Pen Hacking

It all started when I bought our wedding rings. Everything was done I just needed to sign the receipt. The manager hands me a Montblanc Meisterstück Classique Rollerball. That was it, cheap pens were ruined for me forever.

It didn’t take long but soon enough I was listening to The Pen Addict podcast and had bought several fountain pens1 and a sea of different inks. Whilst I love using these they don’t always play nice with cheap paper and the ink tends to “feather” a lot. It was time to get a decent rollerball.

Lamy Vista and Montblanc refills

In the interest of cost, the Montblanc I used costs £310, I went with a more budget friendly option: A Lamy Vista. The refill that comes with it is a sort of blue-black and I wasn’t keen on the colour. Whilst I could have just bought a black refill I decided to attempt a “pen hack” and fit the Montblanc refill that started this all.

The hack

When you look at the Lamy M63 refill and the Montblanc standard refill you can see that the Lamy refill is a few mm longer, and also that the front of the refill is about 1mm longer on the Lamy. The difference at the front can’t be fixed without altering the pen permanently, at the rear we can use a spacer to fill the gap.

Lamy M63 vs Montblanc standard refill

Once fitted to the pen you can see the difference in the 2 refills and how far they protrude from the pen.

Montblanc protrusion

There’s not a lot that can be done here, but it seems useable. Time will tell on this one.

The gap at the back was filled using a piece cut from a ball point ink tube about 20mm long. This fits inside the moulding at the rear of the pen barrel and also inside the refill to keep things in place. You might not actually need this as the threads on the refill do grip on the section, but wear over time might make this needed.

Spacer to hold refill

This completes the coversion!

Ink by Montblanc, pen by Lamy!

Is it worth it?

Whilst I’ve not spent much time with the hacked pen I feel I can answer this one pretty easily. Not really.

Refill line widths

The line is a tiny bit thinner, not massively so, but noticeable. If this is super important then it might be worth it. For me it was all about trying to get that “first hit” feeling again and it just didn’t happen. Comparing the two refills I’d say the Lamy is a smoother writing experience, not by a lot, but it is. More fuel for the Montblanc is overpriced fire.

Whilst I don’t like the blue I wanted black anyway. In hindsight a black M63 would have been cheaper2 and easier. Unless you really must have the Montblanc refill, I would just use the Lamy. The Montblanc black is good though, but without a Lamy refill to compare to I can’t say if affects my conclusion.

As the conversion works and I already have 2 refills, I’ll just use the MB for now but once they run out I’ll be getting the correct M63.


After using the hacked Vista in anger for a morning the short protrusion drove me nuts. At lunch I went and picked up a black M63 refill.

Again the Lamy refill feels nicer in the hand than the Montblanc and the line is the same slightly wide medium as the blue. The blacks are very similar to the point I couldn’t say one was better than the other.

The Montblanc does have one area of advantage though. On the beyond cheap paper pad I have at work the Lamy feathers ever so slightly, the Montblanc doesn’t. This could be due to the formulation or the volume of ink put down. Either way, it’s one area I’ve seen Montblanc excell in, their fountain pen inks behave exceedingly well in my experiance also.

If anyone has a need for some Montblanc rollerball refills, I have 2 sat on a shelf.

  1. Current count looks like 7, though I have 1 more coming some time next week. 

  2. An M63 refill is £2.40 RRP, but Cult Pens currently sell them for £1.98. The Montblanc refill was £10 for 2 but £12 seems the norm.