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Best Mechanical Pencils Reviewed for Drafting, Writing and Graphics

Long gone are the days when wooden led pencils would be all the rage. Now, we have got mechanical pencils from the likes of Kuru Toga, Pentel, PaperMate and so on. These have taken the game much further than what the traditional lead pencils were. Some of the best mechanical pencils available now are much more advanced than that.

Everyone should be writing with a pencil that they can use for a long period of time. For that matter, the comfort level of a pencil needs to be high. Also, if you are spending money on something it should have some degree of quality right? In other words, you’d want to buy nothing but the best. And for that reason we have written up this detailed buyers guide and product review.

Best Mechanical Pencils Reviewed; What to Buy and Where

Measuring the quality of a mechanical pencil requires being attentive to a number of factors. For instance, what is the cost of the product, how good is the grip and its material, how good is the lead advancement system and also the lead size and grade.

Similarly, you should check if there is any lead cushioning, will there be a cap or will it retract back and the list goes on. Now that you have seen it can get complicated for a buyer to find out all that information about the product. Let us help you find the best mechanical pencils for you.

Top Pick

Top Pick

Pentel GraphGear 1000

Top Quality, High End Features!

While it is expensive than some of the other similar models, it is still leading the chart of best mechanical pencils by far. You are talking about an automatic pencil with highly durable clip, grip and clicking mechanism.

Top quality of lead movement mechanism, high polymer lead, and the looks of a luxurious brand. The GraphGear 1000 was and still is one of the best pencils out there.

Best Budget Alternative

Best Budget Alternative

PaperMate 34666PP Clearpoint

You Get Five of These For One of The Rest

Clearly, not everyone wants to spend more than a small amount on pencils. This Paper Mate mechanical pencil is not only cheap but also provides very decent writing quality. Many of the testers highly approved this.

Although there are a number of the more advanced features missing on the Clearpoint, it costs only a dime as compared to other competitors here. Very good quality of writing, and a clear barrel that lets you see through to the level of lead remaining.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil

One name that we hear ever so often alongside Uni Kuru Toga is Pentel mechanical pencils. These guys have been in the business long enough for them to carve out just the right drafting pencil for you. What’s more we have even picked up one of the iconic Pentel pencils out there: the Pentel GraphGear 1000.

For those who are new, the GraphGear 1000 is an automatic drafting pencil from the traditional line of style. The default lead that comes with it is HB and the pencil is available in 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm and 0.9 mm, with combo pack options.

Our testers confirm that the size of the tip is 0.5 mm, but they also assure that it isn’t among the best mechanical pencils for some gimmicks. Rather, it relies on solid and conventional aspects as well as aesthetics.

It comes with a tapered 4 mm tip and a very high polymer lead inside. All that is good, but we could have done better with another design for the clip.

The praise is for some really lasting grip thanks to dotted latex as well as a long lasting clicking and clip mechanism. Pentel GraphGear 1000 has a rather heavy design with cold metal that feels and appears solid. Even the eraser is of great quality.

Pros

  • Solid Traditional Design
  • Tapered 4 mm Tip
  • Dotted Latex Grip

Cons

  • Pocket Clip is Too Obstructive
  • Doesn’t Follow Modernist Design

Uni Kuru Toga Roulette

The original Uni Ball Kuru Toga came a long time ago and brought with it a major shift in how pencil brands design their quality mechanical pencils. The Japanese name stands for something constantly rotating to form a tapered, sharp point. Isn’t that exactly what we want to stop the lead turning into a flat wedge?

Now with the KuruToga Roulette 0.5 mm, Uni Ball has ensured that the circular lead turns even sharper instead of wearing down. This revolutionary technology of the Kuru Toga pencils isn’t the only reason why they are regarded as one of the best mechanical pencils out there. The size and weight balance (0.48 oz) is near perfect too.

Due to this, you get enough weight to give your marks some personality and light enough to ensure that you don’t get tired in your hands soon. There could be some graphic artist who might have wanted a heavier model though. This is because weight aids in producing good line quality.

