The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead - Ultimate Guide - Pen Vibe (2023)

What Is The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead?

The best mechanical pencil lead is smooth writing with a high break resistance. Japanese and German manufactured lead is highly regarded as being the best in the world.

This guide shows you the top 5 mechanical pencil lead refills, the best mechanical leads for writing and drawing, the best-colored lead, and more.

So let’s dive in.

The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead - Ultimate Guide - Pen Vibe (1)

Table of Contents

  • 1 The Five Best Mechanical Pencil Lead Refills
    • 1.1. Faber-Castell Super Polymer Lead
    • 1.2. Pentel AIN STEIN Lead
    • 1.3. Pilot Neox Graphite lead
    • 1.4. Staedtler Mars Micro Carbon Lead
    • 1.5. Uni Nano Dia Leads
  • 2. The Best Budget Mechanical Pencil Lead
  • 3. The Best Colored Mechanical Pencil Lead
    • 4.1. The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead For Writing at Law School
  • 6. The Best Mechanical Pencil Leads Sizes For Drawing and Sketching
  • 7. The Best #2 Mechanical Pencil Lead
  • 8. The Best 0.7 mm Mechanical Pencil Lead
  • 9. The Best Mechanical Pencil Rotating Lead
  • 10. The Best Japanese Mechanical Lead Pencil

1. The Five Best Mechanical Pencil Lead Refills

There are over 15 reputable brands that manufacture high-quality mechanical pencil lead.

Japanese manufacturers excel in making graphite for wooden pencils and mechanical pencil lead.

Pentel Pilot and Uni are fighting it out for the top spot in making the best mechanical pencil lead.

The German pencil manufacturing giants Faber-Castell and Staedtler also make excellent mechanical pencil lead.

The mechanical pencil lead refills from the following five brands are of exceptional quality.

You will not be disappointed with any of them, and sometimes it comes down to personal preference.

It may be that you need to try 2 or 3 of them out to find out which best suits your needs.

1.1. Faber-Castell Super Polymer Lead

The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead - Ultimate Guide - Pen Vibe (2)

Buy on Amazon

With a 250-year-old history, the German company Faber-Castell is the world’s biggest wooden pencil manufacturer. Producing over 2.5 billion pencils a year.

With all that heritage and expertise behind them, they know a thing or two about making pencil lead.

The Faber-Castell Super Polymer Lead is a smooth writing lead with a high break resistance.

(Video) Why You NEED an Overengineered Japanese Mechanical Pencil! ✍🏼🤔

The leads container is designed to make it easier to refill a pencil by extending one lead at a time from its cap.

Faber-Castell Super Polymer Lead is available in the following sizes and lead grades:

  • 0.3 mm/.35 mm – 2H, H, HB, B
  • 0.5 mm – 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.7 mm –2H, H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.9 mm/1.0 mm – HB, B
  • 1.4 mm – B

1.2. Pentel AIN STEIN Lead

The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead - Ultimate Guide - Pen Vibe (3)

Buy on Amazon

The Japanese company Pentel is the leader in mechanical pencil lead technology.

In the 1960’s they revolutionized how mechanical pencil lead is made by introducing their super high polymer mechanical pencil lead.

For more information, check out The Complete Guide to Mechanical Pencil Lead Grades.

They have continued to innovate, and their latest premium Pentel AIN STEIN lead is widely regarded as the world’s best mechanical pencil lead refills.

Quite simply, it is more robust, darker, and smoother to write with than their previous leads and better than most other brands.

Pentel AIN STEIN Lead is available in the following sizes and lead grades:

  • 0.2 mm – HB, B
  • 0.3 mm – 2H, H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.4 mm – H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.5 mm – 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B
  • 0.7 mm – H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.9 mm – H, HB, B, 2B

1.3. Pilot Neox Graphite lead

The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead - Ultimate Guide - Pen Vibe (4)

Buy on Amazon

Pilot is another Japanese stationery giant known in the west for their pens, such as the Pilot G2 07 and the Precise V5 & V7.

Their mechanical pencils and leads are top-notch, as you would expect from such a distinguished brand.

Pilot Neox mechanical pencil lead contains very high purity graphite. This forms a strong bond with the binding agents and regulators that make the lead core.

It is super smooth to write with, and some online reviewers have said it is almost too smooth if there is such a thing.

The trade-off for using a high proportion of purer graphite is that it wears more quickly than other leads.

