Pen Comparison: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black vs. Pilot Custom 823
Notes: These two pens are not necessarily similar, in that they have different stylings, different filling systems, and different sizes. However, when shopping on the Japanese market, they are nearly the same price. I snapped these photos the other day because someone on Reddit was asking for advice on which pen to get. Both of them are great, and have landed a permanent seat in my collection. It’s hard to recommend one over the other, but maybe this post will help those out who are considering both pens!
When capped, the Sailor is visibly shorter than the Pilot. The flat top and bottom on the Sailor make for some great styling and looks, but it does make the pen significantly shorter. The other obvious difference is that the Pilot has a demonstrator body with an integrated vacuum filling system, while the Sailor is all-black resin with a cartridge converter. The Sailor is much more modern, while the Pilot has a classic cigar shape. This is how I prefer to write with each pen. The Sailor is much to short for me when unposted (see below), but the Pilot is pretty much perfect. In this configuration, the weight is about the same. I’ve had custom adjustments done to both nibs, so it’s hard to say which one is a better writer. The 14kt Pilot nib was ground to an architect point and the 21kt Sailor nib was adjusted for more flow than the stock nib. Despite being 21kt gold, the Sailor nib is quite stiff and unforgiving. The modification on the Pilot doesn’t allow for any flex, but my experience with other Pilot nibs was very positive. They have a nice cushion and spring to them, and lay down a smooth line.
As seen above (click to make bigger!), the Sailor is a bit short for me when unposted. I know people prefer to write this way, and it’s not uncomfortable for me. I simply prefer the cap on this pen. It adds a nice amount of weight and doesn’t throw off the balance of the pen at all. I also like being able to see the Sailor logo on the cap while writing, as it is one of my favorites in the pen world.
I prefer writing with the 823 when it’s unposted. I find the cap to add too much length and it throws off the balance. The pen by itself is long enough and heavy enough for me to write with comfortably. The huge ink capacity and metal components in the filling system help with adding to the nice weight.
Overall, they’re very different pens, but being in the same price bracket makes them more similar than I had originally thought. They both provide a different writing experience, but they’re both great looking, high quality, and in my opinion worthy of adding to a collection. If you prefer a larger pen, then definitely consider the 823. Another check for the 823 if you like unique filling systems. If you’re in the market for a more modern pen and your favorite color is black, it’s extremely hard to ignore the Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black. Both are great writers, and neither pen would be a bad choice. If you like this pen comparison, let me know in the comments! I’d be happy to do some more as time goes on.