My first experience with Zebra steel was the F-301. It had a steel barrel and I thought it was sufficiently utilitarian enough to survive the rigors of my warehouse workplace. It wasn't long after buying it that I set it aside to languish in the junk drawer.
Fast forward a few years to a truck stop on the side of Highway 99. As I stretched my legs and walked through the convenience store I saw the Zebra F-701 hanging from a peg near spiral bound pocket memo pads and truckers log books. I pulled the pen from the peg and walked out pleased with my purchase but also a little wary that this might become a pen that would be quickly set aside just as its cousin had.
Out of the package I could feel the difference immediately. Where the F-301 had only been partially steel the entire body construction of the F-701 is steel. There is a nice heft to the pen without it being overly heavy. The bulk of the weight seems to be contained in the knurled grip. This gives the pen a nice balance. In hand the F-701 feels like a pen with a purpose.
I tend to shy away from click-type retractable pens. The tendency for these pens to rattle as they write drives me crazy so I generally don't give them a second thought. The F-701 is as solidly built as it appears. With the refill extended there is almost no hint of rattle. This is a pen that is made to survive a variety of working conditions.
The pen came pre-loaded with a 0.7 Zebra refill. The line it puts out feels a little closer to a 0.5. The ink flows smoothly on the page but can feel a little light. If being used on anything but a white paper the color and line might get swallowed by the background. I have read a few places that the pen can be modified to accept a Parker style refill. I've not yet tried that as it requires the removal of the tip guide from the pen. Once I make it through this refill I'll give it a try.
The F-701 has become an everyday carry for it resides quite comfortably in my One Star Leather Park Sloper, Senior.