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Pilot Custom 74 - Ruthless Review!

pilot custom japan custom 74 review

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20 replies to this topic

#1 TassoBarbasso

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Posted 21 September 2015 - 10:37

Hi All! Here comes a new "ruthless review". My ruthless reviews have a few peculiar features:

  • Concise;
  • Very strict. If a pen costs hundred of euros, no faults are allowed. A good pen gets a 60/100, a great pen an 80/100, an almost perfect one a 90/100. Only a divine pen can have above 90. 
  • Add a few peculiar criteria: "Nib appearance", "Usability in shirt pockets", and "Out-of-the-boxness", meaning to what extent a nib was perfect right after leaving the seller. Also, don't care about the box.

NOTE: I've introduced a change in this review. Previously I used to rank each of the ten factors on a 0-10 scale, adding up to 100. However, I've decided that some aspects should be made more important. Here they are, ranked by importance and by number of points they get as a result ("Construction" and "Quality of materials" have been merged into one). There's also a bit of logic as to why some factors are more important than others:

 

Criteria

  • 1. "Nib performance" gets a max. of 30 points - Why? Is there anything more important than the nib? A pen is a worthless piece of plastic if the nib does not write well.
  • 2. "Appearance and design" gets a max. of 20 points - Why? What good is a FP if it's not beautiful? Note: I hate flashy pens, so a LE Montegrappa would probably get a zero
  • 3. "Nib appearance" gets a max. of 10 points - Why? A nib is what you'll most likely see when writing with a FP. It has to be beautiful, otherwise you're going to hate your pen.
  • 4. "Cost and value" gets a max. of 10 points - Why? Not among the top-three points because after all, we don't collect FPs because of their cost-value ratio, I guess. 
  • 5. "Construction and materials" gets a max. of 10 points - Why? This is quite important but not as much as, say, in a car rating, for we almost all use pen cases anyway.
  • 6. "Out-of-the-boxness" gets a max of 5 points - Why? Since most of us know how to do nib-fixing (and a nib meister is never too far), I've reduced the importance of this factor.
  • 7. "Filling system and maintenance" gets a max. of 5 points - Why? Hard to rate as it's subject to individual preferences. I'll keep it among the lower-importance factors.
  • 8. "Weight and dimensions" gets a max. of 5 points - Why? For me it's almost ininfluential: I like both small and big pens. So it will be a low-importance factor.
  • 9. "Clip and usability with shirts" gets a max. of 5 points - Why? Can be very important for some, but irrelenvant for others.

 

So, here's the review!

 

Pilot Custom 74 - Blue with 14k n.5 M nib (pictures here: http://global.rakute...tem/fkk-1000r/)

 

·        Nib performance: 30 out of 30

This pen has a magnificently good nib! It's soft, springy, with a bit of feedback but not too much, with a bit of line variation but not so much that you lose control, it's basically the perfect everyday nib. I'm going to keep this inked forever, always ready on my desk. I'm absolutely amazed.

 

·        Appearance and design: 15 out of 20

Conservative, not very creative, but with a nice combination between the blue of the body and the gold trims. It makes it classy without being banal. Note: this is not the demonstrator version, but the plain blue one you can get from Rakuten.

 

·        Nib appearance: 8 out of 10

This is a small, pretty nib, with some nice scrollwork. The only thing is that it would be nice if it had a rhodium masking in some places to make it bicolor.

 

·        Cost and value: 10 out of 10

Ok here comes the awesome part (well, the other awesome part, after the nib): I paid USD 72 for a 14k gold nibbed pen with a fantastic nib, from a world-class manufacturer. Compare it with the USD 150 you pay for a Lamy 2000 with its dull nib, and you get the idea. This Pilot is awesome value for money!

 

·        Construction and materials: 6 out of 10

Good, although not the best: the plastic has a slightly cheap feeling, but nowhere close to the cheapness of a Platinum pen.

 

·        Out-of-the-boxness: 5 out of 5

This nib's absolute perfection was achieved with no tuning or fixing at all: it was perfect straight OOTB. I didn't even need to flush it!

 

·        Filling system and maintenance: 4 out of 5

It's a cartridge/converter pen, which is not great, but 1. hey, it's a USD 72 pen! And 2. the converter is Pilot's famous con-70, which is by far the best converter in the market. So we definitely cannot complain here :)

 

·        Weight and dimensions: 3 out of 5

This pen is a little bit too long for many people, but being super-light-weight, this is not likely to be a major issue. The only complain is that the section is perhaps a bit too thin for some people.

 

·        Clip and usability with shirts: 2 out of 5

Pretty bad: the pen is so long that it probably won't fit in many shirt pockets. It's great for jacket inner pockets, though.

 

Final score: 83 out of 100. This, for a ruthless review like these, is a really high score. Trust me, if you've never tried a Pilot n.5 14k gold nib, you must get one. I've never had such a great experience on a daily writer. This is pure pleasure to write with, a perfect nib in an elegant design, with good quality and very convenient price. 



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#2 blefevre

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Posted 22 September 2015 - 13:11

I have this exact model- purchased on Amazon for about the same price.  Have to pretty much agree with most of your review.  This and the Custom Heritage 91 are the best under $100 pens sold today.  I would not give the nib a "10" but for out of the box performance, it is very good indeed.



#3 Moynihan

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Posted 22 September 2015 - 18:23

Good review


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#4 I.M.

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Posted 23 September 2015 - 13:47

Pilot sets a high bar when it comes to value for money. Thanks for the review. As a somewhat unimportant aside, I don't have too much of a problem carrying the 74 in my shirt pockets, or not the winter ones... although it doesn't fit in all of my summer shirts.


