Review: Zebra F-701, Ballpoint, 0.7mm

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The Zebra F-701 is a stainless steel ballpoint, similar to the Zebra F-402 and based on Zebra’s popular F-301. And if you find Zebra’s numbering system as confusing as I do, here’s an easier way to think about it: the F-301 is the base-model (~$2 per pen) , the F-402 is the mid-grade (~$3 per pen), and the F-701 is Zebra’s premium pen (~$6 per pen). And while I believe the upgrade from F-301 to F-402 is definitely worth the money, the premium upgrade to the F-701 is less clear-cut.

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The F-301 (top) has a hard-plastic grip, the F-402 (middle) has a rubberized grip, and the F-701 (bottom) has a stainless steel grip.

While the F-701 is a much more substantial pen than the F-301, it’s about equal to the F-402 in terms of size and weight (though all three pens share the same mediocre ballpoint refill). What distinguishes the F-701 is its knurled, stainless steel grip, which looks nice, feels extremely durable, and is surprisingly comfortable. The F-402, on the other hand, has a soft, padded grip, which is a little more comfortable but will wear down over time.

There are two other, less substantial differences as well. First, the F-402 definitely has a thicker, sturdier clip. And, second, the F-701 has a plastic retracting mechanism that makes a quieter “click” noise. Both these differences, unfortunately, make the premium F-701 feel a little cheaper and less hardy.

Still, if you feel the need a tougher pen, then the F-701, with its all-stainless steel body, is still the clear winner of the group. However, at half the price, the F-402 is a better value for people who are less hard on their pens, such as those who do most of their writing at a desk. Meanwhile, you can probably skip the F-301 altogether.

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One thought on “Review: Zebra F-701, Ballpoint, 0.7mm

  1. I have modified my F-701 with the clip from the F-402, and it drastically improves the look and feel. Yes, still same refill, but a solid EDC with the mod. I would recommend the mod in a heartbeat.

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