Updated February 15, 2021 by Christopher Thomas

The 10 Best Mechanical Pencils

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This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in April of 2018. Far removed from the yellow, wooden relics of yesteryear, today's mechanical pencils take advantage of close tolerances and clever technology to provide the ultimate writing and drawing experience, with features like auto-advancement and rotating sleeves. Engineers, authors, and sketch artists alike will appreciate the care and attention that's gone into these fine instruments. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Kuru Toga Roulette

2. Rotring Rapid Pro

3. Graph Gear 1000

Editor's Notes

February 15, 2021:

Though some may be surprised to learn this, the first mechanical pencil was actually developed nearly 200 hundred years ago. In that time, a lot of different designs and mechanisms have come and gone though the basic principle has remained mostly the same. These days, nearly all of the models on the market utilize a rotating or spring-based action to send lead out through the tip.

We believe that anyone who finds themselves on this list isn't looking for the basic Bic or Papermate model found in pretty much every every middle or high school kid's backpack, which is why you won't find anything like that here. Instead, we have focused on high-quality options that have slightly more refined designs, and often additional features that make them more efficient to use. For example, we have the Rotring Rapid Pro and Zebra Stainless Steel, both of which have metallic bodies worthy of professionals. And while the former might be a bit expensive for some, the latter certainly comes for a reasonable price.

At this time, we have chosen not to replace any of our currently recommended models, as we feel they still represent the best options on the market, without getting into the exorbitantly priced pencils that would only appeal to connoisseurs. That being said, we have decided to add a couple of those kinds to our special honors section, just in case you fall into this category and came here hoping to find a new one for your growing collection.

October 04, 2019:

You might be surprised at how enthusiastic some people are about their pencils, and no matter what you're using it for, there's probably one that will get you at least a little excited. If you're working on a DIY project you'll want something like the FastCap, though for more precise or technical projects you might want to go with the Staedtler, a longtime beloved manufacturer of writing utensils. The Autopoint Twin is another relatively specialized model that's ideal for anyone grading papers or making notes on their own rough draft.

If you're going for an inexpensive and lightweight option that's comfortable for all-day use, the Pentel Sharp is one of the most well-known such choices around. The Zebra is a little less popular but you may actually prefer how it feels in the hand. For a little more money you can move to an innovative rotating model like the Uni-Ball Kuru Toga or the slightly upgraded Roulette, both of which keep your writing a consistent width while making it less likely you'll poke holes in the paper. For serious drafting, many engineers really like the Graph Gear 1000 thanks in part to its hefty metal barrel. The Rotring is a good compromise between a heavy drafting pencil and a lightweight note-taking utensil. If you really want to get fancy, check out the Pentel Orenz Nero, which combines some of the best parts of all the options into one luxurious, albeit expensive device.

Special Honors

Wyrmwood Bolivian Rosewood Pencil The Wyrmwood Bolivian Rosewood Pencil has a classic contoured form more often seen in collectible pens that pencils that makes it feel very natural in the hand when writing. While we have chosen to highlight the rosewood model due to the tonal depth and character it offers, it is available in other woods too. wyrmwoodgaming.com

Cleo Skribent SilverSign Crafted from sterling silver, the Cleo Skribent SilverSign is a beautiful writing implement from a nearly 80-year old company. It features a hexagonal barrel that provides a secure grip and has a reliable push-retract mechanism. Take note though, it will require periodic polishing so that it doesn't tarnish. fendrihan.com

Graf von Faber Castell Guilloche Made via an engraving process usually reserved for jewelry or silver accessories, the Graf von Faber Castell Guilloche is certainly a premium option. It features a hand-lacquered barrel in your choice of cognac, anthracite, black, or rhodium, with no two being identical, so you are getting a truly one of kind piece. graf-von-faber-castell.com

4. Zebra Stainless Steel

5. Pentel Sharp

6. Uni-Ball Kuru Toga

7. Pentel Orenz Nero

8. Staedtler Technical

9. Autopoint Twin

10. FastCap Fatboy


Christopher Thomas
Last updated on February 15, 2021 by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.


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