Pencils aren’t something we use every day—more often than not, we just shoot off a quick text or email rather than writing a letter—but there will always be times when you’ll need one. When you do, it’s good to be sure you’ve got a high-quality writing implement that A) writes beautifully and B) lasts a long time. That’s exactly what Modern Fuel claims to deliver and what we investigate in this Modern Fuel review.
Modern Fuel pencils are exceptionally well-made writing tools. They are built for maximum versatility and a long lifespan, with a sturdy body, precise tip, and user-friendly design you will love.
In this Modern fuel review, we’ll take a look at the Modern Fuel mechanical pencils and find out exactly why they’re an item worth owning for any occasions when you need to do some IRL writing.
The Modern Fuel Difference
In order to understand any product (and this Modern Fuel review is no exception), I like to understand what went into their creation, the minds behind the inception. So of course I had to dive deep into the story behind Modern Fuel—and what a fascinating story it turned out to be!
Modern Fuel is the brainchild of Andrew Sanderson, a UK-born-and-raised aircraft engineer (specializing in mechanical engineering) for the British Royal Air Force. His love of tinkering and fine-tuning the aircraft under his charge combined with his need for a precise, ultra-tough pencil capable of sketching out the ideas that came to him while he worked—ideas both for improving the aircraft efficiency and innovative inventions. That led him to create the Modern Fuel mechanical pencil as the “perfect tool” for his job.
Modern Fuel’s uniqueness comes from their practicality, durability, and reliability. They’re manufactured to the same exacting standards of mechanical engineering that went into keeping the British RAF planes operating at optimum function, delivering precise functionality that makes them a next-level writing tool.
A Closer Look at Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil
The first product in our Modern Fuel review we had to look at is their most popular product: the mechanical pencil.
The Modern Fuel “Click” Pencil is a fine-tuned work of art, carved out of a solid block of durable metal and entirely free of (cheap, flimsy) plastic parts. The cone and body are actually “mated” to specifically fit each other, so it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” device that can be easily interchanged. Every pen is uniquely built and custom-engineered down to the tiniest detail.
Here’s how Modern Fuel describes them: “Every Modern Fuel pencil is carved out of a solid block of metal and contains no plastic parts. The pencil is an engineering marvel that fits together seamlessly. No two pencils are exactly alike, the cone and body are mated together during production for a flawless presentation.” During our Modern Fuel review, we got the chance to hold each type of pencil and can confim that they are smooth, sleek, and flawless.
The pencil comes in quality bronze, copper, stainless steel, and titanium finishes, with three lead sizes (0.5, 0.7, and 0.9mm). Given that it’s 100% metal, it should be no surprise that the pencils all come with a 100-year warranty—basically, it’s likely it’ll live longer than any of us!
If bronze sounds odd for a pencil, it’s actual not that weird. Bronze has long been used as a durable metal for ship fittings and diving equipment. This is the only pencil out there that uses a solid piece of C52100 bronze, a high quality bronze often reserved for high-end luxury watches. It’s the heaviest pencil I’ve ever handled, but the significant weight helps you feel the stable balance. Choose the bronze pencil if you’re looking for a softer metal that ages with character offers an antique feel.
The titanium pencil is as hard as steel and 45% lighter. Unaffected by fatigue, cracking, aging, or corrosion. Titanium is trusted for the toughest jobs on the planet, including use inside jet engines. The titanium pencil is the lightest pencil by far. Even though it’s light, it’s a nearly indestructible pencil.
The stainless steel is a hard metal pencil body with excellent resistance to corrosion. It is one of the most common metals used in luxury watches for a highly practical clean, sleek look. The pencil is heavy enough to feel the heft of quality, but not too heavy. It will not dull or patina over time, leaving you with the same pristine pencil for decades to come. Choose stainless steel if you want a moderately heavy pencil that will look as good as new in 50 years.
The copper pencil has a distinct look and feel that ages with character. It’s a softer metal that will embody its usage and patina over time. For the discerning user looking for a pencil with heft, copper is the heaviest pencil in thier line. Choose copper if you’re looking for a distinct metal with heft that ages with the user for a beautiful antique heirloom piece.
What we like:
- Has a really nice, solid metal with heft to it—it feels weighty in your hands.
- Metal warms up quickly to the touch.
