The Zebra DelGuard (via Amazon) is a new offering that tackled the difficult problem of lead breakage in mechanical pencils. According to this Wall Street Journal article by Jun Hongo, the Zebra DelGuard was actually conceptualized in 2009 and it took until the end of 2014 to get it out on the market.
According to the example in the video above, the Zebra DelGuard can take up to about 5 grams of pressure before the lead snaps as compared to about 1 gram of pressure for a regular mechanical pencil to suffer the same fate. Personally I’ve only ever broken lead while writing once or twice and am of the belief that it may have just been a flaw in the lead due to the fact that I write with fairly low and even pressure. I gave it my best shot with the DelGuard though, so lets take a closer look, shall we?
First things first before we get to the writing performance and any lead breakage issues. The Zebra DelGuard comes in a slew of different colors, I happened to grab this bright lime green color. The entire pen is made of plastic, except for some of the metal used for the tip and the inner workings of this mechanical masterpiece. Although the main portion of may look like a brushed metal (which I thought at first glance) its definitely not.
The top of the pencil sports a metallic eraser cap and plunger with a shiny chrome finis which gives a nice accent to the overall design. The one thing to note about the plunger though is that even after using this pencil for a bit, it took me some time to get used to the range of motion in terms of how deep it goes with one click. I know you have all be there before, that brutal moment where you misjudge a curb or a step and you come up short with your foot planting into the ground and your knee locked perfectly straight, I had about the same reaction the first time I went to advance the lead with this plunger. Its awkwardly short feeling in my opinion, although even a creature of habit like myself eventually got used to it and adjusted.
I like the green translucent grip section of the DelGuard not only for the funky looks, but also because of the incredibly wide threading used to secure it to the pen body. You can even feel a difference in the action of twisting the section on and off as compared to sections that have “normal” size threading. Obviously not anything that impacts the functionality of this mechanical pencil though.
So this here is a close up of where the magic happens with the Zebra DelGuard mechanical pencil. There are three separate springs (if there aren’t others hidden from view) that work with and against each other to even out and absorb any reasonable amount of heavy handedness you and your Neanderthal-like appendages can dish out in a writing session.
Its hard to tell from a simple writing sample how much pressure I was writing with, but the heavy dark lines above should at least be some indication. What I can tell you is that the amount of pressure I applied here is the most I could reasonably apply without feeling like I was actually going to rip the paper. If you write any harder than that, you might want to stop reading here and look into some anger management or meditation classes. The Zebra DelGuard definitely lives up to the promises of resisting lead breakage, so if that is an issue that frustrates you in any past mechanical pencil experiences that you have had, I would definitely recommend that you give one of these a go in the multiple different colors that its available in over on Amazon.