Pencil Review: Dixon Metrico 1910 (No. 2)

It feels like the world might just be slowly going back to normal (side-eyes at you, Delta Variant). Lately, I’ve been picking up a few of the old hobbies that I’ve put on hold for the past year or two as my routine adjusted to life with COVID-19. One of those hobbies is writing this blog. I mean, if you’re reading this, I must have hit publish on a pencil review so that much is obvious (hopefully there will be more to follow soon). The other is travelling. Earlier this year, once my vaccinations kicked in and I felt not totally irresponsible about venturing out into the world, I spent two weeks in and around Rosarito, Mexico, in the state of Baja California. It was awesome, and it felt good to get out of ‘Murica for a while. iMe encanta Mexico!

Not only did I have a great time, but I picked up a few boxes of pencils while I was out and about. Today I want to review one of those pencils: the Dixon Metrico, in No. 2 grade, model number 1910. I was drawn to this pencil because it’s not one I have ever seen in the States or elsewhere. While many Dixon/Ticonderoga pencils are made in Mexico and imported to the United States, and Made-in-Mexico Ticonderoga pencils seemed to be as prolific in B.C. as they are here in Alaska, the Metrico appears to be not only made in Mexico but also made for Mexico. I was immediately curious to see how it compared to some of the other Dixon products that we are more familiar with in the States. So, today, I’d like to report my findings on that subject.


The Metrico 1910 looks just like your run-of-the-mill North American general purpose pencil. Yellow-lacquered hex barrel and a pink eraser held together with a metal ferrule. The lacquer is a pretty basic, thin, semi-gloss affair, and it is more of a “cheese slice” orange-yellow. Ironically, the paint job is much closer to a Papermate Mirado than it is to one of Dixon’s own Ticonderoga pencils. The lacquer and imprint aren’t super sturdy; after being toted around in my pencil bag for a while, the exterior appointments are showing some signs of wear and tear.

Two mint-condition Metricos (top and middle) compared to one that’s been in use (bottom)

The imprint is spartan and gives off an old-school vibe. The Dixon logo, along with a classic No. 2 grade marker, are embossed in a matte black, along with the “METRICO 1910” designation. The font used to print the model name and number looks like it would have been used by Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata to print their revolutionary doctrine over 100 years ago. In other words, appropriate for a classic Mexican pencil.

I bought a five-pack of Metrico pencils from a papeleria to bring home with me, and of those five the cores all seem to be well-centered, although they appear to be a little smaller in diameter than similar pencils. Granted, I didn’t pull out my calipers and measure, so take that with a grain of salt. For the most part, the barrels seem to be pretty straight. A few of them rolled with a little more wobble and difficulty than others, but none of them are perceptibly askew in the hand.

The tip of the Dixon Metrico (left) vs. the made-in-Mexico Ticonderoga (right)

The wood used for the pencil slats is merely okay — adequate, but barely. It feels hard and brittle when sharpening; I found myself exerting more effort than expected when sharpening with both a manual blade and a hand-cranked helical sharpener. I’m not sure which species the barrels are made of. They have neither the aroma nor the ring pattern I’d expect for a cedar pencil, but the reddish hue of the sharpened collar and the toughness of the material wouldn’t suggest one of the soft Asian woods. Occasionally, sharpening reveals some sort of inclusions, tiny wood knots, or voids in the wood.

It’s an interesting choice in wood species, but would could surmise that it is made from a species indigenous to Mexico and that Dixon is merely using what it has economically available. A little Googling reveals that the vast majority of the country’s forestry production is composed of various types of pine (apparently Mexico has more species of pine than any other country!), that forests are strictly protected, and that timber harvests are limited accordingly. Indeed, when I inquired about the purpose of the nightly military checkpoints that popped up on the highways around town during my stay in the country, I was surprised to learn that one of the things they look for is illegally-harvested wood being smuggled into the United States. [Note: I inquired on Google, not with the Sergeant who was directing vehicles. I had no interest in ending up like the van-load of frat bros who were visibly protesting and perhaps complaining about how their “dad owns a dealership” as the soldiers emptied their vehicle on the side of the road one evening. I suggest offering the checkpoint troops a polite smile and going about your business!] But anyway, that is all conjecture. Whether this pencil is made of Mexican pine, or some other species domestic or imported, I can’t say for sure.

Given a lot of the other aspects of this pencil, I’ve been bracing myself for potential problems with construction quality. However, I was pleased with the ability of the core to avoid snapping off or coming loose from its casing. In fact, the core of the Metrico seems well-bonded to the wood slats that hold it, and the sharpened tips usually stay intact without breaking.

Update: as soon as I finished editing and wrapping up this blog post to prepare it for publication, I put the pencil to some paper to make some notes and…snap! The tip busted off. So, yes, the tips aren’t perfect. That’s one broken tip. I usually give a pencil a pass for one breakage. But I thought I’d mention it, for the sake of full disclosure…


There is always some variance within a grade of pencils from model to model, especially in the somewhat vague numbering system (as compared to the HB system). During some standard, everyday writing with the Metrico, it struck me as a bit on the harder end of what I would expect for a No. 2: a little rougher, a little lighter marking, a little longer-lasting.

Now that I’m back home, I went ahead and put the pencil to the test to get a more objective idea of how it performs.

In terms of darkness, I found the core of the Metrico to be on the lighter end of the spectrum, but not too far off the mark that it would be unfair to bill it a No. 2. It actually leaves a mark on paper that’s quite similar to its cousins in the Dixon lineup: the Made-in-Mexico version of the Ticonderoga, as well as Dixon’s “no-name” No. 2/HB model. It also leaves a mark a little fainter than the Chinese Ticonderoga, which is consistent with the other above-mentioned pencils. Compared to some of the other No. 2 or HB pencils I had handy, it consistently wrote a little lighter, but not by much. I’d say the No. 2 grade is fair, but it’s definitely more on the “European HB” end of the spectrum.

