Mechanical pencils have been around for years, and there are many models that cater specifically to artists and designers who will be holding them all day. For those of you not in the know, a mechanical pencil is one you don’t have to sharpen. That’s because the graphite, or lead, is not bonded to the outer casing, as in a traditional wooden pencil. Instead, you pop your lead into a well built into the pencil, and click to extend it as you wear it down.
We’ll start by explaining the benefits of mechanical pencils and what to look for when choosing one, before running through our picks for the best mechanical pencils.
Top 10 best mechanical pencils for writing in UK 2021
Let’s get to the top recommendations for mechanical pencils available in the UK.
Uni Kurutoga Pipe Slide 0.5mm
Our pick for the best mechanical pencil for drawing overall is the Uni Kurutoga Pipe Slide. There’s one big difference that sets this pencil apart from its rivals: when you use a regular mechanical pencil, the lead wears down on one side, forming a slanted, wedge-shaped tip. This can potentially cause variations in line thickness as you draw. The Kurutoga avoids this through a clever mechanism that continually rotates the pencil lead as you write.
A spring-loaded clutch twists the lead a tiny degree every time you lift the pencil from the paper, and this allows for a uniform wearing of the lead, and cleaner and more consistent lines as a result.
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2. Classic Century Pencil, Black & Gold
This is the kind of pencil you want to see on your desk at work. It has a satin black finish that will feel smooth under your fingertips, and its tip, end, and clip are plated with 23 karat gold. This classic design features a twist mechanism, letting you control exactly how much lead comes out.
Again, the twist mechanism might slow you down when you are trying to take notes quickly, and this pencil lacks some of the high-tech features that newer mechanical pencils offer. It is also quite pricey, though in its presentation box, it could be a meaningful gift for a new student, graduate, or working adult.
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3. Pentel P200 Series Set of Four
For £17, you can get a set of four mechanical pencils, which is pretty great value when you do the maths and work out that you’re paying just £4.25 per pencil.
Made from tough plastic and with a ribbed barrel for grip, the P200 series is designed for technical drawing, making it the ideal choice for architects and engineers. There are four different pencils in the series, each one a different colour and lead size (0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm and 0.9mm), and there is one of each in this set.
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4. rOtring Rapid PRO Mechanical Pencil
The rOtring Rapid PRO is a long-lasting, smooth, and precise retractable mechanical pencil that is a perfect professional tool for writing, sketching, and drawing.
Features a sliding sleeve and cushioned lead mechanism provide a high break resistance and outstanding writing and doodling comfort.
Equipped with a unique push mechanism for controlled lead transportation.
Includes a built-in sharpener under the push-button cap.
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5. Pentel GraphGear 1000
If you’re a pencil aesthete, if you draw diagrams and illustrations more than you write words, or if you know you prefer the feel of solid, heavy, cold metal to plastic, the Pentel GraphGear 1000 is a traditional mechanical drafting pencil worth considering. Both expert reviewers and many Wirecutter testers praised its knurled metal and latex-dotted grip, its strong clip and clicking mechanisms, and its better (if also somewhat minimal) eraser. This model is also more useful if you like to keep multiple lead styles on hand, as you can note the style of lead inside the GraphGear 1000 through a rotating window.
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6. Uni Core Keeps Sharp Mechanical Pencil
The Uni Core Keeps Sharp Mechanical Pencil features a slightly different design that will actually help it stand out from the rest of the pencils with a silver metal base. Using lead rotating technology, the pencil is ideal if you constantly need a sharp tip and this will ensure that you have the best possible accuracy when you are working.
Since it has been constructed from metal for the base, you have some durability, but it features a plastic coating that makes it look much better and also adds to the overall grip that the pencil can give you. The ergonomic design comfortably fits into the hands of most draftsmen and should be a really comfortable writing tool.
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7. Lamy 2000
The smooth body of this German-made pencil is its most remarkable feature. Unlike the Rotring, the Lamy is made from polycarbonate makrolon (read: high-end plastic) but it is brushed in such a way that it feels more like hardwood to the touch. As with other Lamy writing utensils, the pocket clip is spring loaded, which is a nice touch and a step above the traditional style.
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8. rOtring 800
Fifty bucks may seem like a fortune to spend on a single pencil, but once you try out the top-of-the-line rOtring model, you’ll understand why devotees are willing to do so. The 800’s signature feature is its fully retractable lead sleeve: twist the base and the mechanism retracts the entire head back into the body, protecting it while it’s in your pocket or bag.
The rest of the pencil is full of premium touches, including an all-metal hexagonal design from Germany, knurled grips on the front, back, and even in the removable eraser housing, and an embossed logo on the clip. The 800 comes in black or silver finishes, both with gold and red accents, and it’s available in 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm sizes. The new 800+ model adds a silicone ring to the head, making the body double as a handy phone or tablet stylus when the head is retracted.
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9. Staedtler Mars 780 Technical
Reliability, durability and style all go hand-in-hand with this mechanical pencil by Staedtler. This features a strong break-resistant 2.0mm lead with adjustable hardness degree indicator making this the perfect tool for use with rulers and templates. You will never have to worry about breaking your lead again.
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10. LAMY Multi System Mechanical Pencil
It can be a pain searching for a pen when all you have is a pencil or searching for a pencil even though you have 2 or 3 pens in your pocket. The LAMY multi system is here to ensure you never have to ask “Do you have a pen/pencil I can borrow?”
Who hasn’t had to scrounge around looking for a pencil when they had a pen or vice versa? Well, those days are over with the LAMY Multi-System pen/pencil combo. You’re likely to find yourself using both options far more than you ever imagined; which is a testament to the common sense utility of the device. Both mechanical pencil and ballpoint pen are well engineered and produce high-quality marks on a consistent basis and the whole thing clips into your pocket for easy retrieval. This can be a perfect gift for coworkers.
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How to choose the best mechanical pencil?
There is a wide range of options on the market, and so there are certain things to consider when choosing the best mechanical pencil for you.
The first is the diameter of the lead you wish to use. If you wish to draw very fine lines, you’ll want to go for a 0.3mm lead. For writing and most drawing, you’ll probably prefer a 0.5mm lead. A thicker, 0.7mm lead, meanwhile, may be better for sketching and non-detailed drawing. Other sizes are also available for specialist uses.
Another consideration is the hardness of the lead. A soft lead will be darker and more prone to smudging, while a hard lead is better for leaving light, fine lines. Softness is represented by a number followed by ‘B’; the higher the number, the softer the lead. Hardness is represented by a number followed by ‘H’; the higher the number, the harder the lead. Finally, ‘F’ and ‘HB’ leads lie in the middle.
Also think about the mechanism used to extend the lead. The three most common mechanisms are a push-button, which may be on the side or the top of the pencil; a twist operation, which is more often seen in older models; and a ‘shake’ advance.
Weight is also important, as is grip: some pencils have special features, such as a bumpy texture, to improve this and make your mechanical pencil more ergonomic.
How much should I spend?
On the whole, not that much. A decent and reliable mechanical pencil such as the Uni Ball Kuru Toga will cost you £7, and if value for money is your concern, you can get a set of four Pentel P200 pencils for £17.
If you thought that a mechanical pencil was something that you couldn’t splash out on, though, think again, as fountain pens don’t hold the monopoly on luxury writing utensils. The Graf Von Faber-Castell Pocket Pencil, for example, is just as expensive as it sounds at £120.
As you can see, mechanical pencils nowadays all have such amazing features that it can be almost impossible to choose just one to purchase. Why don’t you buy a few to test out the different mechanisms for yourself? Either way, we hope that this article helped you to find the perfect one.