Just like Kuru Toga Advance, the design, aesthetics and style of the Kuru Toga Roulette are state of the art. It also has a tapered end that allows you to keep an eye on what you are writing or drawing. So you see there are a number of reasons why our reviewers believe the Uni Kuru Toga is one of the best mechanical pencils you can buy.

Pros

  • Balanced Design
  • Rotating Lead Keeps Point Sharp
  • Tapered Tip

Cons

  • Will Need Refilling Guide
  • Lightweight for Some Graphic Artists

Zebra M-701

The Zebra M-702 is a very straight forward mechanical pencil. Yet, the goodwill of the company pushed us to try out at least one of Zebra’s best mechanical pencils. As a result, the beauty with a stainless steel design caught our eye.

Since Zebra usually makes the best pencils with stainless steel, it is one way to get yourself a collection of writing gear that looks good. Not to forget how the steel body ensures that the contents stay safe, making the M-701 more durable than many.

This metal mechanical pencil also has a steel grip but it has been knurled to add more grip. Our testers have also found the knurling to be very helpful in stability of pencil writing without digging into the hands.

However, it appears that in order to give it a more high-quality feel, the company ended up adding more steel to it. As a result the weight of the lead pencil is a little more than desired. Some of the best drawing pencils would try to stay a little lightweight.

Despite the downside, this is one of the best Zebra mechanical pencils.

Pros

  • Heavy Duty Stainless Steel
  • Mid Range Price
  • Good Design

Cons

  • No Lead Rotation
  • Slightly Heavy

Pentel Sharp P205

One of the most searched for products among the Pentel pencils is the Pentel P205 alongside the Pentel Sharp Kerry. While the Kerry looks like a pen until you have seen the point, the Pentel P205 takes inspiration from sleek designs of the old days.

Why is it one of the best mechanical pencils? Well for starters it is much slimmer than the Pentel Sharp Kerry and quite handier in comparison. It has a lead point with an HB level of lead hardness. Pentel states that you will be using super high polymer head for the refills.

There are a total of three point sizes that you can choose from which are 0.5mm, 0.7mm and 0.9mm. And in terms of barrel colors you have even more options. Black, Burgundy, Green, Marble Green and Marble Bronze are available in 0.5 mm, there is a Blue in 0.7 mm and a Yellow in 0.9 mm.

We feel that the tip of the Pentel pencils always works well with rulers, the Pentel P205 has a 4 mm tip design and it is no different. The eraser is comparatively bigger although the body and grip is rather slimmer than required.

However, with the introduction of more high end mechanical pencils, the P205 has lost at least some of its charm. It is not very expensive, but it also doesn’t look the part.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Slimmer Design
  • Impressive design

Cons

  • Basic in Features
  • Feels Cheap in Hand

PaperMate 34666PP Clearpoint

The first and only PaperMate mechanical pencil to make the cut here was the 34666PP Clearpoint. However, the reason why it was picked up to be among the best mechanical pencils that we reviewed was how budget friendly it is.

It has a side click lead advancement mechanism, something that is not seen in every pencil. Truly, it doesn’t have the features or the looks of a high quality product, but it does the most basic job very well. The writing quality of the PaperMate mechanical pencil feels pretty good.

During the review it was one of the comfortable choice for pencil writing although it doesn’t have the best eraser in case you mess up something. True that you will also have to slide down the lead with the side button, and that is pale in comparison to the automatic mechanical pencils out there. But wait until you know the price.

It is only a couple of bucks, and for that you get writing quality that can really be put to test against some of the best pencils out there – and that too in all the colors of the rainbow!

As far as the eraser is concerned, almost all of us buy erasers separately, don’t we? Anyhow, writing well and being affordable is not the only plus point that the Paper Mate mechanical pencil has. It also has a clear body so you can keep a check on how much lead is left. The only place covered is the grip which is colored and textured.

