I’d heard good things about the Grip 2001, plus it is a neat looking pencil, so I picked one up at Artist and Craftsman for a cool 81 cents.
First, let’s talk about the looks of this pencil. It’s metallic silver gray with a black imprint and raised black dots along the triangular grip. the silver gray paint has a few runs and imperfections, that are noticeable, particularly at the imprint end of the pencil. I didn’t look at a whole lot of these on the rack of open stock pencils, but I did notice some imperfections on the other pencils as well. The back end, where the ferrule would usually go is capped with a shiny cap of sorts. When I first pulled this pencil off the rack I thought the raised nubs along the grip were purely for looks, but they are functional and create a nice tactile feel. If you are a “worrier” or rub your pencil or pen when you are thinking this is a great tactile feel. The pencil itself is very light feeling. I didn’t think to weigh it but after using other pencils it feels very light. The rounded triangular shape is very comfortable to hold and use. It settles into my hand like it was designed for my grip. It’s a great feeling pencil.I picked out a B grade. They had a full range of grades at Artist and Craftsman but I decided that the best bet for my review purposes was to continue with HB or B. It’s also a good entry level for pencil drawing and from a B grade you can tell what the rest of the grades will act like. At first use I was not impressed. This B grade is much more like an HB or F than a B. It’s not possible to get a whole lot of tonal range with this pencil. I got no more dark out of this than I would with a standard HB or #2 pencil. It is very hard for a B grade pencil. The mark it makes is lighter than I’d expect of a B pencil. Again the darkness of the pencil is in line with an HB of even an F, not what I’d expect of a B pencil marketed towards artists.However, it is not scratchy, in fact it’s a nice smooth pencil. I didn’t notice any grit as I used it. It holds it’s point remarkably well for a B graded pencil, again, I’d mark this an HB rather than a B, but even when compared to an HB it really holds it’s point well. For sketching this isn’t a great pencil but for writing it’s great. I find myself reaching for it pretty often to use in my Field Notes.How does it sharpen? Well, okay. I haven’t tried it in my KUM long point sharpener but in my KUM ellipse and Staedtler pocket Jelly Bean* it does OK. The wood peels off well enough, but the lead does lean towards chipping and cracking off the core. The core is narrow but well centered so does sharpen to a good point, the sharpener must be sharp. As I learned, a dull sharpened will just chip the lead off into blunt nasty points.While these pencils are directed at artists, I find it odd that they only offer from grades 2H to 2B. Artist grades, for regular drawing generally go up to at least a 6B and down to a 2H in hardness. If they are directed at artists, why so little in variation? Rather, I think the market for these is the “gift to artists” and “people who appreciate a nice pencil” rather than professional artists. While up to 2B is adequate for sketching IF you can get a nice range of tone from the softest pencil, it’s far less useful if the pencils are hard and not able to give a nice darkness. Like the mixed Palomino set, these are for writing and doodling, not for serious sketching or drawing where you need deep dark areas.
Overall, if you are looking for a solid pencil for writing this is a great pencil, I just can’t suggest it for drawing. Perhaps a higher grade, maybe 2B or 4B would give a nice dark tone for sketching.
Most of the other reviews of this pencil are older and much more favorable than I’m being here. Of course the majority of the reviewers are not artists and use them solely for writing, and that is where these pencils truly excel. Treat yourself to a great pencil for writing but get yourself something else for drawing or sketching.
*My own name for this sharpener. It’s a single hole mini sharpener, good for 3 or 4 touch ups while out and about. Not the best sharpener in the world. But not the best either. It’s no KUM. It looks a lot like a Jelly Bean shape.