The Best Drafting Pencil

Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil

Our Top Pick for 2016: Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $8.35*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Drafting Pencils are still a popular item, even with computer software taking over many hand drawing jobs. These pencils are made to withstand the heavy duty rigors of professional use. They are a favorite with designers, artists, teachers, and anyone looking for a reliable writing instrument. The following is a list of our top picks when it comes to drafting pencils along with some helpful hints as to what features to look for.

Table of contents

Aluminum Body
Chiseled Metallic Grip
For Professionals
Lead Grade Indicator
Inlaid With Soft Latex-free Pads
Metal Clip
Dual-action Retractor
Knurled Stainless Steel Finger Grips
Balanced Body Weight
Easy Use
Cushion Points
Refillable With Pentel Super Hi-polymer Lead
4mm Long Stainless Steel Lead Sleeve

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil

Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $8.35*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThe Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil is a wonderful value for its price. It provides users a writing comfort with a metallic grip that has been finely chiseled and inlaid with latex-free, soft pads. You’ll find it very easy to use. The dual action retractor retreats and advances the tip, and it can be refilled with Z2-1 erasers and the Pentel Super Hi-Polymer Lead.

This is a superior drafting pencil that can be used for both general use and technical writing. It will write with crisp, clean lines, and it has a sophisticated looking brushed metal barrel. The pocket clip serves two functions as it also releases the heavy spring mechanism that retracts the tip. It weighs 0.8 ounces, and the dimensions on this model are 0.6 by 6 by 0.6 inches.

The Pentel Graph Gear 100 creates a consistent density to its .5mm fine lines. The pencil lead degree it uses, or rather the lead’s hardness, is HB (#2). This means you will be getting an industry leading lead with this pencil that is super strong, never needs to be sharpened, and produces clean, dark lines. The lead hardness indicator is built into this piece allowing you to quickly remember what type of lead you have in it. This is a wonderful feature if you’ll be using multiples of this pencil, each with a different lead.

This particular drafting pencil is made by Pentel of America which is a division of the well-known Pentel Company, LTD. who has spent over half of a century creating the world’s top writing instruments. Their commitment to quality and innovation can be found in this drafting pencil with its 4mm tip design. This size tip makes it the ideal pencil to use with templates and rulers. Weighted at the fingertips, this solid design offers precise results for professional work and drafting needs. An eraser is concealed under the cap where it stays clean and ready to use.

It is very easy to figure out how to use the Pentel Graph Gear 1000. You simply need to push the pocket clip, found at the top, inward to retract the sleeve. Just as you would with a pen, you can push down the top to expose the sleeve. A light pressure will advance the lead.

Online reviews speak highly of this drafting pencil. Many have found it feel just right from the moment they first pick it up. They also comment on how it is sturdy enough to handle the abuse these types of mechanical pencils will face on a day to day basis. The metal case has a robust design that holds up well when accidentally dropped on the floor. Best of all, the pencil’s tip is hidden. This means it is protected against these unexpected falls.

When compared to similar models on the market, people have high praise for this particular drafting pencil. The thickness of it is just right when holding it. Along with being comfortable to use, it won’t wiggle around the way so many mechanical pencils with retractable tips will. Those who use it daily for work find that the construction is very tight. You won’t hear any internal parts rattling around other than the lead found inside of it.

While drafters and engineers enjoy the comfort and dependability of the Pentel Graph Gear 1000, others have come to love this model as well. Teachers and students who use mechanical pencils on a regular basis also have high regard for this design. Artists have said it is perfect for sketching on the go. When you consider all of the high quality features found on this pencil, it is definitely a top pick.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Staedtler 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil Silver Series

Staedtler 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil Silver Series

View it on Amazon for $8.27*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe Staedtler 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil Silver Series (925 25-05) is a superior mechanical pencil when it comes to draft work and every day writing. As a part of the popular silver series of Staedtler pencils, it has an attractive design that looks and functions nicely. It weighs 0.6 ounces and measures 5.6 by 0.5 by 0.3 inches. This means it is a comfortable size and weight for extended hours of use. Engineers and drafters as well as teachers, students, and office workers found this pencil to function wonderfully while still looking stylish.

