A little while ago AndrewJ from Australia contacted me to extol the virtues of the Pentel Forte Pro II and ask if I had plans to review it. I replied it wasn’t really on my radar at the moment, but perhaps he would like to do a guest review…and so without further ado, here’s Andrew’s review.
Pentel Forte Pro II A77 Mechanical Pencil Review
A while ago I had a fleeting flirtation with LED flashlights (or “torches” as they are called in Australia). I would visit flashlight message boards on the internet, enjoying the exotic jargon of collectors as they discussed topics such as lumens, twisty versus clicky switches, barrel knurling, runtimes, spill and so on.
The most interesting posts were those from collectors trying to identify that one specific flashlight that would meet all their illumination needs under all conditions - the search for the holy grail, the “EDC”, the Every Day Carry. That one flashlight that they could always carry with them.
And so it is with mechanical pencils. If you had to choose, what would be that one mechanical pencil you carried with you always? It’s not that I set out to deliberately collect pencils; it’s just the modestly large number that I’ve accumulated in my quest for my own EDC-MP. I can now confidently say I may have found it: the Pentel Forte Pro II.The Forte Pro is a nice-looking and comfortable pencil. Its barrel colour is the deepest, translucent blue I have ever seen in a pencil, so it looks good in the hand as well as in the shirt pocket.
The barrel marking, in silver ink, is “0.7mm Forte Pro II Pentel A77”. (More’s the pity, then, that the writing wears off much sooner than it should.) The sturdy silver spring clip bears the inscription “Pentel” on one side, “USA” on the other.
The push-top cap makes a statement - it’s a big cap! To some it may appear out of proportion to the size of the barrel, but its shape and dimensions gives it a distinctive look. I’ve had two consignments of the Forte Pro from overseas and have noticed a slight design variation. One version of the cap has a completely solid dome while the other version sports two cut-out slots (maybe designed as cooling vents for the over-enthusiastic eraser user?).
The cap is a push-type ratchet that advances the lead out of a 3mm fixed sleeve. Not very pocket friendly but something I can live with. With constant use, the cap has a tendency to disengage from the pencil (that is, it falls off). As someone who prefers to use a full-sized eraser, I have solved this minor irritation by placing a dab of Blu Tack on the inside top of the cap, semi-permanently affixing the eraser to the cap. This stops it from falling off, but has the downside that one can’t use the eraser. However I prefer the former solution to the latter problem. (The Blu Tack doesn’t prevent the removal of the cap to insert leads.)
For those not employing my Blu Tack modification, under the cap is the PDE-1 large refill eraser with a length of 12mm.The lead capacity of the Forte Pro II was the feature that made up my mind to award this pencil my coveted EDC status. The larger-than-normal internal barrel space is claimed on Pentel’s website to store more leads than “standard” automatic pencils, whatever the capacity a standard automatic pencil might be.
I can store fifteen .7mm leads in the Forte Pro. For .9mm users, the figure drops to eight, while .5mm users the capacity increases to 25. For those who can manage using a .3mm pencil, an astonishing 35 leads can be stored - fill up your pencil on New Year’s Day and you’re good to go for the entire year!
The grip, light-blue rubber with tiny dimples, takes up 26mm of the pencil’s overall length of 143mm. The grip is only marginally larger than the 9mm diameter barrel and provides a firm grip, not squashy to the fingers as some “super comfort” grips of other pencils.With its low price point (at least for me to purchase from a US supplier as they are not available in Australia) this is one fine pencil - my EDC! Dave's Comments
1: The lead storage of the Forte Pro II is a feature that Pentel emphasise. Yard-O-Led take their name from being able to store a yard (914mm) of 1.18mm lead in the pencil. The Forte Pro II can’t compete with that in the larger lead sizes, but if you use the 0.5mm pencil with standard 60mm long sticks, that’s 25 x 60 = 1500mm of lead, so a Yard-And-A-Half-O-Led. That’s an awful lot of writing and drawing.
2: All photos were supplied by Andrew. More of his photos of the Forte Pro II are available here
3: I’d just remind you of the Made in USA status of the Fortes.
The Forte is a little more different to its cousins. Rather than a rubber grip, the grip is part of the barrel moulding. Its grooved and no prize for guessing I personally prefer it to the rubber grips. The lead chamber system is the same as the Pro. The Forte doesn’t have an eraser cap.
So, you start with the Forte. You replace the plastic grip with a rubber grip, stick a cap on the eraser and you have the Forte Pro. You take your Forte Pro and modify the top section and lead storage chamber and you have the Pro II. Clear?