Top 8 Best Japanese Mechanical Pencils that Don't Break to Buy Online 2019 - Tried and True!

The lead in mechanical pencils is fine, which is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, it makes the pencil easier to control and fine print easier to write, but it also has an annoying habit of snapping. However, Japan, which excels in both engineering and stationery, has flooded the market with mechanical pencils designed not to snap.

So which of these mechanical pencils live up to their promises and which are dupes? To answer those questions, we ordered the 8 most popular mechanical pencils (that claim to be unsnappable) from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and kakaku.com) and tested for the following:

1. How Well Protected the Lead is
2. How the Grip Felt
3. How Balanced the Pencil is
4. How Easy It is to Write

This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese mechanical pencils that don’t break.
  • Last updated: 10-24-2019
  • 341 views
Table of Contents

How to Choose a Japanese Mechanical Pencil that Doesn’t Break – Buying Guide

We’ll get into how we tested and compared all the mechanical pencils, but before that, we want to introduce three things you should look out for when picking out a mechanical pencil that doesn’t break.

① Look for Extra Features Meant to Protect Your Lead

① Look for Extra Features Meant to Protect Your Lead
So under the giant umbrella of “mechanical pencils,” we have “mechanical pencils that don’t break.” And under the smaller umbrella of “mechanical pencils that don’t break,” we have a variety of preventive mechanisms that differ depending on model and brand.
Is there a suspension system that adjusts to the amount of pressure you put on and the angle at which you hold the pencil? Does the lead simply not come out after a certain point? Is it that it’s difficult for shock waves to reach the lead still held inside the barrel?
Think about how and why you need the pencil to protect the lead inside, then choose the mechanism that most answers to that need.

② Look for a Pencil that Feels Good in Your Hand

The two biggest determining factors of comfort are grip and balance.

When the Grip’s a Good Fit, Your Hand Doesn’t Tire out So Easily

When the Grip’s a Good Fit, Your Hand Doesn’t Tire out So Easily
When the grip doesn’t fit well, on the other hand, you start using extra strength to write, which tires your hand out more quickly. If you want to write comfortably for long periods of time, then look for a grip that is non-slip and feels natural to hold.
Then there’s the diameter of the grip and barrel. If you write with heavy strokes, look for a grip that’s thick, which keeps your fingers from getting sore even if you do clutch the pencil tightly; if you write with light strokes, look for a grip that’s thinner that you can hold loosely in your hand, thereby ensuring your arm doesn’t tire out.

When the Pencil is Well-Balanced, You Can Easily Control It for Long Periods of Time

When the Pencil is Well-Balanced, You Can Easily Control It for Long Periods of Time
If you want to have smooth sailing with your mechanical pencil for hours, then you need to check how well the weight is balanced. The higher the center of gravity, the more unsteady the pencil and the more strength needed to control it. Therefore, if you need to write for a long time, choose a pencil with a center of balance located closer to the tip.
It’s also important to pay attention to overall weight. Heavier pencils add the force of their weight to your pen stroke, allowing for smoother writing, whereas lighter pencils allow for speed writing.

③ Look for a Pencil that’s Easy to Use

③ Look for a Pencil that’s Easy to Use
If you’re looking for a mechanical pencil you’ll love forever, then be picky about how easy it is to use. In recent years, there’s been many clever little additions to mechanical pencils, including, of course, those shakey pencils, where all you have to do is shake the barrel to get the lead to come out, and pencils that ensure your lead always stays sharp.
Of course, how a pencil writes is also greatly swayed by the type of mechanisms put in place to prevent breakage. The best thing to do is drive yourself over to your local stationery store and try out their stuff, writing down everyday things, like your name and numbers in both block letters and script.

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them
Now to introduce the 8 most popular Japanese mechanical pencils that we ordered and the process by which we tested them.
{The Products We Tested}
1. Pilot Mogulair (パイロット モーグルエアー)
2. Mitsubishi Pencil Kuru Toga Advance (三菱鉛筆 クルトガ アドバンス)
3. Pentel orenz Metal Grip Type (ぺんてる オレンズ メタルグリップタイプ)
4. Pentel orenznero (ぺんてる オレンズネロ)
5. Platinum Pen Co. OLEeNU (プラチナ萬年筆 オレーヌ)
6. Platinum Pen Co. OLEeNU Shield (プラチナ万年筆 オレーヌ シールド)
7. Platinum Pen Co. OLEeNU+ (プラチナ万年筆 オレーヌ プラス)
8. Zebra DelGuard (ゼブラ デルガード)
We then tested for each of the following things:
Test ①: How Well Protected the Lead is
Test ②: How the Grip Felt
Test ③: How Balanced the Pencil is
Test ④: How Easy It is to Write

Test ①: How Well Protected the Lead is

Test ①: How Well Protected the Lead is
We mean, if you’re looking for a mechanical pencil that doesn’t break, the first thing you’re going to want to look at is how well-protected the lead is.
So we checked out what protective mechanisms were in place and whether there were any weaknesses to the system. We then ranked each product on a five-step scale from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: If the Pencil Could Absorb the Pressure from Our Strokes, then the Lead Usually Didn’t Snap