The steady 0.5mm lines it produces are created by the HB 0.5 lead. The advancing mechanism is solid and consistently advances the lead for smooth, clean lines. The amount of lead that is exposed is just right for most writing and drafting functions. This keeps the lead from breaking, and it does come with a small eraser. The eraser can be found under the push button end that is used to advance the lead. Here it is kept clean and is easily accessible. Erasers can be replaced with the Staedtler Mechanical Pencil Eraser Refills for the 925 drafting pencils.

This drafting pencil is both convenient and easy to use. You can pull out the eraser to access the pencil’s lead. An adjustable window will show the hardness of the lead you are currently using. An interesting element found in this pencil’s design is the diamond cut grip. It is quite fine and has concentric grooves cut into it which create a firm grip for the user. This grip does not distract from the over-all look of the implement. There is no way that this mechanical pencil will slip while you are writing or drawing with it. The Staedtler 0.5mm comes from Japan.

Reviews speak highly of the entirely metal body found on this drafting pencil. Many writing implements at this price point are created with plastic bodies that can crack after prolonged use. The metal construction of this model creates a much sturdier drafting pencil. Several owners commented that the textured grip area makes this design almost impossible to drop or slide while writing. The thick aluminum barrel doesn’t dent or deform easily. When used as a daily work tool, mechanical drafting pencils are subject to a lot of abuse. Accidental drops can be harmful to many similar products. One online reviewer described himself as clumsy, and he stated that even he couldn’t destroy this pencil.

Although this drafting pencil has a rugged design, it still looks fantastic. Reviewers enjoy the pearlescent finish found on the body, and they have stated that the chrome trim is tastefully done. It has an over-all style that can be appreciated by men, women, and children. It can transition from engineering and draft work to a classroom or office setting easily. The durable tip doesn’t bend, and it has a nice balance when used for artistic work. The removable clip and lightweight feel are favorites of those who own this Staedtler 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil

Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil

View it on Amazon for $10.30*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardThe Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil .9mm is designed for professionals. Special elements such as the auto-feed feature make it a favorite among those who own one. A knurled stainless steel finger grip keeps the implement from slipping or dropping while in use. This is an important design aspect for detailed work such as drafting or art work. The rotating lead degree window allows you to quickly and easily see exactly what lead you have in the pencil at any given time. Cushion points have been added to the over-all design for a more comfortable writing experience that allows the user superior control with minimal lead breakage.

This mechanical pencil uses a 0.9mm lead size. The fact that lead breakage is kept to a minimum saves users the time and expense of constantly replacing it. There is a 4mm long lead sleeve made from stainless steel on this piece. It supports the pencil’s lead, and it provides one with drawing accuracy that includes thick, straight edges. The built in eraser can be found under the cap.

The Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil comes from Japan. It has a stylish look with a maroon colored barrel. The measurements on this particular model are 6 by 0.2 by 0.2 inches, and it weighs 0.8 ounces. This is a comfortable size and weight for extended periods of writing or drawing.

Because this drafting pencil has a reasonable price point, many owners are surprised by how it is not a cheap plastic mechanical pencil like the inexpensive ones you can find in your local office supply stores. This writing implement has a solid, good, tactile feel to it that many online reviewers appreciated. A few comments refer to how this specific pencil can help improve one’s hand writing. One man described it as making his hand feel steadier on the paper. The result for him was cleaner, straighter lines than he has encountered with similar drafting pencils.

Several people who posted online reviews for this product stressed that it isn’t just for draft work. Although most drafting pencils can be used for other purposes, the cost and value of this model makes it quite appealing to students, teachers, and office workers. They all appreciate the smooth lines it creates.

There are plastic components to the Alvin Draft-Matic, but reviewers didn’t find this to be a problem. It gave the pencil a lightweight feel, and the metal body provided enough heft that it helped keep lines tight and even. The aggressive knurling is also a big hit among owners of this mechanical pencil. It allows you to keep you grip firm while giving the implement a stylish design.

