Another week, another review. This one comes from one of my favorite retailers and supporters over at Pen Chalet. The pen in this case is the Pilot Custom 74. I heard so many great things about this pen and well, am a sucker for Pilot anyway so I took the plunge on this great pen to added to my growing collection.
I love the fine Japanese nibs and this one is no exception but first let’s take a look at the outside of the pen. The custom 74 is a lot like other pens in the Custom family from Pilot. The 47 is made from a colored but translucent barrel and comes in a small collection of colors such as smoke, orange, blue and a clear demonstrator version. As you can see I chose the orange version and someday I hope to add a smoke version to my collection. I also, you guessed it chose the fine nib size. The Custom 74 is a cartridge converter pen, using Pilots own Con-70 pump style converter. The Con-70 is probably the best converter Pilot makes, it holds the most ink and is different with the pump style filling action, however it is sometimes a little tough to operate with one hand and is not the easiest to clean. But back to the Custom 74, it has a very comfortable grip, length and weight, fitting the hand perfectly both posted and with out posting. Unlike other pens this is one that I wouldn’t mind posting with no fear of losing the cap or it damaging the barrel and the convenient part is that posting doesn’t require screwing the cap on and off the back of the pen. The clip is tight and stylish giving it a good look and enough grip to keep the pen in place. The smooth ball at the end of the clip makes it slide on to things with ease but provides a modern styling that speaks my kind of vibe. Now make no mistake it is no Lamy 2000 clip but is still very nice. The band around the end of the cap states the brand and model of the pen and the screw on cap is very secure. My only dislike of these pens (any translucent capped pen), is that you can see the cap insert and while that in itself is not a problem what is a problem is that water and ink can easily get trapped under the insert with little options to remove it. Brian Goulet has a great little trick from removing the insert in order to clean behind it however I have found that filling the cap with paper towel or using a Q-Tip can wick some out any water or ink and if you do get water behind the insert eventually it will evaporate, so no worries. If you can use a Q-Tip or paper towel to clean out any loose ink and not fill the cap with water you also avoid the likely hood of getting ink and water behind the insert but I have learned to deal with it and won’t let that stop my enjoyment of this pen.
The Barrel and body are well built on this pen but the real reason you buy it is for the nib and the writing experience. The 14K Gold nib is marked with the 14K stamp as well as the size and brand (Pilot) and some decorative swirls around the edge of the nib. The nib looks great but also writes well too. It is smooth and soft which can be confirmed when you push it slightly to get some line variation from it. It is not a flex nib and won’t give you great variation however does show some from the softer gold nib. The nib writes well but does give a little feedback, more or less depending on what kind of paper and surface you are writing on. But that is to be expected with such a fine nib. I do tend to think that this pen might be a little on the drier side when it comes to ink flow. The flow keeps up but I wouldn’t hesitate to use with one of my inks that is on the wetter side and might take longer to dry, just to help it flow a little more but of course when it comes to things like ink flow that can be a little up to interpretation, after all it is very fine nib.