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Best mechanical pencil 2022: Scribble in style with the best mechanical pencils to suit any budget

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Sick of blunt pencils? Get yourself a mechanical pencil and put your sharpening days behind you

The best mechanical pencil is a reliable tool when it comes to drawing, sketching or jotting down notes. Unlike a pen, there’s no risk of leaking, and it’s much more forgiving when it comes to making mistakes.

Regular pencil-users will be all-too-familiar with the mountains of wood shavings that pile up with constant sharpening. The more you sharpen a pencil, the shorter it gets, and there’s nothing worse than finding out that your pencil’s lead is broken.

A mechanical pencil aims to eliminate many of the issues associated with its traditional cousin. Instead of sharpening, lead is fed through the nib with the simple push of a button. And when the lead has run out, it can be replaced. If you find you’re using a pencil a lot, for work or otherwise, a mechanical pencil can be a great investment.

Whatever your budget or preferred style, we’ve put together a list of the best mechanical pencils you can buy, alongside a guide to the main factors to consider before buying.

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Best mechanical pencil: At a glance

How to buy the best mechanical pencil for you

Why should I buy a mechanical pencil?

As we’ve already mentioned, there are several benefits to choosing a mechanical pencil, the most notable one being that they don’t require sharpening. Not only does this avoid the mess of wood shavings, but you also get a more consistent line width. Lead refills are very accessible and can be bought relatively cheaply: 12 packs of 12 leads will cost you £3 on Amazon.

Another obvious advantage is the longevity of a mechanical pencil. Provided you’ve bought the refills in advance, you don’t need to think about replacing your pencil when it has reached the end of its life. There are some arguments to suggest that mechanical pencils are more environmentally friendly, though this should be taken with a pinch of salt. While mechanical pencils do have the advantage of being reusable, most are made of plastic which is not as sustainable as wood.

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.

For the sake of our roundup, we’ve opted to stick to the more sensibly priced pencils, and the most expensive item on our list, the Rotring Rapid Pro, is still relatively affordable at around £23.

Anything else I need to consider?

Many mechanical pencils are fitted with a pipe slide, which is a small retractable sleeve within the pencil that houses the lead. The main benefit of a pipe slide is that it protects the lead from damage and reduces the chance of it getting bent or snapped when stored in your pocket or bag.

It’s also important to bear in mind the thickness of the lead when buying a mechanical pencil, as different leads will fit different pencils. For writing, you’ll want a lead that’s thick enough that it won’t break with use, such as 0.5mm or 0.7mm. Thinner leads, on the other hand, while weaker, are perhaps better for the most intricate of details.

JetPens has a more comprehensive guide to lead sizes here.

Read next: The best fountain pens to buy from £13

The best mechanical pencils to buy, from £7

1. Uni Kuru Toga: Best all-round mechanical pencil

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

For a reliable and affordable mechanical pencil, the Kuru Toga is a great choice, made by the Japanese Mitsubishi Pencil Company, which is also responsible for manufacturing the popular Uni-ball pen range.

The USP of the Kuru Toga is that it is fitted with a mechanism that rotates the lead each time it’s applied to the page and removed, so the tip is kept consistently sharp (this is perhaps less effective when drawing, as you’re more likely to keep the pencil on the page for longer strokes). The casing is made primarily from plastic, which makes it lightweight without feeling too flimsy, and at the end of the pencil is a removable cap containing a small eraser.

The Uni Kuru Toga has an overwhelmingly positive review score on Amazon, with 89% of customers giving it a four or five star rating. For £7 you also get 12 lead refills and five extra erasers.

Key features - Main materials: Plastic; Lead thickness: 0.5mm; Lead hardness: HB

2. Pentel P200 Series Set of Four: Best value mechanical pencil set

Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon

For just over £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 less than £5 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.

Key features - Main materials: Plastic, metal; Lead thickness: 0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm; Lead hardness: HB

3. Rotring Rapid Pro: Best metal mechanical pencil

Price: From £23 | Buy now from Amazon

German brand Rotring is a leader in mechanical pencils and drawing tools and, as such, this is one of the pricier pencils on our list. However, we’d argue that the writing experience you get with the beautifully designed Rapid Pro mechanical pencil is worth the price.

The Rapid Pro has a full metal body, designed to give it a solid weight and balance, while the rougher knurled metal section of the barrel acts as a grip. It has a sliding sleeve that holds the lead, which can be retracted when not in use, and, like the Kuru Toga, it has a small eraser beneath the cap.

The Rotring Rapid Pro currently comes in a choice of three two sizes: 0.5mm and 0.7mm.

Key features - Main materials: Metal; Lead thickness: 0.5mm, 0.7mm; Lead hardness: HB

4. Stabilo EASYergo mechanical pencil: Best ergonomic pencil for learning to write

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

Designed to help young children with their handwriting, the EASYergo mechanical pencil fits a 3.15mm thick lead. Although this is significantly thicker than some of the other pencils we have recommended here (it can be sharpened with the included sharpener), a thicker and stronger lead can be helpful for children who struggle with the amount of pressure to apply. Although there’s no pipe slide mechanism, the graphite can still be retracted into the pencil.

According to Stabilo, the EASYergo is recommended by teachers, occupational therapists and special needs experts, while also being approved by the National Handwriting Association. The plastic body has an ergonomic non-slip grip to help with handling and you can choose between right-handed or left-handed models. According to several positive Amazon reviews, it’s a proven success for children just learning to write.

Key features - Main materials: Plastic; Lead thickness: 3.15mm; Lead hardness: HB

5. Lamy Safari Mechanical Pencil: Best-looking mechanical pencil

Price: From £13 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’ve read our ‘best fountain pens’ list, then you’ll probably recognise the Lamy Safari, which we recommended in part for its stylish Bauhaus-esque modernist design.

The Safari features here for much the same reason. Unlike the Rotring Rapid Pro, the body is made from plastic (with a metal clip), but it still looks fantastic, with subtle indents forming an ergonomic grip. It also comes with a tiny cleaning needle, attached to the eraser underneath the button cap, which is a lovely touch and a uniquely helpful feature. At £16, it’s reasonably affordable and comes in a range of understated colours. If you’ve already got a Lamy Safari pen, then this is the perfect pencil companion.

Key features - Main materials: Plastic, with metal clip; Lead thickness: 0.7mm; Lead hardness: HB

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