There’s no doubt that Zebra’s got a hit with their 301 series of retractable stainless steel pens. There was a stretch of time when the F-301 – the original ballpoint version – was my everyday, go-to pen. While I’ve since moved on, there seems to have been an explosion of the 301 series. They’ve got the M-301 (mechanical pencil), the H-301 (highlighter), and even a fountain pen they’ve called the V-301. Because I’m more of a gel pen user, I was pretty excited to pick up the gel version of this pen called – you guessed it – the G-301.
I feel no shame in stating that I love the design of the 301 pens. It’s the kind of pen a cop would use to write your speeding ticket. Like the others in the series, the G-301 has a thin, stainless steel body with a black, hard-plastic grip. The thinner barrel design is not something that everybody would enjoy, but I find that it suits my grip-style very well.
Unfortunately, while I loved holding the pen, I really didn’t like writing with it. Its gel ink runs so quickly that it feels very slippery while writing, and though it’s a 0.7mm tip, the line it dispenses ends up looking like a 1.0mm or higher. I like the darkness of the ink, but it smears like crazy. I also had problems with the grip frequently becoming very slightly unthreaded from the barrel, causing the ink cartridge inside to rattle around when writing.
The design of the barrel is great, but the innards leave something to be desired. Luckily, there are plenty of other versions of this pen, and I hope one of those will work out better.
The Sharpie Pen has been around for a while now, but, for whatever reason, it never quite caught my attention until recently. It was at a big box store that I spotted the stainless steel Sharpie Pen with its torpedo-like design. It looked nothing like all the other pens surrounding it, and I knew that I had to have it. And now that I’ve been using it, I fully understand why the Sharpie Pen line has grown so huge.
It’s a felt-tip pen that writes smoothly with very clean lines and a nice dark ink. I’ve had no ink flow issues, very minimal smearing, and I’ve seen no bleed-through. The stainless steel has a bit of weight, but not so much to tire out your hand, and the grip section is made of a comfortable rubbery material. Speaking of the grip, the entire grip area of the pen is built into the refill. While this means the grip section of this pen will never wear out (since you’d replace it with every refill), this also makes the refills pricier – around $2 per refill most places I looked.
My one big issue with this pen is the stainless steel clip. It sits so close and stiffly to the barrel that the clip is basically nonfunctional. Clipping the pen to my pants’ pocket was totally impossible, and I struggled to clip and unclip the pen from my notebook’s elastic band, nearly destroying it. I managed to fix this problem by bending the clip out with a screwdriver, but this also pulled the clip a little loose, so now it rattles around.
I think the Sharpie Pen is great, but I don’t think the stainless steel version is a must-buy. They make a plastic retractable version, as well as a plastic version that looks a little bit thinner than this stainless steel.They both look pretty nice to me, so I’ll definitely have to give those a try someday soon.