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Best Mechanical Pencil Ever

Discussion in 'Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, and Notebook Covers' started by shadeone, Dec 13, 2011.

    shadeone Loaded Pockets

    • Edited per Rule 4
    I figure, since we have an infamous "Best Pen Ever" thread (that many would say single handedly made the Zebra F-701 one of the most popular EDC pens ever), I think its time for a "Best Mechanical Pencil Ever" thread... Sure there have been other pencil threads in the past but they are now all buried in the archives and it's time for a new one!

    Of course, the top pencil that will probably be mentioned a lot here is the all metal Rotring 600 (for good reason):

    Well these are now discontinued and are pretty expensive when they do turn up on ebay or other places (totally worth it), but as a contender for my "currently available" best pencil ever, I would like to nominate the Alvin Draftmatic 0.5mm Mechanical drafting Pencil:

    I consider this to be almost a budget version of the above listed Rotring 600. It is not an all-metal design as the upper barrel is plastic, but the plastic is THICK and heavier than other palstic barreled pencils in its class. It is solidly made and actually feels weighty for being plastic.
    - The grip on the front is hands down the single best grip I have ever felt on a pencil. It is kinda rough and I have seen some complaints out there that it may be too rough... A bit like a file board... Well to this, I say man up and grow some stronger skinned fingers! If you are seriously gripping your pencil hard enough to wear through your skin and create blisters, you probably should be re-evaluating your writing posture in the first place... Anyways, there is no way you are going to lose grip on this thing!
    - Overall thickness of the pencil is great, it is a bit on the slim side, but for the detail work of a mechanical drafting pencil, this is absolutely perfect.
    - The clicker mechanism is very solid and has a nice feel to the click. No mushy garbage, this pencil lets you know that you have clicked it. It takes about 3 clicks to get a nice 2mm portion of lead out the front so it doesnt push too much out there leaving you with a large piece that will break off. This pencil also has a neat feature where the lead is sort of "springy" if you push too hard. Other pencils just break if you push too hard but this one sort of pushes back into the pencil a mm or so, so it is really hard to break the lead.
    - The cap on the clicker end is deep and fits over the eraser area perfect and tight. There is no way you are going to lose it.
    - The eraser is kinda small but the same can be said for any pencil in this area. Get a seperate Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser and thank me later.
    - The pocket clip is on there... TIGHT.
    - The rear end of the pencil has a lead grade indicator too that is knurled like the front end. It rotates and has a bunch of lead grades on it so you know what grade is currently in your pencil. Nothing to really comment on here.
    - The tip of the pencil isnt retractable but the lead sleeve seems pretty robust and I have already used mine for getting some gunk out of a crack in my desk quickly with no negative results.
    - The balance is great. if you balance it ony our finger, the mid point rests right where the little "alvin" logo is on the picture above. making it just ever-so-slightly front heavier. I personally like this as back heavy pencils screw with your lines when you are doing precise detail work. This pencil just seems to know where you want to write.

    In addition to all of the good points above, the main thing about this pencil that makes it a top contender for best ever, is the fact that it is cheap ($10 to $12) and available in almost every art supply store and college bookstore in America. If you cant find one of these puppies in your area, something is wrong or you live in farmland.

    The possible cons/negatives:
    - As mentioned before, might be too grippy for some people (wusses).
    - As mentioned before, the non retractable tip... People who carry pencils around in pockets might be succeptable to stabbing themselves. Tip could also bend if dropped on a hard surface (lesson: dont be an idiot and do pen spinning tricks over concrete with this thing)
    - Silver writing on lead grade indicator makes it slightly hard to read in direct reflecting light. I dont do a lot of outdoor writing so this isnt a problem for me.
    - Plastic barrel might be an issue to die-hard "all-metal" fans

    The final thing about this pencil is that while the one I reviewed above is the 0.5mm version, the Draftmatic also comes in 0.3, 0.7 and 0.9 mm sizes, each with a different colored barrel for instant size identification:

