Be it for drafting, writing or sketching – mechanical pencils are game changers when it comes to ensuring precision and speed. And Rotring is considered among the market leaders in this category with its 500, 600, and 800 models.
But which one should you choose? Dive in to know!
About The Brand – Rotring
Rotring, nicknamed the “Rolls Royce” of mechanical pencils, is known for its quality products and efficient designs. Whether you’re looking for one for sketching or regular writing, you’re likely to find one for your budget and preference. From all-metal pencils to hybrid models for use on different surfaces, there’s something for everyone!
Besides, the brand focuses on optimum user convenience by not missing out on features like different lead sizes, removable erasers, textured grips, and sturdy pocket clips. On that note, here’s everything you need to know about the Rotring 500 vs. 600 vs. 800.
- A step up from the 300, this premium mechanical...
- A brass mechanism delivers precision lead...
The Rotring 500 mechanical pencil is an entry-level model, sitting between the more basic Rotring 300 and a comparatively advanced 600 pencil. Complete with features like a pencil eraser and lead hardness indicator, it’s one of the more affordable yet efficient models from the brand.
However, unlike many other Rotring mechanical pencils that have silver color variations, this one comes only in black, which won’t be a problem unless looks are THE priority for you.
1. Construction: Durable Plastic Body
First things first, the Rotring 500 takes from its predecessor and successor in the sense that it uses a metal and plastic combination. While the barrel is made of durable plastic, the knurled grip, clip, and lead-grade indicator casing are constructed from metal. Look-wise, it resembles the Rotring 600 and 800 as well as the Pentel Graph Gear 500 pencils.
As the plastic body dominates, the pencil doesn’t become too heavy. But, the metal grip “pulls” a significant amount of the total weight towards the writing tip, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
In hindsight, it can help keep the tip more in contact with the paper constantly. That said, I was a little surprised to see the almost perfect center of balance, as I was naturally expecting it to tilt toward the tip. But this could’ve been due to the presence of metal on the upper end.
Perhaps, my biggest complaint is the absence of a retractable tip, which increases the possibility of lead breakages. Other premium brands like Kuru Toga and Delguard almost never miss out on this feature, irrespective of the model.
2. Lead Indicator: Secure Housing With Average Visibility
The lead indicator, like for all other models from the brand, ranges from HB to F, and the metal casing doesn’t move even if you accidentally graze it, especially when using the pocket clip. However, one caveat I have here is that the readings aren’t very prominent like in the 600 version.
3. Ease Of Use: Suitable For Most Users
This pencil uses a push button mechanism to engage the lead, similar to that of other Rotring mechanical pencils and most drafting pencils, in general. The click-off cap has an open top and functions as housing for the eraser. And this was a bit of a bummer, as the open space essentially means the height of the eraser sleeve is shorter compared to an eraser cap with a closed top.
On the other hand, the hexagonal plastic body has a soft contour with smooth, almost rounded edges, which prevent the pencil from rolling around. This can be a useful feature if you have a messy work table, as the pencil won’t fall off the surface very easily. With about 9 millimeters in diameter, the barrel ought to fit between the fingers of most users.
- Lightweight yet durable build
- Sturdy clip and eraser cap
- Facilitates precision writing/drawing
- Ergonomic and textured grip for better hold
- Unclear lead markings
- Short eraser height
- Rotring pencil technology. Rotring brass mechanism...
- Ergonomic metal barrel. Full metal body providing...
Up next is the Rotring 600, which is among the most popular units from the brand, and for many people, a “hallmark” of the brand’s quality. It has a metal precision tip and measures slightly longer than the 500 variant, although this difference between the two pencils is almost negligible.
Besides, its metal build assures users of unhindered durability for long periods, even with regular use. Unlike the 500 version, it comes in an attractive silver color, so you may well consider it for adding some style to your pencil kit! But what else does it have? Let’s find out.
1. Construction: Full Plastic Body For Better Durability
As you may have already figured out, the Rotring 600 mechanical pencil has an out-and-out metal (aluminum) build that accounts for its durability to a large extent. But the metal body can be more prone to scratches and peeling paint compared to the plastic body of the 500.
