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Pilot Custom 823 Rantview

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15 replies to this topic

#1 bjcmatthews


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Posted 17 March 2011 - 14:17

Pilot Custom 823 w. Broad Nib.

First Impressions: It comes in a box. Unusual, as most of my pens arrive via teleportation or are dropped down a chimney by a passing stork, but this one came in a cardboard box. Not a bad box, not a good box, just a box. About the size of a lunchbox. With just enough satin in it to look like an oversized chocolate tray.

The pen looked like a pen. That was the main impression I got.

The pen is shiny too, can just make out the vacuum rod in decent lighting.

I bought a black one.

Wait (a moment please, as I get onto the Weight of the pen):

I like heavy pens. I had previously read two conflicting reviews, one member calling the pen heavy, one calling it light. I looked at the pen in the box, and it looked at me. I have no romantic inclinations towards anything without two X chromosomes and nice legs, and hence shanít describe the writing instrument as a seductress, beauty, promiscuous little devil etc. I told the pen, through telepathy it better be damn heavy. I held my breath to provide pressure to propel said telepathic communication into the core of the pen. I picked it up. It was light. So light I almost put sunglasses on.
ďOh wellĒ, I thought, ďat least it will be heavier when I fill it with ink"

Off the top of my head, I canít tell you the exact weight, as I couldnít balance it there long enough. But it feels well made, if a touch plasticky. It is long (and so is the pen) and comfortable with the cap posted. Without posting the end of the pen sits well above the crease between my thumb and index finger. I have fairly big hands, and it's good to know the cap of the pen doesn't need to be posted for me to enjoy using it. (It's the small things that count when you spend 260 USD on a pen).

Nib and performance:

Itís fairly big (and so is the nib) and unlike every review in the history of this website that proclaims that certain pen nibs slide like liquid moonlight over the glassy mountains of ice in the Himalayas, and then donít, this nib doesnít fall into the category of exaggeration. It is damn smooth. I want to take it out to the next nightclub I go to and watch it in action it is that damn smooth. It bounces like a trampoline too. Very nice. Maybe even a little too absorptive of feedback, but I'm sure I'll get used to that.

I filled the pen with BBH (after cleaning it thoroughly) I do experience a little bit of skipping and drying out of the nib. A shake or two every few minutes is required to keep the flow juicy.
Some might pick up their anti-Noodlers riot equipment as they read this, but BBH has performed in much filthier lesser fountain pens with nerry a problem. I wonder if it has something to do with continually sealing the vacuum filler.

Filling system:

Itís vacuumatic, but wonít clean your carpet like your mother does. Itís a bit of fun to toy with (and so is the filling system), and cleaning the pen is more fun than piston fillers (wind, wind, wind, wind, (reverse) wind, wind, wind, wind) and fills the pen approx 75-80% full. It seems to me the need to continually unwind the vacuum knob a few millimetres before using it is a little tedious, and may contribute to a bit of a dry start (as the feed is sealed from the ink tank after every writing session), but if it prevents nib leakage, Iím all for it.

The broad nib does run out pretty fast. Although I would have written 15-20 pages of uni notes with it, and maybe 5 pages of nib testing doodles before it ran down to 20 percent full (as full as it was empty upon filling it)(this is an essential piece of information, and clearly belongs in this part of the review)


This is a big one for me. The quality of the threading can mean the difference between a pen I use, and a pen I'm afraid to touch. The threads are as clear cut as the TWSBI's, but slide with each other a little more easily (I'm not meaning because there is a silicone ring in the cap of the TWSBI, so no corrections on that score ;)). It is a pleasure to have such good threads. I hate the threads on my Visconti Van Gogh, they are plasticky, badly cut, and unpleasant. I would put the threads of my 823 then at a 9/10 for comfortableness quality.


Lighter than I thought
More plasticky feel then I expected
Very nice nib/soft/flexible etc.
Threads of cap are very well made, as are those of the vacuum knob.

Iím happy with it (and with the pen). I hope the nib will wear in and stay wet, and not skip. As soon as it does this I might give it an alluring name and look at it fondly from across a candle lit dinner table, but until then, Iím giving this pen a 4/5.

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#2 InkyWink


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Posted 17 March 2011 - 14:25

1. There is way to get as 100% fill.

2. The back cap is supposed to stay open and unthreaded all the time you are writing and then you seal it up when you are done for the day or about to jump in a plane. It won't drip or leak and won't dry out. It looks a bit odd writing with the back unscrewed but that's the design.