    The other two pencils that I see coming up in this thread as top contenders would be the Pentel Graphgear 1000:

    And the Staedtler 925-25 series:

    I have had both of the above and the reasons I did not choose them for the "best ever" is that the Graphgear, while it is all metal, is very back heavy and very long. The grip, while it looks like it would hold good, is actually quite slippery. The long "nose cone" on the front also puts your fingers farther from the writing surface than other drafting style pencils. This one does have a retractable lead sleeve but the method that Pentel used for this uses a plastic part in the clip area that wears down over time rendering the pencil almost useless since the point wont stay out.

    As far as the Staedtler 925-25 series, these too are all metal and very robust, BUT they are a Japanese pencil and not readily available in the US here. One of my main thoughts on all of my EDC items is that if a component breaks, gets lost or stolen, I have to be able to readily get a repalcement for it without having to wait for something to be custom made or shipped in from overseas. Getting a repalcement Staedtler 925-25 might be hard to do that with! Also, a representative from Staedtler Japan told me recently that these are actually discontinued but they are just still heavily available online and overseas due to the amount that were produced. If you can find one cheap, and dont think the same way I do about EDC component replacement, I'd say go for this one!

    Anyways, lets hear your thoughts on your contenders for the best mechanical pencil ever and the reasons you think it is!
    • In Omnia Paratus

    able_man Loaded Pockets

    Excellent. My two favorites from your list are the Draftmatic and the GraphGear. I've never been able to handle a Rotring 600 unfortunately.

    I would prefer a metal body, but I must say that the rubberized plastic barrel on the Draftmatic is the nicest plastic body I've seen. It feels as sturdy as a metal bodied pencil.
    I agree with your comments on the GraphGear. I think if they altered the design slightly (shortened it in particular, and just had the knurled grip) they'd have an excellent product.

    TheTomas Loaded Pockets

    I'd been looking for a really solid mechanical pencil for a while, but I realized it wouldn't keep me from carrying a pen as well, so my favorite is the modded Zebra 701 pen/pencil set shown here with my stainless steel EDC set.


    I'd carried the modded pen for quite a while before making the pencil, so I already knew I'd love the feel of them. Having them match is just perfect. On top of all that, it's a very nice pencil, with it's only drawback being a nib which does not retract. The whole process only cost about $20 also, cheaper than the cost of many of the pencils by themselves. Discussion and instructions for the modification can be found in this thread. It was pretty easy. The hardest part was finding a store that sold the correct pen/pencil combo to use for the modification.
    kye4some likes this.

    shadeone Loaded Pockets

    I had the modded f701/m402 pencil as well... great for general writing! but when it came to detailed draftwork and precise sketching i found that when i used this one, my natural grip also had my fingers a little too far away form the paper. the other thing i didnt like was the short cap on the eraser... maybe i had a bad one but mine wasnt a real tight fit and came off in transport a few times because of the shallowness.... that and the fact that there was a little side to side play between the sides of the cap and the barrel of the pen that lead to annoying little rattles when i was writing...
    Dont get me wrong, im not trying to knock your choice! Believe me, i really wanted that combo to work for me as i use the f701 pen all day long at work! Im just a tad OCD..... im sure it will be a PERFECT pencil for those who already use the f701! if you see the m402 pencil in stores, pick them up as they are now evidently discontinued as well (but like i mentioned before with the staedtler, there were a TON of them made so they will probably be on store shelves for quite a while!)
    I know they make the M701 mechanical pencil now, but that one is 0.7mm lead and thats a little too thick for my applications. 0.5 (like on the m402) is where its at!

    Narcosynthesis Loaded Pockets

    For almost whole of secondary school and university I wrote pretty much only with a Pentel Q1000 (which seems to be more commonly available as the Pentel Smash) - Lightweight, great grip, and has worked flawlessly the entire time I have used it. About the only thing I don't like is that I can't get a version in 0.7mm or larger lead that would work nicer for drawing rather than writing.

