Review: Pentel SS455 mechanical pencil, SS400 series

Pentel has been making writing instruments since 1946, in the wake of World War II with Japan in shambles. But in just 2 short decades Pentel would evolve to become a major player in the affordable writing instrument arena, as well as a supplier of top tier drafting mechanical pencils. But Pentel’s real bread-and-butter lies with the lower tier affordable writing instruments. And of that, there are many. Most everyone knows the ubiquitous P205 (0.5 mm) pencil, which was teamed up with 3 other lead sizes (P203 0.3 mm, P207 0.7mm, P209 09.mm).

While Pentel had great success with the P200 line, targeted for more drafting audiences, they also released a variety of mechanical pencils with metal bodies. Some were made partially of metal, some fully (like the PG15). Of course, more metal the higher the cost.  Pentel created an “SS400” series of pretty decent mechanical pencils that successfully pull off being inexpensive while looking and feeling more costly.

  • SS445 – Like SS455 but without the plastic grip
  • SS455 – Hard plastic ribbed grip, sliding pipe guide
  • SS465 – Soft silicone grip, chromed furniture, sliding pipe guide
  • SS475 –  All steel, etched grip, sliding pipe guide

Oddly enough, the SS455 was on the lower end of the price range, but now tends to be priced higher than the others in resale market. The SS465 looks more modern and possibly better made, but the silicone grip can be a big turnoff (they don’t tend to last more than a few years before turning to sticky gunk).  The SS475 is majestic in all steel splendor, but the shape is little more than a straight tube and the grip etching isn’t very prominent.  Ultimately, the SS455 is probably the better all around user pencil. The clip attach point is a little cheap looking and the enameled labeling wears off with sufficient use. But otherwise, the pencil has a good utilitarian appearance. The internals are mostly plastic, but where it counts, the clutch is brass and there is a stainless steel spring.

SS455 full
SS455 front
Pentel SS455 rear

Features: Sliding pipe guide, plastic ribbed grip, metal body, rounded metal end cap.

On eBay you can periodically pick up an SS455 for about $10 USD.  The SS465 and SS475 can at times be had for as low as $7 USD.

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