The writing of the Dixon Metrico No. 2 compared to other No. 2/HB Pencils

Writing with the Metrico feels pretty typical, as well. It compares closely enough with the Mexican Ticonderoga No. 2 that I have to wonder if they aren’t made with the same exact cores. Anyway, this is definitely not your Blackwing or even a nice Japanese “HB” pencil; it gives a discernible tactile feedback and sound as you write. However, the response from the lead on paper is not overly scratchy, and it doesn’t feel difficult to write with. Importantly, I haven’t (so far) encountered any inclusions within the core that result in any unexpected snags or random changes in texture. It feels consistent and, while perhaps a little rougher than some HB pencils, not snaggy or too scratchy to be comfortable.

My initial impression is that the point retention of the Metrico’s core is pretty good. Jotting down a couple of paragraphs in my journal, it seemed like it held a fine point for the entire passage. I did a written-line test, writing out repetitive lines of text over and over again to get a better feel for what rate of erosion the point would have during writing, and did the same with a General’s Supreme No. 2 — which I consider to be a pretty typical HB pencil — for comparison. Between those two, the Metrico’s point definitely held up longer.

I also found that the Metrico also seems to be a little more smudge-resistant than some of its counterparts. I’ve been writing off and on with this pencil for a while, and never really noticed a tendency to smudge in everyday usage. When comparing it to other No. 2s in an intentional smear-test, the streak left behind as I wiped my thumb over the swatches was a little more faint than its competitors — both the Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils, as well as others like the Cedar Pointe.

Finally, let’s talk about erasing. This is another area where the Metrico performed similarly to the Made-in-Mexico Ticonderoga No. 2 and, due to this consistency of performance as well as the same bubblegum-pink hue, makes me wonder if they aren’t the same component. My impression during “in the wild” writing tests was that the Metrico’s eraser is pretty good. Doing an objective test, it performs decently although not up to the quality of a Pentel Hi-Polymer plastic block eraser. If you’re doing some sort of critical task that demands 100% erasure, hopefully it goes without saying that you should have a high-quality plastic eraser on hand anyway. Don’t sweat it, though, if you’re just doing some writing and need a capable eraser — this one is good enough for your general writing needs, and is pretty good compared to other pencil-nub erasers.

I don’t always write about this in my reviews, but one concept I’ve been toying with in my mind is whether or not certain pencils are better suited for different types of paper. I mention it because I think, interestingly enough, the Dixon Metrico No. 2 seems to write well on more…utilitarian?…paper stock. Using it in my journal, which I think of as having “nice” paper, I was really not very impressed with how it felt and how my handwriting came out. But for whatever reason, I like the way it writes on the Office Depot quad pad I purchased for making work notes and calculations; paper that I purchased with the intention that it would ultimately end up in the recycle bin. Not really a review criteria, but comeda para el pensamiento anyway.


The Dixon Metrico is an alright pencil. It’s definitely not worth making a trip to Mexico for (thankfully the country is amazing in so many other ways that I’m sure their tourism industry won’t be set back if I publish that statement). But if you just need a damn pencil and come across one, it’ll do the job without trouble.

After living with the Metrico for a while, I’d say that my main complaint is sharpening it. Whatever type of wood the casing is made of isn’t very good for making pencils out of. I’m trying to cut them some slack: this pencil is made in Mexico for the domestic Mexican market; the median and lower incomes in Mexico are less than they are here in Alaska; and Mexico’s forest resources are closely guarded. Maybe they’re just using the best resource they have available at the price point they’re aiming for. But I have to actually pick my rotary pencil sharpener up off the desk and death grip it under one arm while turning the crank in the other. I don’t know if I can say that about any other pencil I’ve tested. I’m fully admitting that I have the privilege and luxury of sampling pencils from the world over when I say this, but the Metrico’s wood casing kinda sucks.

The core is also a little harder than I expected. This is not an objectively bad thing; its durable core holds a fine point for a substantial amount of time (and considering the difficulty of sharpening this pencil, that is probably a good thing!) so if you’re into cores that stay sharp for miles, the Metrico might be more your style. On the other hand, if you’re used to writing with Asian-style No. 2 or HB pencils, the Metrico might leave you feeling like it’s a little rough and faint for its grade. The writing shade, feedback, point retention, and smudge resistance all align into what you’d expect from a harder pencil, so that’s good — just know that it’s pretty firm for a pencil stamped with the HB grade.

In fact, that’s probably fine for this pencil. It’s a working pencil. It’s not a Cadillac — it’s that pickup truck you see bouncing down some backroad with a bunch of little kids riding in the open bed. The body might get a little beat up, it doesn’t look luxurious, and sometimes you have to crank and crank on it to get it ready to go. But 300,000 miles later it’s still doing the job. I’m not going to bring a suitcase of Dixon Metrico pencils back with me from my next trip south of the border, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at one either.


3 thoughts on “Pencil Review: Dixon Metrico 1910 (No. 2)

  1. weirdwalthamstow September 9, 2021 / 9:36 am

    Great to see you back and writing, Jesse. I always enjoy the thouroughness of your reviews.


    • Jesse September 21, 2021 / 11:20 pm

      Thanks, I really appreciate that.


  2. Dale Dulaney September 14, 2021 / 1:00 am

    Your doing important work my friend. Excellent review. Thank you. -Dale


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