10 Best Mechanical Pencils For Crisp, Technical Lines

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In this guide, I will share with you the best mechanical pencils that are currently available.

A quality mechanical pencil will be designed to allow for a consistently sharp point for technical drawings or fine artwork, has a comfortable barrel for extended use, and in some instances, has an eraser. 

What is a mechanical pencil?

A mechanical pencil is a writing instrument that holds several mechanically ejectable solid lead cores.  The lead comes in many different grades and is primarily intended for precise line work.

Common Mechanical Pencil Features

Lead size: varies from one brand to another.  Ranges from 0.2mm to 2mm in diameter.  The most common sizes are 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm due to versatility in both handwriting and drawing.

Lead grade: like traditional wooden pencils, this will vary.  Lead cores range from 9H to 9B in accordance with the graphite pencil hardness scale (source).

Grip: allows for added control and comfort. Third-party grips can be added to most mechanical pencils.

Barrel material & shape: can allow for additional comfort and convenience.  A hexagonal shape will prevent the mechanical pencil from rolling off slanted surfaces such as an art desk.  

Lead advancement mechanism: comes in many different varieties.  Most commonly used are push-top and side barrel buttons.  Other mechanisms include barrel twisting, shake, or automatic advancement.  Most offer a retractable tip.

Eraser: are often small and replaceable.  Often recommended to have a separate pencil eraser handy.

Lead rotation: available on professional mechanical pencils.  A rotating lead allows for even wear of the tip.

Price: varies depending on brand and features.  Disposable mechanical pencils on average cost $0.50.  Professional mechanical pencils can cost up to $15.

Related: Best Sketchbooks for Artists

Here is My List of the Best Mechanical Pencils

1. rOtring Rapid PRO Mechanical Pencil

Award: Best Overall

Best for: Sketching, Technical Drawing

The rOtring Rapid PRO Mechanical Pencil is a comfortable and well-designed mechanical pencil that allows for consistent and high-quality performance and offers a great set of features.

From the controlled lead mechanism to the knurled grip, the rOtring Rapid PRO Mechanical Pencil allows you to concentrate on your drawing rather than the instrument itself.  Offering a comfortable writing experience, it’s easy to see why this is a top pick across many disciplines including fine art, illustration, and technical drawings.

Key Features:

  • Features a pencil sharpener under the eraser cap.
  • Lead mechanism is cushioned to prevent lead breakage.
  • Includes a 2-year limited warranty.
  • Features a crisp and clean line quality.
  • Includes a barrel clip that can easily attach to your shirt pocket.

Specification:

  • Brand: rOtring
  • Lead Size: 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, 2.0 mm
  • Grip: Knurled
  • Lead Advancement: Push Button
  • Barrel Material: Metal, Plastic
  • Weight: 0.882 Ounces

2. Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil

Award: General Use

Best for: consistent strokes in any application.

The Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil is a well made drafting pencil that offers the proprietary lead rotating technology that provides an always sharp tip.

The push mechanism coupled with a rotating lead allows the Uni Kuru Toga to be an indispensable writing instrument.  The always sharp tip allows for precise and clean linework for a variety of applications.  The non-retractable lead ensures that this pencil is writing-ready.

Key Features:

  • The 0.5 mm lead type is compatible with all brands.
  • Features hybrid gunmetal and resin barrel.
  • Comes with a small eraser.

Specification:

  • Brand: Uni
  • Lead Size: 0.5 mm
  • Grip: Knurled
  • Lead Advancement: Rotating Mechanism
  • Barrel Material: Resin, Gun Metal
  • Weight: 0.48 Ounces

3. Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil

Award: Best Drafting Pencil

Best for: Drafting, Fine Artwork

The Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil is a good drafting pencil given the 4 mm long tip which allows you to see your linework when using a ruler, T-square, or template.

Available in a variety of lead sizes including 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 0.9 mm, the Pentel GraphGear mechanical pencil can work for any technical drawing.  With color-coded barrels, you can quickly grab the appropriate lead diameter when working.  The GraphGear 1000 uses a push-button lead advancement and retractor mechanism.

Key Features:

  • Includes an eraser for fixing minor mistakes under the pen cap.
  • Features a metallic grip with pads for added control.
  • Available as a set or individually.

Specification:

  • Brand: Pentel
  • Lead Size: 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 0.9 mm
  • Grip: Metallic and Synthetic
  • Lead Advancement: Push Button
  • Barrel Material: Metallic
  • Weight: 1.44 Ounces

4. rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil

Award: Best All Metal Mechanical Pencil

Best for: Technical Drawings, Math Equations, Illustration

The rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil is a full-metal barrel mechanical pencil that provides weight and precision to your technical drawings.

As Unsharpened expertly pointed out, while the rOtring 600 and the rOtring Rapid Pro look nearly identical, they are both distinct in their own right (source).  The rOtring 600’s full metal body allows for plenty of heft and a much different drawing experience.  Furthermore, the rOtring 600 is a bit shorter at 137mm long and features a slightly narrower metal grip.

