When I was in college there were two mechanical pencils that all the engineering
geeks wanted: the ubiquitous Pentel P205 (in blue) and the Pilot H1005. The
former because they were so simple and never failed; the latter because the
whole front of the pencil disappeared into the barrel making it "pocket safe."
Alas, they were plastic and the temptation to put it in one's jeans pocket was
too great, which usually resulted in the pencil breaking when you next sat down
right where the barrel and the body threaded together. (I still have one in
broken condition; couldn't bear to throw it out and still can't after almost
Advance to the present and the 1005 is no longer offered, but a similar pencil
is now available in an all metal design: the Pilot Automac. This is a wonderful
pencil that feels good in the hand, writes well and retracts fully. The
"Automac" feature is an added bonus that, because of years of habit using the
standard top-knock pencil, I never really use. The grip is "grippy" but not hard
on the hand as some metal knurled pens and pencils can be. The pencil is heavy
but balanced, and thin but not "skinny." Overall it's a good writer.
The pencil is made almost completely of metal parts. The internal barrel and the
driving mechanism are all shiny metal except for the part that retracts and
extends the business end which is white plastic (probably nylon) slipped onto
the inside barrel and a matching part is pressed into the outer barrel. It
appears to be the typical ball-point pen assembly we're all so familiar with.
The external parts are also metal: a black enameled body and a barrel that I
think is polished aluminum.
I've never had a fully automatic feed pencil before so I was looking forward to
trying it out and find that my experience is the same as some of the other
reviewers. The sleeve must rub the paper for it to work and this can cause the
line/writing to be lighter though it picks up again when one lifts the pencil
between lines/words. The mechanism works by the sleeve sliding up as the lead
wears down, and then the lead and the sleeve spring down together when the
pencil is lifted. The feel of the sleeve rubbing on the paper is a little hard
to get used to after years of writing with mechanical pencils; it's hard to
resist giving the pencil a knock when the sleeves starts scratching. Because of
all this I don't use the feature that much, and if it weren't for the stellar
nature of the pencil I might be disappointed. But it is such a good "mech" that
I find that I really want it in my pocket along side my fountain pen.
The eraser is a bit small; I typically don't do that much erasing but when I do
I usually have a stick eraser handy. For a letter or two it's OK but as with
most mechanical pencils it won't do for much more than that. The knock
mechanism is a bit light, so exuberant erasing will extend the lead.
As with most mechanicals, about a fifth of the lead is unusable when it wears
down to near the end. You can advance the next lead behind it and use a bit more
but it becomes more trouble that it's worth, especially if you are trying to
keep up with someone.
Overall I like the pencil and give it high marks; it's hard to find a really
good pencil that's metal so I feel the price is justified, the automatic feed
feature not withstanding. I'm glad to have finally found a mechanical pencil
that is what the 1005 was not.