Sunday, January 29, 2012

Alvin Draft-Tec Retrac .5

One of the many items that I've acquired through my university bookstore is this, the Alvin Draft-Tec Retrac. Many drafting pencils follow a similar formula: small emergency eraser with cap, metal clip, and a long lead sleeve. So, what sets this one apart, if anything?

First, the grip is comprised of rubber and is a tiny square pattern. I found this to allow for excellent control and security. The lead sleeve itself is pretty standard, at least for a drafting pencil. It is longer than you see in many regular mechanical pencils, but it does move around a bit, and you will see why shortly.

The clip and emergency eraser are standard - they both work well, but I always use a separate eraser anyway. The cap itself is fairly long, which is helpful for removing it to use the eraser. No real excitement here, but I am pleased either way.

Okay, so here is where things become a bit different. You may have noticed that this is called the Draft-Tec Retrac, and, as such, it is a retractable drafting pencil. 

Here is a front view of the pencil retracted - the lead sleeve just hides in there: no bending the lead sleeve and no unwanted stabbing while the pencil is in your pocket.     

The retractable sleeve is extended by one firm push of the mechanism (much like any retractable pen), and then you just make smaller, less forceful clicks to extend the lead. To retract the sleeve, you just make another "big" click (however one describes this), and voila! 

Overall, this is a very good drafting pencil, and I believe it was ~$6.00-$7.00 U.S. One thing that I don't like is that pocket lint can get in the pencil if you have it in your pocket, so I think it would be smart to keep this in your travel case or to at least be aware that stuff could get in there. 

My other qualm is that the retractability of the pencil causes the lead sleeve to wobble or move a bit as you write. It is very minor, but it is still noticeable, especially if you are expecting a very solid feel in the writing performance. 

For the money, this is definitely worth trying. Though I may have a few quibbles on the design, I can easily get over it. I will probably try to get this in a .9, too.

Has anyone else tried these? Let me know!


  1. I've got one in .3mm. I like it a lot. It's much better balanced and more comfortable to use than the other retractable pencil that I own. I really have to shake it to get any wobble in the lead sleeve. I don't really notice it in normal use. I also wish that I could get it in .9, but I don't think that they make them in that size.

  2. Cannon -

    If the .9 is not available, I'd love to check out the .3 (I never have tried a .3, at least not in a mechanical pencil). I think these would sell quite well if they were more readily available.

  3. Best mechanical pencil. I've tried them all. This is the greatest.