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Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen with Architect Grind Review

Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen
with Architect Grind Review

– Handwritten Review –

  • Review Ink:Sheaffer Peacock Blue
  • Review Paper: Rhodia No. 18 Pad

Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen Review with Hebrew Arabic Italic Grind by Richard Binder 5Specs:

  • Description: Probably one of the best pens out there. No, seriously. It is.
  • Nib: Medium nib, ground to an architect point by Richard Binder
  • Filling Mechanism: Integrated vacuum plunger
  • Weight: ~29 grams
  • Measurements: 5.85″ closed, 6.37″ posted
  • Color Options: Amber, Smoke (Japan Market Only)

Handwritten Review Scans:

Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen Review with Hebrew Arabic Italic Grind by Richard Binder 6 - Version 2Intro/About:

This Pilot Custom 823 with a 0.7mm architect grind was my big purchase of the 2014 Long Island Pen Show. It’s taken me a year to get around to reviewing this. Why? I don’t really know. What I do know is that it’s given me a really long time to get acquainted with the pen and provide you guys with a proper review. I knew going into the show that I wanted an architect grind, but I didn’t know what pen I wanted it on. After seeing and handling the 823 in person, it was an easy choice. I picked up the pen for $288 plus an additional $65 for the grind. The 823 is a classically cigar shaped fountain pen with a vacuum plunger filling system. The ink reservoir inside is huge and you can see the ink sloshing around thanks to the translucent demonstrator body. The main body section is clear, capped with dark brown opaque grip and section, separated by gold bands. It’s a great looking pen that is well outside of what I’d usually choose and I absolutely love it. It was great when I got it and it still remains one of my most-used pens one year later.

Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen Review with Hebrew Arabic Italic Grind by Richard Binder 1Appearance & Packaging:

The Custom 823 is an impressive looking pen with equally impressive packaging. The pen comes nicely displayed in a large gift box with a bottle of Namiki blue ink along side it. I would be quite happy to receive this as a gift – it really is that nice of a presentation. The pen looks really awesome too. What made me pick it out was the huge gold nib. Since I knew it was going to be a custom grind, I wanted something with a nib that I would look forward to using. The gold furnishing compliments the brown and amber resin perfectly. The cap is clear as well, but there’s a cap insert that hides the nib away. I’m on the fence about this detail – it would be nice to see the nib through the cap, but I suppose it makes taking the cap off that much more special. The gold ball-end clip is functional and the looks match the overall look of the pen well. The 823 is not something I would usually pick (all-black-everything, german design, etc.) but I really enjoy the way it looks.

Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen Review with Hebrew Arabic Italic Grind by Richard Binder 4Nib Performance & Filling System:

It’s not too often where both the nib and filling system on a pen are unique and special. First, let’s go through the nib. My Custom 823 started it’s life as a medium nib, but was quickly ground into a 0.7mm Architect/Hebrew Italic/Arabic Italic nib. Wow, so many names for the same thing. Richard Binder ground this nib for me at the Long Island Pen Show in 2013 (sorry, this review has taken over a year to do…) and it’s still one of the most fun to write with and unique pieces in my collection.

Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen Review with Hebrew Arabic Italic Grind by Richard Binder 8The architect grind is a nib grind almost like a stub, but flipped on the side. There’s a broad cross stroke and a narrow down stroke. It has a bit of feedback, but it’s still quite smooth for a fountain pen. I was told by Richard that the mild scratchiness is just the nature of the beast, but it is in no way unpleasant to write with. I think the grind suits my style of handwriting extremely well, it gives it a great look. The nib puts down a nice amount of ink, not too much, and not too little. It’s fun to see the ink level depleting in the clear reservoir. I really love this grind…

Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen Review with Hebrew Arabic Italic Grind by Richard Binder 16Pilot’s Custom 823 comes with an integrated plunger powered vacuum filling system. It’s very similar to TWSBI’s VAC700. To fill the pen, unscrew the tailcap, pull the plunger all the way out, submerge the nib fully, and press the plunger down. Once the internal vacuum seal behind the plunger is broken, the pen sucks ink through the feed and into the pen. It’s fun to use and extremely efficient. The pen holds a ton of ink, I find myself getting bored with the color before I run out of ink!

