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Eight mechanical pencils, sit in a row, on a white countertop. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Best Mechanical Pencils of 2022

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Eight mechanical pencils, sit in a row, on a white countertop. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

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Editor's Choice Product image of Pentel Sharp Kerry
Best Overall

Pentel Sharp Kerry

The classy-looking pencil is well made and performs well. Read More

Pros

  • All-metal mechanisms
  • Clever design

Cons

  • Surface becomes slick during long writing sessions.
Product image of rOtring 600

rOtring 600

While it boasts an all-metal body and performs well enough, its lack of a retractable pipe could be a dealbreaker, for some. Read More

Pros

  • smooth, solid performance
  • All metal body

Cons

  • No retractable pipe
Product image of rOtring 800+

rOtring 800+

The weight and balance of this mechanical pencil are great. However, it performs poorly on low-quality paper. Read More

Pros

  • Retractable pipe
  • Well-balanced

Cons

  • performs poorly on low-quality paper
Product image of Pilot Dr. Grip G-Spec Shaker Mechanical Pencil

Pilot Dr. Grip G-Spec Shaker Mechanical Pencil

While this pencil's comfortable grip is great for long writing sessions, its girth may be less than ideal for smaller hands. Read More

Pros

  • Comfortable to write with
  • Smooth mechanism

Cons

  • Circumference too larger for smaller hands
Product image of Uni Kuru Toga

Uni Kuru Toga

While this mechanical pencil writes well on most types of paper, it is prone to jamming. Read More

Pros

  • Adequate writing performance

Cons

  • Prone to jamming

While laptops and tablets get a lot of attention these days, kicking it old school with a pen and pencil are still a great way to round out the tools you use as part of your daily writing routine. And upgrading to a reliable high-quality mechanical pencil is a smart idea for whenever you write something that may need to be erased or want to fiddle with the Sunday crossword puzzle.

After four weeks of looking into the top products on the market, we can tell you that the Pentel Kerry (available at Target for $12.89) is the best mechanical pencil you can buy. It looks as good as it writes.

Editor's Note

The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.

A Pentel Kerry Mechanical Pencils sits on a desk, next to a hand-written note.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Pentel Kerry is the best mechanical pencil, for most people.

Best Overall
Pentel Sharp Kerry

With a knurled metal highlight in the middle of its plastic shaft, the Pentel Kerry looks like something you’d find on an executive’s desk, especially when capped. The cap protects the pencil tip when not in use, keeping it safe from breakage. Remove the cap from the business end of the pencil and post it on the end of its barrel and the Kerry becomes a well-balanced writing instrument that is long enough to accommodate most hand sizes and writing styles.

The Kerry has a metal grip and all-metal mechanism and nock (the part of the mechanism that advances the lead inside of the pencil). When advancing lead, the action is both consistent and smooth. Overall, the Kerry performed well during testing. It writes well on a variety of paper—it was one of the only pencils in our test group that didn’t tear the basic Hilroy notebook paper. No matter which paper we tested it on, there was no noticeable drag or change in line width as you write and dull the lead. When used for drawing, the Kerry provided good line variation and shading.

We loved that the Kerry’s cap has a button that activates the mechanism on the barrel to advance its lead. This makes it unnecessary to unpost the cap as you write. The eraser is conveniently tucked in the plunger and works well, despite its small size.

The only issue we had with this pencil is that its grip is smooth, which can make it slick in your hand while writing.

Pros

  • All-metal mechanisms

  • Clever design

Cons

  • Surface becomes slick during long writing sessions.

Product image of rOtring 600
rOtring 600

A solid, smooth writer on every paper tested, the Rotring 600 has a sturdy, full metal body with a matte finish. Its knurled grip is comfortable and easy to hold, even though the pencil’s diameter is on the smaller side, compared to others we tested for this guide.. The 600’s balance is what makes it a great pencil: it’s easy to use for long periods of time, and its lead doesn’t seem to dull as you write. We also liked that its advance mechanism is smooth and consistent.

From a design standpoint, the 600 definitely reads more like an engineering tool than an elegant writing instrument.

Unfortunately, the 600’s design doesn’t include a retractable pipe (where the lead comes out of the tip of the pencil). This makes it less than ideal as an everyday carry. Without a pocket protector or a makeshift cap (Bic Crystal pen caps are supposed to be a good fit), this pencil will leave lead marks on your stuff if you forget to retract the lead before stowing it.

Pros

  • smooth, solid performance

  • All metal body

Cons

  • No retractable pipe

Product image of rOtring 800+
rOtring 800+

The Rotring 800’s pipe can be retracted into its barrel by turning the top of the pencil. This is the heaviest of the pencils tested, with a sturdy metal build. It has a matte finish, and knurled metal grip with great balance and an easy loading mechanism. The 800 is one of the more expensive pencils tested but protecting your stuff from stray pencil marks may make it worth it for an everyday carry.

While the balance on this pencil is great, it did catch on the basic Hilroy notebook paper.

