"Hello, Geezer! I've got your Zebra Color Flight 0.3mm Mechanical Pencil. Remember, the one you should have reviewed months ago!"
"Oh, Yeah! I remember! I guess I should review it, Huh!?"
The 0.3 mm pencil has long been strictly a drafting pencil. Just why I'm not sure. It probably has something to do with the fact the lead tends to break easily and the fact that it produces such a thin line. But by far it has been my favorite lead size for over 40 years. The fact that it was only offered in a more expensive (generally) drafting pencil instead of a mechanical pencil (there are subtle differences between the 2) was OK by me. Then a few years ago I saw a 0.3mm mechanical pencil advertised. I was unable at the time to obtain one so I never got to examine one. I don't even know who made it! But when I saw the Zebra Color Flight 03 at JetPens a few of months ago I had to get one.
The eraser is kind of funky and to me a bit more complicated to use than it could be. There is a bright, shinny chrome metal sleeve around the plastic holder. This makes it a bit hard for me to get a grip on. But once I do get a grip on it it twists out, clockwise. The best way to extend the eraser is to hold the tube and turn the pencil! There is a locking clip at the end of the translucent plastic square shaped screw shaft that the sleeve rides on. This clip locks the eraser's tube onto the lead reservoir tube so that it doesn't fall out, enables the tube to twist and act as a push button. Like I wrote, a bit more complicated than it needs to be!
Stats! Everybody likes stats! So, here are some stats on the Zebra Color Flight 03 Mechanical Pencil. It's 144.52 mm long making it of average length for a mechanical pencil. It is 8.55 mm across the flats of it's hexagonal body. It weighs a mere 9.6 grams making it an ultralight! So if you like the thin and light you'll like this one! It's balance point is approximately 75.17 mm from the tip making it imperceptively bottom heavy. 2 clicks is all it takes to produce enough lead to write with. That's it for stats!... Well, there's not much to report about the stats! So, moving on...
So, how does it feel and write? The hexagonal body feel nice in my hand. I like it's size. The push button is easy to operate, the spring tension being just about perfect. However (yep, here it comes) the pencil is far too light for me. I'm used to and like a heavier pencil. I found that I was breaking lead a lot more often than I do with my other 0.3 mm pencils! I am using an Ohto Super Promecha PM 1503P 0.3mm pencil which weighs twice the weight of the Color Flight and I rarely break lead when using it. But I discovered that the problem wasn't so much the weight of the pencil but that funky piece of plastic at the tip of the pencil (told you there would be more about that later)!
Most mechanical/drafting pencils of the ratcheting type have an internal lead keeper or restraint. The purpose is to keep the lead from riding back up inside the pencil or from falling out the pencil as the ratcheting action monetarily releases the lead before once again securing it enabling the user to use the pencil. However the Zebra Color Flight has this restraint on the exterior of the pencil! Because of the design the lead sleeve is secured not to the end cap via metal to metal contact but by the the plactic lead restraint! This allows too much deflectio of the lead sleeve causing lead breakage. If you are a heavy handed writer then you'd break lead too often to make practical use of the pencil.
However (yeah, there's another 'however'), if I only use one click to extend the lead, producing about .5mm's worth of lead instead of the 1mm's worth that 2 clicks produce then I find that I don't break lead, but I do have to extend the lead much more often. I can also feel the lead sleeve drag across the paper as I write.
Bottom line: I have mixed feelings about the Zebra Color Flight 03 Mechanical Pencil. I want to like it, but it has so many quirks that I don't believe that it would make a good every day mechanical pencil. I don't like it's ultralight status as I mentioned before, I like heavier pencils, middleweights to heavyweights. While I think for a little more money one can do better in picking a 0.3mm pencil (many drafting pencils sell for under $10.00 and are much better pencils) for someone who wants a 0.3mm mechcanical pencil for under $5.00 that has an external eraser, as long as you can put up with the quirks, then try a Zebra Color Flight 03 Mechanical Pencil, available from our frinds at JetPens.