Feel:

Sailor Pro Gear Versus Pilot 823-6The pen is pretty large, there’s no getting around that. However, it is very well balanced and has a comfortable amount of heft. The grip section is comfortable and the step down and threads are barely noticeable. The cap posts pretty far down on the pen, making it usable, but it does throw the balance heavily towards the back of the pen. My preference is to write with the cap unposted, as it’s long enough and weighty enough to be comfortable. The fit and finish of the pen are top-notch. I’ve found Pilot to have some of the best quality control out there, especially in terms of fit an finish. You won’t be disappointed in how the pen looks and feels. Sailor Pro Gear Versus Pilot 823-7

Pros:

  • Handsome presentation
  • Awesome custom nib
  • Solid feel and build quality
  • Awesome filling system

Cons:

  • None for me!

Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen Review with Hebrew Arabic Italic Grind by Richard Binder 3Conclusion:

I love this pen, I really do. I’ve had it for a LONG time now, and it’s still great every time I pick it up. I thought the pen was too far outside of my comfort zone (never thought I would have bought an amber and gold pen) but it’s grown on me a lot. The solid feel, attention to detail, vintage feel, and excellent custom nib result in a pen that will always be in my collection!

Gallery:

 

Update: Winners Announced! Win One of Two Pilot Vanishing Point Prize Packs from Massdrop!

Super huge thank you to Massdrop for offering up over $300 worth of prizes for you to win!  Great timing for those who have just read why you should be writing with a fountain pen and want to jump into the hobby. The Pilot Vanishing Point is one of my go-to pens, and the Pilot medium nibs are just great. Read on to see how to enter!

MD-3773_20141003162910_283c8d6c1f535b8a

Massdrop offered up not one, but TWO Pilot Vanishing Point prize packs. Each package includes:

– 1 Pilot Vanishing Point – Carbon Black – Medium Nib
– 1 Bottle of Iroshizuku (Shin-Kai or Ama-Iro)
– 1 Rhodia pad

MassdropLogoTo be entered in the giveaway, all you have to do is create a new account (no credit card info required!) through this link!

If you already have a Massdrop account, you can enter by leaving a comment on this post letting us know you already have an account and which ink you’d want in the prize pack!

The giveaway will start on Monday, March 23rd and run until the following Monday, March 30th at midnight EST. One entry per person please! Massdrop will be selecting the winners randomly and shipping the prize packs. Giveaway is open worldwide! Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about the giveaway! Here’s some more info on how Massdrop works too.

 

NOTICE: IF YOUR COMMENT DOESN’T APPEAR RIGHT AWAY, IT IS IN MODERATION. PLEASE ONLY SUBMIT ONCE!

Congratulations to Grant E, and Samuel W., Massdrop will contact you directly to work out prize fulfillment!

Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen Review

Pilot Custom 74
Fountain Pen Review

– Handwritten Review –

Specs:

  • Description: A nicely balanced demonstrator at a reasonable price with a great 14k gold nib.
  • Nib: Fine, 14k gold, rhodium plated
  • Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / Converter – CON70
  • Weight: ~23 grams
  • Measurements: 5.50″ closed, 6.25″ posted
  • Color Options: Blue, Clear, Orange, Purple, Smoke – See them here!

Handwritten Review Scans:

Intro/About:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-7I’ve been interested in the Custom 74 for quite some time now. The $150(ish) price range has a ton of options, and it’s always good to try out another pen in the range. I feel as though $150 is the middle ground in the fountain pen world and some of the best pens are around that price. I have a Custom 823 with an architect grind that cost around double the 74, so I was very happy to check its little sibling out when Pen Chalet offered one up for review. The Custom 74 is a gold-nibbed demonstrator style fountain pen that fills via Pilot’s high quality pump converter – the CON70. The pen is a great looking work horse, and at $160 it makes a great entry into the mid-level price tier.

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-5

Huge thanks to Ron at Pen Chalet for sending me a Pilot Custom Heritage 74 over for review. I’ve had the Custom 823 for a while now (and love it), and I am happy to report that the Custom 74 is just as great!

logo

Appearance & Packaging:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-1

The Custom 74’s packaging leaves something to be desired for those who want a really nice presentation. It’s a cheaply-made box with a viewing window in it, displaying the pen. It’s not nearly as ornate as the fabric-lined box that came with my Custom 823, but it gets the job done. Personally, I file away packaging should I want to sell the pen so the smaller, the better. The pen itself looks great. The translucent blue resin has a smoke-colored grip and tail cap. The silver trim nicely compliments the rest of the pen. The clear body allows you to see the premium CON-70 converter inside which has nice chrome accents. The large chrome portion of the converter adds a nice pop to the pen, better showing off the brilliant blue color of the pen. Overall, it’s a classically inspired design that looks great.

