The M-301 is a rather dinky looking smallish polished steel and black plastic pencil. As you might expect it is also rather lightweight. These factors combine to make me think of it as a notebook or compendium pencil, rather than a fulltime everyday office pencil.
The plastic grip section has horizontal and vertical grooves which cut the surface into tiny squares and actually make quite a good grip. I commend them for not sticking a rubber grip on instead! The lead sleeve is a fixed 3mm thin pipe. I’m a little surprised by this. A retractable sleeve would fit better with my idea that this pencil is aimed at the pocket, purse, notebook, compendium segment of the market. The lead advance mechanism is a push top ratchet – 10 clicks will get you 6mm of lead. My pencil is 0.5mm lead. “Japan”, “Zebra M-301” and “.5” are clearly printed in black on the main barrel of the pencil. The “0.5” is particularly prominent, which is good. Underneath the top cap is a small eraser and you remove that to access the lead refill chamber.
The pocket clip is a plain but strong and functional steel strip.
- Best Points – Small solid pencil, good for a compendium, etc. The price is probably a good point too.
- Not So Good Points – Lead sleeve not retractable.
- Price Range – Low.
Dimensions – Length 133mm, diameter 9mm. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.
Now that was a pretty short review by my standards. I’ve got to admit that overall Zebra is one of those brands that tend to leave me a little flat. I’m not really sure why. Their pencils are perfectly good products, I guess it’s just that somehow I don’t associate them with innovation or cutting edge design or outstanding quality or…, they tend to be just more of the same. Am I being unfair here?
Footnote – It was a long time ago, but my M-301 was a freebie from Cult Pens.