What follows is a review of the Pentel P203 that I originally did for Associated Content.
Review: Pentel 200 P203 0.3mm Automatic Pencil
Diameter (Body): 9.3mm
Diameter (grip): N/A
Balance Point (From Push Button): 73mm
Weight: 11.3 grams
Lead Sleeve: 4mm, fixed
Lead size: 0.3mm
Major Components: End cap/Lead sleeve, body, clutch assembly/lead reservoir, push button, eraser with clean out rod.
Construction Type: Independent body, integral lead reservoir/clutch assembly.
Construction Materials: Plastic body, lead reservoir, metal end cap/lead sleeve, push button, clutch assembly.
Colors: Brown body, black lead reservoir, chrome pocket clip, end cap/lead sleeve, push button.
Mode Of Operation: Ratcheting push button lead advance, 3-jawed brass clutch with brass over-sleeve.
Appearance: With its tapering brown body the PG203 looks more like a typical writing pencil than a drafting pencil, but looks can be deceiving as the PG203 is a true drafting pencil. White lettering stands out on the multi-side body, which has an indentation for the pocket clip, which is set down a short distance from the top of the body. The chromed push button is the over the sleeve type and is a simple closed tube. The chrome end cap continues the pencil's taper to the lead sleeve. There is a small ringed rib at the end of the body where it contacts the end cap. Less than a centimeter up from the rib is a set of 11 equally spaced rings that makes up the grip. Simple elegance.
Disassembly: To disassemble the P203 first remove the end cap/lead sleeve. Next remove the clutch assembly/lead reservoir from in side the body. Remove the push button then the eraser with the clean out rod. Finally remove the pocket clip. Reassembly is the reverse of assembly. Note that the end cap screws onto the extended clutch assembly. The clutch assembly locks into the body via a hex nut.
Clearing A Lead Jam: Refer to this article, Clearing A Lead Jam, should clearing a lead jam be necessary.
My Opinion: The P203 feels great in my hand and writes remarkably well, feeling so well balanced in my hand. Two or 3 clicks produces enough lead to write with, about 1mm's worth. The lead advance mechanism has a distinct metallic sound and is semi loud. The P203 was my first 0.3mm drafting pencil and the one by which I hold all others up to. It is an old design but old does not mean out-of-date. While the P203 is no longer made (but still available) the design is so good that it is not only carried on in the Sharp line it has been copied by several different companies. The P203 is a rugged pencil; I've had one for over 25 years.
Last Words: While the P203 has been discontinued by the manufacturer (declining sales says the Pentel of America rep.) I fail to see why the other 3 pencils are still available. It really makes no scene to me and probably never will. Despite the fact that it has been left by the wayside by Pentel it remains one of the best drafting pencils ever made. The P203 is a pencil that should be in any collection so I suggest that you get one while you can.