Is the Zebra F-701 Worth It in 2020?

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The best pen is the one with you, but if it’s the one you accidentally walked out of the doctor’s office with, you might want to up your game. You know the one: the cheapie, plastic ballpoint pen that’s uncomfortable to write with and disposable by design, doomed to the garbage bin once it’s out of ink. You could opt for a machined metal pen with that buy-it-for-life durability for EDC duty, but those can get spendy real fast. There is, however, one all-metal, tried-and-true clicky pen that doesn’t break the bank: the Zebra F-701. It’s been a crowd favorite for years, and after some more recent updates, it begs the question: should you still buy one in 2020?


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Zebra’s F-701 is an all-metal clicky pen with a knurled grip, rigid steel body, and strong pocket clip. The click mechanism is nice and quiet to operate and demands a firm press – excellent if you don’t want it opening accidentally in your pocket. The stepped tip of the pen is designed to stay out of the way while you’re writing so you can get a clear view of what’s going onto the page. Inside, there’s a Zebra ballpoint refill that lays down a 0.8mm line with ease. The best part? It will only cost you a hair over five bucks. In the past, the F-701 was not made entirely of metal, so people would mod their pens with the click mechanism and hardware from the F-401 model. On our site, the F-701 is extremely popular and is carried by students, businessmen, EMTs, and more. It has universal appeal, and for good reason.

Is It Worth Buying One Today?


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We can can say the Zebra F-701 is definitely still worth buying today. With the updated design, it’s the best it’s ever been. Zebra clearly took notice of their fans who would take the time and spend extra money to buy two pens and mod them into one. As a result, they now include the hardware from the F-401 on the F-701 as stock. For just over $5, an all-metal pen with a knurled grip section is an incredible bargain. You can even use Fisher Space Pen refills in the F-701 for the write-anywhere experience. If you don’t want to drop serious cash on a pen, but want something more substantial than a disposable, the F-701 is still the best option.

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Other Options to Consider

Since the F-701 is a great bargain at an entry-level price point, your other options will likely run you more money. With that said, you get what you pay for, from different design language or materials all the way up to enthusiast-level features. Here are a few at some different price points to consider:

  • Up your game (just a little) – rOtring Rapidpro Ballpoint: rOtring is a German brand known for making rock-solid writing instruments. The all metal body adds some extra heft over the Zebra too. Another bonus is that it comes in a coated and slightly textured black finish – a perfect match for stealthy EDCs. (~$23)
  • A more robust option – The James Brand Benton Click Pen: The James Brand is a trusted name in EDC gear, and they’ve recently designed a pen. At $60, it falls somewhere in the middle of the premium EDC pen price range. It features a laser-etched grip, 304 stainless steel barrel, and a lanyard loop integrated into the click mechanism. You can snag one in raw stainless, black, or a pleasing shade of grey. ($60)
  • Pen nerds, rejoice – BigiDesign Ti Click EDC: If you’re looking for the ultimate custom writing experience, BigiDesign has you covered. Their pen is designed to seamlessly accept hundreds of different refills. The body extends to fit them, while the proprietary collet grip ensures that each refill will write without “tip wiggle”. On top of that, it’s machined from solid grade-5 titanium. ($100)

Have you carried the F-701? Did you feel the need to upgrade at all? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this EDC classic in the comments below.

Header image courtesy of James in the US.

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