The best mechanical pencils for drafting or drawing

Go analog, but not too analog.

Mechanical pencils are versatile tools for writers, artists, designers, architects, and anybody else who needs a reliable, erasable, and consistent fine pencil line. They come in cheery basic versions, or more sophisticated, durable versions designed to last. They’re refillable and stylish, and give you that analog pencil experience without the need to sharpen. Find your favorite here.

For precision: Pentel GraphGear 1000 Mechanical Pencil

Metallic Grip

Retractable choice with color-coded lead thickness displays. Amazon

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The sleek, metallic mechanical pencil is great for precision use—like if you’re drafting a floor plan for a new house, or a Dungeons and Dragons map. The lead can retract or advance at a click and uses Pentel’s tough, smooth writing lead. A metallic grip and soft pads make it easy to grip and write. These pencils come in a range of lead thicknesses from 0.3mm to 0.9mm, and are color-coded with a built-in lead hardness indicator so you can quickly identify the one you need.

Heavy-duty: rOtring 600 Black Barrel Mechanical Pencil

Comfortable Grip

A hefty, thoughtful all-metal utensil with unobstructed page views Amazon

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The rOtring mechanical pencil has a full metal body, weighted to make it easier on your hands to draw or write for hours. The pen body has a hexagonal shape that helps keep it in place on a desk, while the grip shape makes it comfy and easy to hold without slipping. A lead guidance sleeve helps prevent breakage and gives you an unobstructed view of the page.

Best for drawing: Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil

Retro Look

Great for sketchers with a classic design. Amazon

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You might know Staedtler’s non-mechanical pencils and tri-plus fine liner pens, beloved by artists, writers, and draftsmen alike. This technical mechanical version has a blue barrel that mirrors their regular pencils, with all-metal construction, a simple but effective lead process, and a sharpener included on the cap. It also comes with a removable metal clip that you can attach to a pocket or a notebook. It fits 2mm No. 2 lead and has a great retro look.

Budget pick: Bic Xtra Sparkle Mechanical Pencil

You Don’t Need Anything Fancy

When in doubt, go for this cheap, colorful pack. Amazon

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Prone to losing pencils everywhere? Just need a reliable, cheap workhorse of a mechanical pencil? Grab a 24 pack of these 0.7mm basic mechanical pencils with colorful, sparkly barrels. It’s the pencil of choice for standardized tests, so you can trust that it will write competently. No need to sharpen—lead advances with a click. They’re cheap enough that you won’t feel heartbroken if you lose one—in fact, we recommend keeping a bundle to lend out to pencil-less friends.