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December 31, 2013
When I was in college...
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 30-years.)
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.