Pilot Neox Graphite Lead is available in the following sizes and lead grades:

  • 0.3 mm – 2H, H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.4 mm – H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.5 mm – 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B
  • 0.7 mm – H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.9 mm – H, HB, B, 2B

Pilot also makes a colored version of their Eno Neox lead, and it is rated as one of the best-colored lead for mechanical pencils.

1.4. Staedtler Mars Micro Carbon Lead

The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead - Ultimate Guide - Pen Vibe (5)

Buy on Amazon

Staedtler is along with Faber-Castell, one of Germany’s oldest and internationally respected pencil manufacturers.

(Video) TURNING MY MECHANICAL PENCILS INTO COLORED PENCILS!

They have a reputation for making high-quality writing instruments, and their pencil lead refills are no exception.

The Staedtler Mars Micro Carbon Lead is a superb high-quality lead that is break-resistant and writes smoothly.

It is well-reviewed online, and although it may not be quite as good as Pentel’s premium AIN STEIN lead, it does not carry the premium price tag.

Staedtler Mars Micro Carbon Lead is available in the following sizes and lead grades:

  • 0.3 mm – 2H, H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.5 mm – 2H, H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.7 mm – 2H, H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.9 mm – HB, B
  • 1.3 mm – HB

1.5. Uni Nano Dia Leads

The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead - Ultimate Guide - Pen Vibe (6)

Buy on Amazon

Uni is a trading name of Japan’s Mitsubishi Pencil Company and has a reputation for being at the forefront of innovative writing instruments.

One of their most famous pencils is the Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil that has a unique rotating clutch mechanism that keeps the lead point sharp.

Uni Kuru Toga Pencils take a particular type of lead that we cover in more detail later on.

Uni Nano Dia is their premium lead that was launched to rival Pentel AIN STEIN lead. It takes Nano Dia (nanodiamonds) from the ultra-small nanodiamond particles mixed with graphite to form the lead core.

This makes the lead extremely smooth to write with as the amount of friction between the graphite particles is reduced by the 400 million nanodiamonds.

These nanodiamonds create strong bonds between themselves and the graphite particles making the lead highly break-resistant.

Is Uni Nano Dia as good or better than AIN STEIN? Possibly not, but it is in the conversation means that it is an exceptional quality lead.

Uni Nano Dia Lead is available in the following sizes and lead grades:

  • 0.3 mm – 2H, H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.4 mm – H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.5 mm – 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B
  • 0.7 mm – H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.9 mm – H, HB, B, 2B

2. The Best Budget Mechanical Pencil Lead

The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead - Ultimate Guide - Pen Vibe (7)

Buy on Amazon

Pentel makes the world’s best mechanical pencil leads, and Pentel Super High Polymer Lead is the best budget mechanical pencil lead.

It is a strong lead that lasts a long time, and although it is not a good as the premium Pentel AIN STEIN Lead, it is a lot cheaper and superior to most other brands of lead.

Pentel Super High Polymer Lead is available in the following sizes and lead grades:

  • 0.3 mm – 2H, H, HB, B, 2B
  • 0.5 mm – 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 4B
  • 0.7 mm – HB, B, 2B
  • 0.9 mm – HB, B, 2B

If you look on Amazon, you will find June Gold pencil leads being sold in large quantities for low prices.

On the face of it, these look good value with lots of positive reviews, but the reality is that to sell at these prices, something has to give, and that is the quality.

Check out these reviews on Reddit.

(Video) Best Mechanical Pencil (Pen Pencil) in India | Under 60 Rs for Note Taking |StudentYard

If you invest a little more in a better quality lead from a reputable brand such as Pentel, then you will save yourself a lot of frustration.

The lead will be more substantial and break less often, write more consistently and be cleaner to write with and erase.

3. The Best Colored Mechanical Pencil Lead

When it comes to 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm, colored lead blue, and red are the most popular colors, and two Japanese manufacturers stand out from the crowd.

It may be no surprise to many people that Pilot and Uni make the best-colored leads for mechanical pencils. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Colored Mechanical Pencil Lead for an in-depth look at all the different colored lead brands and sizes.

Pilot Color Eno Neox Colored Lead

The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead - Ultimate Guide - Pen Vibe (8)

Buy on Amazon

Pilot Color Eno Neox is a superb 0.7 mm colored mechanical pencil lead. It is a smooth writing lead with 8 vibrant colors to choose from.

Uni Nano Dia Color Lead

The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead - Ultimate Guide - Pen Vibe (9)

Buy on Amazon

Uni Nano Dia Colored Lead is another excellent choice for colored pencil lead refills and is available in 0.5 mm, and 0.7mm lead diameters. It is a strong erasable colored lead with 6 colors to choose from.