Nib Performance & Filling System:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-8I opted for a fine nib on my Custom 74. Being Japanese, the nibs tend to run a size finer than Western Pens. The fine nib on this pen is very, very fine. It has a fair amount of feedback, but it’s not scratchy or annoying. The ink flow is generous and consistent. If you push the gold nib a bit, there’s some nice cushion. It is by no means a flex pen, and line variation is slim-to-none. The pen will put down more ink when pushed slightly harder though. I actually prefer to write with a little more pressure with this pen. Ink flow, as mentioned before is pretty much middle ground. Even though the line it lays down is very fine, you can still see some shading. Overall, I’m happy with how it writes. Especially the fact that the fine nib can be used on cheaper paper due to its fine-ness.

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-3

As for filling, the CON-70 is a pump style converter that holds a fair amount of ink. It feels substantial and adds a nice amount of weight to the pen. Considering it is inside the pen, it adds a great balance. To fill the CON-70, you submerge the nib into the ink, and repeatedly press the button on top of the converter. The ink draws up easily and quickly. It’s reminiscent of how the old Parker Vacumatics fill with a button.

Feel:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74-4The Custom 74 is nicely sized. It’s a perfect medium – nicely weighted and nicely sized. The plastic is high quality and I have no worries of the pen cracking. The injection molding is nicely finished too. There are no visible seams and the construction and fit of the parts are all top-notch. The pen really feels like it is worth the price. I think Pilot consistently nails it in quality and construction of their pens, from the $5 Metropolitan to the near-$400 Custom 823. The 74 fits nicely in the middle. The cap is capable of posting, but it makes the pen a bit too long for my liking. The pen practically disappears in hand. I definitely like how it feels.

Pros:

  • Great 14k nib
  • Solid construction
  • Demonstrator doesn’t look cheap

Cons:

  • None!

Conclusion:

Pilot Custom Heritage 74 Fountain Pen Review-1The Custom 74 is a solid workhorse pen. It’s priced right, at $160. I really like the CON-70 converter – it holds a ton of ink and looks great through the transparent body of the pen. The 14k gold nib lays down a very fine line with a bit of nice feedback. I’ve used the word “middle” a lot in this review, and I feel like it’s been appropriate. The Custom 74 would make a great alternative for those looking at a Lamy 2000 or Vanishing Point, but want something that looks a bit different. In my opinion, it would be just as great of a choice as either pen. You won’t be disappointed if you chose to get one!

Thanks again to Ron over at Pen Chalet for sending this over to review, if you’re interested in buying it, check out the product page here!

Gallery:

Disclaimer: This pen was provided to me as a review unit, free of charge, by Pen Chalet. I was not compensated for this review, and this did not have any effect on my thoughts and opinions about the pen. Thank you for reading!

2014 – The Year In Review(s)

Top 10 Fountain Pen Reviews of 2014

2014 Fountain Pen Year in Review(s)-2

I had a lot of fun doing the year-end roundup last year, so I figured I would do it again. Some pens have maintained their presence in the top 10 list and with good reason. Each of these posts got the most page views out of all of the posts I’ve made this year. The blog has continued to grow, and there were twice as many visitors and twice as many page views as there were last year. There were well over HALF A MILLION PAGE VIEWS and I want to thank you guys so much for checking out the site! Don’t forget to subscribe to the site using the “subscribe” box located in the right hand menu to get emailed every time I make a post!

So here we go, the Top 10 posts of 2014:

2014 Fountain Pen Year in Review(s)-410. Buying a Grail Pen

One of my favorite posts, this guide to buying a “grail pen” ended up being very popular. I go through my system of deciding what the right pen is, the process of freeing up some funds, slimming down my collection and obtaining the pen.

Click here to check out the original review.

