Best mechanical pencils for writing, drawing & sketching

Best mechanical pencils for writing, drawing & sketching

Our favorite mechanical pencil is the rOtring 600 Series. So far this pencil has lasted almost 10 years, and there’s no sign of it giving up!

However there are still a lot of other products to choose from, and we hope the buyers guide that follows the below recommendations helps to narrow down the huge variety of other products our there.

Recommended Products

Firstly for speed and efficiency the below products form a list of what we consider to be some of the best mechanical pencils currently available:

Best overall: rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil

Most Durable: rOtring 1900184 800+ Mechanical Pencil

Most Cost Efficient: Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Mechanical Pencil

Best Customizable Options: Caran D’ache Metal Mechanical Pencil

Best Professional Feel: rOtring 800 Mechanical Pencil

Best For Tight Budgets: Staedtler 2.0mm Mechanical Pencil

  1. STAEDTLER 2.0mm Mechanical Pencil
  2. STAEDTLER 2.0mm Mechanical Pencil

    Staedtler drafting pencil featuring all-metal construction with a satin chrome finish to the barrel, polished chrome trim and a knurled metal grip section.

    Fixed point, lead grade indicator, removable pocket clip, replaceable eraser with clearing pin under the push button.

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  3. rotring 800 With Clutch Knock System
  4. rotring 800 With Clutch Knock System

    The highly sought after pencil has a weight and feel that represents what a professional drafting pencil should be.

    It has an all metal brass body with gold accents, traditional knurled grip and knurled top piece, and a sturdy metal clip.

    The Rotring 800 lead holder has a very technical look and will appeal to engineers and artists for its solid construction and lead advancement mechanism.

    This 2.0 mm lead holder has a clutch system, allowing you to extend lead in small amounts with each click of the top knock button.

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  5. Caran D'ache Metal 0.7 Mechanical Pencil Gray
  6. Caran D'ache Metal 0.7 Mechanical Pencil Gray

    The Maison Caran d’Ache 849 pen has a hexagonal shape and the ultra-comfortable proportions of an iconic model.

    The robustness, the flexible clip and the user-friendliness of the pushbutton make the 849 a trusty everyday companion, thanks to the many different styles in which it comes.

    Pure, luminous colours, along with fluorescents and metallics entirely cover the bodies of the ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils.

    The exceptional performance of the Goliath cartridge, capable of writing up to 600 flawless A4 pages, complements the timeless design of the 849.

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  7. Pentel GraphGear 1000
  8. Pentel GraphGear 1000

    The Pentel GraphGear 1000 mechanical pencil is a superior drafting pencil for architects, draftsmen, artists and enthusiasts.

    The 4mm tip design makes it ideal for use with rulers and templates.

    A unique, dual-action retractor advances and retracts the pencil tip to protect lead from breaking.

    The built-in lead hardness indicator allows you to easily identify your lead type.

    It comes pre-loaded with Super Hi-Polymer HB lead, which never needs sharpening and produces a clear dark line.

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  9. rOtring 1900184 800+
  10. rOtring 1900184 800+

    Premium mechanical pencil, combining both modes at the same end with a unique retractable mechanism.

    Precision stylus tip for high accuracy, control and speed. Soft tip glides smoothly and is compatible with all capacitive touchscreens.

    Ideal technical writing instrument for all sketching, writing, drawing and touchscreen applications.

    Featuring an ergonomically enhanced full metal body, the 800+ offers an ideal weight balance and a comfortable non-slip knurled grip, so you can work for long periods without experiencing discomfort or fatigue.

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  11. rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil
  12. rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil

    The iconic rOtring 600 Mechanical Pencil is the ideal professional tool for technical writing, drawing and sketching.

    True to rOtring’s original design, the 600 features a full metal black hexagonal body and comfortable non-slip knurled metal grip.

    The pencil’s unique hexagonal shape means it won't slide when you set it down, so it’s there when you need it.

    For precise ruler-based drawing, the sliding sleeve provides a high level of break resistance and an unimpeded view of the page.

