Palomino Blackwing Point Guard Review

The folks at Palomino have decided to create a point guard to add to all their other Blackwing branded pencil accessories. And while I didn’t need a long point sharpener because I already had the KUM that they rebranded, and I have no need for a pencil roll, I did NOT have a point guard. I never had a need for one, but this was free to subscribers, minus shipping, so I thought why not?

Standing at attention.

This is the coolest part.

There’s a blog post over on the Blackwing 602 blog about their struggles with making this product. Long story short, metal tolerances are hard to work with when you’re trying to get it to slip over a pencil and stay put without any other mechanism (like an o-ring) to keep it on.

There’s not much to say about this except it is very hard to get on the pencil. It won’t work with every pencil, but it will work with some non-Blackwing pencils. They recommend not trying to shove the pencil all the way to the deepest part of the point guard, but instead to only slip it over the first 1/4 inch where the lacquer starts.

This is the only lacquer problem I could find, and I could only see it with my macro lens...couldn't be seen by the naked eye.

I didn’t have any major lacquer destruction issues like I have seen reported around the web. It was a tight fit, for sure. I once even had to really yank to get the point guard off, but it still didn’t damage my lacquer. And I looked hard for it, trying to recreate what others had done. I got my macro lens out and still didn’t see anything. I won’t say this won’t happen to you, you could very well get one that one fit, due to the ± 0.05 mm tolerance they’re working with.

One thing I will say is that, unless you’re a Palomino Blackwing collector, you don’t need this. There are many many better, cheaper options out there, ones that will fit every standard size pencil. Ones that you can move from a Blackwing to a Musgrave to a Tombow to a Nataraj and all points in between. That said, I had better luck with Hindustan pencils than anything else. Maybe Palomino should sell their remaining stock to Hindustan and they can brand them for Apsara pencils.

The Point Guard comes in 2 colors, Matte Black and Bright Silver, both lightweight machined aluminum. It’s $9.95, which is way too expensive for a point guard. I don’t recommend this unless you are collecting Blackwing branded items.

Available from Blackwing, $9.95

Palomino Blackwing Volumes 530 Review

I did not know that mankind were suffering for want of gold. I have seen a little of it. I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit. A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.
— Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle

Video Review

My girlfriend is obsessed with gold. She wants gold-colored everything. We had an argument on the wasteful-ness of buying gold-colored flatware. Our Christmas tree is nothing but gold ornaments. Everything in her make-up vanity area is gold. Needless to say, I don’t expect to have these pencils for very long.

This pencil is a tribute to the Gold Rush, to California, and to “Eureka!” moments in general. The number 530 refers to California Historical Site #530, which is Sutter’s Mill, where gold was first discovered in the mid-1800’s.

Does everything need to be a sans-serif now?

New branding gets a closeup.

To my eye, the gold lacquer is between glossy and matte. It’s not as reflective as the previous #344, but more so than the matte black standard MMX. It is stamped in black with the new Palomino branding: 3 trees as the mark, and the new san-serif font for the Palomino name. The is an undercoat of yellow you can see if you get reaaaaallllly close after you’ve sharpened. The font used for “Blackwing” and the volume number remain unchanged, though maybe a bit tightened up over previous editions.

First decorated ferrule in the new Blackwings.

Who wore it better?

There's gold in them thar pencils!

The gold ferrule is super shiny. It’s the same ferrule that comes on the 3 standard Blackwings, with one major exception: the 530 has a black stripe on the neck of the ferrule. This is the first decorated ferrule they’ve done. I’m looking forward to more in the future. Maybe this is to make up for removing the gold stripe from the MMX when they did the rebranding a few months back.

I love this core hardcore.

The wood is, of course, cedar. The core is the Extra-Firm graphite that comes in the Vol. 24 (Steinbeck Edition). This is a great thing. I love soft, dark pencils as much as the next guy, but the Extra-Firm core is my favorite of the Blackwings to write with. My hope, prayer, request, demand is that Palomino come out with a standard edition that uses this core. And just to make everything even more awesome, natural finish. Can you imagine the 211 look with the 24 core as a standard edition? I can, and it’s amazing. Do it, Palomino. DO IT.

The eraser is the new dust-free formulation. I’m all for it, but it doesn’t do a better job than the old eraser. I took a picture, but it doesn’t do it justice. But to my naked eye, between the new eraser, the old eraser, and a Seed Radar (my absolute favorite eraser), the new Blackwing formula is the worst of the bunch.

New dust-free erasers aren't the worst, but they're kinda the worst.

Nothing snarky, I just love this shot.

One thing I noticed is that every pencil in my box, the ferrule is just a bit off center. When the pencil is flat on the table, the ferrule is not flat with it. It is very minuscule, and probably well within factory tolerances, but I did notice it. I noticed one and quickly checked all the others in the box. They were all off. I even opened my tube and checked that one. Also off. I checked all my other BW Volumes and Standards, and none of them were off at all. I tried to get a picture, but i couldn’t get close enough and in focus enough to show what I’m trying to describe here. Let me know in the comments if you noticed it on yours now that I’ve ruined it for you!

It's 530 somewhere...

You get some neat extras with the subscriber edition. There are two cards inside: one for a digital song download of Willy Tea Taylor's "California", the other for a free Blackwing Point Guard which is "free" because you still have to pay shipping. I'll be doing a review of it when I get it, but I'm sure there won't be much to review..."it's from Blackwing and protects your over".

Overall, I’m happy with this pencil. The finish isn’t too gaudy for me to use, but it’s still gold. The core is perfect, my favorite. I hope at least they keep using this core in editions so I can always have access to it, but I really want it to become a standard core.

Available from, $24.95