I’ve always felt that Zebra’s line of stainless steel writing tools have suffered from a lack of attention, although I do know a handful of people that are pretty big fans of them all, but nothing along the lines of the runaway popularity of some other pens out there. With that said, I thought it would be good to take a look at the Zebra F-301 Ball Point Multi Color Pack (via Amazon) today , so lets dig in and take a closer look.
Starting with the obvious, visually the pens are mostly made of stainless steel particular the bodies and clips. This definitely gives them a bit of staying power when it comes to holding up to the daily rigors of being tossed into a purse, bag, or pocket as compared to some of their plastic counterparts that are more likely to suffer some sort of scratching or other damage. The stainless steel also serves the purpose of giving the Zebra F-301 Ball Point a bit more of a distinguished look than most other ball point pens that you will come across these days that are usually composed of cheap plastic.
The clips on the Zebra F-301 Ball Point pens are actually pretty substantial. I’ve used some pens in the past that shall remain nameless where they take advantage of the aesthetically pleasing looks of metal or stainless steel for the clips, but they sometimes skimp with a pretty light weight and flimsy feeling clip that you might not feel comfortable using. Not the case with the this offering from Zebra. They actually have quite a bit of snap in them when you lift up on them and release them. In doing so, you get a healthy and solid response that gives you the confidence to know that they will reliably latch onto a notebook, shirt/jean pocket or most any other garment or accessory you can think of without fear of breaking or falling off said item.
The only significant part of the Zebra F-301 Ball Point that is made of plastic is the grip section, which is nicely color coordinated with the color of the ink in each pen with the exception of the red pen which is more of a nitpick on my part. The plastic section can actually be unscrewed from each side, so if for some reason you wanted to swap sections on the pens, that wouldn’t be a problem. The plastic here is pretty sturdy too, and the ridges and grooves in it offer a pretty firm grip for your thumb and forefinger. I do find it odd though that they didn’t go with a more true red for the clip and other accents on the body and instead went with a more burgundy color. Obviously this is pretty minor but it just bugs me on a certain level, although maybe a true red looks a little garish with stainless steel and the other colors in the offering?
Continuing with the theme of color coordinated accents, the plunger on each pen also matches the grip and body paint, as well as the color of the ink inside. Each of the collars that the pen clips anchor into also match the other color coordinated accents on the pens. In case you are wondering, nothing in this upper portion of the pen including the clip, plunger, and collar are removable or swappable with the other pens. The one thing I didn’t get a picture of here is the “Indonesia” marking on the back collar which indicates the country of origin, but its hardly noticeable and not at all a distraction if that is a worry to you. From a functionality perspective, the plunger is pretty solid and responsive with a short distance to travel before decisively dispatching the point of your pen.
Here is a different view of the grip sections to illustrate my minor gripe with the burgundy color of the accents vs. the actual true red of the ink dispensed by the Zebra F-301 Ball Point pen. Again, not at all a real issue, just more of a curiosity to me that I get distracted by. This picture just gives a good side by side of the plastic on the grip along with the red ink. As you can see the other colors pretty closely match the actual color of the grip section.
Zebra F-301 Ball Point Writing Sample:
Besides the great looks and solid build, the Zebra F-301 Ball Point pen is a pretty nice writing tool. Overall, each of the four colors here wrote very nicely considering the fact that they are just ball point pens, which are never a first choice of mine. The only minor hiccup I noticed was the occasional splotchy leave behind on some of the writing. It was curious to me though that it only really happened at the top of some of the loops, most notably in the blue ink on my loopy writing sample above. Not sure why this happens but in recreating the issue I noticed that I wasn’t stopping for a prolonged period at that point in the loop, so it could just be the build up to the tip of the loop and the quick change in direction. For the most part these are really nice pens to write with if you need a basic every day pen that still looks and feels a ton better than most ball point pens. The only thing that would stop me from using these on a more regular basis is the diameter of the grip section. While I don’t have particularly large hands, I do find these to be on the smaller side, which forces me to grip a little smaller and for longer writing sessions creates a bit of fatigue while writing. For that reason, these may make for better EDC type pens for me since they would be used more for signing bills or writing a quick note or reminder rather than a lengthy writing session. You definitely cant go wrong with these if you are looking for a solid, sturdy, and good looking ball point pen, so check out some Zebra F-301 Ball Point pens for yourself (via Amazon) if it sounds like it fits the bill for your needs.