Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Staedtler Graphite 779 Mechanical Pencil Review

The Graphite 779 mechanical pencil has that typical Staedtler look – blue plastic body, metal trims and black rubber grip. You just know it’s from the same stable as the Mars Micro 775, but it doesn’t have the colour coding for lead size and I think it’s the better for it, just that little bit plainer and simpler. Overall the look is a bit better than the Mars Micro’s. Not great, but better. Actually as well as the choice of 0.5mm or 0.7mm lead size; there are two sub-models of the 779. The difference is just in the choice of top caps.

The 779 is a push top ratchet mechanism pencil. There is a small eraser under the metal cap, and you can get the cap back on without activating the lead advance mechanism. The eraser compound is like the 775, but unfortunately not as good as the Staedtler Mars Plastic series of erasers. The pocket clip is a functional simple spring steel clip. The lead holding sleeve is tapered and not suitable for draughting, but it is fully retractable.

So far so good, but the 779 has two features worthy of detailed discussion. Firstly the rubber grip. Well it’s a contoured moulded rubber piece with a leather wrinkle type pattern in it. Initially it felt a little greasy or oily so I gave it a good clean. That definitely improved things. This grip feels much more “rubbery” than the Mars Micro 775’s grip. It is a hard compound so there is little to no cushioning but you definitely get that rubber feel. You feel some element of grip from the rubber, much more than the 775, but I’m still not really convinced that it is that much better than a normal plastic moulded grip section.

Now the second point is it has a sliding sleeve. The Staedtler webpage on the 779 doesn’t mention it, but they mention the sliding sleeve feature of the 779 in their downloadable document “Product Information, Mechanical Pencils”.
You start off writing just like with any other pencil but when the lead is worn down so that the metal sleeve touches the paper, it starts retracting. It then still feels fairly smooth when you are writing; but your writing is definitely not as dark on the paper and you get some scrape marks through your writing. Eventually the sleeve will end up semi-retracted back into the tip and whilst it still works, you can tell things are not really at the optimum setting. Overall the best thing to do is to treat it like a normal push top ratchet pencil and just have the sliding sleeve as a back-up for a few words when the lead runs down.
  • Best Points – The sliding sleeve.
  • Not So Good Points – Not really any, other than some personal “Dave Things” like the look and the rubber grip.
  • Price Range – Low.

Dimensions – Length 150mm, diameter 9mm at narrowest part of the grip. Balance point about 65mm up from the tip.

So, another German pencil means another notable German with a New Zealand connection. Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky (1828 – 1868) was a Prussian-born farmer, goldminer, “adventurer / mercenary / soldier”. As a commander of the Forest Rangers (the “special forces” of the time), von Tempsky attained legendary status for his daring actions during the New Zealand Wars. However, one mans daring is another’s foolhardy recklessness, and von Tempsky met his end in battle, some contemporaries saying his continual (unsuccessful) pursuit of winning a Victoria Cross led him to one foolhardy action too many. As a talented amateur painter, he probably knew a thing or two about pencils. This is one of his watercolours, portraying one of his engagements with Maori forces.

16 comments:

Christian said...

Great review. I've got a Staedtler 779 but I can't make it autoadvance. It's not blue but sort of a pale bordeaux so maybe it's an older model.

I agree that it's a much nicer pencil than the Mars Micro but my Staedtloer favourite at the moment is Triplus Micro. It's much cheaper than the Mars Micro but it has a retractable point and even without a rubber grip which I normally prefer it has a much better grip.

kiwi-d said...

Yes, well the auto-advance bit would be right, becuase I'm a complete idiot and it isn't an auto-advance. I've edited the review to take that bit out.

Pascal (France) said...

In France, the Staedtler 779 is called Staedtler "Mars Star L" (that is the marking instead of "Mars Graphite", mine is black) and this mechanical pencil may be available for sale with the same name in other countries (?).

kiwi-d said...

I suppose there are a few reasons for calling something one name in one country and another name elsewhere.
Pascal - is "graphite" an offensive word in French, or similar to one? Perhaps some other pencil or company has "graphite" registered and Staedtler can't use it? Does "Mars L" mean something to French people?

Pascal (France) said...

Well, in French, "graphite" means "graphite"! And "Mars L" has absolutely no particular signification in French, so I don't really understand this difference.

I have not found any registered trademark for the word "Graphite". However, I have discovered a blue "Mars Star L" on officegiant(dot)co(dot)uk.

Strange... After all, maybe this model is distributed with two different name? But the reference (779 or 779 05) is exactly the same and the look too.

David C said...

Do all varieties of the 779 have a replaceable eraser? How long is it, effectiveness, replaceable?

Anonymous said...

Excellent review. Im thinking of buying either this or the Pentel Sharp P205 as the university bookstore has both. I was thinking the P205 seemed like too much of an engineering pencil and not as suited to regular writing as the 779 or am I wrong on this? Also it appears you cannot get spare erasers for the 779 am I correct with this?

kiwi-d said...

Hi Anonymous
Yes I guess most would rate the 779 as more of a general writer than the P205. I imagine Staedtler do offer spare erasers, but whether you can easily get them....well who knows? But personally, no matter which of these two I chose, I'd try to carry a real eraser with me as well. Noether of their erasers are going to win any awards!

Anonymous said...

The eraser really isnt a problem as I always carry a Staedtler white eraser with me. Its nice sometimes though not having to take out the big eraser when you make a tiny mistake. So I think I will probably get the 779 in the end but im still not completely sure. Thanks a lot for the quick response.

Sergi said...

Hi people, about the naming issue all I can say is that a few years before, when I got mine, it was named STAEDTLER MARS STAR L (779 05); but yesterday when I was about to buy a new one (since mine got broken), I saw the name had changed to STAEDTLER GRAPHITE 779.
I guess they changed the name for whatever reason. That's all.

Francisco said...

Where I work they gave us Staedtler Graphite 779 for office use, they function great, I prefere it to the Pilot Shaker 3030 they previously gave us, because the grip section fitted my hand better. A year of continuous use (University + Job) was too much for the poor pencil: first the rubber grip started to swell to the point it was very loose and then the threaded part of the body broke so I have to throw it away.

Black Lead Nate said...

Great review, Dave. But I think another feature worth noting is the cushioned tip. I really like this feature as it really helps with lead breakage.

This pencil is quickly moving up to my top 5 list in this price range. These aren't exactly common here but good thing I was able to find one.

WiggyToo said...

Here's mine and I love it

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiggytoo/405967817/

it got crushed the other day so now I need a new one, just exactly the same.

Anonymous said...

When I looked at the Staedtler website and chose "North America" as my area, it sent me to the Canadian website (even though I'm in the U.S.) and apparently the Canadian name is the Elite.

This was my favorite pencil for years! I don't use pencils anymore, but I still have mine and bust it out on the rare occasion that I need something other than ink.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone. I'm trying to purchase this model pencil STAEDTLER® graphite 779 05/07
via the internet but cant find a supplier. Could anyone recommend a link, Please. I'll be eternally grateful!

Anonymous said...

enter
STAEDTLER graphite 779
in ebay