ARC and Levenger are what I call the ‘original’ discbound brands that have been around for years (my ARC notebooks are 8 years old!) Both of these brands have a punch compatible with their refill pages and accessories. However, since both of these brands offer US and half US Letter (Junior) page sizes and the same number of discs, disc size and spacing. You can actually use the 2 interchangeably.
The ARC has one big sturdy punch (my favorite discbound punch ever) while the Levenger has 3 punches to choose from:
- Universal desk punch (which is similar to the ARC)
- 1-2-3 Portable punch
- Leverage Punch
As the Levenger’s 1-2-3 portable punch is cheaper I’m assuming most people will be interested in the quality of that version so let’s compare it to the ARC.
Since I know I’ll be asked how these punches compare to the MAMBI Happy Planner Punch I’ll include some notes about that punch as well.
I’ve done a detailed comparison table with all of the info in this post (and a few more ‘good to know’ things). You can download a printable version here. Existing subscribers can login to the library and download the printable here.
ARC vs. MAMBI vs. Levenger 1 – 2 – 3 Portable punch
As prices vary depending on where you order the punch from and where you are located in the world, I will rank them from least to most expensive instead of stating prices.
- Levenger 1-2-3 Portable Punch
- MAMBI Happy Planner classic size
- Universal desk punch (which is similar to the ARC)
- Levenger Leverage Punch
- MAMBI Happy Planner Big Size
- 5” x 12.7cm high (when locked / for storing), 9.25” x 23.5cm high (when unlocked)
- The punch has a lock on the top of it that raises the handle up when you’re ready to punch, and then lock it back down when you want to store it
- This punch is the heaviest of the three punches.
The Happy Planner classic size punch
- 3.25″ / 8cm wide x 11″ / 28cm / long x 2.5″ / 6cm high
- This punch does not have a lock
- This punch is quite heavy.
The Levenger 1-2-3 punch
- 1.75″ / 4.5cm wide 11.5″ / 29cm long 1.25″ / 3cm high
- This punch is split into 3 sections, each with it’s own lock
- This punch weighs practically nothing!
ARC & Levenger punches
- Can punch any page size up to US letter (8.5 x 11″)
- Have a slider you can use to quickly and easily line up the punch for the page size you want to use
- Same disc size
- Same spacing between the discs
- Tray underneath the punch to collect the paper clippings
- Punch through paper or cardstock (I’ve tested up to 100GSM thick paper and it was fine for both punches)
Arc Punch Only
- Has a mark on the slider for A4 and A5 page sizes (Australian and UK page sizes)
- Punch up to 10 sheets at a time (although I typically do 5)
- Can punch through laminate *
* The Levenger Universal desk punch looks similar to the ARC so I expect it would be able to punch through laminate as well.
The ARC has a huge paper tray to collect the clippings
The ARC punch can punch through laminate
It’s hard to see in this photo but the ARC punch has a slider to help you perfectly align the holes for A5, A4, Junior (half US letter size) and US letter size
Levenger 1-2-3 Punch Only
- Very lightweight (much lighter than the ARC)
- Micro page size
- Either dark blue or an olive green to choose from in the 1-2-3
- 3 sections to push down when you punch (compared to just one big lever on the ARC)
- The 1-2-3 punch I would do no more than 3 pages otherwise it’s too hard to punch through the pages
The 1-2-3 punch is set up with 3 sections you need to push to punch the holes for the entire length of the page. I find it easier to just punch the 3 separately. When I tried to punch all 3 at once the paper was more prone to slipping so the mushroom holes ended up crooked.
The 3 sections might be for non-standard page sizes so you don’t accidentally punch through half a mushroom hole.
Disc hole comparison
I’ve done a comparison of the different holes and disc spacing. The Levenger and ARC are similar. Same disc size and spacing, the only thing that’s different is the size of the mushroom hole – it’s bigger on the Levenger.
Here is the Levenger and the ARC in one of my ARC notebooks. As you can see it’s not noticeable so you could use the Levenger punch for the ARC notebook and vise versa.
Left = Levenger, middle = ARC, right = Happy Planner
ARC & Levenger Circa
If you use A5 page size in the Levenger Circa it won’t align perfectly as the Levenger is half US letter page size. I.e. same scenario at the ARC A5 and TUL. If you get the half US letter page size options for both, then the 2 would be compatible.
Are these punches compatible with MAMBI (Happy Planner)?
It’s important to note that neither of these punches are perfectly compatible with the MAMBI Happy Planner. The Happy Planner’s page size (classic and the mini in particular) are not standard page sizes. I do not have a letter size Happy Planner (page size is far too big for me) but there are 11 discs in the big Happy Planner and 11 discs in the Levenger and ARC.
You can use the ARC punch with the Happy Planner but it won’t quite line up perfectly. The stems before the half mushroom are longer in the Happy Planner than the ARC. You can use the 2 together, but the edges of the pages where the holes have been punched will be more prone to scuffs if you remove and rearrange pages often.
As you can see in the photo below – there is quite a difference between the Levenger and MAMBI. MAMBI has much longer stems and a smaller mushroom head.
A5 ARC in the MAMBI Classic Size
Which one do I prefer?
The Levenger portable punch is perfect if you just want to punch a few pages to add to your planner, but I wouldn’t use it for punching an entire planner as it would take far too long.
I prefer the ARC punch. I’ve used this punch for 8 years and it’s still going strong. It can punch through many sheets at a time as well as laminate if you want to make your own custom notebook / planner covers. The giant lever / handle makes punching very easy and has a huge tray to collect the paper clippings. I also prefer the ARC as I’m located in Australia and it’s punch has a slider to quickly do A5 and A4 page sizes.
The Levenger always has good quality products so I assume it’s desktop punch is a similar quality to the ARC and able to punch through more pages and laminate than the 1-2-3 portable punch.
If you’re in the USA, the TUL discbound system has the same disc size, spacing and page size as the Levenger so you could also try the TUL punch.
Other discbound punches
The Dokibook Discagenda has a punch but it can punch one hole only at a time which is far too fiddly and time consuming for me to bother with it.
To me, the TUL is basically a cross between the Levenger and the ARC. They do have a punch which looks a lot like the Levenger desktop punch. Since punches are so expensive to ship to Australia I do not have a copy of the TUL punch to be able to test the quality and whether it can punch through laminate.
More discbound posts:
- MAMBI Happy Planner Discbound Punch versus the ARC (are they compatible?)
- Guide to Discbound Planners & Frequently Asked Questions
- ARC by Staples versus MAMBI – Which discbound system is better?
- Where to find discs to make a discbound planner or notebook (downloadable comparison)
- 7 Ways to use dot markers in your planner or bullet journal
- MAMBI Happy Planner Mini vs. Classic vs. Big: which size is right for you
- Planning 101: Planner lingo (what does it all mean?)
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