Review of Mixed Grade Hi-Unis from Jet Pens.

I’d bet that a lot of Stationery Buff Comrades know that Jet Pens stocks a lot of great pencils and pencil gear. They sell hard-to-get pencils like the Tombow Mono 100 and the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni (a lovely dozen of which they sent us last year), in addition to pencil sharpeners and accessories I have never seen elsewhere myself.

The good folks at Jet Pens HQ sent us a little package with a Hi-Uni in F, HB and 9B. I thought we’d do something we’ve never done before and compare different grades of a pencil. Generally, we review HBs, but this is interesting — if nothing else, then because I think F is an cool grade that not all lines include.


The finish and pencil exteriors remain the same: gorgeous. When viewed at the business end, the 9B has one massive core. This produced interesting shavings. While the F and HB rendered shavings like most pencils, the 9B (out of a KUM brass wedge) produced “shorter” wood shavings and long, lovely graphite splinters. I take the fact that there were splinters in the pile (and not merely dust) to indicated that the 9B is a strong lead, albeit a soft one. Sharpening a Hi-Uni is always a pleasure. They sharpen very easily and evenly. But what’s more; they smell incredibly cedarlicious.


The F grade is as smooth as the HB, with the difference being one of point-retention and darkness. I feel like I should stress this. As the pencil grade moves toward the harder end of the line, it does not get less smooth. The transition between the HB and F is also very subtle. This is also remarkable. I, for one, have used grades of certain pencils wherein, say, 2H-HB feel like very different pencils than B and darker. (I’m not naming names. Not now.) Since F is really a semi-grade between H and HB, this is an even greater accomplishment.


When faced with a Japanese 9B pencil, I was at a bit of a loss because we usually review pencils for writing. I have been known to use very dark pencils for signage and for drawing. But I thought I’d give making some letters a try with this pencil. It is very dark and very smooth. Honestly, at 9B (a grade most manufacturers actually stop short of), this is to be expected. But what pleased me the most is the fact that this pencil resists smearing at such a very soft grade. Sure, it smears a little, but I’ve seen some HB pencils smear this much. To be sure, frequent sharpening and the wide core will keep it from being a go-to pencil for NaNoWriMo participants. But I have used this pencil in place of a Sharpie more than once over the last week, to make huge words — for grocery lists, putting “please do not bend” on a package, and even just to stress something in a notebook.

If the entire range of Hi-Uni pencils is this smooth and has transitions this subtle, I look forward to trying more of the extreme and in-between grades myself.

Hit up Jet Pens if you’d like to try them yourself. The cost of Hi-Uni pencils does help you get free shipping at $25! And these are well-worth it — check out our review again for more details.





6 thoughts on “Review of Mixed Grade Hi-Unis from Jet Pens.”

  1. The end of these pencils is very nice.
    I really like F pencils, too. I’ve used the Mars in F on numerous occasions where I had to take notes the whole day and didn’t want to bring a sharpener. The F pencil did always last the whole day and many A4 pages without the need for sharpening…

  2. Thank you for this review! Without a doubt, the Hi-uni is one of the best pencils one can get. However, I have a little problems with the plastic cap. Besides the fact that I don’t see the need for it quite a few caps on my Hi-unis are off-centre, i.e. expose a sharp edge, which makes them a little upleasant to touch. Of course this is only a minor issue.

  3. Different grades are useful for writers as well as sketchers. I use a B or 2B for journals, an HB or F for drafts and notes, a 4B for crosswords and anything darker and softer than a 6B for seating plans in exam rooms.

  4. I’m pretty sure the Mars Lumograph 8B is nowhere near as smooth as the Hi-Uni, and that the F-C 9000 8B is scratchy and / or crumbly as well. I believe Staedtler and Faber-Castell use some amount of charcoal, but Mitsubishi uses pure graphite. Consequently, dark Hi-Unis have a pronounced sheen that the darkest Lumos do not.

    In their feedback on Jetpen’s website, some of the commenters also note the superior point retention of the ‘F’ grade Hi-Uni. The uniformity of Hi-Uni kiln-dried cedar surely contributes to the outstanding sharpening experience. I’ve always wondered if the pink tinge of the cedar is natural or added. Lovely pencils both to use and admire.

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