Unlike other drafting pencil reviews, those who own this model made several comments as to how the pencil functions in a work environment. Those who use the pencil in work shop areas stated that it is the perfect replacement for the traditional carpenter’s pencils found in the home improvement stores. It makes well defined lines that are much cleaner, and it doesn’t require a pocket knife for sharpening. It was also mentioned that the dusty atmosphere of a shop doesn’t interfere with the performance of this piece.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Pentel GraphGear 500 Automatic Drafting Pencil Black

Pentel GraphGear 500 Automatic Drafting Pencil Black

View it on Amazon for $3.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThe Pentel GraphGear 500 Automatic Drafting Pencil Black (PG525A) has many appealing features for a budget friendly pick. The 0.5mm tip creates fine lines, and the knurled barrel feels nice in your hand. The barrel is made from a chrome heavy metal, and it has a slim, beveled design that provides excellent control and precision when writing or drawing. The metallic mesh grip keeps the implement from slipping during use. In addition, there is a 4mm fixed sleeve that is terrific for technical drawing and template work.

This drafting pencil is created by Pentel Co., Ltd. They are a privately held company in Japan produces quality stationary products. They are the inventor of the non-permanent marker’s technology, and they bring this same strive for innovation to this particular pencil. With this model you will find a top click, stationary tip, and eraser. It can be refilled with Z21 refill erasers and the Pentel Super Hi-Polymer Lead.

Specifications for this drafting pencil include a measurement of 0.4 by 5.8 by 0.4 inches. It weighs 12.8 ounces, and will come with three extra leads. The color is black, giving it a look that is more expensive than its actual cost.

Online reviews describe the Pentel GraphGear 500 as effective, simple, and inexpensive. It has a very good quality and nice balance for its price point. It is an ideal writing implement for teachers, students, and tutors who are looking for an affordable and reliable mechanical pencil for day to day use. It is quite comfortable to hold, and it doesn’t have a rough feel while writing.

Those who own the Pentel GraphGear 500 say that it is well engineered. The lead retracts nicely, and it doesn’t tend to jam up like the cheap plastic drafting pencils will. No lead is lost due to breakage from a poor design. Many reviews reflect on the quality of the tip. This is where most of the implement’s weight is found. The tip is metal, and it fits perfectly into all kinds of devices such as compasses, rulers, templates, and other types of lab gear due to its length.

Pre-purchase considerations

Design Style

A good drafting pencil should have a rugged and utilitarian design. They are created from durable materials such as aluminum, brass, or high quality plastic. Textured or knurled grips provide precise control for drafting and writing.

Lead Sleeve

There should be a long and narrow lead sleeve on good drafting pencils. It makes it easier to use the implement with a straightedge or template. The lead sleeve is delicate, and it can easily poke through pencil cases and pockets. Many drafting pencils will come with a retractable sleeve to prevent this.

Lead Grade Indicator

Pencil leads are offered in a wide range of hardness grades. Professional designers often use several pencils at a time. Each may have a different grade of lead in them. A lead grade indicator allows you to easily see what size lead is in any one particular pencil.


Most drafting pencils will come with a small eraser that is hidden under its push button. It serves double duty as a stopper for where the lead is kept. These erasers are used for making small scale corrections.

Lead Size

Lead comes in a range of sizes as well as hardness. Most drafting pencils use 0.5mm leads or 0.7mm ones. Most pencils will offer additional lead sizes like 0.3, 0.4, or 0.9mm. Pencils that accept these sizes will provide you with more options.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

icking a drafting pencil is a personal decision that is based on your individual preferences. If you are looking to invest in a high quality, top of the line writing implement, try the Pentel Graph Gear 1000. The Staedtler 0.5mm and the Alvin Draft-Matic will both give you a sturdy, reliable pencil that can be used both professionally for drafting and engineering as well as for everyday use by students, teachers, and office workers. Those who are looking for a budget friendly model will appreciate the stylish look, comfortable feel, and crisp lines of the Pentel GraphGear 500 for a reasonable price. All of these options will provide you with a good, basic drafting pencil that won’t slip or fail.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!


  1. Ryan, Guide To Drafting Pencils,, July 28 2015

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