Review of Faber-Castell Grip 2001.

We’ve reviewed pencils made in the United States and Asia so far, but we’ve not yet talked much about European pencils. It’s only fitting, then, that we review something from Faber-Castell, specifically the Grip 2001. We are very happy to have Frank C. — who works in research in the Garden State — write the review of this award-winning pencil.

According to Faber-Castell, “For centuries there was no change with the pencil. Faber-Castell has proven that there is still potential for improvement with this apparently simple product. Shortly after its launch the GRIP 2001 pencil was prized with several important design awards. For the magazine Business Week it was the best ‘Product of the Year’,” and several other accolates to boot.

First, some technical info:

Material: Jelutong, a rainforest wood that grows in Indonesia.
Shape: Triangular, with grip zone.
Finish: Water-based lacquer in metallic grey.
Ferrule: None, capped end in grey or black, depending on lead grade; black triangular ferrule on eraser-topped version.
Eraser: (On ferruled version) Soft black rubber.
Core: 2B, B, HB, H, 2H (B reviewed), specially-bonded and break-resistant graphite.
Markings: Black Gloss. “GRIP 2001 Faber-Castell” with company logo of jousting knights.
Packaging: Varies. Usually sold in open-stock or dozens. Fine stationers and art supply shops are the best bets.
Origin: Stein, Germany.

Now, for Frank’s review:

“Let me state up front that the Grip 2001 by Faber-Castell is my favorite currently-available pencil (the Blackwing 602 is my all-time favorite, but I’m sticking to currently-available pencils). Why? Because I like pencils that write a dark line but can be used for day-to-day writing (only 2B and 4B for me), and the Grip 2001 fits the bill, for me, better than any pencil around.

The other factor that cements its position as my top pencil is the way the Grip 2001 is designed to never slip in your hand. Using what Faber-Castell calls the ‘Patented Soft-Grip-Zone’ (what looks like to me little raised black dots) makes it easy to grip the pencil without it slipping up and down your fingers. I’ve also found that I don’t have to grip it as tightly to write, which means that I can write with it for longer periods of time than other pencils. One downside—when you store the Grip 2001 next to other pencils it has a tendency to stick to them!

The Grip 2001 has a triangular shape, another excellent ergonomic factor in its favor. I’ve found that the triangular shape fits flush between my fingers, meaning that I never find myself rotating the pencil like I do other traditionally-shaped pencils. Again, this is another ergonomic detail that makes the Grip 2001 stand head and shoulders above the other current pencils that I’ve tried.

While it’s great to have the attention to design detail that the Grip 2001 provides, it would mean nothing if the pencil didn’t deliver a great writing experience. And this it does, with a dark line that never smears. It’s also extremely easy to sharpen, even with the triangular shape.

So, given the great writing experience, excellent design, and ergonomic features, it’s easy to see why the Grip 2001 is an excellent pencil and my current favorite. It may be a bit more expensive than average (I purchased mine from Pen City, although I have seen them in a local Office Depot), but it is worth it. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

Many thanks to Frank for the review and the photos!

[Images Frank C. and J.G., used with kind permission.]

28 Replies to “Review of Faber-Castell Grip 2001.”

  1. $15 a dozen? Well, I can see spending that much if I made my living with pencils such as an artist does. I’m sure it’s a terrific pencil but I’ll just stick with my Ticonderoga’s that are $1.50 a dozen.

    1. this pencil is very expensive and i thought that it’s price is high in my country{Iran}, i see it’s expensive in us too, on the other hand it’s core is not fine and smooth.

  2. Dick Blick carries open-stock of the GRIP 2001 for only $.84 each, in all five grades — nice for tacking onto an order you might already have, and much cheaper than the usual price, at any rate.

    Faber-Castell sells them on their US site for a bit less, but you have to stick to one grade for the dozen (Go to Products, Design, GRIP).

    If you’re a Dixon fan, I’d try the GRIP 2001 in the B grade. I’ve found that the HB is more like a Mirado (#2). While smooth, it’s not as dark as the B.

  3. I agree they’re more expensive. However, given how well they write and their ergonomic advantages, they’re worth the difference.

    Just think, the Blackwings go for $20 or so per pencil on ebay. At those prices, $15 per dozen is a bargain!

  4. Technical Correction. Unfortunately, the Grip 2001 does not use Incense-cedar wood. This pencil is produced from jelutong, a rainforest wood that grows in Indonesia.

    Of course I have to mention our Palomino pencil, a real Incense-cedar pencil that as an alternative to both the Grip 2001 and Blackwing 602 is available at even more reasonable price at Pencil World Creativity Store.

    Our growing list of customers are providing very positive feedback on this product as a substitute for the Blackwing.

    The Ticonderogas are of course always a good buy for a good quality pencil.

  5. It would help if I could edit the posts…
    What I meant is if anyone could tell me how does the lead and the pencil compare to other pencils (like Staedtler’s or even Faber Castell Classic 9000) when it comes to drawing and sketching comics, cartoons and asorted pics.
    Due to it’s limited range (2H – 2B) that’s the only use they can have, at least it’s better than Staedtler’s Ergosoft that only has HB – 2B

    1. This is by far the best drawing pencil. I’ve had recommendations from other artists on their favorites but nothing compares to Grip 2001.
      It’s all about the composition of the graphite core; the outside is just window dressing. These pencils never
      skip–by this I mean they never leave a “surprise” deposit of lead. This is so important when drawing realistically and conveying detail especially in the lighter values. They’re worth every penny.