Edited by I.M., 23 September 2015 - 13:48.


#5 Dhruv_Sood

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Posted 23 September 2015 - 14:02

You usually have to pay double the amount of this pen to get a gold nib instead of a steel nib on the same pen, so it's definitely 10/10 for cost and value. :)
Out of the pens i have tried from the Japanese manufacturers, I rate pilot as #1. I haven't tried a sailor yet, but maybe by the end of this year I'll buy a professional gear realo. If it turns out good, I'll keep my new acquisitions alternating between sailor and pilot. If not, I know what I have to buy. :)

Thanks for the review. I like the 100 point systems and your point distribution for various criteria.

Edited by Dhruv_Sood, 23 September 2015 - 14:03.


#6 TassoBarbasso

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Posted 23 September 2015 - 15:00

You usually have to pay double the amount of this pen to get a gold nib instead of a steel nib on the same pen, so it's definitely 10/10 for cost and value. :)
Out of the pens i have tried from the Japanese manufacturers, I rate pilot as #1. I haven't tried a sailor yet, but maybe by the end of this year I'll buy a professional gear realo. If it turns out good, I'll keep my new acquisitions alternating between sailor and pilot. If not, I know what I have to buy. :)

Thanks for the review. I like the 100 point systems and your point distribution for various criteria.

 

Thanks for your kind words, I'm glad you like the rating system. 

 

I think Sailors are not as good as Pilots in terms of nib performance, but that might be just because I prefer a bit of springy-ness, while Sailors are rather stiff. I prefer Sailor when it comes to design, though.



#7 Dhruv_Sood

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Posted 23 September 2015 - 15:08

So Platinum languishes at #3. :)

I'll still buy a sailor though. As much knowledge I have about pilot, I don't even know half about sailor. Do they have different sized nibs too? I prefer the pilot #15 nib so something of the similar size would be good.

#8 lisantica

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Posted 23 September 2015 - 15:10

I have a Custom 74 and love it.
My sister-in-law bought it for me Christmas 2013 and It's been inked since then.  

Days and weeks will go by when I haven't used it, but it still starts right up, every single time.

It's a keeper pen because it's sentimental, and it's a bonus that's it's such a great pen!


~ Justifying pen purchases since 2013 ~


#9 Michigan

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 00:36

Great review. Interesting about Platinum's materials.

#10 TassoBarbasso

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 08:24

So Platinum languishes at #3. :)

I'll still buy a sailor though. As much knowledge I have about pilot, I don't even know half about sailor. Do they have different sized nibs too? I prefer the pilot #15 nib so something of the similar size would be good.

 

Not sure, I only have one Platinum, not enough to judge. I should get a few more ;)

 

Do go ahead with Sailor. I said I prefer Pilots, but I didn't mean that Sailors are bad. I think they're excellent nibs. Just not fantastic nibs as Pilot's. As far as I know, though, the Sailor nibs are all of the same size, except the KOP line, which goes up a lot in terms of price. 



#11 Moynihan

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 17:25

I use both Sailor and Pilot nibs, and have a couple Platinums.

 

My 74's are the Japanese market ones.

 

If what is most is wanted is soft/springy/"responsive", i pick up one of my Pilot/Namiki pens.

All my Pilots, except for the Metropolitan, are "S" soft designation. :thumbup:

 

If smooth is most important to me, i pick up a Sailor. :bunny01:


Edited by Moynihan, 24 September 2015 - 17:26.

"I am a dancer who walks for a living" Michael Erard "Reality then, may be an illusion, but the illusion itself is real." Niklas Luhmann

#12 Danny Kaffee

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 03:05

Excellent review.  A blue Custom 74 arrived today for me (bought from Goulet Pens).  I am most impressed. Smooth, wet medium nib.  A black and gold 74 from Japan will arrive within a week.



#13 TassoBarbasso

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 13:50

Excellent review.  A blue Custom 74 arrived today for me (bought from Goulet Pens).  I am most impressed. Smooth, wet medium nib.  A black and gold 74 from Japan will arrive within a week.

 

Enjoy yours! :)



#14 vipkat82

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Posted 26 September 2015 - 17:30

I knew the pilot would hold up well



#15 J_MM

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 00:46

Nice review. I'm a Pilot fan as well. The 74 is a great way to try different Pilot nibs before moving to a more expensive model.



#16 OneStarLeather

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 16:58

I have a custom 74 with music nib. Love the pen, although the nib was pretty scratchy when I got it. Agreed, a heck of a lot of pen for the price! I do also love the Plat 3776 and the Sailors. All good options. 

 

My one complaint about the 74 from an aesthetic point of view is the straight barrel. I prefer the tapers on the Platniums and Sailors. 



#17 davidtaylorjr

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Posted 11 March 2019 - 20:01

I'm hoping to pick one of these up.



#18 thiagojp

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 15:09

Great review! I also love my Pilot pens, agree 100% with you. My favorite are Sailor though. Their fine nibs are unbeatable. The trick is, you gotta write with the lightest of hands, barely touching the paper... then it just glides in the most delicious way...

#19 MuddyWaters

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Posted 16 March 2019 - 11:16

Ergonomics should be weighed more, and the 60% score in that regard seems fair. The 3776 is more comfortable to use

Link to a post about ergonomics I made: http://www.fountainp...with/?p=4179072


#20 RudraDev

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 20:44

Great review. Really enjoyed the format.

I got my Pilot Custom 74 two weeks ago and I've emptied out about 50% of my ink bottle.
I love the pen!
I hope you do more of these





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