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Pilot Custom 823


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21 replies to this topic

#1 dizzypen

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 00:37

The full version of this review (with lots more pictures), along with all my others, can be found at The Dizzy Pen.




First Impressions


I sought this pen out for its filling system rather than for its looks. Upon first seeing the pen I was struck by its simple elegance. This is a large pen, which really appeals to me.

My first 823 was the Smoke colored 823. I bought it used. The transaction was a bit of a debacle as the seller sold the pen to me with an imperfect nib, and he did not disclose it at the time of sale (big no no). Thankfully, Mike Masuyama was able to fix it for me. So, I have to admit that that experience affected my first impression of the pen.

My Amber 823 was purchased new. It came in a padded presentation box, and a bottle of Pilot Blue ink was included with the pen. The Amber translucent pen is really gorgeous. Pictures do not do the pen justice.

Appearance



Pens of this shape belong to a class of pens whose shape draws its inspiration from the first cigar-shaped pen, the Sheaffer’s Balance of the 1930s. This design has persisted for so long because it is not only pleasing to the eye, but it is comfortable in the hand.

These pens come in three colors. Smoke, Amber, and Clear. All three are translucent. The Smoke and Clear 823s were imported into the US in very small numbers. They have since sold out. You can, however, get the Amber 823 at most Pilot retailers. If you want the Clear or the Smoke you have to order them from international dealers.

The nibs are 14k gold and the furniture is gold-plated. I usually hate gold plating, but it goes perfectly with the Amber resin. I just wish there had been a rhodium option for the smoke and clear versions.

Design/Size/Weight



This is a large pen at about 1/2 inch wide, 5 5/8 inches capped and 5 1/8 inches uncapped. Posted this pen is 6 3/8 inches. It is very well-balanced whether you write with the cap posted or unposted (I never write with my pens posted.)

In terms of size, this pen can be compared to the Sailor Full Sized 1911, MB 146, Pelikan M800, and the Edison Herald. This is the size pen I prefer.

Like the fountain pens of old, these pens are meant to be used as daily writers. Most of them were are not meant to be on display, and honestly, they aren’t meant for you to change inks constantly (although you certainly can if you want).

Nib



This pen comes with Pilot’s largest nib, the #15 nib. It is made of 14k yellow gold. This nib is soft, but not flexie. Impacts to the page feel cushioned. This pen is only available in Fine, Medium, and Broad.

Originally, I chose the Broad nib size. As I mentioned earlier, this nib was adjusted by Mike M. He did a wonderful job on this pen, it is now very smooth with a touch of tooth. It’s perfect for maintaining control of the pen without making the writing experience uncomfortable. The flow is quite consistent and juicy.

My new Amber 823 came with a medium nib. It is a superb nib right out of the box. Just like its big brother, it is super smooth with a little feedback to help keep the nib under control.

I’ve discovered, that I am very quickly becoming a huge fan of Pilot nibs. Really, it is hard to beat a Pilot nib especially one of their gold nibs. While the broad writes like a western medium, the medium nib writes more like a western fine. There is a considerable difference between the two. I love the broad nib most, but sometimes you just need something a little finer. The medium nib serves that purpose quite readily.

I use these pens a lot and for very long writing sessions. They perform admirably. I’d definitely recommend a Pilot Custom 823 to folks who also do a lot of writing. This is a great pen with a great nib!

Filling System



For me, the plunger system is the reason I originally bought this pen. I love integral filling systems, and the plunger system has to be my favorite of them all. This mechanism is very smooth, and you can add some silicone grease to the barrel to ensure it stays that way. This filling system is simplistic and efficient. With the right technique, these pens can hold a lot of ink.

I made a quick video to demonstrate how it works:



As I mentioned in the video, one depression of the filler yields 1.5ml of ink, but if you use the two-step method, you will get 2.2ml of ink, and the pen will be filled to capacity.

Now, a word about cleaning these pens. I have heard it said that these pens are difficult to clean. The plunger filler takes in and expels a lot of water to get the barrel clean, and the nib and feed pull out so that you can clean out any ink that gets trapped in there. It is also possible to unscrew the section, but I wouldn’t advise it. If you are too rough with it you can crack the barrel at the section threads. The grease used to lubricate the thread will stain with ink. You will not be able to clean it out unless you disassemble the pen (I would not advise this since you may crack the pen). This little bit of grease staining has only been an aesthetic concern for me. It has never interfered with my ability to use different inks in the pens.

Cost and Value



These pens can be quite expensive. The MSRP is about $360. If I’d had to pay full price, I probably would never have owned one. My pen budget very rarely extends that high. Each of these pens was under $200. If you can find one for around that price, then this pen represents a tremendous value for the money. You get a super smooth 14k nib, an exceptional plunger filler system, and a well-crafted high quality pen. Those qualities rarely meet for $200 or less these days (especially with the skyrocketing price of gold and the depreciation of the US Dollar).

**Hint! Pam at Oscar Braun Pens is going out of business. She has the Amber 823 marked down to $199. Supplies are likely limited.** Sorry guys, she is sold out!

Conclusion, (10/10, A+!)