  6. I also like the Palominos (and have been one of those giving the Pencil World Creativity Store positive feedback). They write a dark line and are a very good substitute for the Blackwing. The Grip 2001’s non-writing features put it ahead, but the Palomino does hold its own.

  7. Timerever, I’d go with the Staedtler Lumograph or the Faber-Castell 9000 for cartooning, if you like a softer lead. I find that the GRIPs run a little on the hard side, though they are pretty dark. But they are extremely smooth and easy to erase, so they would certainly fit the bill if you like your leads hard:)

  8. Maybe I’ll stick with Staedtler’s then, not because the lead hardness but because I don’t like the pencils to be that dark since I sketch the same place over and over ^_^
    So I need a lighter pencil, not a darker one, and I also need it to be easily erasable so I can sweep it after tracing the sketch.

    1. I use the 2H to begin my drawings and lay down “washes,” up to 12, then I switch to softer leads. I have a light hand and personally wouldn’t use anything harder than this because of the danger of embossing the paper, a big no-no for very detailed drawings.
      I draw on Fabriano Artistico hot press watercolor paper which is very forgiving of erasures and this brand is very compatible. I draw direct, no transfer from tracing paper, and so I erase a lot. I clean up the edges and stray marks with a plastic eraser (kneaded erasers don’t work as well on this paper).
      If I do a drawing on tracing paper then I would use a harder lead just because the graphite lays on the surface and can be accidentally smudged.

  9. I have already compared the Palomino to the defunct Blackwing 602. Almost as nice. As black, but just a touch less “smooth” on the paper.

    As for the Faber-Castell Grip 2001, I’ve got an erasered version and an eraserless version floating around my pencil jars (I’m an artist and a writer; I *have* to have that many pencils…hey, why are you pointing and laughing…), but they are both HB since that’s all I’ve seen in art supply stores. I prefer about a 4B, so I’m not a wild fan of the Grips. Additionally, I’ve run into some issues with triangular pencils in round pencil sharpeners, though admittedly more with the Staedtler rubberized, triangular pencils than with the Grip.

    Since I don’t use them much, I haven’t sharpened past the black “Grip” dots. Is the pencil as nice once these are sharpened away?

  10. I love this pencil. The shape, the dots, the colors, the Faber-Castell heritage. I have several of them and use them daily. I can’t think of any other pencil that has both the engineering and cool looks of the Grip. It’s very creation represents an affirmation of the future of the pencil industry.

    Is it the best pencil? Maybe not for everyone, but for me it’s the one I want to use.

  11. I always have a couple of these with me – nice and dark, and smooth to write with, so they’re ideal for taking notes at gigs or similar, where the light is low and you tend to be juggling a drink, notebook and pencil.

  12. While I like the Grip 2001, they feel very light in the hand – a pencil to use writing or notation – but rather insubstantial for other pencil pursuits.

  13. Question: I ordered and received HBs, thinking they were equivalent to 2s, but they say on the side they are 2-1/2s, which means they’re probably slightly harder than I like (and all that money!). I wish there were a standard.

  14. Chris,

    Dick Blick has open stock of all five grades for $0.84 each. I’ve checked around, and I think it’s the best online source,, at least in the US. And you can try all five that way:)

    Good luck!

  15. Well, well, well… (greetings from Denmark)
    My experience with this pencil is: it is thinner and lighter, than other pencils – with this one I “loose the grip”, and can hardly read my own writing – even 2B is light and grey…
    (no matter which paper I use) – on the other hand Staedtlers Noris Ergosoft HB makes the dark and smooth line I expected, so I stick to them. I think they can even compeed with the famous Palonimos.

  16. I really like the grip 2001. For pencil enthusiasts i like the fact that some company is thinking ahead about pencils. In addtion, the all black design pencil is another great pencil… I use them for meetings, and use the grip 2001 grey color ones for everday wriring.

  17. Compared to the faber castell 9000 and the palominos, the Grip 2001 is the best of both of them because the triangular shape (which the palominos don’t have) and the line for the grip 2001 is darker than the 9000

  18. excllent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. My son has been using these pencils at school, he is Left handed and Dyspraxic his writing has improved 200% plus since using these pencils. The grip appeals to the tactile side of his dyspraxia and the triangular shape makes the grip easier to maintain. The not smearing part is an added bonus for a lefty who tends to trail over words he has already written!

  20. I like the lead in my Palomino pencil also the Faber-Castell pencil. My Palomino keeps loosing its eraser and of course the Faber-Castell has no eraser, so I use it with a cap eraser instead. I like the triangle and grip bumps on the Faber-Castell but also like the feel but not the lead of the triangle Dixon Tri-Conderoga. So for the best balance of both worlds go with the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 with a cap eraser, but it still needs a little more tac to the outside paint to be perfect.

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