We are very happy be counted in the Troop of Reviewers for Shoplet, and our first review package arrived last week from Zebra Pen Co.: full of various back-to-school supplies in a very tidy binder and a plush zebra with which my daughter has already absconded. We have been asked to review the Zebra M-301 mechanical pencil (0.05mm) and the new Z-mulsion EX pen. The latter’s review will appear on my other site in a few days (for Pen Lovers out there). At Pencil Revoltuion HQ, we don’t typically review mechanical pencils (and with a site like Dave’s, that’s more than covered!), but we’ve done it before. In for a penny…
Comrades might recognize what’s become the iconic shape and build of a steel Zebra pen in the form of the M-301. I’ve always liked that pen, and I have a brother who used to be very very taken with them. The grip is plastic and well-shaped. The “grid” is neither too sharp to cause pain nor too round to defeat it’s own purpose. Here, the metal sleeve through which the lead meets the world — and the paper — does not retract with the lead. While less moving parts can lead to less break-downs, this non-moving part can lead to a small puncture wound. However, we’re all intelligent, no? Even your Faithful Editor has not yet managed (knocks wood) to stab himself with this pencil, and to say that I am Accident Prone would be very charitable to me.
The eraser is revealed by removing the cap of the click mechanism. This little eraser appears to be glossy white plastic. I found that it removes the graphite reasonably well, without marring the paper. It’s by no means fantastic, and it is very small. But I assume Comrades who frequently erase large areas generally have a larger, softer eraser nearby. In the Field, this little guy/gal certainly does the job. The click mechanism itself is downright punchy. The parts engage crisply with more of a “snap” than a “click.” Two to three snaps, and there’s enough lead to tackle anything. More may be necessary to skewer cheese cubes or small pickles, but another Comrade’s morsels may be beyond what a 0.05mm lead can pick up anyway.
The details on this pencil are very pleasing for this price range. The clip is tight and holds on to the cover of a Field Notes or my shirt nicely. I am a fan of Zebra’s graphics in general, and the classy print on this pen is no exception. Noted is the word “JAPAN,” printed prominently on the barrel of this pencil. This does not appear on the matching pen, which I assume was not produced in that nation famed for its production excellence.
In all, this is a very nice pencil for being under $5, and you can often get a pair for that price. It doesn’t look cheap enough to make a Comrade look sloppy at a meeting, and it doesn’t look fancy enough to disappear from an office pencil cup. I will be holding onto this pencil, for my immediate 0.05mm needs. In fact, I will be searching for the newish M-701, the counterpart to my favorite steel Zebra pen, the gnarly F-701. Thanks to Zebra and Shoplet for the review samples!