The material also adds to the overall weight of the unit, which personally is a bit of an inconvenience for me. And it will be for most people who don’t prefer to carry around a heavy accessory.
Furthermore, its internal mechanism features a metal housing, which is common in both the 500 and 800 models.
2. Lead Indicator: Easily Visible Markings
The lead indicator is pretty similar to that of the Rotring 500 pencil, only that the markings are more prominent on this one.
On top of the indicator is the click-off cap, which has a smoother click than the 500 one, as one would expect from a premium pencil like this. But it’s a bit loud, which is a small thing to keep in mind if you decide to purchase it.
3. Ease Of Use: Facilities Smooth Writing With Decent Lead Protection
The weight of the metal body has been nicely balanced by the comparatively sleek and hexagonal barrel, meaning your hold won’t really take a hit. This is further enhanced by the knurled metal grip for an overall smooth writing experience.
Aside from that, the fixed lead guidance sleeve gives a clear view of the paper, especially when drawing with objects like rulers. Lastly, the stainless steel nib is pretty durable, meaning the chances of lead breakage are pretty low. Still, it may not satisfy users looking for a dedicated lead protection mechanism.
- Sturdy metal body
- Knurled metal grip
- Smooth click mechanism
- Hexagonal and sleek barrel
- Slightly heavy
- No dedicated anti-lead-breakage mechanism
- Unique "Twist and Click" retractable mechanism of...
- Ergonomic metal barrel. Full metal body providing...
Looking almost identical to the Rotring 600 pencil, the more premium 800 variant has an all-steel construction that’s only slightly longer than the former. Interestingly, its hybrid design combines a mechanical pencil and stylus so that users can enjoy the benefits of both. Moreover, it comes loaded with high-polymer HB lead.
Now, let me tell you how it performs in comparison to the two other models mentioned above.
1. Construction: Compact Metal Barrel And Interior
The compact metal body of this mechanical pencil does a good job of countering the overall weight to reduce hand fatigue. Moreover, the hexagonal barrel adopts a more cylindrical shape towards the bottom (near the knurled grip), making holding the pencil a convenient affair. And the pencil has a very hardy polished brass tip.
Another point of difference is that the interior hardware of the Rotring 800 mechanical pencil is fully metal, while the 500 and 600 versions have a mix of metal and plastic. Hence, it promises a long service life.
The pocket clip also appears to be quite sturdy, and it’s generally compatible with thick materials as well.
2. Lead Indicator: Replaced By The Retracting Mechanism Ring
The 800 is devoid of a lead hardness indicator, which can be an inconvenience. This is probably because it has a retracting mechanism that can be engaged by turning the ring just below the click button (where the hardness indicator is located for the other two). So, placing an indicator here would have meant a never-ending loop of locking and unlocking the writing tip.
However, I do feel that the indicator could’ve been placed above the grip instead.
3. Ease Of Use: Convenient And Versatile
This pencil features a retractable tip that safeguards the metal pipe (housing of the lead inside the tip). Simply rotate the ring near the button anti-clockwise to retract the tip, and it gets locked until the ring is rotated in the opposite direction. Once the tip is inside, you can use the pencil as a stylus to work on digital screens.
Additionally, the removable click button has a small pipe attached to it, which can be used to resolve lead jamming issues in the writing tip. I found this to be a thoughtful little feature that can make for a pleasant buying experience.
- Durable interior and exterior
- Retractable pipe prevents lead breakage
- Knurled grip
- Click button has small metal pipe to get rid of lead jamming
- No lead indicator
Rotring 500 vs 600 vs 800 Final Words
So, which Rotring model should you opt for?
The answer to this will completely depend on your preference. If you want a budget-friendly unit that aids precision, then the 500 models can be your go-to. On the other hand, the iconic 600 version is perfect for people who like the heavier feel of an all-metal pencil.
And the Rotring 800 will suit people who want a multi-purpose mechanical pencil by extending their budget slightly, with the 800 you can travel easier as your tip is hidden, and thus both your pockets and your carry case will be puncture free.