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Pilot Custom 74 vs 823 writing experience for long writing sessions



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JunkerJorge

How would you compare these two pens in terms of writing experience, particularly for long writing sessions? I am looking for something that has a nice ink capacity and a really enjoyable and smooth writing experience. I understand the differences in filling system, converter, etc. Right now I basically use 3-4 pens that I really like but they each carry a downside:

 

Lamy Dialog - too heavy for long sessions, but writing experience is great

Lamy 2000- great pen, probably most used currently, can be finicky 

Pilot VP - I quite like this pen but I feel like I can write the con40 dry in a hot minute

Pelikan 205 - writes nicely but is small 

 

I do quite a bit of writing and have heard rave reviews on the Custom 74 but am wondering if it is worth it to upgrade to the 823. Unfortunately I don't have easy access to a place to try them out. Particularly with current events. Any feedback on how these compare in terms of writing experience? 

 

 

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Karmachanic
4 hours ago, JunkerJorge said:

Pilot VP - I quite like this pen but I feel like I can write the con40 dry in a hot minute

 

 

Con-20s can be found on aliexpress, or one can refill cartridges.

Wing Sung 699 is reported to be very close in experience to the 823, for low cost, if you'd like to get a feel.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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A Smug Dill

@Karmachanic got in before me in posting my ‘default’ response to the objection or reservation expressed with regard to using the (supplied) CON-40 converter in a Pilot Capless fountain pen.

 

More generally,

 

9 hours ago, JunkerJorge said:

Right now I basically use 3-4 pens that I really like but they each carry a downside:

 

… I think it is reasonable to expect every option available to you (or any other individual) as a consumer is a compromise between how much, and/or which, of your requirements and preferences, and thus has ‘downsides’. Even if there is a product that appears to tick all the boxes functionally and qualitatively, it probably comes with the downside of being inaccessible ‘unobtainium’ or (stay accessible, in not being discontinued and sold out, because it is) significantly pricier than other candidate products that only tick 90% of the boxes.

 

In suggesting one could using a CON-20 converter in the Pilot Capless pen instead, as an alternative solution to using the CON-40, we're suggesting you could choose to pay the price and go to (some minor) effort in securing units of a long discontinued product, as trade-off for relaxing the constraint on ink capacity which seems to be bothering you.

 

In suggesting one could refill emptied ink cartridges and use it in the Pilot Capless pen (with the supplied metal cap over the cartridge), we're suggesting you could choose to accept some minor inconvenience and/or additional effort with every refill, as trade-off for making every refill from an ink bottle last more pages of writing and tide you over longer between refills.

 

They aren't meant to be ‘no-brainer’ or ‘clear win’ improvements from the user's and consumer's point of view, but just alternative compromises; some (perhaps subjectively lesser) downside is still expected, and hopefully the individual will just decide what he can better stomach with eyes wide open.

 

Back to your main question,

 

9 hours ago, JunkerJorge said:

Any feedback on how these compare in terms of writing experience? 

 

I'd prefer not to compare them.

 

As a user, I personally find the straight-up-and-down cylindrical barrel body of the Pilot Custom 74 peculiarly uncomfortable to use; the particular combination of its girth and weight plays a part in it, since I feel as negatively using, say, a Lamy cp1 which also has a cylindrical barrel, but is thinner and heftier. That aspect needs no comparison with the Custom 823 (which I don't have, although I have a Wing Sung 699 that has already been mentioned as nearly a clone of it, as far as the pen body goes); uncomfortable-to-use stands on its own. I sold both of my Custom 74 pens and never looked back. However, if the pen body's geometry doesn't bother you, then I'm not sure why you wouldn't have overlooked (or discounted) the Custom 74 in favour of the Custom Heritage 92, which is a piston-filler with larger ink capacity than even the CON-70 converter (the largest compatible for use with the Custom 74) but use the same type and physical size of nibs. For what it's worth, the 14K gold #5 nibs on the Custom 74 has the tendency, and a bit of a reputation, for being somewhat ‘springy’ despite its relatively smaller size; some users may like it especially for that aspect.

 

9 hours ago, JunkerJorge said:

do quite a bit of writing and have heard rave reviews on the Custom 74 but am wondering if it is worth it to upgrade to the 823.

 

The last thing I'd want to do, as a fellow fountain pen hobbyist, is someone else's business analysis. :)

 

I trust that the Pilot Custom 823 would deliver a better writing experience, even to me who isn't impressed enough by the pen model as specified to buy one, given my expressed dislike for the Custom 74. To me, the ‘upgrade’ from disagreeable to uninspiring is not worth $100, much less whatever is the ‘best’ price I can find for the Custom 823 (less the ‘best’ price I can find for a Custom 74).

