Here’s the deal – everyone needs to keep a ballpoint pen handy so why not make it a great looking one. Enter the Pelikan Souveran 405 in black/blue/silver. Like many folks who are a bit picky about their writing implements, I have a love/hate relationship with ballpoint pens. I love them because they’re reliable, come in too many styles to count and, unlike fountain pens, aren’t all that fussy about paper choice (try writing on those self-stick Christmas tags with a fountain pen). I hate ballpoint pens because…well, frankly, they’re as boring as a Bravo reality show. To make matters worse, some refill makers have tried to glam up the ballpoint with a variety of colors and refill materials, most of which are just embarrassing. More on this later.
Back to the Pelikan Souveran 405. Like all my crummy pictures, the ones here do not do this pen, and it’s Pelikan ballpoint cousins, justice in the least. I love, love, love the looks of the black/blue/silver combination. For reasons I do not understand, I just don’t dig gold trim on my pens. Now, a buttery Sailor nib made of gold is another matter completely, but gold trim doesn’t do it for me. (If I stated my feelings on this matter using a combination of chemistry and social media syntax it would read: Ag +1; Au -1. Note: the material on the 405 is actually palladium but we’re just talking color right now.) For me, the success of the Souveran 405 and similar Pelikan ballpoints is all about the simple shape and perfect size. Imagine if a Parker Jotter ate right and worked out a bit. The result would be a Pelikan ballpoint. The brands are similar in length but Pelikans are wider and therefore easier to hold. Combine the ideal size with quality plastic materials, celluloid acetate to be specific, and the pen fits and feels wonderfully even if it’s “just a ballpoint”.
Alright, let’s talk refills a bit. As you know, ballpoint refills come in many shapes and sizes and it seems that every year brings new hybrid, easyflow ballpoint inks. Many of these proprietary ballpoint refills write wonderfully but, for now, let’s limit ourselves to the ubiquitous “Parker-style” refills. Let me say this plainly – gel inks using the Parker type refills are garbage and even if they weren’t, they would remain a stupid idea. Of all the ballpoint refills, Parker QuinkFlow are the best. Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 are very good but I think QuinkFlow wins by a nose. I’m fairly sure I’ve tried every gel ink Parker-style refill available in a variety of point sizes and they all, I mean every single one of them, do not work consistently well. I occasionally get a blue Parker brand gel refill that writes well but it’s just too hit and miss and they also ooze silicone. How Parker gets away with selling refills with such poor quality control is beyond me. If all this wasn’t bad enough, we also have the dumb idea of colored refills. Why would I put a purple ballpoint or gel refill in a classy pen like the 405? On the rare occasion I need something that isn’t blue or black, I’ll grab a fountain pen and a bottle of ink that fits my needs and/or mood or a purpose-built Pilot G2 or Pentel Energel. Purple Parker refills that “bleed” like some sort of horror movie pen refill? No thank you.
You need to have a ballpoint handy. This is a great looking one and with the right refill it works just dandy so “Carry It“. There may not be a lot that separates one ballpoint from another other than your preference for looks. I think the black/blue/silver Souveran looks great and the size and shape work for me.
The Souveran 405 is like a really good cheeseburger. There are plenty of ways to make a decent burger but at the end of the day we’re still just talking about a cheeseburger. I’m happy to pay a little extra for the angus, grass-fed beef and the fresh bun, even if we’re only talking about meat and bread, but putting a fried egg or a pork chop on the burger is the wrong way to eat a burger, egg or a pork chop.