|WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW|
|Nib Sizes||Medium only|
|Filling System||Cartridge only (proprietary)|
|Dimensions||Capped Length: 5.2″ / 132mm
Posted Length: 5.8″ / 147.3mm
Uncapped Length: 4.54″ / 115.3mm
Barrel Ø: .43″ / 10.8mm
Section Ø: .4″ / 10.2mm
|Weight||0.6oz / 16g|
|Notes||Available with blue or black accents.|
I don’t know what on Earth possessed me to buy the Zebra V-301 fountain pen. One night I just all of a sudden got a case of the munchies and walked down to Walgreen’s to pick up some snacks. It’s almost impossible for me to pass by the stationery aisle and not stop. This evening was no different. And that’s when I noticed this fountain pen that cost less than the latte I just devoured earlier that day. So I grabbed it and threw it in with my pile of treats.
For $3.99 (from Walgreen’s) you get the V-301 fountain pen and two proprietary, black ink cartridges. Additional ink cartridges can be ordered in packages of two from Jetpens for $2.10, which is hilarious because they only charge $3.20 for the pen AND ink cartridges. The pen is only worth five cents more than each cartridge. Wow.
If there’s one sure way to get me to hate your pen, it’s by using a proprietary cartridge. They’re more expensive. They come in fewer colors. They’re not as readily available. They just suck. The only redeeming quality these cartridges have is that they’re quite a bit larger than the standard international sized cartridge.
As soon as I got home, but after I tore into some snacks, I ripped open the blister pack and inserted one of the cartridges into the pen. It clicked in securely and a few hours later the feed was primed and the pen was ready to write. And write it did.
I was actually surprised by how well it wrote. The nib, while being a tiny steel unit, performed well enough. The problem wasn’t with the flow or consistency as there wasn’t any issue with the feed’s performance. The problem was with the feel of the nib. The tines weren’t out of alignment so it wasn’t scratchy, but it’s like it was finished with a course grade abrasive. The 1.0mm Pilot G-2 sitting on my desk actually offers a noticeably smoother writing experience. That’s not a good thing when I’m trying to get people to use a fountain pen and don’t want them to pass out from sticker shock of the pens I actually use.
Let’s move away from the nib a little bit and focus on the section. It’s made from a hard plastic that’s just as smooth, if not more than the stainless steel barrel. The cap attaches to the section with a solid snap, but once attached it wiggles pretty easily. I don’t think it’s going to come off, but it doesn’t instill a whole lot of confidence in me, either. One thing I do like about the cap is the clip. It’s easy to position the pen with one hand and since the clip is attached to the very top of the cap none of the pen will poke out from your pocket, which is a desirable quality for some.
The cap is thin and light enough that posting it really doesn’t make a difference to the feel of the pen in your hand. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend posting the cap at all. While it does snap positively into place, it rotates freely while posted. The only thing more annoying would be if this pen rattled when you used it. Thank St. Nibbius that it doesn’t do that!
The Zebra V-301 is about as cheap as you can get when shopping for a fountain pen and it shows. It’s plagued with annoyances that actually make me not want to use it. But in the end, what really matters is that it works. Every time the nib touches the paper, it writes. And that’s what a fountain pen should do. But I still can’t recommend anyone waste their money on this pen. Instead, go for the Pilot Varsity (V-Pen in some locations).
For another view of the Zebra V-301 check out KrazyIvan’s review posted in our forums.