The S3 is the lowest entry in the “S-series” by Pilot, which culminates in one of my favorite pencils: The Pilot S20. How does the lowest end in the S-series do?
One thing that Pilot does really well is not messing with designs that aren’t broken. Even though the body and eraser cover are made of plastic, the S3 has very similar contouring and an identical styling lead sleeve and tip. The S20 has a slightly more convex curve to it, and feels better in my hand, but the S3 still feels great when writing. The styling of the pocket clip is also the same as the S20.
Behold the side-by-side comparison.
The S20 tip and pocket clip are brushed aluminum and the S3 has polished steel. The erasers are identical. The eraser cap is plastic in both cases but the S20 has a lead hardness indicator.
The internal mechanism on the S20 is brass and it is plastic on the S3. The S3 dispenses about 6-7 mm on ten clicks and has a very satisfying click noise when the plunger is pressed.
Some more photos of the S3:
The other two entries in the “S-series” are the S5 (rubber grip on an S3 body) and the S10 (knurled grip and lead hardness indicator on cap).
So how does the S3 stack up to the rest of the collection?
Writing Experience: Great (comfortable grip just like its older brother, the S20)
Quality: Good (at the top of quality for “cheap” pencils)
Features: OK (pretty much just a mechanical pencil with a tiny eraser)
Price: Cheap (5 USD on jetpens.com)
Pros: Feels a lot like the S20 in the hand (big compliment) and solid construction for the price point
Cons: drafting eraser, no additional features, plastic interior
Top Ten? No, but I think this is a good time to debut an “honorable mention” category that exists outside the Top Ten. The Honorable Mentions will follow the Top Ten and will be listed in alphabetical order. I like the HMs, but they’re not different enough from each other to justify ranking them, IMO. There will be five and will be switched around and be replaced when I find a gem that doesn’t quite fit in the Top Ten.
Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Great, Features: Great, Price: Moderate
2) Pilot S20
Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Great, Features: Good, Price: Expensive
Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Superb, Features: Good+, Price: Expensive
Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Good, Features: Good, Price: Expensive
Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Good, Features: Good, Price: Cheap
Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Good, Features: Great, Price: Cheap
Writing Experience: Good, Quality: Good, Features: Good, Price: Cheap
Writing Experience: OK, Quality: Good+, Features: Great, Price: Moderate
Writing Experience: Good, Quality: Good, Features: OK, Price: Moderate
Writing Experience: Good, Quality: Good, Features: Good, Price: Moderate
Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): Pilot S3, Rotring Tikky, Steadtler Triplus Micro 774, Uni Kuru Toga, Zebra M-301