Posts filed under Mechanical Pencil Lead

Pentel Super Hi-Polymer 0.5 mm 2B Lead Review

Pentel Kerry Sharp Super Hi-Polymer Lead

Over the years, one of the things I’ve discovered that I am good at is turning the most basic, boring stationery products into fun stationery reviews. I find it easy because I care about this stuff on a (probably) unhealthy level, and enjoy talking about the minutia around each and every product.

I also think I’m good at it because I lived it. I grew up using many of these products in the 70’s and 80’s, and it is a testament to many of them that they are still around and thriving, like Pentel’s standard mechanical pencil lead - the Super Hi-Polymer.

Pentel Sharp Hi-Polymer Lead

If you have been into mechanical pencils, or even stationery as a whole, you have seen the classic, clear, diamond-shaped lead holder that Pentel uses for this product lineup. It is as ubiquitous as the Pentel Sharp P-Series mechanical pencil that is often paired with it. If fact, did you know the P-Series pencil barrels are color coded by lead size, and the caps of the lead holders are colored to match the pencil barrels? Well, now you do.

Another thing Pentel does within the Super Hi-Polymer lineup is offer then in a huge range of hardnesses - 12 by my count on the 0.5 mm product page. This variety was mind-blowing to young me when shopping at the campus bookstore, even though I wasn’t brave enough to test any of the far end of the scale ones out at the time.

Top Secret, for Pentel internal use only, Paper Straw Holder edition.

Top Secret, for Pentel internal use only, Paper Straw Holder edition.

I am now, and even though this 2B graphite isn’t far past the middle, the quality of the product is as good now as it was back then.

My preconceived notion was that 2B would be too soft for me for regular use, but that hasn’t been the case at all. It is soft and dark - as it should be - but the point retention has been better than expected. I think I only extended the lead once on my written review page. My lines were tighter than I expected, too.

Although this lead isn’t “The One,” I am compelled by how much I like it versus how much I thought I would like it. That makes me anxious to try two things: The firmer side of the scale in the Super Hi-Polymer lineup, and Pentel’s higher end Ain Stein graphite lineup, which features long words about how special it is. Since none of the other fancy-named leads haven’t blown me away, maybe Pentel holds the key to what I am looking for in this experiment.

(Pentel provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Pentel Sharp Hi-Polymer Lead Review
Posted on March 11, 2019 and filed under Pentel, Mechanical Pencil Lead, Pencil Reviews.

Tombow Mono Graph Lead HB 0.5 mm Review

Tombow Mono Graph Lead HB 0.5 mm Review

The mechanical pencil lead reviews I’ve taken up this year are leading me down an interesting path. I want to find the best lead out there for me - and hopefully you - and so far, I’m waiting for one to jump out the pencil and grab me and say “I am the one!”

It hasn’t happened yet. And I’m wondering if I am being fair to one of the most basic products on the market. I think I am, for one reason alone: Marketing! With their marketing, manufactures are telling me that they are bringing something new, cool, and/or unique to the graphite market. And honestly, I’m buying what they are selling.

Tombow Mono Graph Lead HB 0.5 mm

That said, the differences between the leads I’ve tested so far is minimal. I can tell a difference between each lead I’ve tested, but are those differences that great to where I can definitively recommend one over the other? So far, no. But I have a lot more to go.

The Tombow Mono Graph Lead HB 0.5 mm is the latest to get the treatment, and maybe the easiest to explain, while confusing me the most. Kind of like I am doing to you in this review.

Tombow Mono Graph Lead Case

This is a really good lead, and that is the issue I am finding. They are all really good! Unlike gel ink pens, for example, the differences between the best in show and the worst are as minute as the leads themselves. When reviewing products, it’s a lot easier for me to discuss products that are exceptional. Exceptionally good, or exceptionally bad. Mechanical pencil leads on the whole all tend to fit in a very narrow range of the review scale. I’m looking for the one that breaks out from the pack - figuratively, of course.

Tombow Mono Graph Lead

This one is not it, but that doesn’t make it a bad lead. In fact, I’m guessing the Tombow Mono Graph Lead is the stock lead for all Tombow mechanical pencils, which is high praise if you think about it. It has all of the characteristics to give a good first impression. It’s good enough, strong enough, and gosh darn it, people like it!

I do too, yet here I am looking for something more. I want a transformative mechanical pencil lead. That may be one of the silliest sentences I’ve written in all of my years of writing. And it may be unfair, because what’s wrong with really good?

Tombow Mono Graph Lead Test

I’m determined to get to the bottom of this. I have a good 20+ leads left to test, and maybe one of them will be the one. And if not, that’s ok too. I’m lucky to have a bunch of really good leads handy to use in my favorite mechanical pencils.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

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Tombow Mono Graph Lead Review
Posted on February 25, 2019 and filed under Tombow, Mechanical Pencil Lead.

Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead H 0.7 mm Review

Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead H 0.7 mm Review

And you thought pen names were long?

Mechanical pencil leads get after it too, like this Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead. I’m surprised they didn’t spell out Dia-mond in the name, because that is the selling point: Nano-diamond pieces that strengthen the lead. Hashtag Marketing!

Before we get to that, I wanted to spend a minute on a graphite I eliminated from testing without a full review. I found the Rotring Tikky Hi-Polymer HB 0.5 mm lead not good. One of the “features” of most mechanical pencil lead is that they are mixed with plastic (polymer) because pure graphite would be too brittle to function in the tiny diameters needed for mechanical pencils. As it turns out, hi-polymer leads may not be for me.

I want my mechanical pencil leads to have a bit of feedback. They don’t have to feel like a traditional wooden pencil, but I don’t want them to feel alien either. The Tikky Hi-Polymer felt fake to me, and I didn’t enjoy it from the moment I loaded it up. On top of that, it is one of the most expensive per piece leads on the market. Those things in combination make it a hard pass for me.

Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead H 0.7 mm

The Uni NanoDia H 0.7 mm, on the other hand, is good. It’s not great, which we will get to in a minute, but it is good.

For testing, I loaded it up in the Uni Shift Pipe Lock 0.7 mm Drafting Pencil, and got to writing. First off, there was some feedback in the line. Not a lot mind you, but after the plastic feeling of the Tikky, this one felt more normal. It was durable too, without feeling like a rock. Maybe nano diamonds are for real! The tip held its point consistently, and for long writing sessions. I didn’t extend the lead once on the handwritten page for this review, and no one side of the lead became overly sharp or angled in the process. My normal hand rotation when writing kept it even.

Uni NanoDia Low-Wear Pencil Lead

But I didn’t love it. Part of this test is to figure out what I am looking for in a mechanical pencil lead, and smoothness at the cost of natural feel is not it. Also, 0.7 mm is a tough size for me. Like with fountain pen nibs, I enjoy the opposite ends of the tip size spectrum - EF and 1.1 mm stub for example - not the center. 0.7 mm is the medium nib of the mechanical pencil world.

I think the Uni NanoDia lead is perfect for students who are writing page after page with their mechanical pencils. It will thrive in that environment, and I think that is the reason why it is so popular. I need something more from my leads, and this project is helping me sort out what exactly it is that I am looking for.

I have a huge batch of testing to complete, but if you have found your perfect mechanical pencil lead please let me know in the comments so I can check it out.


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Uni NanoDia Review
Posted on January 28, 2019 and filed under Uni, NanoDia, Mechanical Pencil Lead, Pencil Reviews.