Pros

  • Retractable pipe

  • Well-balanced

Cons

  • performs poorly on low-quality paper

Product image of Pilot Dr. Grip G-Spec Shaker Mechanical Pencil
Pilot Dr. Grip G-Spec Shaker Mechanical Pencil

The Pilot Dr. Grip G-Spec Shaker Mechanical Pencil has a chunky gel grip that makes it a lot more comfortable to use during longer writing sessions. It’s made mostly out of plastic, but it doesn’t feel flimsy while writing. It’s definitely still a weighty pencil thanks to the grip, coming in at 20 g. Its balance is more focused towards the tip but it remains comfortable to write with.

The Dr. Grip’s advance mechanism is smooth and, happily, makes it possible to release the clutch and push the excess lead back in. The eraser under the cap is small but effective. During testing, it performed well on all of the paper stocks in our test group.

That said, it does not give the control that a pencil with a smaller barrel and grip, such as the Rotring 600, can. If you’re looking for a comfortable writing experience, though, this is a good option.

Pros

  • Comfortable to write with

  • Smooth mechanism

Cons

  • Circumference too larger for smaller hands

Product image of Uni Kuru Toga
Uni Kuru Toga

The Uni Kuru Toga has a special rotation mechanism that turns the lead as you write, keeping the pencil’s lead from developing a flat edge. While it writes well, we’re not sure that there was any advantage to this feature. Advancing the Kuru Toga’s lead is smooth but the rotating mechanism means that shorter pieces of lead can get jammed. During testing, we found that this pencil writes well on most paper, albeit, there were some minor issues with snagging.

The Kuru Toga is available in several models with slight variations in the clip and barrel—plastic and metal are both available.

Pros

  • Adequate writing performance

Cons

  • Prone to jamming

Product image of Staedtler Graphite 925
Staedtler Graphite 925

Staedtler makes a broad range of products for drawing and drafting. The 925-25 05 is on the lower end of their range of mechanical pencils. It writes well, has a lovely balance, and a nice knurled grip. The barrel is about the same width as a standard ballpoint pen and the tip allows for a good view of your paper when you’re doing detailed work.

The 925-25 05 ‘S build quality feels nice. It’s a little lighter than some of the other pencils in this guide, but still feels well balanced in the hand. It comes with a wire tucked in with the eraser for clearing any jams (very handy) and is easy to load. The eraser provided does its job cleanly.

Unfortunately, during drop testing, the 925-25 05 landed tip down—the heaviest point on the pencil—bending the pipe where the lead comes out. Up until then, it had performed well on all paper and the mechanism nocks the lead smoothly and consistently.

Pros

  • Knurled grip

  • Well-balanced

Cons

  • Lead breaks easily when dropped

Product image of Pentel Twist Erase Click
Pentel Twist Erase Click

The Pentel Twist Erase Click is a great option for anyone who does a lot of erasing as they write. Instead of having to remove the pencil’s plunger, the pencil’s eraser mechanism twists up. This reduces the possibility of losing its cap. The Twist Erase’s eraser is the largest included with any of the pencils we tested for this guide and worked well on most of the paper stock we used during testing. When erasing on our Strathmore art pad, it had a difficult time cleanly removing the lines. However, as none of the erasers we tested performed well on the Strathmore’s textured surface (a kneadable eraser is a better bet for art paper,) It’s difficult to view this as a failing.

On the writing side of things, the Twist Erase’s internal mechanism is smooth and consistent when advancing lead though we did not find the side click mechanism convenient - it’s not quite in the right spot for me to be able to use it without changing the position of the pencil in my hand. It does snag if you press hard on thinner paper, but it’s still a solid performer with a large eraser that erases cleanly, making it more of a workhorse than some of the other pencils tested.

Pros

  • Large eraser

  • Smooth mechanism

Cons

  • Frequently catches on paper while writing

Product image of Tombow Mono Graph
Tombow Mono Graph

The Tombow Mono Graph Shaker pencil works unlike any other mechanical pencil in this guide: shaking the pencil up and down advances its lead so you can keep on writing. It’s a clever idea, but it’s a little too easy to trigger by accident. On several occasions, we found myself with more lead at the end of the Tombow than we needed. However, this is easy to remedy: simply hold open the Tom Bow’s clutch, and the excess lead can be slid back into the pencil’s barrel. The shaking mechanism also locks by sliding the clip up, preventing the mechanism from sliding inside the barrel of the pencil.

The Tombow was an average performer on all the paper we tested it on. The lead that comes in the pencil is smooth and strong. The pencil's barrel is slightly wider than those of the other mechanical pencils in the guide. Unfortunately, its larger circumference is wasted: with no tapering and the barrel’s being made of slick plastic, any potential ergonomic advantage is lost.

Pros

  • Average writing performance

Cons

  • Lead too easily advanced by accident.

Meet the tester

Leah Fitzgerald

Leah Fitzgerald

Contributor

Leah Fitzgerald is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

See all of Leah Fitzgerald's reviews

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