    Kind of interested in picking up a new pencil or two to see how they compare, the only alternatives I have are the commonly available and cheaper Pentel 120, and the Parker jotter pencils. Time for a bit of investigation I think...

    Valerian Tea-powered admin

    My vote goes to Staedtler 925-25 and Rotring RapidPRO. I don't have a 600, so don't know how it compares.

    Btw, both Cultpens and Jetpens now sell a Rotring 600, so maybe it's been reissued?

    shadeone Loaded Pockets

    They both have a lot of discontinued pens and pencils. I think they buy out stock of other places that have remaining inventory leftover... which is why from time to time you will see a certain pencil not available for months at a time and then suddenly appear available for a week or so and then be sold out again for a long time...

    YankeeHotelFoxtrot Loaded Pockets

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the upgraded Rotring 800 mechanical pencil? I've considered getting this pencil for some time, but haven't pulled the trigger yet....

    shadeone Loaded Pockets

    • Hot-linked image removed per Rule 4
    if you can afford it, get it. It didnt make my personal list due to discontinuation and price but it is one amazing pencil / piece of engineering.... especially with that gold on the black model:

    :drool: :drool:

    PinoyBoy Loaded Pockets

    /ten char.

    Enzo01 Loaded Pockets

    IMO anything Rotring. I have the old version Newton Trio that has a 9mm pencil. Great feel, great weight and superb design.

    Valerian Tea-powered admin

    I have one, it's nowhere near as good as the 925-25. The 25 has excellent knurling and grip, the Regulator has a much "smoother" knurling that isn't grippy and the point extends much further beyond the grip section. Just a personal opinion of course, but I don't much care for the Regulator. The adjustable lead advancement is a cool gimmick feature, but in reality, it isn't very useful.

    Oh, well then I guess I'll better order one before they run out (if they didn't already).

    tommypockets Empty Pockets

    Looks like I'm going to have to give the draftmatic a try. Any recommendations on lead size for every day carry.
    • In Omnia Paratus

    able_man Loaded Pockets

    It seems like most people go with a .05 and I think it's the most commonly sold size of mechanical pencils. If you like a little thicker line go with .07.

    shadeone Loaded Pockets

    0.5 seems to be the standard... plus i like it with the draftmatic since the barrel of the 0.5 is black... it goes with the rest of my "black and silver" edc items perfectly :)

    someone said elsewhere that a cap from a bic cristal pen will fit over the knurled end of the draftmatic if you want to pocket carry it without stabbing yourself in the leg... havent tried this yet.

    enki_ck Loaded Pockets

    Great thread and nice write-up. I already found my perfect EDC pens and am searching for something in 0.5mm. The one I've been using for the last 7 years or so is a Parker Classic 0,5mm. Also a good solid pencil.

    I actually ordered the Pentel Graphgear 1000 just ten days ago. I decided on it after long digging through Dave's blog. Should be here any day now. I'll post my thoughts about it when I use it a bit.

    Lightleak Loaded Pockets

    Hey guys,

    I am a huge fan of mechanical pencils, so, great thread!

    I own/use have owned/have used a lot of mechanical pencils, Rotring 600, Rotring 600 Trio pen, Rotring 600 Newton, Rotring 500s and 300s, Faber Castell TK matic, Faber Castell alpha matic, Pelikans, many differend Lamys etc etc. I found the following features to be important to me: 1. I don't like pencils with a very fine tube at the tip (for example the rotring 600!) unless they are retractable. 2. A very good "weight/shape/proportion ratio" is very important when writing a lot. Meaning it has to feel perfectly comfortable, the Rotring 600 Trio pen (as well as the Rotring 600 Newton Trio pen) is too heavy for me personally. 3. I slightly prefer 0.7 over 0.5, both are great though.

