Pen Review: Zebra 301A

This is the time of year where bloggers feel obligated to talk about New Year’s resolutions, emulate David Letterman’s Top 10 lists, and maybe reflect on 2014 in some other way.  I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions because Jan 1 is just a day between Dec 31 and Jan 2 for me, but I’ll probably do a bit of reflecting in the next couple days just so I can be one of the cool kids.  But to quote Aragorn (Lord of the Rings), “It is not this day.”

Today I want to confess to being a complete sloth for the past few days.  Not only did I not do much, I believe I even started to move slowly.  In reflection the only things I recall doing was watching TV and eating…and eating…and eating.  But I did my annual obligatory penance and watched Miracle on 34th St, Elf and the Polar Express, though I confess to falling asleep during the Polar Express.  The upside is that I won’t have to endure them for another 360 days or so.

Zebra 301A ballpoint pen

Zebra 301A ballpoint pen

And, sadly, I didn’t do much on the sketching front.  This is not to say that I didn’t have a pen in my hand; I did.  It was a Zebra 301A, a pen I’ve been trying out as a potential quick-sketching tool that I can shove in a coat pocket.  In my opinion, this pen is special for a few reasons.  They are:

1) It’s cheap!!!  I bought them in a 2-pack for $2.50 at the local dollar store.  You can buy a fancy version of it (Zebra 701) which is shiny silver and a bit heavier (about $8)  but the 301 comes in silver, gray or blue anodized aluminum and I really prefer the feel of it in my hand.

2) It lays down a very fine line, finer than most fine ballpoint pens.

3) The ‘black’ is a dark grey, similar to Noodler’s Lexington Gray.

4) It’s a click pen so you can hide the tip and there’s no cap to lose.

5) Replacement cartridges are available from Jet Pens for a whopping $1 each.  Good for environment and wallet alike.

6) As it’s a ballpoint, the ink is oil-based and thus waterproof.  You can wash over it to your heart’s content.

7)  I suppose it’s due to the fine nature of the cartridge but this pen NEVER blobs, a problem that exists with most ballpoints.

8)  Did I mention that it’s cheap?  No worries over losing this one and you can ‘station’ them around your house, in purses, backpacks, or pockets so that there’s always one available.

My daughter, hiding herself under a blanket while watching movies.

My daughter, hiding herself under a blanket while watching movies.

Anyways, I’ve been playing with one over the past week, mostly just doodling while we watched movies and consumed the equivalent of a month’s food in a few days.  As I said, I didn’t do much sketching.  Here are a few smallish, quick sketches I did with this pen.  Twas not the fault of the pen that the sketches were, well, so sketchy 🙂


Just feeding my penchant for drawing buildings


Ya gotta draw a tree during Christmas, right?

Ya gotta draw a tree during Christmas, right?

This is the house across the street as seen from my window

This is the house across the street as seen from my window

I was out walking and tried to draw skaters on the rink in Place d’Youville in the old city.  Too cold for me.  I’m a sissy.  Not even the furious nature of quick-sketching could keep me warm.

2014-12-29Zebra301_skater1 2014-12-29Zebra301_skater2 2014-12-29Zebra301_skater3

That’s enough to give you an idea of how the Zebra pen looks in the hands of a sloth and maybe give you an indication of what I do when I’m not sketching.   These doodles were done in a small, 3×5 sketchbook.

**** Happy New Year everyone. ****



4 thoughts on “Pen Review: Zebra 301A

  1. Happy New Year Larry and wishing you a great sketching 2015.
    Love these, they are a like visual diary of your days. I especially like the house across the road.
    Thank you for encouraging me to draw in ink this past year, I think it has made a real difference to my drawing and has opened up new possibilities.
    I’m in Australia for a few days and found my old fountain pen, so have done a couple of sketches with that… it!

    • Hi Lorraine,
      Glad you like the quick sketches. I sure have a lot of fun doing them. I’m almost surprised to hear that someone things I encouraged them to use a pen as most of the time I’m railing against all the ‘real men use pen only ‘ stuff you read on the internet (grin). But it is true that it’s my tool of choice. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is in the eye of the beholder. I do like your sketches though, regardless of the pointy device you use. Happy New Year.

      Cheers — Larry

  2. Happy New Year to you, too! Thanks for the pen review. And that’s actually quite a bit of sketching for a self-proclaimed sloth! 😉

    • Hi TIna. I probably shouldn’t have called it a review as it was more about me and holidays. Heck, I realized that I didn’t even provide a photo of the pen. My quick sketch of it is as close as I got to depicting it at all.

      It’s funny this sketching stuff. I do two kinds…at least two kinds. Some are deliberate, sit down and draw sketches. Then there’s the constant river of little sketches I do, as much to train my hand as anything else but I wonder sometimes which type is the more important to me.

      Cheers — Larry

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