While I was out of town last week, I happened into a local drugstore chain and just had to walk down the office supplies aisle. What can I say? A week without this blog and all you wonderful readers and I was going through a bit of withdrawal. So, I was thrilled to find this Zebra V-301 refillable fountain pen. It cost less than $4 and came with two refill cartridges. It is a standard length, approxiamately 5.25″ long capped, 4.5″ from nib to barrel end and a little more than 5.75″ long with the cap posted. It weighs 16gms with the cartridge loaded.
The chart above was included to give you some weight comparisons.
Zebra lists the barrel as steel with hard plastic ridges at the grip area. The cap snaps on very tightly and will also snap to the end of the barrel to post with a click. Hopefully, over time, the cap will not be quite so hard to click on and off. Its a bit stiff.
The nib is a simple steel nib that I’d describe it as half-hooded.
I placed the nib next to my standard-sized TWSBI Diamond 540 for comparison. Can you see how much of the nib is covered? It would allow someone with a very low grip to hold the pen very close to the nib but this half-hooded look probably provides a bit of durability for the nib as well.
Shown above is the pen with the cap posted on the end. All in all, for $4, its not a bad looking pen. I am hoping that over time the printed text on the barrel will rub off making the pen even more aesthetically appealing. What is it with some pen companies putting huge logos on their pens?
For the writing test, I transcribed the information that was included on the back of the blister pack. It writes like a medium nib though it is not labelled as such. I would compare its writing performance to the Muji fountain pen though I have continued to use it over the course of the week and it is writing more smoothly each time.
After my less than pleasant comments about the Pilot Varsity, which is a fountain pen at a similar price point, I am pleasantly surprised. Is it as silky to use a Kaweco Sport or as write-right-now as the TWSBIs? No. For the price point though, its pretty nice.
Its refillable, though it does take Zebra proprietary cartridges ($2.10 for two) but the cartridges could be refilled using the syringe method. If someone asked me for an under-$5 fountain pen, I’d probably recommend this pen though I’m always inclined to talk them into spending closer to $20-$25 for a better pen. It was a lovely surprise to find among the Bic Stix and 3×5 lined notecards at CVS.