- Made from a block of premium metal.
- Clip won’t break, snap, or bend.
- Feels like a precision-tuned instrument with every stroke.
- Lead storage barrel can be easily swapped out to interchange lead sizes..
- No wiggling or bending; just solid, smooth writing
What we don’t like:
- Cones and bodies aren’t interchangeable—no mixing and matching
- $150 price tag makes it a COSTLY option. It’s one of the most expensive pencils.
- May be a bit on the heavy side for some people
Modern Fuel Bolt-Action Pen: A Kickstarter Game-Changer
The Modern Fuel Bolt Action Pen is what put Modern Fuel on the map, thanks to its amazing success on Kickstarter, so it deserves a place in our Modern Fuel review. It’s also the most customizable of the brand’s writing implements. Not only does it offer a unique bolt-action internal mechanism (rather than the standard click mechanism), but you can adjust the tip extension according to your writing style: Extend it further if you write at a slant, or retract it if you write more vertically.
Because the tip is adjustable, the pen is compatible with nearly any standard ink refill cartridge available on the market. That means that despite the high initial cost of purchasing the pen ($150), it will cost you next to nothing to refill it and keep using it for the rest of your life. And we really do mean this is a lifelong product, thanks to the 100-year warranty.
The pen itself is surprisingly sleek, thinner than the majority of the bolt-action pens on the market today. Though it’s got the solid heft you’d expect from a pen made entirely out of metal, it fits comfortably in your hands and writes like a dream.
What we like:
- Sleek, slim, and minimalist appeal, making it one of our favorite writing instruments.
- Comfortable to hold and write with for long hours.
- Adjustable (extending/retracting) tip allows you to customize according to your writing style.
- Compatible with all popular ink refills (providing you have the right refill adaptor)
- Smoothly sliding bolt action reliable mechanism.
What we don’t like:
- Sells out frequently—supplies are extremely limited, and can take months to restock.
- Doesn’t come with a clip.
- Metal interior may scrape or grind initially.
The Modern Fuel Click Pen—Ultra-Tough and Reliable
Though mechanical pencils are their best-known item, the Modern Fuel Click Pen is a close step behind. Made with the same exacting precision as the pencil, this 1.1mm ball-point pen is an elegant, solidly built writing tool with stable balance that you’ll definitely be glad you have in your briefcase or at your office desk.
The high-grade bronze “matte patina” finish is sleek and stylish without being gaudy, and you’ll find the pen will never come unscrewed or break on you no matter what you use it for. The fit is absolutely seamless, so it looks like a one solid piece pen made of classy metal. When the ink barrel runs dry, just swap it out for any Fisher Space Parker G2-style refill (available pretty much anywhere) at an affordable price.
One amazing thing about this pen is that it gets more beautiful the more you use it. Bronze develops a patina over time as the metal reacts to oxygen and the contact with your skin oils. There’s a slight green/brown coloration that forms on the bronze surface—which most people find elegant, but which can be easily cleaned off (using vinegar and salt) if you don’t like the look.
What we like:
- Solid grip even without a finish
- Will slowly patina and grow more beautiful over the years of use
- Incredibly durable pen
- Long-lasting ink; refills are cheap and easily available anywhere
- Feels like a weighty, “official” pen
What we don’t like:
- $145 is a high price to pay for a ballpoint pen
- Clicking mechanism doesn’t make the “click” sound (a minor quibble, we know!)
- Occasional quality control issues with the clicking mechanism; struggles to retract nib
Introducing the “Legends” of Modern Fuel
Modern Fuel goes fantastical with the Legends collections, a trio of limited-edition bolt-action cerakote pens created to honor the Greek mythological gods Poseidon, Athena, and Hades.
Each of the pens is made of stainless steel and decorated with ornate flourishes commemorating the gods they honor: Athena’s features the leaves of an olive tree, Poseidon’s the swirling fury of a storm-tossed ocean, and Hades’ the dark currents of the wind that howls through his underworld. But they’re more than just decorative—they’re highly durable, too, thanks to their cerakote (modern ceramic-based coating used for firearms) finish.
The pen feels sleek and smooth in your hand, but the decorative finish has a textured surface that enhances your grip while you write. Each of these three unique pens also features the adjustable tip that makes this well-made bolt action pen such an impressive piece and a game-changer, so you can customize the fit according to your writing style.
