Pentel Co. is a Japanese writing instrument manufacturer with a wide range of products. The name was an amalgamation of the words “pen” and “tell,” as to mean “telling a story.” An interesting tidbit is that Pentel was the inventor of the non-permanent marker as well as the felt/fibre tipped pen. Their most ubiquitous product is definitely their Hi-Polymer erasers found almost everywhere.
Another Pentel product that is quite popular is their range of Graph Gear mechanical pencils, their line of drafting pencils. The line is quite popular among mechanical pencil fans and widely respected for its built quality and low price. The Graph Gear line includes many versions, from the 500, 600, 800, and 1000, each featuring a slightly different design.
The Graph Gear 600 features a hexagonal aluminum barrel, ribbed metal grip, rotating lead hardness indicator, and a non-retractable lead sleeve. This is a very utilitarian and workhorse drafting pencil that definitely don’t turn too many heads in a room.
Pentel offers this pen in a variety of colors, from Navy Blue (pictured here), Mint Blue/Green, Orange, White, and Black. Unlike their Graph Gear 800, the barrel color is not tied to the lead size. The pencils are available with a 0.5mm and 0.3mm lead thickness. I opted to go for the 0.5mm as I find 0.3mm too thin and the leads are a lot harder to find.
The top of the pencil features a rotating lead hardness indicator. It’s quite a nifty feature and it’s nice to have when you are using a bunch of different lead hardnesses in the same pencil. As for me, I tend to stick with either HB or 2B leads, so this feature isn’t very important to me.
On the other end of the pencil is the ribbed metal grip section. The grip of this pencil is quite heavy and makes for a very well balanced section. The ribbing definitely improves the grip during long writing sessions, but sometimes it can feel a little sharp.
One thing to note about the pencil is that the lead sleeve is not retractable, nor does the cap cover the sleeve. Thus, it is recommended to exercise care around shirt and pants pockets, just so it doesn’t poke and hurt you. I carry this pencil around in a case with my other fountain pens, so it’s not much of a problem.
Under the cap of the pencil is a generously long eraser. The eraser pulls out and can extend if it gets a little too short. As usual, you can reload lead into the pencil by pulling the eraser out, or directly from the tip. The included eraser works quite well actually, like most other Pentel erasers I’ve tried so far.
This pencil is definitely getting harder and harder to find, so I recommend picking it up soon if you are interested in it. I think Pentel may have discontinued this model in favor of either the 500 or 800. It can normally be found for $10 at a few online retailers.