Mechanical pencils are a good alternative to conventional wooden ones. Without the need to deal with messy wood and lead shavings, mechanical pencils can truly be convenient. Using lead as an extendable and replaceable core, users get an instant drawing tool for any purpose. This makes it popular among artists and other professionals who constantly need to deal with fine-art drawing, technical drawing, and neat writing.
The same way mechanical pencils are called in several names (clutch pencil, propelling pencil, pen pencil, microtip pencil, and more), they also vary a lot in their own mechanisms. Basically, they have two types depending on how the leads are released and handled inside. The first one is primarily the most simple since it is only designed to hold the lead while being used. The second one, on the other hand, can both hold and propel the lead forward. However, there are various models now that offer unique mechanisms ranging from push-button, shaker, twist, bend, and automatic mechanism. Of all, push-button types are the most popular among mechanical pencil manufacturers and you can find this mechanism in almost any brand.
There are also advanced features integrated into high-end models of mechanical pencils to help users improve their works. For instance, a model that employs a ratchet system can rotate the lead after every press on the paper. This auto-rotation technology called Kuru Toga causes more even lines that are perfect for technical drawing. You can find it in most of the products of the Uni brand like the Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Model.
On the other side of the coin, more and more mechanical pencil manufacturers see the dilemma of artists struggling from breaking the lead. With this, they came up with the addition of a sliding lead sleeve. This additional part practically envelopes a specific length of the lead to prevent it from breakage even when excessive force is used. For heavy-handed users, this is a true life-saver due to its ability to prevent frequent breakage of the lead. One example of a mechanical pencil offering this type of design is the Zebra DelGuard. It also comes with a spring cushion that absorbs pressure.
Due to the advancement of technology, mechanical pencils also benefit by including more features. To better get a good and detailed look at each of them, we summarized the 5 best mechanical pencils for drawing and writing. Personally tested and compared, we offer you their best qualities and our unbiased opinion about each model. By the end of this informative read, we hope to guide you with the best mechanical pencil that will make your drawing activities more enjoyable.
1. Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Model
Silver and Gun Metallic
Kuru Toga (Auto-lead Rotation)
After the Mitsubishi Pencil Company of Japan developed the patented design of Schmidt of Germany and named it Kuru Toga under Uni, the mechanical pencil soon earned the fame it deserves. Now, there are various Kora Toga models under Uni but the Roullete Model, by far, is the most well-known flagship of the brand.
It carries the same mechanism that we all love about Uni’s pencils. The auto-lead rotation is glorious as it delivers a millimeter movement in each contact of the lead on the surface. Its spring-loaded clutch doesn’t miss a single twist which results in an even lead point. Perfect for sketches that need uniform lines.
It also has a sleeve and though it is not a retractable type, we still appreciate the support it gives to the lead of the pencil. Also, it is only available in 0.5 mm lead size which makes its versatility a bit of a concern for some professional artists. Nonetheless, Uni offers other Kuru Toga models that can cater to other lead sizes so if you are a fan of the prestigious brand, it wouldn’t be an issue.
Despite the things said, there are still a lot of things to love about the Roulette Model. One of which is its beautiful build. A portion of its body comes with a knurled metal grip which gives you a solid hold of its body. The look is really alluring that it can even challenge the aesthetics of other old famous models such as the Parker Jotter and the Scriveiner Black Lacquer. Nonetheless, despite its beauty, the Uni brand still considered its target market which is students and artists. The upper body is made of plastic material to cut the cost. But the coat given to the pencil is divine since it completely mimics the look of the metal segment. With this, it is still one of the affordable mechanical pencils you can get on the market.
2. Zebra DelGuard 0.5
Black, Blue, Light Blue, Pink, and White
If the Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Model’s pride is its beautiful auto-rotation mechanism, you will adore Zebra DelGuard 0.5 with its anti-breakage feature.
While it is normal for mechanical pencils nowadays to include sleeves to prevent lead from breaking, the Zebra DelGuard 0.5 advanced in the race by integrating all possible features that will solve this old problem among pencil users. Besides the sleeve that extends to embrace the lead when there is too much sideways pressure, the lead also retracts when there is too much vertical pressure. This is all possible through its spring and lead pipe that both adjust to match the pressure you are exerting. With this, there is very little chance of a breaking lead.