Key Features:

  • Features advancing and retractable lead.
  • Includes a metal pocket clip for easy transport. 
  • The high-quality hexagonal barrel won’t roll off surfaces.

Specification:

  • Brand: rOtring
  • Lead Size: 0.35 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm
  • Grip: Knurled
  • Lead Advancement: Push Button
  • Barrel Material: Metal
  • Weight: 0.8 Ounces

5. Zebra M-701 Stainless Steel Mechanical Pencil

Award: Best Stainless Steel Mechanical Pencil

Best for: Freeform Drawing, Math Equations, Handwriting

The Zebra M-701 Stainless Steel Mechanical Pencil is a tough and rugged mechanical pencil that offers a nice weight balance and should last for years.

The full stainless steel body of the Zebra M-701 offers a level of professionalism and minimalist design that will look great and performs reliably well.  The shallow metal guidance sleeve at the pencil tip makes the Zebra M-701 best suited for handwriting and freeform drawings rather than use with a ruler or T-Square.  The knurled grip will help to provide confident linework.

Key Features:

  • Features a corrosion-resistant knurled metal grip.
  • Includes a stainless steel pocket clip.
  • Matching ballpoint pen available as a separate purchase.
  • Eraser refills are available.

Specification:

  • Brand: Zebra
  • Lead Size: 0.7 mm
  • Grip: Knurled
  • Lead Advancement: Push Button
  • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 1.12 Ounces

Related: Best Electric Sharpeners

6. Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil

Award: Best Technical Mechanical Pencil

Best for: Technical Drawings

The Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil is a woodworkers and draftsman dream pencil given the diameter and clarity of the markings.

The Staedtler Mars 780 relies on a thick 2 mm 2 HB lead that makes for marking technical drawings and wood clear and easy to execute.  Relying on precise German engineering, the Staedtler has a push-button lead advancement and retractor mechanism.  While not the best for writing given the thickness of the stroke, it is intended for very specific use cases.

Key Features:

  • Features a lead pointer or sharpener within the push cap.
  • Quality plastic barrel design.
  • Metal pocket clip for easy storage.

Specification:

  • Brand: Staedtler
  • Lead Size: 2 mm
  • Grip: Knurled
  • Lead Advancement: Push Button
  • Barrel Material: Plastic
  • Weight: 0.64 Ounces

7. Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil

Award: Best Mechanical Pencil for General Use

Best for: Handwriting

The Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil is heavy-bodied and offers a protective cap for safe transport whether in your pocket or purse.

When it comes to writing instruments, the Pentel Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil is among the best.  The large, curved body provides a comfortable grip and elevates the writing experience.  While limited in lead sizes (0.5mm and 0.7mm), the Pentel Sharp Kerry makes up for it in color variety (four in total).  While it is predominantly a plastic barrel, the Pentel Sharp Kerry weighs significantly more than other mechanical pencils reviewed.

Key Features:

  • Features a larger eraser under the cap.
  • Includes a plastic box for gift giving.
  • Composite plastic and metal body.

Specification:

  • Brand: Pentel
  • Lead Size: 0.5mm, 0.7mm
  • Grip: Metal, Curved Plastic
  • Lead Advancement: Push Button
  • Barrel Material: Plastic
  • Weight: 1.41 Ounces

8. Alvin, Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil

Best for: Technical Drawings and Drafting

While the Alvin, Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil evokes a 1950s design aesthetic, the Draft-Matic was made for professionals who want an easy and efficient pencil that works well.

The Alvin Draft-Matic is a high quality technical mechanical pencil that features an aggressive knurled grip that ensures your fingers do not slip when making precise marks.  One unique feature of the Draft-Matic is the lead indicator window.  Atop the barrel, you can change the lead hardness indicator to HB, B, etc. so you know which grade of lead is currently loaded in the pencil.

Key Features:

  • Features a built-in eraser.
  • Includes a long guide pipe for easy visibility when using a T-Square or ruler.
  • Comes with a metal pocket clip.
  • Features color-coded barrels for varying lead sizes.

Specification:

  • Brand: Alvin
  • Lead Size: 0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm
  • Grip: Knurled
  • Lead Advancement: Push
  • Barrel Material: Plastic
  • Weight: 0.48 Ounces

9. PILOT The Shaker Mechanical Pencil

Award: Best Shaker Mechanical Pencil

The PILOT The Shaker Mechanical Pencil’s most distinct feature is the shaker mechanism.  Simply shake the pencil twice and the lead will advance to a writing-ready length.

Best used for writing and note-taking, the focus of the PILOT Shaker Mechanical Pencil is to improve efficiency so you can quickly continue writing and not have to take your hand off the rubber grip.  Paired with a larger eraser for when mistakes do happen, the PILOT Shaker can quickly clean up any mistake.

Key Features:

  • Features a lightweight plastic barrel and grip.
  • Includes a metal clip for purse, pocket, or backpack storage.
  • Retractable tip design.

