Metal bodied multi-pens... lets talk about them

Since multi-pens are knock mechanism writing instruments, I had looked to post in the main part of the forum, but didn’t see a category for them… so I’m putting this in Off-Topic.

I really enjoy multi-pens, especially now that some excellent quality D1 refills exist that make writing a pleasure. For the longest time, I was into just PILOT and rOtring for these, but gradually I became familiar with other brands. the Zebra Sharbo in particular. I just love the styling of it, both the LT3 and ST3. But my one key gripe with these is that the sequential deployment of the refills has detents only at extension, and not in between. This is a little sloppy. You get used to it, but… sometimes tips peek out when not wanted. Well, fast-forward and I discovered the Sharbo Surari. The front is an obvious bullet shape… not to my liking as much as the traditional cone… but I discovered something quite pleasing – retraction detents! Yes, there are 6 – one for each refill extension and one for each retraction. It works well. The body of the Surari is also a little more narrow than the LT3 / ST3 bodies.

The Zebra Store on Amazon goofed. The lowest priced model, the blue one ($18 USD), can’t be found if you search for “Sharbo Surari,” because they misspelled it as “Shabo.” Something about the Champagne color really resonated with me and it turned out to be less yellow than in photos (more to my liking), but I had to buy it off of YJP, because it has been out of stock in the USA (I got it for $12 after in-Japan shipping and fees, nicely cheap). This is a really nice multi-pen and the narrow body makes it excellent for portable note taking tasks.

Anyway, it’s an all metal bodied multi-pen without being very heavy (not like a rOtring 3-in-1). The clip is firm and yet flexible enough to be very useful and pocket-safe, with an asymmetrical lined texture design on it. The rear does unscrew to reveal an eraser, just like on all other Sharbos. And lastly, that mechanism. It’s so smooth. No cheap noises. There’s nice tension before sliding into the detent. It definitely exudes quality. The mechanical pencil feed is nicely quiet, though it’s a little mushy like on the 600 Trio. There’s also good tension on extended positions, so you don’t feel tip wobble. Sometimes priced at under $20 USD for some colors, you really can’t go wrong.

I’ll try to take a group photo of my multi-pens sometime soon and append here.

So enough about Zebra… what of other brands? rOtring is a prolific maker of them and has been doing them since the 1990’s. The 600 Trio is a beast. It’s fat. It’s heavy. And it’s tough. Not really a daily-use kind of instrument unless you like that extra exercise. But the mechanism is excellent. I do like gravity mechanisms, because you know exactly what you’re getting with random access (no wandering around). There must be like 10 variants of the Trio. There’s also a 400 Esprit multi-pen. And likely some others on the cheaper end, made of plastic. My favorite of the Trio line is the one version that came with a rubberized sheath on the metal parts, and a satin finish silver coating on accents. It has a big rocker-style clip for retracting tips. It’s real rubber, not some faux blend that might turn gooey at some later point in time. They fly under the radar and can often be had for relatively cheap prices on the used market.

Aesthetically though, PILOT won me over with their 2+1. Such a nice design, especially the brushed stainless steel version with black etched lines in the grip. The gravity mechanism works just about as well as the rOtring Trio. PILOT abandoned all metal multi-pens, and now makes them mostly out of plastic with some metal parts. The Frixion is actually a very decent 5 refill multi-pen, that’s also available with genuine wood grips. I got one in a pencil lot and was duly surprised by how usable it is, despite that notable girth.

Mitsubishi has a few multi-pens as well, but I believe mostly 1+1 (pen plus pencil). In their Jaguar line they came up with an all steel model, one plain brushed stainless and the other black etched lines. The mechanism is a little finicky, but it parks rather solidly and looks amazing.

LAMY got into this game too, but not much. There’s a 2000 multi-pen, but it’s all D1 ballpoints–no pencil. So that is an immediate disqualification for me. I don’t know if they ever made a 1+1… My memory vaguely recalls a CP1 like model, but I’m not certain.

Last but not least… OHTO. They make a number of multi-pens, some with all plastic bodies but a few with metal bodies. They’re pretty slim and nicely done.

There are other brands… so many I’ve not yet explored. Btw, Sailor made some 1+1 multipens, but it looks like they cheated and rebranded a Mitsubishi 1+1 model.

