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...how would you describe the difference when writing with these pens? I have a Metro <M> and love it. Smooth, precisely wet enough, a pleasant bit of feedback that gives me control over my writing. Obviously the much more expensive Custom 823 will be a much better writer, but how would you describe this improvement? I haven't got one yet, but might be able to buy a medium nibbed 823 for a good price, hence my question. Using the Metro as a reference, what can I expect?
This is my first FPN review. I hope it’s helpful and that you enjoy reading what I have to say! Prior to purchasing this Pilot Custom 823 from Goulet Pens, I’ve bought a Pilot Custom Heritage 91 BB, Pilot Falcon SEF, as well as a Pilot Metropolitan M and a Pilot Kaküno F. At one point I owned a Pilot VP Binderized M, but sold it to a friend because I didn’t like the way it wrote. Pilot Custom 823 - Appearance & Design (8/10) – This pen has a classic cigar-style design. I bought the Amber version. The finial and blind cap are both solid amber, accented by gold (plated?) furniture. The center bands on the screw cap are thin and thick respectively. The thicker band reads: *** PILOT MADE IN JAPAN *** CUSTOM 823. The tapered clip reads PILOT vertically and ends in a ball, complementing the classic look of the pen. Pilot Custom 823 - Construction & Quality (10/10) – This is the first Japanese pen I have used that even holds a candle to the iconic and timeless design of the Lamy 2000, which remains in my opinion The Pen. Everything feels solid, from the threading on the cap and barrel, to the piston mechanism, to the clip and how it posts. Pilot Custom 823 - Weight & Dimensions (10/10) – The pen feels solid in the hand. I would not describe it as a lightweight pen. It is noticeably heavier in the hand than a Sailor 1911 Realo or a Platinum #3776. The clip is springy without being too firm or too flimsy. It easily fits (and stays put!) in a shirt or jacket pocket. Although on the heavier side, it clipped easily and firmly to the placket of my Gap polo today while at the grocery store. The barrel and cap material is smooth and translucent. When I take notes while reading, I have the habit of sitting the cap upright on my desk. The Pilot Custom 823 cap is taller than that of the Lamy 2000, Sailor 1911 Realo, as well as the TWSBI 580 RB. Pilot Custom 823 From left to right: Pilot Custom 823 Amber, Sailor 1911 Realo Black, Lamy 2000, Lamy Matte Black AL-Star, Lamy Matte Black Dialog3, Platinum #3776 Century Sai, Sailor Imperial Black Pro Gear. The grip/section is a bit wider than that of a Lamy 2000 or a Platinum #3776. Out of the pens in my collection, it most closely resembles the width of the grip/section of the Sailor 1911 Realo. That is to say, it strikes a perfect balance between width and the overall weight of the pen. Pilot Custom 823, Pilot Custom Heritage 91, Pilot Falcon - Nib & Performance (8/10) – I chose a Fine nib, which is a monotone 14k #15 on the Pilot Custom 823. Prior to this, I had only used the #5 on the Custom Heritage 91 BB and the Pilot Falcon SEF. The nib is a good size and balances well with the overall unposted length and appearance of the barrel. It is slightly springy; exactly what you’d expect from a 14k Japanese fine nib. I write primarily in English and French/German (for teaching/translation work) and it is a perfect size to suit my somewhat casual cursive style. (See writing samples below). Pilot Custom 823 It works well on Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Baron Fig, 24lb and 32lb copy paper, as well as on Tomoe River and Midori paper. It is hit or miss on Field Notes, it depends entirely upon the edition. - Filling System & Maintenance (9/10) - This is my first vacuum-filler, although I have tried (and didn’t care for), the TWSBI Vac 700. The Pilot Custom 823 filling mechanism is outstanding. Pilot advises using 70 ml ink bottles, but I had no problem filling it from Lamy and De Atramentis bottles as well. It is extremely easy to use and requires no additional clean up or blotting that a C/C or piston-filler wouldn’t necessitate. Simply put, I love it. Cleaning is a breeze, too. A half-dozen or so flushes and you’re ready to fill it again with whatever ink you have in mind. Pilot Custom 823 View of the Pilot Custom 823 with the plunger in the “open” position for constant writing. One unique element of this pen is that you have to turn the blind cap until about a 2 mm gap appears in order to write for long(er) periods of time. This is a function of the plunger mechanism that, when fully closed, prevents ink from entering the section, which is ideal for travel or perhaps shirt-pocket carry. In my experience, for writing small notes, signing things, or even writing about a page on A5 paper, you don't even have to do open it the 2 mm. Pilot Custom 823 View of the Pilot Custom 823 with the blind cap opened 2 mm for constant writing. - Cost & Value (10/10) – I bought mine for $288 plus shipping from Goulet Pens. I ordered it on a Tuesday and had it by Friday (shipped from VA via Priority Mail to Cleveland, OH). I prefer to buy from American vendors wherever possible for warranty and customer service reasons, so I didn’t do too much research into buying this pen from Japan. Given the filling mechanism, I wanted to be sure I could have repairs and service done easily in case something happens to it. The pen comes in a large gift-style box along with a 70 ml bottle of Pilot Blue ink, so its presentation and unboxing could be described as luxury for sure. - Conclusion (Final score, 9.2/10) - The pen is worth every penny I paid for it. I’ve used a Montblanc 146 and 149 and it feels just as significant and superb as both. It is a peer of the Lamy 2000 and I am as satisfied with this pen as I am with my Sailor 1911 Realo. It has a place in my daily carry next to my Lamy 2000 and Sailor 1911 Realo. I try to find a few good inks to pair with a pen, and after trying several, including Iroshizuku Yama-guri, which I thought would be a slam-dunk, I settled on J. Herbin Lie de thé and Pilot Blue. Thanks for reading and I hope you found this review helpful! Below are some writing samples on various types of paper. They were scanned at 600dpi for clarity. I hope they convey it well. Rhodia Writing Sample The top ink is De Atramentis Aubergine. The phrase is from the letters of the German-speaking Romanian poet Paul Celan. HP 24lb Writing Sample The top ink is De Atramentis Aubergine. The phrase is from the letters of the German-speaking Romanian poet Paul Celan. The middle ink is Lamy Blue and the bottom ink is Iroshizuku Ina-ho. HP 32lb Writing Sample The top ink is De Atramentis Aubergine. The phrase is from the letters of the German-speaking Romanian poet Paul Celan. The middle ink is Lamy Blue and the bottom ink is Iroshizuku Ina-ho. All photos were taken with my Canon T3i using the stock lens and edited for clarity and exposure using Adobe Lightroom 5.