Review: Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen (F Nib)

Pilot Custom 74

There have been a lot of sturdy little boxes that entered my life in the past couple of weeks. Let’s just say that the Pen Addict Podcast Annual Gift Guide episode was hell on my wallet.

Pilot Custom 74

Inside the simple paper sleeve with the big P logo on it was a clear window box so that I could marvel at my new Pilot Custom 74 fountain pen before I could even touch it. I purchased the clear demonstrator model with the fine nib during one of Pen Chalet’s epic discount sales.

Pilot Custom 74

The packaging was sturdy without being ostentacious which seems appropriate for a pen like this.

Because most of the pen is plastic, its quite light overall. Its just 15gms filled and uncapped and 24gms posted and filled. I found the pen comfortable to use unposted at 5″ long. With the cap posted, the pen is almost 6.5″ long which is a little unwieldy for me. Its not a particularly wide body so I think its a good option for people with smaller hands or looking for a pen comparable in diameter to a Sharpie marker. The Custom 74 might be a smidge wider than a Sharpie but you get the idea.

Fountain Pen Weights

Pilot Custom 74

The pen feels quite sturdy but I wonder if the demonstrator clear is not as pricey looking as it could be. When my husband saw it, he said “You paid how much? It looks like a $20 pen!” I think Mike’s blue one looks a little fancier than the clear. I did explain that really what I paid for was the 14K nib but it would be nice if it actually looked like a higher tier pen. That said, let’s talk about the performance.

Pilot Custom 74

I immediately filled the pen with Kaweco Paradise Blue using the CON-70 converter that shipped with the pen. Its an unusual cartridge converter that somewhere between a vacuum mechanism and a push-button system. I’ve never had a converter like it. To see it in action, check out Brian Goulet’s video on filling a CON-70.

There is lovely etched filigree on the nib and it looks very fine indeed. The nib alone looks like  a million bucks.

After a less-than-stellar experience with the Pelikan M205 with the gold nib that Mike loaned me, I was a little concerned that the gold nib on the Pilot would be equally underwhelming. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

Pilot Custom 74

On my standard Rhodia test paper, it writes like buttah. I felt so relieved! The Paradise Blue ink shaded nicely even with the narrow fine nib. And it is fine, but because there is a little spring in the nib, I get a little line variation too.  I am definitely starting to understand why this is such a popular pen.

Pilot Custom 74

This sample above was written in my standard, over-handed left-handed writing method. Looks good but I wanted to try to flex this a little bit which required trying a more “under handed” method… and by that, I mean I needed to change my writing position and work from below the line I’m writing on.

Pilot Custom 74

I was able to get some pleasing shading with just a little bit of pressure. I did not flex a lot since this is not really a flex nib pen per se and I didn’t want to break the tines. Overall, the ink color is darker for me when writing from below the line but the smoothness was the same. With a darker ink, I think I wouldn’t notice much color difference between overwriting and underwriting.

I’ve been loving this pen. I’ve used it all week on office paper, in my Leuchtturm1917 notebook, on Rhodia paper and pretty much anything else that passed in front of me this week. The fine nib even held its line cleanly on cheap office paper which was awesome. Its a great introduction to 14K nib modern pens and has restored my faith in 14K nibs for sure.

Pilot Custom 74

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5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I still have to get around to posting my review. Like Mike, I also have the blue one. I have the fine nib and it’s great. The CON-70 converter is also great – not only does it work well, but it looks pretty classy through that demonstrator. Thanks for the great review!

  2. This was the only one of my many Pilots that did not write well out of the box. I wrote Pilot and sent it in and was back in 2 weeks and was excellent. Not fond of Pen Chalet, when I check, their “sale” prices are still more than other sources. Doubt I will ever buy from them.

  3. I’ve always used a medium nib but never had a ‘soft nib’ previously. The sample writing above ‘from below the line’ looks good to me and what I’m after – but the nib is fine. Will I find this fine nib scratchy is my question or should I go for the medium soft-nib? My concern about a medium soft-nib would be that the writing is just too broad – which I don’t like! Help?!!

    1. Since this is a Japanese pen, the medium nib would still be finer than a European or American medium nib so I think the line wouldn’t be too wide. The Custom 74 also requires the lightest of touches to work so you can control the thickness or thinness of the line by how much pressure you apply to the pen. Check on Pennaquod to search for other bloggers who may have reviewed the Custom 74 with a medium nib.

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