Anyway, it’s a golden age of multi-pens. There’s just so much choice out there you can be overwhelmed or end up with just too many like me. :sweat_smile: :sweat_smile: :sweat_smile: :rofl:

So, Knockology folks, please come and share your viewpoints and suggestions on what multi-pens you enjoy. Thanks!


Every multi-pen I have, I’ve acquired as collateral—extra pieces in various lots I’ve bought over the past couple years.

Generally speaking, I hate them, BUT I have a soft spot for my stainless steel etched Sharbo :joy:

I have a few Pilots, and while I like some of the designs (my red and blue 1+1s are quite handsome), the operation always leaves something to be desired.

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Yeah, one could say that a multi-pen is a compromise. It doesn’t really excel at either writing instrument type (ballpoint / gel, pencil)… but some are quite good.

The only problem I see with them from a pencil standpoint is that I’ve yet to find one that has a totally rock-solid pencil action. There’s always some “mushy” action, meaning the whole refill moves a bit forward as you advance. But that happens with the rOtring 800 too. I must admit that for extensive writing with a pencil, I won’t use a multi-pen. They’re just great spontaneous writers and having a couple of different ballpoint colors (e.g. black, red) allows you to be nicely creative.

But circling back… what inspired me to post this topic was the Sharbo Surari. It’s really well made, and AFAIK flying under the radar.

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I hadn’t heard of it until your post, so you’re onto something!

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Thanks. I believe so. Seriously, I’ve owned so many different multi-pens and this Surari is something special. Even that aesthetic choice of the “checkerboard” texture on the rear section is a little subtle touch that just telegraphs that the designer wanted to make this a bit special. I’m also warming up to that chromed bullet shaped front end. It helps makes it pocket safe.

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The mushy MP components bug me too – which is why I prefer to keep my multipens as pens, and combo them with an assortment of MPs.

The other perennial issue is the off-bore angle that all the refills stick out at. It’s lessened by some designs like Zebra’s Sharbo LT3 and ST3, where the writing point sticks out just enough to see the color coding. Meanwhile other designs let the point stick out just that bit too much and ruins the symmetry. Conical tips tend to feel that way for me, so Platinum’s many Double-Action series end up not getting much use or love from me.


Hi hear you, Kelvin. That’s why for sustained use, I fall back on a dedicated mechanical pencil or pen, not multi-pens. The multi’s are great for sporadic note taking. I like to keep one tucked in the elastic loop of a small notepad.

But the Surari performs really well, one of the best multi’s I’ve had so far. I’d gotten an ST3 (CDT limited edition) and there’s a little bit of play in the refills (remedied with a tiny bit of kapton tape). The Surari is better, a little tighter. And with the girth more reminiscent of a standard mechanical pencil. If you ever have a chance to pick one up cheaply, do so.


This might be cheating, but the Pilot Switch is technically a multi-pen and way more usable than pretty much any of these style of multi pens. And it came in all sorts of nice metal bodies, my personal favorite being a stainless steel version with a knurled metal ring.

If you have to pick from multi pens of this style, the Sakura Craft Lab 004 and Metaphys Locus 43010 are quite nice. The Locus gets bonus points for having a knock type eraser as one of the options.


Technically the PILOT Switch qualifies as it’s more than one writing instrument in a single body. It’s a weird way of enabling it… but it works. Sort of. I have just one of them, in the black striped steel body. The ballpoint is not a D1. It’s a proprietary refill that PILOT still sells, but for how much longer–who knows.

Do you have a Sakura 004? I’ve been curious about the balance.

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Pilot still makes the Birdy Switch, which uses the same refill and hence still makes the refills as well. You can get one on Jetpens for $1.60 - no hackery needed :slight_smile:

I do have the Sakura 004. I haven’t used it in a long time, but if I remember correctly it is bottom heavy like most multi pens of this type. I’ll double check when I get a chance.


Oh snap! I may pick up some refills for my Switches; I think I only have two where the ink works.

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Thanks for the correction on the Switch/Birdy refill. Good to see at least Jet Pens carries it. I wonder if it contains the same amount of ink as a D1?

Amazon carries a 5 piece lot, for $9, which is pretty damn good! I just hope the ink quality is on par with the BRFN-30.

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I came accross these yesterday seriously liked the design but passed on it.


It’s closest many of us will get to a Sakura Archi Type Y2


The red platinum and cdt sharbo are my favourite.