Staedtler finally pitched me over the edge of Mechanical Pencilville, into Lead Holder Valley. Lead holders, for the uninitiated, are mechanical pencils whose lead is 2.0 mm or larger. They have a couple of lead advancement systems, the most common is a “clutch” system that holds onto the lead like a claw until you hit the knock and then it releases, dropping the lead until you let off the knock and it grabs it again. This is fine if you have a free hand to stop the lead, otherwise it’s hitting the floor. The Staedtler 925 35-20 thankfully has a typical lead advancement, like what you would expect from a regular mechanical pencil; each click extends the lead bit by bit. Its navy blue all metal body and precise construction are attention grabbers from the get go. This pencil is as no nonsense as it is aesthetically pleasing. There are some nitpicks and strange decisions, but Staedtler's 925-35 2.0 mm Lead Holder is one stunner of a tool.
The all metal build is not overly heavy, thanks to aluminum. The knurled grip is a series of textured ring areas. The knurling is not extreme, but just enough to be grippy. The lead guide is fixed, but since it is such a wide diameter it is pocket safe. Toward the body of the pen is the lead grade indicator, so you can mark what type of lead is currently in the pencil (2B for life). The slick blue body features their name and logo. I think just the helmet logo would have looked better, but I am nitpicking.
The clip is okay, not great. It has a tendency to slide a bit, by a bit I mean a few centimeters a week with pocket carrying the whole time. I usually prefer a built in clip so that might be a personal bias. You can remove it if you want. The cap in has “2.0” printed on it, and it has a satisfying resistance to it when advancing the lead.
I am not sure why they opted out of putting a sharpener on the inside of the cap. It is a feature that most mid-level lead holders have, so if you want to put a point on the lead you can do it on the fly without having to grab another tool. I might have understood if they swapped it for an eraser - I would still rather have a sharpener - but even that is absent. The lack of an eraser is not as egregious as the missing sharpener, since it would be eaten alive by this amount of lead. I wound up buying a little plastic sharpener and a kneaded rubber eraser that I keep in an Altoids mini tin. These tins are quickly becoming a favorite storage device of mine.
This goes for all lead holders, but it's worth mentioning, these are garbage for taking notes or writing unless you print very large. I like a thick mechanical pencil lead, .7mm and .9mm usually, but this is too much. I had to adjust the size of my lettering to be able to write anything legible at all. You can get a fine point with a sharpener, but it wears down quick, especially my soft 2B lead. If you are looking primarily for a writing device you should probably look elsewhere, otherwise you'll be sharpening this thing non-stop.
All and all the results are sort of mixed bag. Once I got used to the larger lead size I really enjoyed the experience. I kind of liken it to brushes versus ballpoints, you can get a ton more expression out of a lead holder versus a typical mechanical pencil. The drawbacks weren't enough to keep this thing out of my pocket day in and day out, but if I did more writing than drawing you can bet it would have not lasted long. One of the things that really helps this pencil is the aesthetic and its price. At $20 it is top tier quality at a mid level cost. The blue is very eye catching and the weight and feel is solid. If you are in the market for a quality lead holder that looks as good as it works, this is going to be a serious contender.
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