Also, in spite of its genius auto-adjustment cushion technology, you would never be distracted by its internal movement. You won’t feel a single bit of its action, so it is still as if you are using a regular mechanical pencil. With this, this can even be used for heavy drawing outlines without the fear of encountering problems in lead.
Further, the quality of the body is just right. It is not too thick and not too narrow to give your hand a secured grip. Aesthetically, it is not the best as the entire body comes in plastic material. But in terms of ergonomics, it is the best. Besides the wonderful anti-breakage system, its barrel has just the right grooves to prevent your hands from slipping.
3. Pentel Graph Gear 1000
0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 0.9 mm
Color-coded according to lead size
When it comes to versatility, Pentel Graph Gear 1000 might be the best candidate there is. Compared to other mechanical pencils that are only available in a single lead size, Graph Gear 1000 offers 4 sizes (0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 0.9 mm). The pencils can be purchased individually or by set. What’s even better is that each size has its own respective color of a pencil to help you easily identify the lead size you need when working.
We also love the additional built-in lead hardness indicator (2H, H, HB, 2B, and B). It isn’t too much of a selling point but it can be very helpful if you are a professional who needs to work on intricate projects that needs detailed lead hardness.
Also, the Graph Gear 1000’s mechanism is pretty simple. It sports a push mechanism to extract the lead little by little. Nonetheless, the notable feature about it is its dual-action retractor. This advances the lead sleeve upon the first full push of the top metal cap. This also allows the sleeve to retract in order to protect it while being stored. Also, once the sleeve is already exposed, you just need to give the cap a few more pushing actions until you achieve the length of the lead you need. The sleeve is just 4 mm, so we suggest not going too far from the size of the sleeve to avoid lead breakage. Before you retract the sleeve itself, you need to first hide the lead by simultaneously clicking and holding the metallic cap and pushing the lead backward. After this, you can push the clip on the body of the pencil and it will retract the sleeve.
As for its body, you get the best ergonomics. The body is slim enough to give you comfort as you hold it. The material that is used from top to bottom is metal so it gives you a little weight that you would expect for a pencil but this is not a drawback in any manner. As a matter of fact, we love how it weighs in your hands. Due to the additional weight, you can solidly feel its presence as you move it on a surface and the balance of the body is stellar.
The section where you place your fingers is finely chiseled and comes with soft, latex-free pads. This strengthens your hold and also a good detail that improves it aesthetically. The tiny eraser, just like in any model, is hidden under the metallic cap and blocks the hole where you would insert the lead. Doing it is easy and not an issue at all. With this, it is one of the most practical and convenient options you can have among the thousands of mechanical pencils available out there.
4. Tombow Mono Graph Shaker
Dual Lead Extraction Mechanism
Tombow assured that you’ll get the best kind of convenience when using this shaker pen. Not only you could extract the 0.5 mm lead through a shaking mechanism, but you can also do it through the traditional clicking process.
To start, you just need to unlock the lead lock by pushing down the clip. This will then allow you to use the shake mechanism by simply shaking it vertically back and forth. With just a few shakes you can get 2 to 3 millimeters of lead out of the barrel. Of course, there is little control in the release of lead in this option which is why it is recommended not to go overboard in shaking it. Hence, there is a little learning curve here. Thankfully, as said, there is another option to get the lead out: a clicking mechanism. Just give the clip consecutive small clicks and it will release the lead little by little. This is much preferable if you want full control over the pencil.
Also, you can lock the mechanism to prevent the accidental advancing of lead. Just push the clip up and it will do the trick. After this, the lead would be secured regardless of how many times you shake it. We are also amazed at how long its eraser is. Also, compared to other mechanical pencils, you can directly use its eraser by just twisting it. Most of all, the Tombow mono eraser is refillable!