2014 Fountain Pen Year in Review(s)-149. and 8. Rotring Rapid Pro Ballpoint / 800 Pencil

This is the first of three Rotring posts that made the top ten list. The Rapid Pro Ballpoint is a slimline pen with a metal body and a knurled grip that looks and feels great. Admittedly, it didn’t see too much use following the review. The pen takes a Parker style cartridge and uses a click mechanism to deploy the writing point. The number 8 spot went to the Rotring 800 mechanical pencil. It’s of very high quality, also features a knurled grip – but has a retractable tip and gold accents.

Click here to check out the Rapid Pro review.
Click here to check out the  Rotring 800 Pencil review.

2014 Fountain Pen Year in Review(s)-127. Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

The Lamy Safari was my first fountain pen, and it is still one of my favorites. It makes a great starter pen and really helped me in narrowing down what nib size I like due to the relatively inexpensive swappable nibs. The modern design still resonates with me and there is usually at least one inked up Safari in my arsenal. I picked up this discontinued Griso Grey model at the DC show for only $15!

Click here to check out the original review.

2014 Fountain Pen Year in Review(s)-96. Tactile Turn Mover / Shaker

The Mover and Shaker are two of my favorite machined pens. They take a huge range of refills and I love the grip pattern machined into the pen. They look and feel great, and they’re now available in a ton of different colors and materials.

Click here to check out the original review.

Rotring 600 Lava Fountain Pen Review5. Rotring 600 Lava

The Rotring 600 Lava was an awesome looking pen. I say was, because I no longer have it. It wasn’t seeing as much use as it should and I’m more of a user than a collector. The pen was sold to help fund my Nakaya purchase and while it was nice, I don’t miss it one bit. The pen is long-discontinued and can be found on eBay.

Click here to check out the original review.

2014 Fountain Pen Year in Review(s)-84. Seven Seas Tomoe River Pad

The Seven Seas Tomoe pad remains on the list, and for good reason. The silky smooth, fountain pen friendly paper is some of the best out there. It’s impossibly thin and is a pleasure to write with. I photographed the Seven Seas Writer journal instead of the pad again. Both are full of the same paper, but this one has ruling and is bound like a book. Check them out at Nanami Paper.

Click here to check out the original review.

2014 Fountain Pen Year in Review(s)-133. Sailor Professional Gear Imperial Black Fountain Pen

The stealthiest pen of all. When this was announced I knew I needed to have one. Don’t feel like spending $400? Do some homework and find a retailer in Japan. I got the pen for much less off of eBay straight from Japan than I would have had I purchased it from the States. I haven’t been using this pen as much, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it. I got the fine nib adjusted at the Long Island Pen show to slightly increase the ink flow and smoothness. It’s a great writer, and this post makes me want to go ink it up now.

Click here to check out the original review.

2014 Fountain Pen Year in Review(s)-102. Pocket Notebooks / Fountain Pen Friendly

This post was another fun one to write and I’m glad it made it onto the top 10 list. The post outlines what “fountain pen friendly” really means when dealing with pocket notebooks. Check the post out to see the differences!

Click here to check out the original review.

2014 Fountain Pen Year in Review(s)-111. Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen

Once again, the top post is the Lamy 2000. It’s still my favorite pen and it is still always inked and within reach. I absolutely love the design and writing experience. The 2000 is one of the first “expensive” pens people buy and I’m not surprised that the review is as popular as it is. Look for an updated review of the 2000 in the coming months!

Click here to check out the original review.

Conclusion

This was another great year for the blog. Thank you all for your continuing support and readership, it means the world. Even with a lower post count this year, the blog has still grown and continues to do so. I’d also like to thank the sponsors of the site – JetPens, Pen Chalet, and all of the independent retailers and companies that have sent me products to review for providing me with a steady stream of goods to review! I have a lot of great content in the pipeline, so make sure to come back and check it out!

Have a safe and happy new year!

Best,

Ed Jelley

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Winning Combo – Karas Kustoms Render K and Field Notes

Field Notes and Render K

The Karas Kustoms Render K is filled with a Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.4mm black refill. These two have been hanging out in my pocket an awful lot lately. The Hi-Tec-C plays nicely with the paper in the Field Notes pretty well. I’ve been enjoying my time with the Render K as well. It’s built like a tank and I never have to worry about bending the wrong way or sitting on it when pocket carrying the pen. The knurled grip part is addictingly fun to play with. I like to spin the cap and see how tight I can get it on there, once you try it, I’m sure you’ll find yourself doing so more often.