Pros

  • Very Affordable
  • Good Quality of Writing in the Price Paid
  • Clear Barrel to Track Lead Status

Cons

  • Not the Best Quality of Product
  • Lacks High End Features

Kaweco Special (Brass and Aluminum

We have discussed Kuru Toga, and we have discussed Pentel mechanical pencils. We have gone through all sorts of pencils ranging from a drafting pencil to the best drawing pencils. We have talked about the ones that have the best eraser and we have also talked about the budget solutions for pencil writing.

Now, lets talk about the most expensive pencil in our reviews: the Kaweco Special and Special AL. These two are identical mechanical pencils, but there are two versions of design outlook that you can choose from. The Special Brass version has an all shiny aluminum body. You get the impression of a gold-plated pencil.

The other is the Special AL version which looks pretty dark and business like in all black overalls. Mind you, both of these have fully metallic bodies and yet they look the closest to those wooden pencils we used back in the days.

What’s more you can even get these polished so that they always look as good as new! It has a push button system where you can extend the lead. Moving on, it doesn’t come with a clipper but the company sells clippers separately. All in all, this is the best mechanical pencil to buy if you want to give the impression of luxury and grandeur.

It will, naturally, cost you a lot. For an idea, lets just say you could have bought dozens upon dozens of the PaperMate model we have discussed above in the price of one Kaweco Special.

Pros

  • Luxurious Design
  • All Metal (Brass and Aluminum)

Cons

  • Very Expensive
  • Clip Sold Separately
  • Push Button Lead Advancement

Buyer’s Guide

    There are varying sizes of pencil lead to choose, ranging from 0.3 mm to 5.6 mm but most of the mechanical pencils have the capacity to hold about 3 to 4 mm. As far as preferences are concerned, most of the best mechanical pencils in terms of performance are 0.5 or 0.7 mm.

    Shades of the lead also differ for different grades. People who are usually writing with a light hand would prefer darker lead while heavy handed people should stick to lighter ones.

    Even with the best pencil out there it would be a mess if the grip was no good. So make sure you get one with a grip that suits you. Most of the mechanical pencil manufacturers focus on keeping the grip and forget about the level of comfort needed. So when deciding your pick, do not forget that a hard grip could put you at unease soon.

    Like the Pentel GraphGear 1000 there are many pencils that are automatic. The lead in these gets pushed forward automatically, while there are others that would use a side click system. Some pencil makers are still using the twist style. The orthodox style of having to click the head of the pencil is even less common now.

    Needless to say, you should know how much the product is worth. Even in our list of the best mechanical pencils you will find some that cost well around $50 while there also are others costing a mere $2. It is basically a trade off between the quality of writing, features, and the aesthetic value of the pencil at hand.

    Nonetheless, do keep in mind that anything over $10 is considered overspending by some. We think that you should be able to get a decent pencil in that range.

    Why should I choose a mechanical pencil over a traditional wooden pencil?

    If you are searching for the best mechanical pencils it means you know their worth, but if you don’t let us introduce you. So for starters, you don’t need to sharpen them. This means there is no sharpener needed, there will be mess also. Moving on, other pens use ink, but this one doesn’t need it. Instead you use lead which can be refilled: it is a cheaper alternative really.

    It looks a lot more professional than the wooden lead pencil, and at the same time cuts down a lot of troubles you get from other types of pens. You don’t need a correction fluid either since lead can be erased. So basically, it is better in almost all the cases.

    Should I buy a retractable mechanical pencil or a capped one?

    This is mostly a personal preference since retractable pencils and capped ones hardly have anything different other than the design outlook. A retractable one is better for quick use and maneuverability while a capped one looks more elegant and corporate. Choice is yours.

    What exactly is lead cushioning?

    Some of the high end products have a guarding feature for the lead as it is used from within the pencil. Consider this: if you get a little carried away while writing (as most of us do), then the lead cushioning will help reinforce the lead and keep it safe against your carefree use.

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