4. The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead For Writing & Note Taking

For everyday writing & note-taking, the best mechanical pencil lead needs to be:

  • Strong & Break Resistant
  • Hard Wearing & Long Lasting
  • Smooth to Write With
  • Write Cleanly With No Dust or Smudging
  • Easy to Erase and Leave no Marks

Any of the 5 best lead refills covered in detail further up the page are perfect for writing and note-taking.

Faber-Castell Super Polymer Lead

Pentel AIN STEIN Lead

Pilot Neox Graphite lead

Staedtler Mars Micro Carbon Lead

Uni Nano Dia Leads

With the Pentel AIN STEIN & Pilot Neox leads having a reputation for being exceptionally smooth writing leads.

If you are a student or writing a lot on a budget, as we mentioned earlier, Pentel Super High Polymer leads are cheaper than premium branded leads.

(Video) The 10 Best Mechanical Pencils in 2020

And they are far better quality than the cheap Chinese lead refills on Amazon.

4.1. The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead For Writing at Law School

If you are just starting at law school, it is essential to use a good quality lead; check out our recommendations on this page.

5. The Best Size Mechanical Pencil Lead For Everyday Writing & Taking Notes

When it comes to writing and taking notes, a 0.5 mm lead is perfect for fine writing.

If you find your leads break because of the amount of pressure you are using to write, switch to 0.7 mm lead.

It is slightly wider in diameter and will stand more pressure and, therefore, not as easy to break.

For more information on the different lead, sizes check out our Ultimate Guide to Mechanical Lead Sizes.

6. The Best Mechanical Pencil Leads Sizes For Drawing and Sketching

When drawing and sketching, 0.3 mm & 0.5 mm are suitable for detailed work. 0.9 mm is an excellent place to start if you want to start shading and filling in.

2.0 mm lead is the most popular size for sketching and filling in larger areas.

For more information, check out our guide, The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead for drawing and sketching. Where we also include information about the best brands of lead for drawing with.

7. The Best #2 Mechanical Pencil Lead

Pentel AIN STEIN is the best premium #2/HB mechanical pencil lead, and the best for #2 lead refills for everyday writing is Pentel Super High Polymer Lead.

8. The Best 0.7 mm Mechanical Pencil Lead

The best 0.7 mm pencil lead is made by Faber-Castell, Pilot, Pentel, Uni, and Staedtler.

9. The Best Mechanical Pencil Rotating Lead

The Uni Kuru Toga is the world’s only self-sharpening pencil with a patented rotating clutch mechanism that rotates the lead and keeps it sharp.

Although you can use any lead brand in a Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil, Uni makes Kuru Toga lead self-sharpening lead.

Uni Kuru Toga lead is specially designed for Kuru Toga pencils. It has a hard central core that is encased with a softer lead.

This allows the point to remain sharp and keep a consistent diameter with the softer lead wearing more quickly and the rotating mechanism ensuring the lead wears evenly when writing.

Uni Kuru Toga Lead is available in the following sizes and lead grades:

  • 0.5 mm – HB, B, 2B

10. The Best Japanese Mechanical Lead Pencil

Pentel is considered the best Japanese mechanical pencil lead manufacturers. Although UNi, Pilot, and Zebra all make excellent lead refills for mechanical pencils.

Now that you know the best refill leads for mechanical pencils take a look at our Top 10 Drafting and Mechanical Pencils guide. If you are not sure of the difference between a drafting and mechanical pencil or which one you need, then look at The Ultimate Drafting Pencils Guide.

FAQs

Which lead is best for mechanical pencils? ›

Size: 0.7mm

0.7mm is the most common lead size used for mechanical pencils.

What pencil lead is best? ›

Even though there are darkness and hardness variations among different brands' No. 2 and/or HB pencils, it's widely considered to be the ideal lead grade for writing (and it's required for many standardized tests), making the Golden Bear a perfect choice for elementary school and beyond.

Which pencil lead is hardest? ›

9H has the hardest graphite lead. The letter “H” is used to indicate the hardness of a pencil's mark. The letter “B” is used to indicate the blackness of a pencil's mark (a darker mark means a softer lead).

Can you use 0.7 lead in a 0.9 pencil? ›

Yes as long as the pencil is the same mm lead diameter.

What lead size is the best? ›

If you're going to be writing with your pencil, you'll want lead thick enough that it won't break too easily. With modern leads, 0.5mm is quite strong enough for most people, but more heavy-handed people do sometimes find they snap such thin leads, and 0.7mm or even 0.9mm leads are better for them.

