Red Hot Lead
Graphite is not the only refill available for mechanical pencils and leadholders. Colour lead refills, red in particular, are available in several formats. They might be be used by teachers, accountants, or anyone seeking to make a noticeable mark. The thicker versions might have uses in carpentry and masonry. Let’s examine ten of them.
0.5mm Pentel PPR-5 Red – a faint but usable red.
0.5mm Staedtler Mars micro color 245 05-2 Red – much more vibrant and saturated colour than the Pentel lead, yet also fragile – frequent breakage seems to be the tradeoff.
0.7mm Pentel PPR-7 Red – also faint but usable.
0.7mm Mitsubishi Uni Color Red – a bit softer than the Pentel, also a redder hue.
0.9mm Pentel PPR-9 Red – the format makes the marks more readable than the thinner versions.
Overall among the thin leads, the Pentel leads are slightly orange, while the Staedtler and Mitsubishi leads are truer reds.
2.0mm Koh-I-Noor 4300/5 Red – previously seen here, the lead is somewhat orange, and seemed faint.
2.0mm Fueki (???) RA20 Red – this is a brand that was previously unknown to me, and I thank isu of the uncomfortable chair for kindly sending this lead to me. It is quite good, with vibrant colour and on the softer side.
2.0mm Mitsubishi Uni Red – not bad for writing, it seems to keep a point, and is on the orange side. It should be noted that the leads have an attachment that prevents them “falling through” clutch leadholders. This may make them unusable in certain brands. There is also a risk of this ring getting stuck in a leadholder.
3.15mm Lamy M42 Color Red – surprisingly hard for a lead of this diameter, it is a nice refill for a 3.15m pencil.
3.15mm Wörther Spare Leads Red – very soft, they are almost like wax crayons – a marking tool rather than a writing implement. They’re also easily the most vibrant.
Among the thin leads, I like the Mitsubishi because it seems to be an accurate red. The Pentel, though performing well, has a slight orange hue that seemed not right. Though the Staedtler lead has great colour, it was too prone to breaking to be useful.
Among the thick leads, the 2.0mm Fueki and 3.15mm Lamy were the standouts from a writing perspective due to their truer red lead. The Wörther would no doubt be good at rougher tasks.
Ten samples is by no means a complete survey of the category. Are there other brands that you like or special uses for red lead that you might have?
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