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Best Mechanical Pencils Under $50?

mechanical pencils

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22 replies to this topic

#1 Winraid


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Posted 12 April 2017 - 16:19

What are the best mechanical pencils under $50? 


I want them to look and write nice simultaneously. 


Thanks in advance for your suggestions.  :)

Edited by Winraid, 12 April 2017 - 18:04.

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#2 flatline



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Posted 12 April 2017 - 17:13

My first recommendation is always the Pentel Sharp Kerry. It looks great, it feels great, and it is pocket safe so you can easily get to and from your meetings.



#3 Lord Epic

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 18:38

I quite like my Muji pencil - in fact I'm tempted to get another one.


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#4 escribo


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Posted 12 April 2017 - 19:38

Just the cheap Pentel .5mm mechanical pencils like this or this if you need more eraser, etc. I've used these types over 30 years, and though they likely won't last that long (although they might), they are cheap enough to replace.

Looks are up to you, as I can't see inside your head.


I may not have been much help, but I DID bump your thread up to the top.

#5 SallyLyn


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Posted 12 April 2017 - 19:46

I like the Pentel Sharp P20+ series. Inexpensive but have some over 40 years old. Also have vintage Sheaffer pencils that match Sheaffer Snorkels and another model, the 180? The Parker Jotter Ballpoint has a matching pencil. Last three rather thin pencils so you may not like.

Another trip to never never land is the wooden pencil. You might enjoy the Blackwing.

And there is always the Bullet Pencil. Most vintage may not be suited for office attire but the new machined aluminum ones are interesting. You can have a variety of wooden pencil nibs to swap.

As linked above, JetPens has articles on pencils you might find interesting or helpful

Edited by SallyLyn, 12 April 2017 - 19:48.

#6 bearcat1


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Posted 12 April 2017 - 22:07

I like the Rotring 600 in Silver.  There is also a black model as well.


These are on the expensive side but very well made:



#7 NinthSphere


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Posted 12 April 2017 - 23:38

Kuru Toga Roulette for the auto rotating mechanism & don't mind a fixed lead pipe. Kuru Toga Pipe Slide if you want the auto rotation with a retractable lead pipe & don't mind the appearance of the basic Kuru Toga model.


My other go-to for 0.5 is a Rotring Rapid Pro for the weight, knurling, faceted body, & retractable sleeve.


0.9 & 1.1mm, I go for vintage Autopoint or Wahl-Eversharp twist pencils.

#8 stuck-in-time



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Posted 13 April 2017 - 04:01

Apart from function and technical considerations (sleeve type, mechanism, etc.), It depends a lot on what your definition of nice looking is. I myself think the technical designs typical to drafting pencils are very nice, so I'd suggest the Rotring 600. But you can also get the Rotring 500 which is about half the price and yet at a glance looks exactly the same but made from plastic. 


For something else that's very good value for the price, there's the Pentel Graph Gear series (500 & 1000) and Graph/Graph for Pro 1000.


If you're looking for a less technical design, my top recommendation would be the Pilot S20. In my opinion, this certainly is one the best looking pencils on the market. The profile the entire Pilot S-series is just so stunning to look at, and being made of real wood makes does make it stand out.

#9 mirosc


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Posted 13 April 2017 - 08:13

A Pilot S20 and a Lamy Scribble (and a tiny 7cm no-name) are the only mechanical pencils I have kept - for the same reasons


#10 milkb0at


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Posted 13 April 2017 - 08:24

For writing? Pentel Kerry gets my choice. I admire my Pilot S20 - it looks lovely and it's nicely made out of wood - but I don't like it. My wife loves it, though, as do a lot of people.


For me, things like GraphGears are great drafting pencils but aren't so nice to write with.


Best overall pencil, and one I tend to grab most, is the humble Pentel P205. It's just great.


I also really like my Staedtler Mars leadholder if you'd prefer to go down that route. That plus the Staedtler barrel sharpener so you can have fine tune the lead for writing or super-pointy for drawing.

#11 flatline



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Posted 13 April 2017 - 12:15

If you like knurling, the Pilot s10 is wonderful. As is the Alvin Draftmatic.

#12 sciumbasci


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Posted 13 April 2017 - 15:16

The promecha, basic version (not the fancy one that slides and can be adjusted). Robust and cheap enough to do the job.

#13 watch_art


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Posted 13 April 2017 - 16:12

Vanness has some vintage Sheaffer pencils, NOS they got from somebody in Arkansas I think.


Very similar to the one second to right-



Their email is


fpn_1432247667__cropped-20150427_0641231 sigpic14481_1.gif vanness.jpg?t=1321916122

#14 MYU


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Posted 14 April 2017 - 04:04

I agree, for a new mechanical pencil, you can't go wrong with a Pentel Sharp Kerry.  


If you're not hung up about looks, go with a Uniball Kuru Toga. They have a unique design where the lead rotates, to help avoid getting that sharp edge and flat spot effect.  The latest also sports a retractable sleeve, so that the pencil is pocket safe.  About $8.  Another nice one for about the same price is the MUJI Hexagon.  It's clear and minimalist.


But if you're into higher quality at lower costs than new, you may want to go hunting for vintage mechanical pencils from eBay.  Pilot makes some of the best affordable ones.  My favorite is the 2+1 all steel multi-function pencil, where the implements are very firm in place (no wiggling).  Mitsubishi makes some fine ones as well.


rOtring is renowned for their drafting mechanical pencils. The 600 is amazing.  There's also a Rapid Pro model that's a little heavier.  The 600 is still made and can be had for as little as $20 new (Amazon).  Excellent price compared to original prices (I think they used to range from $49 to $79).  They're not made quite the same way they were back in the 70's and 80's, but still better than the clones that have been attempted (like the Redcircle).