What is the number 1 pencil? ›

Lead pencils are graded on a scale from No. 1 to No. 4 based on how much graphite is inside the core. The #1 pencils are the softest, while the #4 pencils are the hardest.

What is a number 3 pencil? ›

#3 Hard. #2 Soft. #2 Soft, Sharpened. #2.5 Medium. #4 2H Extra Hard.

Which is better 2B or HB? ›

The key difference between 2B and HB pencil is that writing from 2B pencil is darker than that from HB pencil. Moreover, 2B pencils produce very dark lines while HB pencils produce medium line density. Typically, 2B pencils are used by artists, while HB pencils are used by school children.

Why are there no 2 pencils? ›

According to Dictionary.com, early machines that scanned and recorded test scores couldn't properly detect marks made by hard pencils. While No. 1 -- the softest -- pencils were prone to smudging, the No. 2 pencil was the perfect balance of softness and hardness.

Is 2H harder than 4H? ›

In other words, a "4H" pencil is harder than a "2H" pencil while a "4B" pencil is softer than a "2B" pencil. Harder pencils produce lighter marks since less of the material is released as pressure is applied. Softer pencils make darker marks since more of the material is released.

What does F stand for in pencils? ›

The degree of hardness of a pencil is printed on the pencil.

B stands for "black". These pencils are soft. H stands for "hard". HB stands for "hard black", which means "medium hard". F stands for "firm".

Is graphite poisonous to humans? ›

Graphite is relatively nonpoisonous. There may be no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include stomachache and vomiting, which could be from a bowel obstruction (blockage).

What is the softest lead pencil? ›

The Numbers

B on its own is just a little softer than HB. 2B, 3B and 4B are increasingly soft. Further up the range, 9B is the very softest lead available, but so soft and crumbly that it's rarely used.

What mechanical pencil do artists use? ›

The Mercedes of mechanical pencils, this Uni Kurutoga pipe slide premium pencil, is the overall best mechanical pencil for drawing with its rotating lead that keeps the pencil tip always sharp.

Are mechanical pencils better for drawing? ›

Mechanical pencils are good for drawing fine and precise lines, but not a lot of shading. Mechanical pencils are great because they don't need to be sharpened, the thickness of the lead can be controlled, precision work can be done without interruption, and mechanical pencils last longer.

Why does my mechanical pencil lead keeps breaking? ›

The most common cause why a mechanical pencil keeps breaking is a lead jam, which occurs when the lead inside the pencil gets stuck, causing it to become brittle and break when you try to write with it. Some mechanical pencils are also just plain old cheap and not suitable for long-term use.

Is 0.5 or 0.7 lead better? ›

If it's for school writing, use 0.5mm or 0.7mm leads, depending on which you prefer. The 0.7mm leads are thicker, which is better for people who tend to press hard on the pencil when writing. For drawing,use 0.5mm leads, because they're more precise than the 0.7mm leads.

What is the difference between 2B and HB lead? ›

2B and HB are two grades of pencils with different shades. The key difference between 2B and HB pencil is that writing from 2B pencil is darker than that from HB pencil. Moreover, 2B pencils produce very dark lines while HB pencils produce medium line density.

Is 0.7 lead the same as a #2 pencil? ›

A: The #2 refers to hardness of the lead, so it depends on the lead you use in the pencil - if you buy HB leads - whether 0.5 mm or 0.07 mm or 0.09 mm - that is equivalent to #2; there are other designations such as B or H which are different.

Do mechanical pencils use #2 lead? ›

Do #2 Mechanical Pencils Exist? Lead Grades Explained - YouTube

Videos

1. I Bought The World's Most Expensive Pen!
(ZHC)
2. Pencil Not Pen: A Math Habit You Need To Know!
(TabletClass Math)
3. How to Use Mechanical pencils ??
(Sourav joshi Arts)
4. the BEST Apple Pencil Alternatives ✏️ affordable & better??
(emilystudying)
5. Pen spinning tutorial
(Inumaki Cursed Speech)
6. Is this REALLY the World's Best Pencil? - the Legendary "Blackwing"
(Jazza)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dong Thiel

Last Updated: 11/07/2022

Views: 6754

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dong Thiel

Birthday: 2001-07-14

Address: 2865 Kasha Unions, West Corrinne, AK 05708-1071

Phone: +3512198379449

Job: Design Planner

Hobby: Graffiti, Foreign language learning, Gambling, Metalworking, Rowing, Sculling, Sewing

Introduction: My name is Dong Thiel, I am a brainy, happy, tasty, lively, splendid, talented, cooperative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.