version with a 0.38mm G2 yet, after using it about a week now. Hopefully everything will have been fixed!

  2. 2
    Ben says:

    Just a quick follow up question to make sure I didn’t miss an important detail. In this review, you mention both the full-size version and the smaller XTS version. My interest is in the XTS.

    From what you said, it sounds like I should be able to use the 0.3mm Pilot Hi-Tec-C Cavalier refill (possibly with a small amount of length trimming) in the XTS version of the pen. Also, it sounds like you prefer the titanium version in the XTS size because at that size it feels balanced with the cap posted (aluminum is your preference for the big version of the pen).

    I just want to make sure all the above is true of the XTS version and that I didn’t confuse any details that might have only related to the full-size version of the pen.

    If that’s the case, then I’m ready to grab an XTS titanium and it only thanks to you… I could not find the info I needed elsewhere. So, thank you!

  3. 3

    @Steve – Thanks so much for the additional detailed feedback! Its good to know that they are standing behind the product and offering to remedy the situation.

  4. 4

    @Ben – Sorry for any confusion. I didn’t actually test the other refills in the XTS because I a) didnt want to destroy so many good refills and b) none of my refills were low enough on ink to try this. So in theory it SHOULD work to trim the refills, but without doing myself I can’t say for sure.

    Having not tried the titanium XTS, its hard to say that it would definitely be fine in terms of the balance and not being so top heavy with the cap posted, but there was definitely a noticeable difference between the standard and XTS aluminum versions in that sense.

    I hope that helps, but if not let me know and I’m happy to clarify or answer any further questions.

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