Which mechanical pencil is best?

Mechanical pencils are a useful tool for any student, educator or artist, making up part of the reason why they’ve become so popular. While many of the world’s best mechanical pencils simply come from trusted brands in the office supplies industry, you can also find a wide range of custom and purpose-driven mechanical pencils that work great for specific needs.

For the average user, the BIC Xtra-Smooth 0.7-millimeter Mechanical Pencils are the perfect middle ground, and buying them in bulk packs is a great way to save money and stock up.

What to know before you buy a mechanical pencil

What you plan to use it for

Ultimately, the best mechanical pencils will just be those that work best for the user’s needs, and while some may have very particular pencil needs, others might just need a model that can write and erase. On the other hand, drawing artists or others needing aesthetic control over their lines and writings may want to choose a pencil with the point thickness that suits their needs best.

Eraser types

While the standard for any pencil is to include a small eraser on the tip opposite the graphite side, some mechanical pencils will include longer lengths of erasers that can be deployed from the pencil by twisting or pressing a button. These can go a much longer way than the erasers of regular mechanical or wooden pencils, which is a selling point for many buyers.

Buying in bulk

If you’re buying a basic mechanical pencil, you’ll likely pay almost as much buying a single unit as you will buying multiple. For that reason, many mechanical pencils are offered in packs of two or more, though high-end mechanical pencils and custom units may cost more for a single item. However, buying pencils in bulk is a great way to ensure you have plenty for yourself, your class or your club.

What to look for in a quality mechanical pencil

Point size

Mechanical pencil point sizes will range from the super-thin 0.2 millimeter to as thick as 1.2 millimeters. While mechanical pencil point sizes are largely up to the preference of the individual, those needing finer lines will benefit from a smaller tip, while those that like the feeling of a smoother writing surface may want to try something between 0.6 millimeter and 1 millimeter.

Comfortable grip

It might be understated, but a mechanical pencil with a comfortable grip can go a long way, especially if you plan to spend multiple hours per day writing. Different buyers may find differing grip styles comfortable. You can find a range of mechanical pencil grips that are thinner, thicker, smoother or have more grip than others, depending on what you like.

Style and color

In a purely aesthetic sense, many will purchase mechanical pencils based mostly on their color and/or overall style. A pencil’s style will have no bearing on its actual technical performance, though you can find mechanical pencils in a range of colors, designs and overall looks.

How much you can expect to spend on a mechanical pencil

While a single mechanical pencil may cost $3-$6, bulk packs of mechanical pencils are usually just a few bucks more and range from $10-$20. Some cost even more depending on how many and what kind you purchase.

Mechanical pencil FAQ

Are mechanical pencils the same as #2 pencils?

A. While the classification of #2 pencils largely refers to the graphite’s hardness and overall shade, any mechanical pencil lead marked “HB” will replicate a similar likeness to that of a #2 pencil. A #2 pencil’s thickness will vary depending on the size of the inner graphite core, though mechanical pencils also feature a wide range of point sizes.

Can you use mechanical pencils for drawing?

A. You can use mechanical pencils for many different types of drawing. One of the benefits of using mechanical pencils rather than wooden pencils is the ability to choose models with your preferred point thickness, allowing artists of many kinds to choose from mechanical pencils with a point as thin as 0.2 millimeter or as thick as 1.2 millimeters, depending on what you prefer. 

What’s the best mechanical pencil to buy?

Top mechanical pencil

BIC Xtra Smooth 0.7-millimeter Medium Point 40-Pack of Mechanical Pencils

BIC Xtra Smooth 0.7-millimeter Medium Point 40-Pack of Mechanical Pencils

What you need to know: Buying a bulk pack of mechanical pencils is a simple way to save on your purchase. This medium-point pack of pencils comes from one of the industry’s most recognizable brands.

What you’ll love: Compared to the average wood pencil, these mechanical pencils will actually last longer, featuring a 0.7-millimeter medium-point tip that many love. This bulk pack’s pencil clips also feature four different clip colors. You can also purchase these models in smaller packs, if desired.

What you should consider: This pack doesn’t include any backup lead or erasers, and the pencil itself doesn’t include a very large eraser.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top mechanical pencil for the money

Pentel Twist-Erase III 0.9-millimeter Thick Point Two-Pack of Mechanical Pencils

Pentel Twist-Erase III 0.9-millimeter Thick Point Two-Pack of Mechanical Pencils

What you need to know: This twisting mechanical pencil pack comes with a slightly thicker point at 0.9 millimeter, and it comes with two interchangeable erasers as backup.

What you’ll love: Many users like this pencil pack’s thick, firm pencil grip, as well its simple twist-to-deploy-eraser mechanism. These mechanical pencils are quite a bit thicker in form than many other models, which some prefer over a thinner pencil body. They can also be found in multiple lead thicknesses.

What you should consider: While it does come with additional erasers, this model doesn’t include any refillable lead.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Paper Mate Clearpoint 0.7-millimeter Medium Point Single Mechanical Pencil

Paper Mate Clearpoint 0.7-millimeter Medium Point Single Mechanical Pencil

What you need to know: If a single mechanical pencil is all you’re looking for, this Clearpoint model from Paper Mate is both affordable and useful, offering a twist-up eraser and 0.7-millimeter lead.

What you’ll love: Paper Mate’s Clearpoint pencil line is known for featuring a comfortable, albeit thin, grip, and a simple side button for pushing out the lead. It also features a classic twist-up eraser and can be purchased in various sizes and colors.

What you should consider: Some buyers ordered this pencil thinking it would come in a bulk pack rather than a single pencil.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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