2.08.2012

Zebra 301 Series Pen and Pencil Review


I’ve been on a journey of sorts most of my adult life; that journey of course being the quest for the perfect pencil to use at work. I discovered the perfect pen years ago. It’s the Bic Clic Stic. You know the one. This is that cheap click pen you find at every restaurant or hair salon you go into and they have their logo printed on it and such. Yes. I said it. The perfect pen. It writes well, is light weight and cheap. And, it works perfectly until it runs out of ink. But I digress, I do believe I was on a journey for a pencil.

Every job I’ve had required me to write; yes I have very soft hands that are free of calluses or permanent oil stains. It has absolutely irked me the last 20 years because I have never felt comfortable with what I was writing with. I’ve gone through several dozen sets of various brands and models and none have given me what I wanted.

The most expensive was a rather nice Cross Pen and Pencil set. It cost around $200 and after a few minutes of using them I realized that somebody is going to steal these. They have been securely locked in my gun locker and never really used going on 5 years now.

Lately I’ve decided it’s either start using the standard #2 pencil like I was back in grade school (with the sharpener fastened to the edge of cubicle opening) or else find the perfect pencil. I went to Staples with this thought in mind and walked out with the Quick Dock by Pentel. I liked it except it had too much girth. I like my pencils and pens to be thin, not bulbous. I liked how it had a screw out eraser. That is definitely one thing I hate about mechanical pencils is the token nub of eraser that comes with them. This one had a full inch to use. I tried it out for a few days and at least twice a day had the urge to break it in half. The metal tip on it kept sinking into the body of the pencil and on top of that, the eraser didn’t erase very well.

Never being one to give up quickly I venture into Office Max again determined to not walk out without the perfect pencil. Within 5 minutes I had found it. I couldn’t believe why I hadn’t thought about this before. I had used these before. I love these pencils and matching pens. I speak of course of the Zebra brand 301 Series Pencils and Pens (a moment of silence please…..now broken with angelic harmony from above….and…..we’re back)!

I bought a 2-pack of the pencil (M-301) and a 4-pack of the pens (F-301; 2 black, 1 red, 1 blue). This was perfect because I needed a red pen as well. I open them and try them out and they are just as blissful to use as I remember. Let me backtrack. When I was but 17 years old I worked as a parking attendant in a downtown mall. These were the standard issue pen and pencil we all used. I loved them. We all did. We must have stolen a dozen or so of them until management got wise of us. They are awesome.

They are light weight but you still know you’re hefting a thing of quality. They have a subtle plastic criss-cut grip pattern near the end which is just the perfect amount you need so it doesn’t slip out. They are thin but not prissy. The stainless steel shaft is nice to the touch and gives it a sense of elegance. You would have to go out of your way to break the pocket clip and the slide action of the clicker at the top is smooth with a manly click. They write smoothly and precisely without any need to scribble-prime the ink (in the case of the pens). They come in many varieties, but for me, nothing beats what they call “The Original”. The lead on the pencils is easy to refill. The only problem I have found is that it is illegal in all 50 states to marry these pencils and pens.

The interesting thing is that now that I have re-discovered them, I’ve lost weight, sleep better, have more energy and motivation and for the first time in years, feel hopeful about the future. How interesting that my journey for the perfect pencil and the perfect pen ended at the beginning with the set I had a quarter of a century ago. Corny you say? It’s a freak’n mechanical pencil review. I had to jazz it up somehow. Anyway, the F-301 by Zebra is a certified ReviewSpew All-Star.

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