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What is a Mechanical Pencil

A mechanical pencil is a pencil that has an extendable pigment core, also known as the lead. Their cores are mechanically extendable and replaceable. The main component of the lead is usually graphite. Unlike traditional pencils, the graphite can be extended when its tip gets worn as it is not attached to the outer casing of the pencil.

There are two basic types: those that only hold the lead in position and those that, apart from holding the lead, can also propel the lead forward.

Those can propel the lead forward are known as screw-based pencils. They function such that when the screw is twisted, a slider is moved down the barrel of the pencil.

Options that only hold the lead in position are known as clutch pencils. They tend to use leads that are thicker than those of screw-based pencils and they basically hold one piece of lead at a time. Common clutch pencils are activated when the eraser cap at the top is pressed, this opens up its tip allowing the lead to fall through from the barrel to replace the old worn away lead.


  • Do not require sharping.
  • Leads produce consistent, clear and thin lines.
  • Increased comfort.
  • Can be readily refilled.
  • Exhibit modern and stylish designs.
  • Have integrated erasers.

Choosing the right mechanical pencil

Build quality

A mechanical pencil needs to balance perfectly in your hand, and as a result be comfortable to use. A lot this is a result of its stiffness and weight, and there are many cheaper and lighter products that available that fail to provide these aspects.

Lead quality

The quality of lead is very important and sing the right type can make a big difference since it is the lead that determines how the pencil writes. When choosing lead, it is important for you to take the hardness grade into consideration. Leads that are softer are smoother and softer compared to harder leads. Softer leads also get used up faster as they erode quicker during use.

Lead advancement quality

Push button – Mechanical pencils have different mechanisms that they use to advance the lead. The most common type of lead advancement technique is the push button mechanism. This type of lead advancement mechanism have a push button that when clicked pushes a fixed amount of lead through the nib.

Most commonly the push button is located at the top of the pencil, but some have a button built into its clip or on the side.

Shaker – Another lead advancement mechanism is the shaker technique. The shaker technique works in a way such that when the pencil is shaken, there is an internal click mechanism that is activated by a sliding internal weight, which then advances the lead.

This technique has caught on since you are able to advance the lead without changing your grip.

Twist – Thirdly, a twist mechanism. This technique allows you to make continuous adjustments to the advancement of lead through twisting and turning of an adjustment located at the top of the pencil to advance and retract the lead. This mechanism allows you to choose your preferred length of lead.

Bend/body knock – The bend or body knock mechanism is another lead advancement technique that advances the lead when a specific joint in the grip section is squeezed.

Automatic – Lastly, this method advances more lead when a ratchet mechanism is activated by the pressure of lead on paper.

Lead size

Leads come in a large variety of widths and levels of hardness that generally speaking define the purpose they are used for.

Mechanical pencils with different lead sizes are used for different purposes. The thinnest leads (0.2mm – 0.4mm) are ideal for the most compact equations requiring small spaces and for adding the finest of fine details to artwork. They are also best suited for people with small handwriting.

All-purpose leads are the most common lead size (0.5mm – 0.7mm) since they provide a wide range of styles and features. All-purpose leads are suitable for writing at most sizes and drawing details at most sketching sizes.

Thick leads (0.9mm – 1.3mm) are uncommon and are best suited for people who make bold sketches, have extra large handwriting, or press with a very heavy hand. Thick leads feel smoother compared to smaller lead sizes and they do not dig into the paper.


Most mechanical pencils usually come with a built-in eraser. However, the erasers are often very small. In some instances, once the eraser has been completely used up, it cannot be replaced. It is therefore important to choose a model with an eraser that is replaceable if you intend to use it on regular basis.


Mechanical pencils that are ergonomic have been designed to reduce fatigue and minimize the stress on your hands allowing you to use them for longer periods of time.

Lead cushioning

Lastly, lead cushioning is another very important factor to consider. Several mechanical pencils have different ways of preventing the leads from breaking. The most common way that the lead is protected from breakage is by use of a sliding leas sleeve. The sliding sleeve protects the tip of the lead while you write. The sliding sleeve is constantly pushed back by the paper surface as the lead wears down.


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