3. I agree - damn nice threads, really prime.

I have 2 of these and really like them but the feel is a bit utilitarian for me. I wish it had the hand fee of an M800 but OTOH there's that nib. Out of the box perfect.,

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#3 tonybelding


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Posted 17 March 2011 - 14:56

Itís vacuumatic, but wonít clean your carpet like your mother does.

It's not a vacumatic filler. It's a plunger filler (or vac-plunger, or plunger-vac, or Vac-Filô as Sheaffer called their version).

A vacumatic is a completely different beastie.

#4 carlc


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Posted 17 March 2011 - 15:47

I wish it had the hand fee of an M800

Sorry - what's a 'hand fee'?

Or is it a typo?

Just wondering if you're trying to say something with that phrase that I just don't understand?
"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch" Orson Welles

#5 InkyWink


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Posted 17 March 2011 - 16:28

I wish it had the hand fee of an M800

Sorry - what's a 'hand fee'?

Or is it a typo?

Just wondering if you're trying to say something with that phrase that I just don't understand?

Sorry, my typo. I meant "hand feel" or that sense of the feel of the material in your hand that gives an impression of higher quality. I can't quite explain it but the plastic of the Pilot feels more like, well, plastic than the plastic on an M800 (and doesn't even ask me about "precious resin" baloney) but maybe it's just weight.

I know I am not being very articulate here.I really like the pen a lot and highly recommend it.

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#6 Koyote



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Posted 17 March 2011 - 16:42

This is the wittiest review ever.

#7 Gojira



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Posted 18 March 2011 - 02:45

Hahaha, this review really made me smile. I'm really looking forward to more reviews from the OP.

#8 mgutman



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Posted 18 March 2011 - 03:15

Not your average review! :clap1:
I have two of these. The broad hesitates a bit on touch-down but the medium is perfect. The nibs are amazing writers.

BJCMatthews: Make sure you have the back cap unscrewed enough. I read it should be unscrewed 2mm which takes it to the ends of the threads.

I look forward to your next review :thumbup:

#9 ethernautrix


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Posted 18 March 2011 - 03:18

Ha ha ha! Bravo!

I, too, look forward to more reviews from you.


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#10 SilentK



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Posted 18 March 2011 - 05:45

This is quite possibly one of the greatest reviews I've ever read! :ltcapd: I, along with a few others above me, look forward to some more reviews from you!!! :clap1:

#11 RobbW



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Posted 21 March 2011 - 23:20

I just received my 823 in Amber this morning. It has a B nib, which is like my Pelikan M nibs. The pen is as you describe it: extremely smooth springy nib, smooth threads, large capacity and smooth plunger action. This pen feels right in my hand, and is a pleasure to use.

I like the shut-off feature. I can write about half a page with just what's on the feed. I can open the valve a little and leave a light line. I can open the valve all the way and get a wet, juicy dark line. Or I can leave the valve anywhere in the middle. I love the control this gives me over the ink trail, and allows me to customize the ink to the paper I am using.

I filled to about 99% capacity with Noodler's Brown #41. With the valve all the way open I get a thick dark line with really nice shading. I'm looking forward to trying out many of my shading inks to see how this pen can accentuate them.

I'm delighted with the purchase and consider this pen a great value for the money spent. This pen is all about function over decoration.

#12 watch_art


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Posted 22 March 2011 - 01:50

wow now I need one. anybody wanna trade one for some art? :D
I really like F nibs. :P

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#13 PinarelloOnly



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Posted 22 March 2011 - 12:03

Itís vacuumatic.........

You're joking, right?

#14 Tas


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Posted 21 August 2017 - 22:30


Excellent review.

#15 InkedPages


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Posted 29 August 2017 - 20:38

Love the review.   I was having some problems with skipping and some hard starting until yesterday, when I cleaned the pen a bit excessively, first with a mug of cool water, then a mug of water with five drops of dish soap, then a mug of cool water again to rinse.  


Yes, before a wittier person than I asks, it was the same mug.  Now its as smooth as butter from the instant it touches the page to when I'm done writing.  Assuming I've unscrewed the back to open up the massive reservoir.  If not then it's as smooth as butter from the instant it touches the page to the moment I remember I didn't unscrew the back.  

#16 JonSzanto


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Posted 29 August 2017 - 22:52

This is the wittiest review ever.


Agreed (Hi, Koy!). Two things:


- Get rid of that BBH, there are a lot better inks for you to use in a nice pen like this, even if waterproofness/permanence are important

- When discussing weight of pens, there is no substitute for weighing them. You can then objectively compare them to your ideal weight

- You misspelled "nary"


Hope to read more rantviews in the future!

"When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."
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