Maybe the Most Reliable Mechanical Pencil? Let's Test the Zebra DelGuard Series.
Mechanical pencils make excellent writing implements, but lead breakage can be a real annoyance. DelGuard mechanical pencils are designed to solve this problem - Zebra have developed a special double-spring mechanism called Zebra Delguard that cushions the pencil’s lead and protects it from breaking, regardless of the writing angle and writing pressure.
When I first read about this, I was sceptical, but it really works astonishingly well. No matter how hard I pressed, there was no lead breakage as long as length of the lead is only extended within 3 times push of the push button (this avoid the outside lead being too long). The different types of cushioning from different Zebra Delguard models make it feel comfortable to hold.
Zebra released 4 different models to meet different demands but you can barely know what they mean in their names. I’ve tested them all and review from 3 aspects, writing comfort, external design, and unique feature.
Zebra Delguard Standard Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm
The model is a standard one and it has a lightweight body. The Delguard’s ribbed grip goes some way to preventing finger slippage. I found the grip is comfortable to write with. However, There is quite a large difference in the long-session writing comfort between this basic Delguard and the ultra-comfortable Delguard Type-GR.
The Delguard is a well-designed pencil. Its pocket clip is sturdy and the metallic body is smooth and streamlined. It is very appealing being able to see the springs of the internal mechanism through the transparent plastic at the front end of the barrel.
The most impressive of the pencil’s special features is the spring cushioning of the lead, which is shared by all the Delguards. It is a standard version but can still do its job - keep you away from breaking lead.
Zebra Delguard Type-ER Mechanical Pencil - 0.5 mm
The ER’s grip isn’t particularly soft or squishy but still absorbs finger pressure well. The ER is definitely more comfortable to hold for long writing sessions than the basic Delguard.
As with the standard Delguard, the visible spring at the front gives it a stylish appearance. The back part of the mechanism can be seen through the transparent plastic under the push clip, which enhances that effect nicely.
The ER replaces the pocket clip with a roll stop, which creates a streamlined look.
The eraser is designed to pop out of the top knock button when the pencil is turned upside-down and retract when it is returned to writing position — an ingenious way to use gravity to streamline the erasing process. Making the eraser grey rather than white was a good idea too.It prevents that ‘dirty old eraser’ look that erasers get when they are stained by graphite.
As with the other Delguards, the dual-spring cushioning mechanism, designed to prevent lead breakage and to create a smooth writing experience, is the main thing that makes this pencil special. It also keep you away from another annoyance, mechanical pencil rolling from your desk.
The way of extending eraser is also a clever design. It prevents interruption to writing from having to uncap the eraser and then re-grip the pencil.
Zebra Delguard Type-GR Mechanical Pencil - 0.5 mm
The Delguard GR’s cushioning double-layered grip feels exceptionally comfortable. It gives you a similar feeling of Alpha gel grip in Uni Jetstream Limited Alpha Gel Grip or Uni Kuru Toga Alpha Gel Mechanical Pencil, making It really seems very good at dispersing finger pressure. The extra girth makes this pencil fractionally more cumbersome to hold than the basic Delguard but is worth it for the added comfort.
What the GR gains in comfort from the soft grip, it compromise a bit in its external appearance. The extra girth makes it look chunky in your hand.
The double-spring mechanism and the soft, cushioned grip creates an astonishingly smooth writing experience for long time writing or drawing. They create what is definitely one of the most comfortable mechanical pencils I’ve ever written with.
Zebra Delguard LX Mechanical Pencil - 0.3 mm
The ribbing on the barrel works well to prevent slippage. But, because this pencil has no padded grip, long writing session can result in a bit of finger fatigue. However, at the same time, it creates a precise control on details if you uses it for drawing.
The Delgaurd Lxs are by far the most elegant of the Delguards, especially the glossy white body version which I tested. The shiny metal of the pocket clip looks attractive too, as does the top-knock button, with its white cap and blue stripe. A blue stripe inside the spring mechanism is a playful accent that enhances the effect of the blue stripe on top.
Beside the special feature of its dual-spring lead-cushioning mechanism, the Delguard Lx is specially-weighted to give the pencil a low centre of gravity, offering it an excellent control when using. Weighing 21 grams, it is double the weight of the basic Delguard, which lends it a satisfying heft in the hand.
Its whole metal body compared to many other mechanical pencils (including the other Delguard pencils) also gives it a feeling of specialness.