    Here are my top 6 favourite mechanical pencils, from top to bottom:


    By far the best mechnical pencil in my opinion is actually not a true mechanical pencil but a Trio pen (lead thickness 0.7). It is the *drumroll* Rotring trio pen hi lite. It is similar to the rotring 600 trio pen but it has a round barrel and weighs a lot less. There are versions in silver and black (with and without knurled grip) and different metallic colours (all with a plain grip). For me, this pencil is the Lamborghini among all the mechanical pencils I have tried, and I mainly base this on it's performance, not on it's looks (which are great as well, though). The ergonomics of this pencil are simply divine!

    Second place goes to a very sought after mechanical pencil: The famous Faber Castell alpha matic Titanium (this is not a colour code, it is really made of Titanium) (lead thickness 0.5). Fantastic weight and ergonomics, beautifully knurled grip. This pencil automatically advances the lead and it really works! You can also advance the lead manually. There also is a version in bronze, I think, which is usually a bit cheaper. If this pencil didn't have the automatic advance mechanism it is so famous for, it would still be on place 2 in my list.

    Third comes a very fine and elegant looking mechanical pencil: The Faber Castell Intuition (lead thickness 0.5). To advance the lead you twist the silver knob on the end to the right. It obviously has a very different shape and design than the first two, yet it is pure pleasure to write with. I personally wouldn't carry it around all day, it is my "table pencil". There also is a version in black which I would usually prefer. But I got this pencil for half its retail price some time ago and so I have the orange version now. I still love it.

    #4 is a Rotring 600 Newton pencil (lead thickness 0.5). I would prefer this model over the (much more popular and famous) non-Newton version any time. It has a retractable point and great ergonomics (for my hands). The grip area could be a tad thicker, but this is "snobbish sobbing". It's a fantastic and extremely tough pencil.

    A rather low budget mechanical pencil (especially for people in the u.s.a.) is the antique Wahl Eversharp pencil (lead thickness 1.18mm). It has a fantastic turning mechanism, the more you turn, the more lead comes out. So you can precisely adjust the length of lead you want to have. There are very expensive versions of this pencil made of solid sterling silver or even gold, as well as affordable ones made from plated brass I think it is (not 100% sure). Mine has something like an enamel coating, I bought it for 5 euro in france on a fleamarket. It could be a tad thicker, but still writes very comfortably. The lead thickness might put some people off, I don't use it for very small writing.

    Last of the bunch is a pencil I recently acquired as a pencil for rougher thicker sketches and writing, a Koh-I-Noor notebook pencil. It is a 2mm lead holder, but advances the lead with a click mechanism. Not too expensive, nice knurled grip area, very small and nice to carry around, yet comfortable to write with. It has a tiny unscrewable lead sharpener in the back.

    Best regards and enjoy writing with mechanical pencils!

    TheNephalim likes this.
    • In Omnia Paratus

    SAKplumber EDC Junkie!!!!!

    Wow. I didn't know it till just now, but I need a new pencil ;)

    Kripto Evil Sid

    To me, this pencil http://davesmechanicalpencils.blogspot.com/2006/08/pilot-vanishing-point-h1005-mechanical.html

    The Pilot Vanishing Point H1005 (or H3005) is the best EDC mechanical pencil EVAR! The only problem is that if you want one, you're going to have to scour ebay for it. I have 3 of the 1005s and 2 of the 3005s and I will NEVER sell them (well, I might for the right price) :) If you can find them, they will be over $100 :( http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_m1Y1qAR4UB0/SO0UcgtJeTI/AAAAAAAAAb0/uRBjnW85_h8/s1600/Pilot H3005.jpg

    I hate recommending things that are impossible to find, but I love mechanical pencils that are retractable. Most if not all drafting pencils don't retract and have to be kept in a case or it will poke holes in things.

    michael k Loaded Pockets

    I have the Staedtler 925-25-03 and it's fantastic. It's a bit hefty, but I like that it feels more solid, and it definitely balance very well in my hand. I don't know if I'd recommend it for EDC unless I had a sheath for it though.