Edited by MYU, 14 April 2017 - 04:13.

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#15 Zookie


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Posted 18 April 2017 - 06:34

I've been using a Papermate Comfortmate 0.7 lately. It's nothing fancy, but very nice to use, nice and grippy. They carry them at Staples for less than 10 USD for a package of two.

#16 dayrow


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Posted 18 April 2017 - 14:40

Pentel makes a beautiful range of lightweight drafting pencils, which apart from being fit for decades of use are quite good as daily writers. I happen to like the designs on all of these. They include:


  • The PG5 "Slim" (.5mm only)
  • The Sharplet-2 (to my knowledge in .5, .7, and .9)
  • The Smash (.5)
  • The P200/Sharp series (.3, .5, .7, .9)
  • The Graphlet (.3, .4, .5, .7., .9)

You may prefer the looks of the Kerry, recommended above. But these all have a classic design, apart from the Smash which is still quite interesting. Any one of them would catch my eye, except perhaps the all-black .5mm Sharplet-2. And they're tried and true, these things.


Some side benefits:


The Graphlet has a ribbed metal grip.


The Graphlet, Smash, and PG5 have lead indicators, though I think they all tend toward harder grades used in drafting work. (My PG5, which I have at hand, goes from 4H to B.)


The PG5 comes with a cleaning rod.


If I had to recommend any one of them and you enjoyed .5mm leads, I'd say PG5. It's just built to last. Everything's screwed into place; it's long, light, and slender; it has a nice ribbed/knurled (but plastic) grip that makes for easy turning; and the look of the thing is artful.


I happen to use the Sharplet-2 more often, only because I prefer the .7 and .9mm lead sizes. (The .7 has a dark blue body with baby blue trim, the .9 a brown body with yellow.)


The Sharplet-2 also has the shortest sleeve.


As an added benefit, these are all well within your price range. Buy a few! For different lead grades, sizes, ...

Edited by dayrow, 18 April 2017 - 14:44.

#17 MYU


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Posted 18 April 2017 - 15:21

The lead indicator is a nice touch and I wish more pencil makers provided those.  There is the aesthetic impact, which few have done really well (rOtring is the exception, IMHO).


I have a PG5 and would agree it's a very good value for the money.


Incidentally, I've found most cleaning rods provided by default to be a bit limited, in terms of length and strength.  Recently I bought a set of eraser units made by Pilot, and they come in this little "case".  On the joint end of the case is a channel where they provide 2 cleaning rods.  And they're very well made.  Long and with a nice "O" coil handle.  It was a nice surprise to find this and it helped me out with clearing the lead out of a troublesome pencil.

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#18 Megathron


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Posted 30 January 2018 - 08:15

Can it be cheaper - to use just wooden pencil , but with electric pencil sharpener?
I found an article with comparison by price and reviews https://prizedreview...ncil-sharpener/
But is it reasonable? I don't know much about prices of art supplies and their caracteristics

#19 Torrilin


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Posted 01 February 2018 - 22:32

Top end mechanical pencil lead rarely costs more than $5 for 40 leads (more typically it’s about $3 for 40). And you can typically fit at least 10 leads in a body, which is a lot of writing. Some pencil bodies can take over 20 leads. And the mechanical pencil will take a lot less fuss to stay sharp.

Wood pencils will need sharpening. A lot of sharpening. If you want minimal down time, that’s a minus. I’m not sure how writing time per dollar compares to mechanical pencil lead, but it’s going to be tricky unless a wooden pencil lasts for more than 10 mechanical leads. There aren’t any wooden pencils with acceptable erasers. Even the vaguely competent ones will have an itty bitty eraser. So if you use a wooden pencil you need at least one separate eraser if you want to erase. Basically I’d save wooden pencils for kids who are developing fine motor control or who are still impulsive about what goes in their mouth.

Speaking of erasers, it’s now pretty common for mechanical pencils to offer a nice huge eraser like the Pentel Twist Erase has. Big, good, refillable and difficult to lose.

The mechanical pencil bodies I’d use in high school in the 1990s that blew our tiny little minds (like Twist Erase) are still available and cost a lot less. No more blowing $5-10 on a pencil body that’s good enough. Sometimes you can get good enough bodies for $2 or less. Eraser refills are cheaper too mostly. Lead costs about the same but is less breakable and is available in more grades. Whereas it’s pretty tough to get wooden pencils that are as nice and as cheap.

Clutch pencils or solid graphite sticks are worth considering for artsy kids (and adults). They’re got the same disadvantages as wooden pencils on the eraser front, but they tend to stay sharp better and make more interesting marks. They don’t get as cheap as mechanical pencils, but they’ll work for standardized tests in a pinch.

The last thing is I basically can’t think of any pencil art geeks who will accept the results of a random pencil sharpener. School style hand cranks that cover a full size range are probably ok. They probably have a hand sharpener they don’t hate. And there’s a very short list of electric sharpeners that won’t die under a classroom or artist workload. Or yeah, there’s a reason your school classrooms probably had a single hand crank sharpener.

#20 MCN


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Posted 02 February 2018 - 02:22

I love the Zebra DelGuard - very comfortable grip and almost impossible to break the lead. Not to mention the absurdly clever auto-hiding eraser.

This particular one is my fave:


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