The Big Takeaway: If the Pencil Could Absorb the Pressure from Our Strokes, then the Lead Usually Didn’t Snap
The pencils that were the least prone to snapping were the ones that had multiple protective mechanisms in place. The ones that stood out the most were Platinum Pen’s OLEeNU+, which protected not only the lead we were writing with, but also the lead still in the barrel, and Zebra’s DelGuard, which absorbed pressure from all angles.
On the other hand, there were some pencils that were designed to only prevent lead inside the barrel from snapping during transit. That’s literally all they did, and yet they were still labeled as unbreakable※1. If you’re looking for a pencil that won’t break when you’re writing, make sure you don’t accidentally buy the wrong thing.
Zebra’s DelGuard was also special in that we could push the lead way out (three clicks’ worth), and it didn’t snap. Then there was Pentel’s orenznero and orenz Metal Grip, where the lead snapped the second we clicked twice. It’s important that you know the features and limits of each pencil before use.
※1 折れない: unbreakable

Test ②: How the Grip Felt

Test ②: How the Grip Felt
Next we looked at one of the most important factors determining how a mechanical pencil will feel in your hand: grip.
We paid attention, first of all, to whether there was even a grip to begin with, as well as the shape, thickness, and material of the grip. We then graded each pencil on a scale from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: Smooth, Transparent Grips May Very Well be an Egotistical Mistake… A Grip Usually Didn’t Fit Well in Our Hands Unless It was Resin or Featured Ridges

The Big Takeaway: Smooth, Transparent Grips May Very Well be an Egotistical Mistake… A Grip Usually Didn’t Fit Well in Our Hands Unless It was Resin or Featured Ridges
We didn’t know if the designer’s ego was urging him to show off all the inner workings of the pencil or what, but grips that were just a clear plastic tube were incomprehensible to us, and they all flunked this particular test. The pencil felt like it was making absolutely no effort to fit our hands and got slippery when covered with sweat.
On the other hand, grips that were made of resin or employed grooves and ridges felt great. It was easy to position our fingers right where we wanted them and either place a lot of pressure on the pencil or just balance it lightly in our fingers.
Grips that were slightly sticky, like the ones of Platinum Pen’s OLEeNU, also had their uses. They helped the pencil remain steady, no matter the angle at which we wrote.

Test ③: How Balanced the Pencil is

Test ③: How Balanced the Pencil is
Next, we looked at how well-balanced each pencil was.
We picked up each pencil and checked for both the center of gravity and its heft. We then ranked each on a scale from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: The Cut-off was at Around 300 Yen. The More Expensive the Pencil, the More Well-Balanced It Tended to be

The Big Takeaway: The Cut-off was at Around 300 Yen. The More Expensive the Pencil, the More Well-Balanced It Tended to be
This time around, the most expensive product we tested–Pentel’s orenznero–was the only one that got an A+on this test. On the other hand, the cheapest product–Platinum Pencil’s OLEeNU–got the lowest score of D…
Price is mostly swayed by the materials and the amount of time and effort that went into the pen, but it also is a good indicator of balance. As long as the pencil is worth more than 300 yen (about $3), then chances are that it’s pretty well balanced.

Test ④: How Easy It is to Write

Test ④: How Easy It is to Write
Our last test focused on how easy it was to write with the mechanical pencils.
We paid attention to all the different mechanisms in the pencils and whether they did more harm than good. We then rated each product on a scale from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: The Key Lay in How Unobtrusive the Pencil was. Automatic Lead Dispensers and the Kuru Toga Engine Worked Well

The Big Takeaway: The Key Lay in How Unobtrusive the Pencil was. Automatic Lead Dispensers and the Kuru Toga Engine Worked Well
Pentel’s orenznero, which featured an automatic lead dispenser, was on a completely different level, earning an A+ on this test. Because we no longer needed to click at our pencils, we cut down noise and were able to write with as few distractions as possible.
Mitsubishi Pencil’s Kuru Toga Advance featured a spinning engine that kept lead sharp, letting us write neat, uniform letters for longer. It also cleaned up messy handwriting. However, because it featured a kind of cushion meant to absorb pressure from our hands, writing with it kind of felt bouncy, like we were writing on clouds. You may love the feeling, or you may hate it.

The Final Verdict: Top 8 Best Japanese Mechanical Pencils that Don’t Break to Buy Online

Now to introduce the 8 best Japanese mechanical pencils that don’t break available online. They were ranked by how well they did on our tests and given an overall grade ranging from D to A+.
Lead ProtectionB
GripD
BalanceB
WritingB
Lead Sizes0.3 mm, 0.5 mm
Overall ScoreD
Lead ProtectionC
GripD
BalanceB
WritingA
Lead Sizes0.3 mm, 0.5 mm
Overall ScoreC
Lead ProtectionB
GripA
BalanceD
WritingC
Lead Sizes0.5 mm
Overall ScoreB
Lead ProtectionC
GripA
BalanceB
WritingB
Lead Sizes0.5 mm
Overall ScoreB
Lead ProtectionA+
GripD
BalanceA
WritingC
Lead Sizes0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm
Overall ScoreB
Lead ProtectionA+
GripB
BalanceC
WritingB
Lead Sizes0.5 mm
Overall ScoreA
Lead ProtectionA
GripA
BalanceB
WritingB
Lead Sizes0.5 mm
Overall ScoreA
Lead ProtectionA
GripA+
BalanceA+
WritingA+
Lead Sizes0.2 mm, 0.3 mm
Overall ScoreA+

Summary

We rounded up experts and members of our editing department, purchased the 8 most popular Japanese mechanical pencils that claim not to break, and tested them all.
What surprised us most was that while the most expensive one of the lot, Pentel’s orenznero, was an easy first, one of the cheapest products, Platinum Pen’s OLEeNU Shield, actually won second. But the fact that price doesn’t necessarily correspond to functionality may just be one of the most appealing points about unbreakable mechanical pencils.
We hope you keep this article in the back of your mind next time you’re shopping for mechanical pencils that don’t break!
Original by Nao Kondo; Translation by Jasmine Li

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