Sunday, November 4, 2018

Product Review: Zebra F-301 Ballpoint Pen (a Better Bic)

The Zebra F-301 ballpoint

Now that the pressure of InkTober is over, I started thinking about how much I enjoyed drawing with the Bic – if only it had a more pleasant body. Early in the month, I had tried a couple of other better ballpoints (better in terms of body quality), like the Uni Jetstream I keep in my bag for quick receipt signatures, but the ink just isn’t the same.

11/3/18 Zebra F-301 ballpoint in Baron Fig notebook
On a very rainy afternoon yesterday, I started digging through our kitchen junk drawer for all the ballpoints I could find (it seems to be the place in our home where pens of all sorts go to die). I tried them all, and none contained ink similar to the Bic, except one: the Zebra F-301.

I’m not sure how that pen landed in the drawer – I don’t remember buying it – but its ink has a similar oily quality as the Bic. It’s not quite as sticky as Bic ink, so it probably means it’s less oily, but it blobs slightly, just like the Bic, and most important, it has the same line quality that changes with varying pressure yet can be made to look consistent. The 0.7mm tip size is close to the hotel Bic Stic I used all month.

I looked it up on JetPens, and it’s a $2 pen – so not much more expensive than a Bic – but the stainless steel body feels better and more substantial than the Bic, it’s retractable (which I favor over capped ballpoints), and – important to me – it’s refillable. It’s going into my bag as my ballpoint of choice.

(I have to admit, I never in a million years expected to be writing a ballpoint pen review on this blog! Life is full of surprises.)


  1. I fell for ballpoints this Inktober, too. I agree with everything you said about BIC and Zebra: I like them equally, and the Zebra feels better in hand.

    1. Good for you for giving ballpoint a shot! It's a challenging medium, but I hope you enjoyed it as much as I eventually did!

  2. These is exceptionally well made and a great looking pen. For me, I have never quite gotten it with this pen, but it is not for lack of trying. What I love about this pen is its design.


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