It’s not often that I buy two of any one pen. The fact that I have is a testament to how much I love these pens. The Pilot Custom 823 represents my perfect everyday writer. They are substantial pens with a girth of .5 inches or more, they have an integrated filling systems that work exceptionally well, they have gold nibs (my preference), and the nibs are smooth right out of the box. My smoke 823 has been inked with the same ink (Noodler’s Navy) for over a year now, and I use it just about everyday. The Amber 823 is new, but it is settling in as well. I fully expect it to be in permanent rotation just as soon as I find the right ink for it.


No Affil.

Edited by dizzypen, 20 August 2011 - 19:32.

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#2 ethernautrix

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 01:50

As I said elsewhere, your review of this pen -- particularly the amber -- tempts me to reconsider the pointy pens. I enjoyed the demonstration on how to fill the pen completely (video at your website). Nice job, Ms. D!

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#3 WOBentley

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 05:03

I own an 823 custom demonstrator and they are wonderful pens. Mine is currently inked with a very nice Akkerman green.
Thanks for the great video. I like to change colors frequently so I don't know how often I will use it, but it is great to be able to do this...especially if I will traveling for a while and don't want to bring extra ink.
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#4 raging.dragon

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 05:11

I haven't bought a Pilot 823, though it is perenially sitting on the low priority end of my wish list. It has my favourite filling system, and by all account writes well; however, I find the aesthetics rather bland.

#5 dizzypen

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 08:20

I like the looks of this pen! Yes, it's simple, but I think it's elegant in its simplicity.
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#6 tonybelding

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 11:30

I've been tempted to get one of these. It's been on my wish list in the past, but I was put off somewhat by the high price tag and by the possibility of getting a "soft" nib such as Dizzy describes. Those I do not like! (The nib on my VP is a bit softer than my preference, if that gives you any idea.)

It's a neat filling system, but I'm looking more towards the Gate City Belmont, or maybe the TWSBI vac if I can be patient that long.

I also finally got a really nice example of a 1940s vac-fill Sheaffer Triumph that should keep me satisfied for a while. :thumbup:

#7 enricof

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 13:00

May I contribute?

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Ciao - Enrico
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Daddy, please no more pens - we need food, clothes, books, DENTISTRY...


#8 jandrese

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 15:33

I love this perfect pen. Thanks for the good review. Even at full price this pen is a tremendous value and is utterly without pretense.

#9 Horseknitter

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 17:19

I have been hot and cold about this pen with fear of cracking and demonstrators are not my personal favorites.

But with your review of how wonderfully the pen writes and Pam's current price I could resist no longer. Just ordered one and cannot wait to get my hands on it!

#10 dizzypen

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 19:33

Looks like Pam is sold out now. I guess a few of you decided to buy the pens while you could. :thumbup:
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#11 reprieve

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 20:23

I destroyed my first amber 823 (in a moment of supreme stupidity), but I immediately replaced it. I just had to. It's an excellent pen, and one of the few that is always in my rotation.

#12 Pelikan100

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 22:16

"Looks like Pam is sold out now. I guess a few of you decided to buy the pens while you could."

You guessed right. I saw your fantastic review last night, and this morning finally pulled the trigger on a purchase from Pam Braun that I'd been mulling over for a week or so. Until reading your post I didn't know she was closing up shop. What a shame.

#13 Signum1

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 23:08

Very good review of the 823. I enjoyed the video.:thumbup:
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#14 Jonst

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 12:43

Thanks for the great review and the instructive video.

I recently bought a Visconti with a similar filling mechanism but I have yet to ink it. When I do, I am sure that your video will come in handy!

Best wishes

Jon

#15 BillLS

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 17:31

I bought a Custom 823 in mid-2010. It is the only pen I have that I've never let go dry. When it gets empty I simply refill it because it's the best writing pen I have in my collection of 340+ pens. The others all have to take turns but the 823 is always filled and ready to use.

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#16 saskia_madding

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 17:48

I have both a smoke and a clear version of this pen, and I cannot express how much I love them both. I have a broad nib on one of them and it is SUPER smooth.

I change inks frequently, and with a little bit of patience, it is extremely easy to clean the ink out of this pen completely. But yes, it takes more than two flushes.

For those interested in getting one, I did a comparison between the medium and broad nibs here.

Edited by simonerodrigue, 22 August 2011 - 17:50.


#17 APHK

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 11:37

The 823 was the first pen that I'd bought this year. Now after 7 more acquisitions, it remains one of my favorites because the nib is so good - I'd bought mine in fine and so do not use it as much as I'd like to. I'm tempted to get another 823 in medium (or hold out for a 845).

#18 JBat

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 17:08

Very nice review and I agree with all of it. I've had a Custom 823 in amber for about a year now. I purchased it from John Mottigraw, and I have to say it is the smoothest of the 8 pens I now own. It's also very well made and the filling system is very slick.

You're right that it takes some patience to flush out, but it's not a big deal and it takes me less than 10 minutes.

I currently have it loaded with Aurora Blue, a combination that works very well. Highly recommended.

Edited by JBat, 23 August 2011 - 17:09.

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#19 JBat

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 17:15

And great tip about the filling. I didn't know that. I'll try it tonight. One more thing, while it's cool to get a free bottle of ink, I didn't care for the Pilot Blue at all. But that's how it goes.

Cheers
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#20 JBat

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 17:20

Dizzypen, I tried your trick for filling the 823 last night and it worked great. Thanks for the tip.
John

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