I figure, since we have an infamous "Best Pen Ever" thread (that many would say single handedly made the Zebra F-701 one of the most popular EDC pens ever), I think its time for a "Best Mechanical Pencil Ever" thread... Sure there have been other pencil threads in the past but they are now all buried in the archives and it's time for a new one! Of course, the top pencil that will probably be mentioned a lot here is the all metal Rotring 600 (for good reason): Well these are now discontinued and are pretty expensive when they do turn up on ebay or other places (totally worth it), but as a contender for my "currently available" best pencil ever, I would like to nominate the Alvin Draftmatic 0.5mm Mechanical drafting Pencil: I consider this to be almost a budget version of the above listed Rotring 600. It is not an all-metal design as the upper barrel is plastic, but the plastic is THICK and heavier than other palstic barreled pencils in its class. It is solidly made and actually feels weighty for being plastic. - The grip on the front is hands down the single best grip I have ever felt on a pencil. It is kinda rough and I have seen some complaints out there that it may be too rough... A bit like a file board... Well to this, I say man up and grow some stronger skinned fingers! If you are seriously gripping your pencil hard enough to wear through your skin and create blisters, you probably should be re-evaluating your writing posture in the first place... Anyways, there is no way you are going to lose grip on this thing! - Overall thickness of the pencil is great, it is a bit on the slim side, but for the detail work of a mechanical drafting pencil, this is absolutely perfect. - The clicker mechanism is very solid and has a nice feel to the click. No mushy garbage, this pencil lets you know that you have clicked it. It takes about 3 clicks to get a nice 2mm portion of lead out the front so it doesnt push too much out there leaving you with a large piece that will break off. This pencil also has a neat feature where the lead is sort of "springy" if you push too hard. Other pencils just break if you push too hard but this one sort of pushes back into the pencil a mm or so, so it is really hard to break the lead. - The cap on the clicker end is deep and fits over the eraser area perfect and tight. There is no way you are going to lose it. - The eraser is kinda small but the same can be said for any pencil in this area. Get a seperate Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser and thank me later. - The pocket clip is on there... TIGHT. - The rear end of the pencil has a lead grade indicator too that is knurled like the front end. It rotates and has a bunch of lead grades on it so you know what grade is currently in your pencil. Nothing to really comment on here. - The tip of the pencil isnt retractable but the lead sleeve seems pretty robust and I have already used mine for getting some gunk out of a crack in my desk quickly with no negative results. - The balance is great. if you balance it ony our finger, the mid point rests right where the little "alvin" logo is on the picture above. making it just ever-so-slightly front heavier. I personally like this as back heavy pencils screw with your lines when you are doing precise detail work. This pencil just seems to know where you want to write. In addition to all of the good points above, the main thing about this pencil that makes it a top contender for best ever, is the fact that it is cheap ($10 to $12) and available in almost every art supply store and college bookstore in America. If you cant find one of these puppies in your area, something is wrong or you live in farmland. The possible cons/negatives: - As mentioned before, might be too grippy for some people (wusses). - As mentioned before, the non retractable tip... People who carry pencils around in pockets might be succeptable to stabbing themselves. Tip could also bend if dropped on a hard surface (lesson: dont be an idiot and do pen spinning tricks over concrete with this thing) - Silver writing on lead grade indicator makes it slightly hard to read in direct reflecting light. I dont do a lot of outdoor writing so this isnt a problem for me. - Plastic barrel might be an issue to die-hard "all-metal" fans The final thing about this pencil is that while the one I reviewed above is the 0.5mm version, the Draftmatic also comes in 0.3, 0.7 and 0.9 mm sizes, each with a different colored barrel for instant size identification: The other two pencils that I see coming up in this thread as top contenders would be the Pentel Graphgear 1000: And the Staedtler 925-25 series: I have had both of the above and the reasons I did not choose them for the "best ever" is that the Graphgear, while it is all metal, is very back heavy and very long. The grip, while it looks like it would hold good, is actually quite slippery. The long "nose cone" on the front also puts your fingers farther from the writing surface than other drafting style pencils. This one does have a retractable lead sleeve but the method that Pentel used for this uses a plastic part in the clip area that wears down over time rendering the pencil almost useless since the point wont stay out. As far as the Staedtler 925-25 series, these too are all metal and very robust, BUT they are a Japanese pencil and not readily available in the US here. One of my main thoughts on all of my EDC items is that if a component breaks, gets lost or stolen, I have to be able to readily get a repalcement for it without having to wait for something to be custom made or shipped in from overseas. Getting a repalcement Staedtler 925-25 might be hard to do that with! Also, a representative from Staedtler Japan told me recently that these are actually discontinued but they are just still heavily available online and overseas due to the amount that were produced. If you can find one cheap, and dont think the same way I do about EDC component replacement, I'd say go for this one! Anyways, lets hear your thoughts on your contenders for the best mechanical pencil ever and the reasons you think it is!