Pentel Graph Gear 800 Mechanical Pencil Review

I really was hoping that this would be the Pentel drafting pencil that would bridge the gap for me between the GraphGear 500 and GraphGear 1000!

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The few people who read my reviews with any amount of frequency may have noticed that Pentel Graph Gear and I just don’t get along.  I love Pentel as a manufacturer and two Pentels have made my top ten for very good reason.  Neither of them are Graph Gears.  Pentel has a deserved reputation for strong mechanisms and good quality for a reasonable price.  How does the Graph Gear 800 stack up?

I’ll start by mentioning that the 800 that I’ll be reviewing is the 0.9 mm version and it was sent to me from my very generous benefactor from Australia.

The Graph Gear 800 is a fixed sleeve drafting pencil with a very solid plastic upper body and a steel grip with rubber raised ovals.  It is very well made, especially for the price point and if you invest in one or more they will likely serve you well for a very long time.

wpid-20150813_202302.jpgThe eraser cap hides a classic Pentel Z2-1 eraser.  There is no play in the lead holding tube while erasing and it feels solid.  The pocket clip is sturdy and I really like the styling on it.  It has a real attractive modern line to it.  Most Pentel pocket clips are all business, but this one looks better to me.

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The mechanism is of typical quality Pentel construction.  Ten clicks nets about 7mm of lead.  The grip is where I start losing the 800, but I want to do it justice and enunciate my issues appropriately, so I’ll be comparing the 800 to other similar Pentel drafters.

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The image above compares the 800 to two other Pentel drafting pencils: The Smash (Q1005) and the Graph Gear 1000 (PG1015).  Notice that they all offer something different but they all share the “raised nub” style of grip.  Before you get too into the Smash, I want to say upfront that it has been discontinued, but there are (as of this writing), still copies of this pencil that can be had on eBay and Amazon.  Jetpens is out of their stock of it.

The 800 is very similar to the Smash in terms of features.  Same eraser, fixed lead sleeve, raised grippy nubs.  The 1000 is pocket safe with a retractable sleeve.

But what about those grips?  I was surprised to find that the Pentel Smash wins out.  My complaints of the grip of the Graph Gear 1000 are well documented.  I find the knurling to be so fine and smooth as to be pointless and the plastic nubs do not have enough “elevation” from the pencil to make them useful for gripping.

The Pentel Smash’s nubs are pronounced and I find the corners of the square shape add additional gripping traction.

I like the nubs on the 800, but the problem for me is that I am a “low” gripper.  If you look closely at the 800, the last centimeter of the grip as you approach the tip is polished steel.  Smooth as a baby’s bottom.  In that regard, there is just nothing for a low gripper like myself to actually grip.  The nubs could be removed and I wouldn’t notice the difference when I write.  Here is a picture with me attempting to line them up or comparison:wpid-20150813_202437.jpg

The lineup isn’t perfect, but I feel like the Smash has its nubs just a millimeter or so closer to the tip than the 800, and that is all I need to feel a better grip.

I think that if you are a “high” gripper, you might really like the 800.  It is a Pentel drafting pencil in every regard, but I have this consistent problem with Pentel drafting grips.

Pros:  great mechanism, pocket clip is stylin’ and sturdy, eraser is small but functions well

Cons: Contouring of the grip is futile for a low gripper.  Sad Panda.

Writing experience:  OK (its slippery)

Quality: Good+ (Not all metal, but as plastic pencils go this may be one of the most solid I’ve seen)

Features: OK (not pocket safe or with a fancy eraser

Price: Cheap (8 USD on Jetpens, 10 USD Amazon)

If you “grip high” I really encourage you to check out the 800.  I think it would solve the grip problems that I have with the 1000.  I personally prefer the Pentel Smash, as a lower gripper.  It won’t make my Top Ten or Honorable Mentions, but if the grip was “lower” for my personal needs, it definitely would.

On a side note, apparently this is my 250th post on this blog!  I started this blog intending to muse about gaming, which I do, but mechanical pencils have highjacked about every other post as of late.  I’m ok with that.  This blog is for me and I don’t intend to force myself to stick to just one primary topic if my interests have shifted since I started it.

 The Top Ten:

1) Rotring Rapid Pro

Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Superb, Features: Good+, Price: Expensive

2) TWSBI Precision

Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Great, Features: Great, Price: Moderate

3) Pentel Sharp Kerry

Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Great, Features: Great, Price: Moderate

4) Pilot S20

Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Great, Features: Good, Price: Expensive

5) Lamy 2000

Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Great, Features: OK, Price: Expensive/Luxury

6) Tombow Zoom 505sh

Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Good, Features: Good, Price: Expensive

7) Pentel Sharp P20X

Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Good, Features: OK, Price: Cheap

8) Pentel Twist Erase GT

Writing Experience: Great, Quality: Good, Features: Great, Price: Cheap

9) Uni Shift Pipe-lock

Writing Experience: Good, Quality: Good, Features: Good, Price: Moderate

10) Alvin Draft/Matic

Writing Experience: Good, Quality: Good, Features: Good, Price: Moderate

Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order):

Pilot RexGripPilot S3Staedtler Mars micro 774Uni Kuru Toga, Zebra Delguard

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2 thoughts on “Pentel Graph Gear 800 Mechanical Pencil Review

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