What Makes a Good Mechanical Pen?

Mechanical pens have reusable holders that use thick sticks of graphite lead. They are also called automatic or propelling pencils. A mechanical pen uses a mechanism for extending the lead, the most common of which is a push-button type. The leads come in different sizes, the most common are 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm. There are mechanical pens that use 2 mm leads, sometimes wider, but these fall under a separate category called the lead holders.

Most people prefer to use mechanical pens instead of the more traditional wooden pencils because of the following reasons:

  • Reusable
  • Don’t need sharpening
  • Most comfortable to hold
  • More consistent line widths
  • Don’t change shape over time
  • Easier to store.

There are also people who prefer mechanical pens instead of traditional pens because of these:

  • Erasable
  • Don’t leak
  • Never bleed, feather, or skip
  • Graphite writings will literally last forever


How to Choose a Good Mechanical Pen

There are many different options available in the market today. To choose the right one for you, there is a few things to consider.

Diameter of the Lead

The different lead sizes have their own uses. If you want to draw fine lines, you should choose a 0.3 mm lead. If you will just use your mechanical pen for writing and drawing, you’ll need a 0.5 mm lead size. If you’ll use it for sketching and drawings that don’t need to be too detailed, 0.7 mm lead is recommended, which is thicker.

Hardness of the Lead

A mechanical pen with soft lead has darker lines and is more prone to smudging. A hard lead is used if you want to get light, finer lines. You’ll find indications on the pens to for its “softness” – a number followed by “B”. The higher the number on the indicator, the softer the lead. To indicate the hardness of the lead, you’ll see the letter “H” with a number as well. The higher the number, the harder the lead. If you see “F” and “HB” leads, these are the pens that are in the middle – not too soft, not too hard.

The Mechanism Used

Another consideration is the mechanism used on the retractable lead. Your choice will depend on what you might prefer or more comfortable in using. One of the most commonly used is a push-button type, which could be found on the side of the pen or at the top. There is also the twist operation, which you’ll find in older models. There is the “shake” advance, which is not commonly used. If you need to extend the lead, you will simply shake the pen up and down. The sliding weight inside the pen will allow it to extend the lead.

Weight and Grip

Weight and grip are two important considerations because you want a pen that is comfortable to use and won’t strain your fingers and wrist. It has to be lightweight. It also has to have a firm grip so it doesn’t slip off when you write. Other features to consider is a bumpy texture, which makes mechanical pens more ergonomic.


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