Zebra F-701 Pen Review

Zebra F-701Since moving to a plainclothes job, I started to re-examine my daily load out.  Seems it no longer qualifies as such.  The utility of a duty belt and cargo pockets has given way to the functionally spartan nature of dress shirts and slacks.  In both Patrol and CID, a writing instrument is required.  I decided I needed something less than a full blown “tactical pen,” but more than a plastic clicky pen.  Thus, I bought a Zebra F-701.

An Internet darling, the Zebra F-701 is a stainless steel barreled retractable ballpoint pen with a 0.7mm fine writing tip.  The pen’s overall length is 5 3/8″ and its weight is 1.1 ounce.  It features a steel pocket clip and a nice texture on the lower portion of the barrel for a non-slip grip when writing.


Zebra’s F-701 looks like it belongs on some 1960-era rocket scientist’s drafting table.  The retro appearance comes from the straight brushed-finish barrel and textured knurling.  The mirrored clicker, tip, and clip provide a third surface treatment.  F-701’s expensive guise does not belie its reasonable price, which hovers between five and eight dollars, depending on the vendor.

Important to my current “uniform,” the F-701’s clip is smoothly engineered so as to not cut into the top of a pocket.  Some less well made pens have clips which are folded metal that have sharp inner edges that can shred fabric.  As you can imagine, I do not like exceeding my yearly clothing allowance.

As I said, this pen is the stuff of Internet fandom, however, despite the F-701’s solid look, it is not a replacement for a Kubotan.  The barrel is made of two roughly 1/16th inch walled steel tubes press fit together at the seam where the knurling meets the brushed finish.  Because of this, the F-701 cannot be used to apply lateral pressure for joint locks.  That said, I was still interested in its strength for jabbing.

In my secret testing laboratory (garage), I stacked 10 layers of cardboard, wrapping them in two layers of brown packing tape.  I backed this with plywood.  Overall, I thought it made for a decent analog to soft tissue and bone.  Donning a leather glove, eye protection, a ballistic helmet, full body armor, and a cup, I stabbed the Zebra F-701 into the test medium.  Okay, I only wore the glove.

After half a dozen full power hammer grip strikes, I found that the pen easily penetrated eight layers of cardboard.  The F-701 suffered no damage.  It clicked and retracted normally and wrote as it did before the workout.  Its barrel did not loosen.  Last ditch defense?  Yes it can.

IMG_1997 IMG_1993

In researching the pen, I found out that there are many forums devoted to writing instruments.  Who knew?  Posts and videos are available to show one how to modify the F-701 to hold a Fisher Space Pen refill or to replace the clicker with the all-metal clicker from a Zebra F-402 pen.  Neither is necessary, in my opinion.

I saw the Zebra F-701 for sale on amazon.com today for $5.18.  That is a great price for a pretty cool pen.  I’ll just keep handing out Bics with the statement forms…


This entry was posted in Detectives, Misc., Officer Safety, Street and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Zebra F-701 Pen Review

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *