The Best Mechanical Pencil Lead – Ultimate Guide

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.

 

Best Mechanical Lead

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

Faber Castell Super Polymer Leads

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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.

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

Pentel AIN STEIN Lead

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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

Pilot Neox Graphite Lead

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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

Staedtler Mars Micro Carbon Lead

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

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

Uni Nano Dia Leads

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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

Pentel Super High Polymer Lead

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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.

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

Pilot Color Eno Neox Colored Lead

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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

Uni Nano Dia Color Lead

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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.

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.

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