I am as picky about pens, pencils, and other writing and technical drawing instruments and supplies as I am about tools. I took drafting and CAD classes in my junior year of high school (they were both mandated), and it was perhaps my shopping for supplies and upgrades that sparked my interest in the tools I use, whether we’re talking about a pencil, a screwdriver, or a cordless drill.
Stradtler’s metal-bodied mechanical pencils are among my favorites, and I am also quite fond of Pentel’s GraphGear 1000 series. There are so very many other mechanical pencils out there, many with unique properties.
Here, I wanted to briefly introduce you to the Uni Shift, an interesting mechanical pencil that has a retractable tip. One of the tough parts about mechanical pencils is that their lead pipe can be fragile, making them less then ideal for pocket carry.
The Uni Shift is a little shorter than the GraphGear 1000, and also feels lighter. Both of these pencils have retractable tips, but they achieve it in different ways.
The Uni Shift features a plastic upper body and a metal grip and tip. This shifts its center of mass and gravity forward a bit, which is perhaps why it’s so comfortable to write with. It’s supposedly aimed at heavier users, which would means it’s designed to be used for longer periods of time.
At this point I should mention that I purchased my Uni Shift pencil in 0.5mm size for ~$9 at Amazon. It’s currently priced at $10-11 there, depending on the pencil lead size. JetPens has it for $16.50.
The Uni Shift is available in 0.3mm, 0.4mm 0.5mm, 0.7mm, and 0.9mm sizes.
To “shift” from writing/drawing mode and carrying/transport modes, grab the pencil at its top and bottom, and twist gently. The barrel has a spring-action mechanism, and there’s slight feedback when you lock it into either mode.
It’s a very neat pencil, and I like that the Shift completely locks when the tip is retracted. In the “closed” position, you can’t unintentionally advance the lead mechanism either.
For users who use multiple lead sizes, the Shift has different color coding. The blue accent, for instance, marks that a pencil is 0.5mm, and light blue is 0.3mm. I have only tried the 0.5mm size.
I have not used my pencil extensively, or at least it’s not my sole mechanical pencil, but so far I have zero regrets with my purchase.
If you’re shopping for a new mechanical pencil, or like exploring new options, the Uni Shift is an interesting choice to consider.
Price: ~$10-$11 and up
Pencils? Who cares about pencils? Read: EDC Tools, Pens, Pencils, or Other Gear That is More Than Functionally Necessary. If you’ve got to spend time with a pen or pencil in your hand, it may as well be one that you enjoy using.