Zebra Tele-Scopic Ball Point Pen

11 05 2011

I almost, ALMOST got the purple toned right on this. Almost.

I picked this up out of curiosity during some trip to one of the big box office supply stores. I forget which one. Do they really carry selections so different from one another? No.

It is a mini pen! Wait noo it is a full-sized pen! WAIT BOTH!

The design seems evocative of, oh I don’t know, accountants and banking. Very sleek, you know, with the silver barrel looking like some kind of architectural column. Or like the legs of a robot’s pinstriped pants. Then there’s the dark, slick upper barrel looking like the soulless depths of some fat cat’s black obsidian desk…this metaphor is going to get away from me soon, so I’ll just drop it.

There’s a lot of metal in this pen, so it has a nice weight to it. Not super heavy, but good to hold. The size of the pen when compact is small enough to easily tuck into a pocket or clip unobtrusively to the side of a checkbook (or something like a checkbook, but not as obsolete), and when extended is the size of a regular ballpoint pen. Of course, if the size of a regular ballpoint pen isn’t your thing, then this is the pen for you. The silver barrel only needs to be pulled about 6 millimeters out for the tip of the refill inside to be fully exposed and ready to write, so you can extend the pen to any length between full extension and tip barely poking out for the pen to work. There’s nothing to snap or lock in place, just telescope it out as far as you like and then write (should I say telescope? It’s really only a two piece telescope, if we want to pretend it’s a telescope. I’m sorry, it’s not a telescope, it’s just telescopic. Moving on).

The writing core poking out of its protective sheath

The ballpoint pen refill that the pen comes with is not particularly exciting. I had a lot fewer globbing problems with this ballpoint than with most ballpoints, but I think that’s because each individual line it lays down involves far less ink than is standard. If you look at the writing sample closely, you’ll note how most of the marks, especially single-pass marks, have a sort of grainy quality to them; this is because the surface of the page is not 100% smooth, and ink isn’t getting in the minuscule texture valleys of the paper. It gives the pen some good sketching potential, with easier control over lighter ranges of shading, but for writing, whatever.

What you should get excited about with this pen is that you can put Zebra’s Sharbo X refills in it. Ballpoint AND gel. I was first clued in to this Zebra trick in The Pen Addict’s review of the Zebra Penpod mini keychain pen, and I thought when I took this Tele-Scopic apart, I wonder if the same will work here too…

Just put it back together like this, only do not bring the barrel in at that angle. That should actually go on the left. The other way is just wrong.

I was very excited to find that this actually works, especially since I am in the “kind-of-want-but-can’t-pay-that-much-money-for-it” camp regarding the Sharbo X. Now I can have 1/3 of the Sharbo X multipen writing experience, instead of what I had before, which was a bunch of refills I couldn’t use because the Penpod is nearly impossible to write with comfortably. But that’s another review.

So you’ve got a simple, classy, inexpensive, compact-for-travel-full-size-for-writing pen body AND the option of oodles of refills. I can’t find much to complain about here.

Moving on to the finer points in life...

I can’t find a link online to this pen on any of the big box websites (neither Staples, Office Max, nor Office Depot), but I know I got mine from one of those, and it came in a two pack. Here’s the info, but no point of sale, on the Zebra website. I trust you guys can figure it out. Also, I’m not sure if this is in the stores or not, but Zebra’s Tele-Scopic line also has a series with brightly colored upper barrels, if the slick-black business pen look isn’t for you. Once you’ve got your pen body of choice, load it up with some Sharbo X Gel Ink refills or some Sharbo X ballpoint refills from JetPens, and you will be cooking with the metaphorical dynamite of excitement that is pen modification.

Get a red barrel for a more convincing simulacrum of dynamite when wielding metaphors



15 responses

11 05 2011
Economy Pens

What kind of camera are you using for your close-ups? The photos look great!

I was wondering about this pen, but I think I will pass. Thanks for the review!