5. Pilot Color Eno
(Lead) Red, Pink, Orange, Yellow, Green, Soft Blue, Blue, and Violet
Artists would certainly love this Pilot Color Eno set that is specifically designed to deliver the best output out of your works. It doesn’t have the beautiful mechanism of the Uni Kuru Toga Roulette or the support of Zebra DelGuard 0.5, but when it comes to the life and colors of lines, these pencils are immaculate.
It comes with a total of 8 colors (Red, Pink, Orange, Yellow, Green, Soft Blue, Blue, And Violet) that can be very helpful for projects that involve creativity. Some users might find it awkward to use colored leads for their works, but it can be very beneficial for cartoonists and other artists that use colors in the daily. With this, you can skip the use of black-colored leads that are oftentimes very challenging to remove. This also means that you can use the colored leads for outlines without removing them once you proceed to the coloring process. The colors can blend well, given you are using the same shades in your projects. Also, they are erasable so they can also work just like any other type of ordinary lead! Sweet!
However, while we love the fact that the pencils come with a variety of colored leads, we find some of these colors underwhelming. We particularly find the yellow color hard to use due to its light nature. If you want to use the lead as an actual coloring material, this could be an issue but for outlining purposes, this is a viable option.
On the other hand, the mechanism of the pencil is pretty simple. It employs a click mechanism and the advancement of the lead is fast and easy. There is also a lead sleeve in each mechanical pencil so there is support when the leads are being used with considerable pressure.
Best Mechanical Pencils - Buyer's Guide
There are lots of mechanisms to choose from when it comes to the extraction of lead out of the pencil. A click push-button mechanism is the simplest and the most straightforward among all types. However, the mechanisms are not just limited to the extraction process, but so as to how the lead is being handled while being used. For instance, the Kuru Toga is a smart mechanism that automatically rotates the lead every time you lift it from the paper or any working surface. This results in even lines and marks all the time the pencil is being used. With this, it is best to look for mechanical pencils that employ the mechanisms that suit your needs and preference.
Mechanical pencils use different lead sizes. Each size of lead has definite use. For example, most mechanical pencils come in 0.5 mm size which is the ideal lead size for daily tasks besides drawing. On the other hand, if are a heavy-handed user and want something perfect for bold writing and sketching, 0.7 mm, 0.9 mm and thicker leads are a must. Conversely, 0.2 mm to 0.4 mm are ideal for extra-fine writing and detailed drawings.
With all that, it is best to identify the size of the lead you need and get the mechanical pencil that caters to it. Purchasing the sizes individually is a good move. Nonetheless, there are those that come in sets that give you everything you need such as the Pentel Graph Gear.
The features of the mechanical pencils have specific purposes to aid you in your work. Hence, the more features the pencil has, the better. The Uni Kuru Toga Roulette is a good example of such a pencil. Besides its auto-rotation ability, you also get a knurled grip for better hold. The Zebra DelGuard 0.5 is also a majestic choice to consider due to its multiple features that support the lead and prevent its breakage. Of course, each mechanical pencil model has its own unique features so it is best to check them one by one and find the best pick that summarizes your preferences.
Given the nature of mechanical pencils, it is a common case for anyone to experience problems in lead breakage. However, with the right mechanical pencil design, this can be avoided. Nowadays, most mechanical pencils come with lead sleeves but there are newer features worth considering if you want the best support and protection for your leads. In this case, the Zebra DelGuard 0.5 is the champion. Not only does it have a sleeve that automatically adjusts when there is too much pressure sideways, but the lead also retracts when you push too hard vertically. With such features, breaking leads seems impossible.
Best Mechanical Pencils - FAQs
Yes, they are. Besides the fact that you don’t need to deal with messy pencil shavings, mechanical pencils also allow you to use different lead sizes and hardness which will suit your sketching needs.
The ideal size for drawing or sketching is the 0.5 mm size of lead. Nonetheless, you can go for thinner sizes for finer details or opt for thicker sizes for bold sketching.
This depends on the design of the mechanical pencil but most commonly, it can be done by removing the cap on the top of the pencil. Once it is removed, simply insert the lead.
The good thing about mechanical pencils is that you can use them again and again by simply reloading them with lead. They can last for years but their mechanism could wear out depending on the type and how you take care of them.