Specification:

  • Brand: PILOT
  • Lead Size: 0.5mm
  • Grip: Rubber
  • Lead Advancement: Shake Mechanism
  • Barrel Material: Plastic
  • Weight: 0.16 Ounces

10. Pentel Twist-Erase GT

Award: Best Mechanical Pencil With A Large Eraser

Best for: handwriting and comfort.

The Pentel Twist-Erase GT is a mechanical pencil that features a twist-up eraser that can cleanly remove any mistakes.

With a large rubber cushion grip, the Pentel Twist-Erase GT is a great daily writing instrument that won’t cause your hands to fatigue after extended periods of use.  Available in 4 colors and a 0.7mm lead diameter, the Pentel GT makes dark and bold strokes.  Lastly, the Pentel GT is extremely affordable making it great for academic or office use.

Key Features:

  • Eraser refills are available.
  • Includes 12 pencils in a single pack.
  • The retractable tip provides purse and pocket protection.

Specification:

  • Brand: Pentel
  • Lead Size: 0.7mm
  • Grip: Rubber
  • Lead Advancement: Push Button
  • Barrel Material: Plastic

9 Common Mechanical Pencil Questions

1. Is 0.5mm or 0.7mm lead better?

The thickness of the lead depends on your personal preference.  The 0.7mm lead is better for people that press down harder as the thicker diameter will be less likely to break.  The 0.5mm is better if you apply moderate pressure and enjoy making thinner strokes.

2. Is it better to draw with a mechanical pencil?

It depends on the piece of artwork you are creating.  When drawing with a mechanical pencil, you can get predictable results. This is more prevalent with mechanical pencils that have a rotating lead mechanism.  Contrary, the lead width in a wooden pencil can vary thus making it harder to control stroke width unless you repeatedly sharpen.  

3. Are mechanical pencils bad for the environment?

Some mechanical pencils are made from plastic which is bad for the environment.  However, mechanical pencils can be refilled.  If you keep your mechanical pencil for years, then the impact on the environment will be negligible.

4. How do you retract a mechanical pencil?

Retracting lead in a mechanical pencil is easy.  Simply press down on the advancing mechanism and then simultaneously press down on the pencil lead.  This will push the lead back to the barrel. 

5. Do mechanical pencils use graphite?

The lead core in mechanical pencils is often made from graphite.  Products such as Pentel Super Hi-Polymer lead refills are made from a combination of graphite and polymer (plastic) which adds strength and smoothness to the lead.

6. How long can a mechanical pencil last?

Assuming that the mechanical pencil isn’t dropped or abused repeatedly, then a good mechanical pencil can last decades.  Some of the mechanical mechanisms may wear down after several years.

7. How much does a mechanical pencil weigh?

A mechanical pencil can weigh anywhere between 0.2 and 1.4 ounces.  Weight will vary depending on the thickness of the lead along with the composition of the mechanical pencil itself including the barrel, grip, and eraser.

8. How do you refill a mechanical pencil?

Mechanical pencils can be filled in any of the three ways:

  • Option 1: Remove the eraser cap and insert the lead through the opening at the top of the barrel.
  • Option 2: Press down on the advancing mechanism and add lead through the tip.
  • Option 3: Unscrew the mechanical pencil at the center of the body and add lead to the barrel.

9. How do you get a used eraser out of a mechanical pencil?

To remove a used eraser from a mechanical pencil, you can use tweezers and pull the eraser from the top.  An alternative method to getting out a used eraser is to use a craft knife and cut the eraser away.

3 Must-Have Accessories for Mechanical Pencils

When buying a mechanical pencil, it is recommended that you have the following on hand:

1. Lead Refills

In most instances, you don’t need to buy a specific brand.  It is advisable to try different brands to discover which you prefer.  Common brands artists and draftsmen rely on, and include, Uni Nano Dia, Pentel Ain Stein, and Pilot Neox.  However, you will need to purchase lead refills of the same diameter that is compatible with your mechanical pencil.

2. Eraser (Separate or Refillable)

The eraser atop mechanical pencils is intended to correct small mistakes.  Therefore, you may want to purchase a separate eraser for removing larger marks.  Read our review and guide of pencil erasers for recommendations.

3. Grips

Some mechanical pencils can cause discomfort when used for extended periods.  Grips are advised if you plan on using your mechanical pencil for note-taking or journaling.  Grips are available for purchase separately.  

Best Mechanical Pencil Selection Process

The selection process for mechanical pencils was determined by popularity, intent, style, lead diameter varieties, and price.  In the end, I hope that this guide provides you with the information necessary to find the right mechanical pencil for your needs.

Thank you for reading this guide. Please be sure to come back for more in-depth reviews.

About Mary Fischer

Mary is a self-taught artist that has been painting for over 20 years. Mary favors traditional media including oil, acrylic, and watercolors. When Mary isn’t painting you will find her helping other budding artists to unlock their full potential. Mary started Createlet to expand on this goal and bring her teaching skills to a wider audience.