What we like:
- Unique, eye-catching ornamented pens
- Solid cerakote finish on sturdy stainless steel
- Good grip; your fingers will never slip or slide as you write
- Long-lasting material (stainless steel with cerakote finish) won’t rust even after getting wet
- Great collector’s items
What we don’t like:
- No clip included
- Knurled finish on the bolt-action mechanism may be rough/sharp
Other Amazing Modern Fuel Products
Modern Fuel offers a number of other accessories beyond just their pens and pencils. We weren’t able to analyze all of them in our Modern Fuel review, but they’re worth mentioning:
- The Stand – This stand (for the pens or pencils) is made from the same distinct metal as the writing implements themselves (available in copper, high-grade bronze, or stainless steel), and designed to provide a stylish, attention-grabbing place to leave your pen/pencil when it’s not in use. It’s sized to fit all of their pens and pencils (including the Legends collection). Built into the top is a groove where you can display a piece of paper, and the underside has a cutout large enough to fit a cable or wire (great for keeping your desk organized).
- Pencil Accessories Bundle – This bundle includes your choice of two mechanisms (0.5, 0.7. or 0.9 mm), an eraser plug, a 6-pack of stylus nibs, an eraser 20-pack, and extra lead for all three mechanism sizes. It’s a great option if you want to add flexibility to your pencil or need an upgrade/replacement after years of regular use.
- Eraser Plug – If you’re the type of person who wants to use the pencil without an eraser, you’ll love this accessory. Just pop out the eraser and insert this plug to give the pencil a sleek, minimalist look.
And, of course you can buy the various-sized mechanisms and erasers/stylus nibs directly on their accessories page.
Our Thoughts on the Modern Fuel Pencils and Pens
Throughout this Modern Fuel review, I got the chance to test both the bolt-action pen and the mechanical pencils, and boy was I pleased! I was expecting something solid, but nothing could prepare me for the heft of quality these machined-metal writing tools were. I used them to sketch a picture (poorly), outline a floor plan, draw up measurements for a shelf I’m building, and even marking up lumber I planned to cut. They worked perfectly on every surface and never once did I worry they would fall apart or break like so many other pens and mechanical pencils I’ve used.
Yes, they were a bit heavy, but I liked that extra heft. It made what I was writing and drawing feel far more solemn and “official.” Even though it’s made from common metals, I still felt like I was holding an engineering marvel.
The pen slid in and out of my pocket smoothly, though I found myself wishing it included the clip that came on the mechanical pencil. Unlike other mechanical pencils I’ve used in the past, the tip of the Modern Fuel pencil didn’t stab my leg when it was inside my pocket because it naturally retracted into the body. That was a definite win in my book.
Are Modern Fuel Pencils Worth It?
I’ll admit, the (around) $150 price tag is a bit hard to swallow. I was a bit intimidated before writing this Modern Fuel review because I don’t spend that much time writing that I could justify the need to spend so much on a pencil or pen.
However, the fact that it’s backed by a 100-year warranty gives me a lot of confidence that I’ll be able to keep using it for the rest of my life, and get replacements if/when/as needed. That’s a lot of peace of mind that makes me more comfortable with the price tag.
Who are Modern Fuel Pencils For?
Really, they’d be great for an architect, lawyer, doctor, or anyone else who does a lot of hand-writing (vs. typing) but needs something with unparalleled strength and flawless presentation. The brushed metal look is very cool, giving the pens a next-level elegance that make them feel very professional.
In my case, the finish kept drawing my eye to it while I was writing. The people who saw me using it were incredibly complimentary about the pen and pencil both. One person even asked me where I got it, then went on to order his own to use around the office.
Modern Fuel Review Final Thoughts
I’m going to say that I was excited to test the pencils out at first, but throughout this Modern Fuel review, I ultimately fell in love with these pens and pencils. While they’re not perfect (a bit on the heavy side for some, the bolt-action pen lacks a clip, etc.), they are a hand-writer’s dream and a sturdy, ultra-reliable tool that can handle any job.
Honestly, I can see someone holding on to any of these products for decades, even using them as an antique heirloom piece. As long as you don’t mind the well-above-average price tag, you’re going to be glad you owned them.
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