13 05 2011
No Pen Intended

Thanks! :) Camera is a Nikon Coolpix P80; you can see a picture of it here: https://nopenintended.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/meta-review-behind-the-curtain/ It’s a really great camera; I think I’ve taken over 20,000 pictures with it now since I got it back in 2008?

18 05 2011
Economy Pens

Even though it is a few years old, that camera seems to be selling quite well. Thanks for linking me to your process – good stuff. :)

I, too, find GIMP to be frustrating, so I need to work on my Photoshop abilities. All in due time.

18 05 2011
No Pen Intended

My biggest problem is that Photoshop is on my big, non-portable desktop at home, and GIMP is on both of my highly portable (but probably too old to use Photoshop anyway, even if I had/could afford extra copies of Photoshop) laptops. In the interests of trying to stick to a regular posting schedule AND maintaining the rest of my normal life, I’ve had to compromise and use GIMP a lot when Photoshop would’ve been so much better (but delayed the release of a post significantly)

19 05 2011
Michæl Atchison

How did you get it apart? I’m ordering my gel refills now.

19 05 2011
No Pen Intended

Ok, using this picture as reference: https://nopenintended.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/dscn0361.jpg
Unscrew the part that, in the disassembled version, is furthest to the right. Then take off the spring. Then pull off that next metal thing. Now you should be at the refill. Just pull it out and you’re good to go. :)

30 07 2011

Can you swap the ink cartridge for a mechanical pencil component? I just bought a 2 pack. And, I’d LOVE to convert one of them to a telescoping pencil!

27 08 2011
No Pen Intended

Hmm not sure. I haven’t tried the mechanical pencil component in any of the Sharbo X refill-accepting pens yet. I’ll throw one in my next JetPens order and report back on the matter

9 11 2011
Zebra SL-F1 Mini Ballpoint Pen – 0.7 mm – Black Body – Black Ink « No Pen Intended

[…] extended, it ends up being slightly shorter than Zebra’s Telescopic (at least, as far as I can recall, since all of my Zebra Telescopic pens have buried themselves in […]

29 11 2011
Ink Drop Soup – The SpongePen « No Pen Intended

[…] a commemorative pen for Fantasy Diamond’s 50th anniversary. I’ve also heard that the Zebra Telescoping Pen works well for this purpose. What's that? A bird? A fungus? A sea cucumber? No! IT IS A […]

16 12 2011
RTZNJay Griffin

I have one quibble with the Zebra Telescopic Pen which maybe you or another interested reader can help address. The overall form factor is very nice for me and pocketable, but the tip tends not to want to stay completely enclosed.

As you say, it doesn’t take much telescopic travel to reveal the cartridge tip, but I find it slides too easy and thus will mark up the inside of your pocket/whatever.

Even if I keep it inside of my pocket book (I carry around an 80 sheet Narrow Rule 4.5″ x 3.25″ Composition Book made by Top Flight Paper) I always find the pen tip exposed just a bit the next time I open the book.

Wondering if the barrel needs to be compressed a little tighter. I’ve got 4 of these pens, but they all suffer the same behavior…maybe a little less so when they are new, but once they loosen up a bit, doesn’t seem to be anything that can be done about it other than be careful where you stash the pen.

11 09 2012

Help! I was given one of these pens, I’ve bought a new refill and I can’t get it back together. And there’s ink everywhere. The strangest thing is that the new refill came with a spring and no spring came out when I took the pen apart. Don’t know if you can help, but I don’t know who else can!

19 10 2012
No Pen Intended

Hmm let me find mine and see if I can tell what’s going on.

23 05 2015

I have two, one of which stays extended by about a millimeter beyond the protective sheath when retracted. As far as I can tell, there is a plastic tube inside the pen against which metal sheath rests in its retracted state. The one that stays extended seems slightly shorter than the one that works properly and is not firmly holding the metal sheath in the closed position.

31 10 2016

I can open the pen but how do you get the refill out? It seems really stuck. I don’t want to break the pen. Thank you

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