6 Best Mechanical Pencils that Rock

A solid mechanical pencil is an essential part of any productive person's arsenal of tools. They aren't just for artists, illustrators and architects. Any profession that involves intense brainwork and creativity needs a reliable pencil to draft ideas.

Why a mechanical pencil?

  • Pencil lead isn't permanent. While you're spitballing ideas and brainstorming, it helps to have a medium that is instantly erasable when you need to change direction or tighten up your sketches. 
  • Most common, an HB or F lead are great for general purpose and are easy to erase without leaving a shadow on the paper. With a light hand, you can layout designs to be inked later. 
  • Lead writes on almost any surface. Unlike fountain pens or gel pens, pencil lead makes a mark on pretty much anything, which is convenient in case you need to write a million dollar business plan on the back of a napkin.

Drafting Pencils

These pencils are designed with precise control and durability in mind for those who use pencils as their primary tool for hours each day. With a knurled grip and a brass, hexagonal body, the rOtring mechanical pencil is top-of-the-class.

The rOtring 600's knurled grip and extended lead sleeve gives the user exceptional control over laying down lines using rulers and guides. The section under the push button rotates to display the lead size that is installed in the pencil. This is particularly useful if you have multiple pencils, or varying leads and need to know which softness/hardness of lead you have installed in the pencil. An eraser is hidden under the push button.

The rOtring 800 has all the aforementioned features of the 600, except for the rotating sleeve that indicates the lead hardness. The 800's highlight is the retractable brass sleeve that conveniently hides away with a twist of the push-button. This helps save your shirt pockets from being stabbed by the point. The eraser that is included under the button's cap has an attached clean-out rod that helps remove any lead jams in the mechanism.

Uni Ball Kuru Toga courtesy of Office Supply Geek

The revolutionary, Japanese-made Uniball Kuru Toga may seem like a light-weight when compared to the high-grade rOtring drafting pencils, but the Kuru Toga can hold its own with a unique turning mechanism that rotates the lead while your write, keeping the point sharp and preventing breakage. While the quality of the plastic barrel construction is more "office supply" grade, this is one of the "sharpest" tools you can use.

Everyday Carry Pencils

These general purpose writing instruments are for the causal creator. Flesh out a business plan for a online mystery box company, menu for a dinner party, picks for fantasy football, or layout your backyard garden with these handy tools. Their affordability is a nice perk, as it allows you for room in your pen budget for expensive fountain pens. :-)

Caran d'Ache is known around the world as a premium brand for artists. Used by the likes of Andy Warhol, CdA has a long history of inspiring creatives to harness their materials to bring their visions to reality. The Swiss-made Metal Collection mechanical pencil has a brass body with lacquer coating. The hexagonal sides and tapered tip will feel right at home with anyone transitioning from a wood pencil. An eraser can be found under the push button. 0.7mm lead thickness only.

The Kaweco Sport is the most portable of our selection of best mechanical pencils. This octagonal-sided pencil does not come with a clip, but one can be purchased separately. The faceted sides prevent it from rolling off your desk or drafting table. The lightweight, plastic body is rugged and easy to hold with a thick girth. 0.7mm lead only, no eraser.

Luxury Class Pencils

For more discerning tastes, this class of mechanical pencils are furthest removed from the no. 2 Ticonderoga and represent a status item as well as a utility. The focus in the design of the luxury pencil is less on the function and more on the form.

Faber-Castell is the German analogue of Caran d'Ache in the respect that they are highly regarded within the artistic community for their specialized creative tools. Faber offers an exceptional line of professional grade colored pencils in the Polychromos collection. The FC Ambition represents one of their high-end collections that has a heft, size and attention to fine detail that is superior to most other mechanical pencils in this price range. The simple, yet elegant statement of the chrome top is matched with a precious black resin barrel engraved with a guilloche design. The 0.7mm pencil lead mechanism is completely removable for easy replacement, in the event of defect. The advancing mechanism operates with a 1-directional twist of the chrome top. The big "con" of a pencil of this price range is that it doesn't have a built-in eraser.

We'd love to hear from artists, draftsmen, architects and others who use a pencil on a daily basis. What are your favorite characteristics you look for in a pencil? Do you have a favorite brand? Agree with our selections? Disagree? Leave a comment below and discuss.


  1. I'm currently a student and use a mechanical pencil almost every day. My current favourite is my Pentel P207, which I'm reliably informed is over 30 years old. For a fairly cheap pencil, it still works and is incredible reliable. I did briefly have a Rotring Tikky, but the lead-advancing mechanism gave up the ghost after a year.

    I'd like to see a review of the TWSBI Precision pencil and see how it compares to Rotring's more expensive offerings. It looks fantastic for the price.

    1. Definitely can't go wrong with one of the P20Xs! If you're looking for something with a little more heft and steel, the graphgears are great next step up.