 

I'm confident you already know the Custom 823 is physically larger, has larger ink capacity, a more contoured body shape, and a physically larger gold nib but fewer nib width/type options than the Custom 74. I have no idea what the price difference, in absolute dollar terms, of the two models is, from your perspective — from the retailers, sales channels and discounts to which you have access — and that surely has to factor into your assessment of ‘worth’.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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2 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

As a user, I personally find the straight-up-and-down cylindrical barrel body of the Pilot Custom 74 peculiarly uncomfortable to use; the particular combination of its girth and weight plays a part in it

 

 


That's surprising for me to read. The straight-up-and-down cylindrical shape is what I find most comfortable. I slightly prefer the 823 for having a bit more girth, but these are two of my favourites. At Japanese prices I'd say buy both...

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A Smug Dill
1 hour ago, RJS said:

I slightly prefer the 823 for having a bit more girth,

 

It's that in-between girth of the Custom 74 that I found disagreeable. For an ‘entry-level’ gold nib pen in a Japanese Big Three brands' main product line, I'd prefer the Platinum #3776 Century, Sailor Professional Gear Slim or even the Pilot Custom Heritage 91 (which I've just un-retired from my Awaiting Disposal stash) any day.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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JunkerJorge
4 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

@Karmachanic got in before me in posting my ‘default’ response to the objection or reservation expressed with regard to using the (supplied) CON-40 converter in a Pilot Capless fountain pen.

 

More generally,

 

 

… I think it is reasonable to expect every option available to you (or any other individual) as a consumer is a compromise between how much, and/or which, of your requirements and preferences, and thus has ‘downsides’. Even if there is a product that appears to tick all the boxes functionally and qualitatively, it probably comes with the downside of being inaccessible ‘unobtainium’ or (stay accessible, in not being discontinued and sold out, because it is) significantly pricier than other candidate products that only tick 90% of the boxes.

 

In suggesting one could using a CON-20 converter in the Pilot Capless pen instead, as an alternative solution to using the CON-40, we're suggesting you could choose to pay the price and go to (some minor) effort in securing units of a long discontinued product, as trade-off for relaxing the constraint on ink capacity which seems to be bothering you.

 

In suggesting one could refill emptied ink cartridges and use it in the Pilot Capless pen (with the supplied metal cap over the cartridge), we're suggesting you could choose to accept some minor inconvenience and/or additional effort with every refill, as trade-off for making every refill from an ink bottle last more pages of writing and tide you over longer between refills.

 

They aren't meant to be ‘no-brainer’ or ‘clear win’ improvements from the user's and consumer's point of view, but just alternative compromises; some (perhaps subjectively lesser) downside is still expected, and hopefully the individual will just decide what he can better stomach with eyes wide open.

 

Back to your main question,

 

 

I'd prefer not to compare them.

 

As a user, I personally find the straight-up-and-down cylindrical barrel body of the Pilot Custom 74 peculiarly uncomfortable to use; the particular combination of its girth and weight plays a part in it, since I feel as negatively using, say, a Lamy cp1 which also has a cylindrical barrel, but is thinner and heftier. That aspect needs no comparison with the Custom 823 (which I don't have, although I have a Wing Sung 699 that has already been mentioned as nearly a clone of it, as far as the pen body goes); uncomfortable-to-use stands on its own. I sold both of my Custom 74 pens and never looked back. However, if the pen body's geometry doesn't bother you, then I'm not sure why you wouldn't have overlooked (or discounted) the Custom 74 in favour of the Custom Heritage 92, which is a piston-filler with larger ink capacity than even the CON-70 converter (the largest compatible for use with the Custom 74) but use the same type and physical size of nibs. For what it's worth, the 14K gold #5 nibs on the Custom 74 has the tendency, and a bit of a reputation, for being somewhat ‘springy’ despite its relatively smaller size; some users may like it especially for that aspect.

 

 

The last thing I'd want to do, as a fellow fountain pen hobbyist, is someone else's business analysis. :)

 

I trust that the Pilot Custom 823 would deliver a better writing experience, even to me who isn't impressed enough by the pen model as specified to buy one, given my expressed dislike for the Custom 74. To me, the ‘upgrade’ from disagreeable to uninspiring is not worth $100, much less whatever is the ‘best’ price I can find for the Custom 823 (less the ‘best’ price I can find for a Custom 74).

 

I'm confident you already know the Custom 823 is physically larger, has larger ink capacity, a more contoured body shape, and a physically larger gold nib but fewer nib width/type options than the Custom 74. I have no idea what the price difference, in absolute dollar terms, of the two models is, from your perspective — from the retailers, sales channels and discounts to which you have access — and that surely has to factor into your assessment of ‘worth’.

Thanks for the response. I know there is no "perfect pen" but I do want a new pen to fill a niche in my collection. I like all of the pens I listed quite a lot, and will continue to use them. I was just trying to give a reference point for what I am looking for. 

 

I am looking for something that writes without a lot of hassle and is very smooth feeling on page, feels substantial, and has a decent ink capacity. I also want to be able to write with it for long sessions and I would like to keep it under $300.

 

I agree about it being plain in appearance, but it seems to check the above boxes pretty well. The other pen I was/am looking at is the Pro Gear but I can't get a handle on the girth to length ratio on that one. Looks like it might be hard to use unposted. 

 

As for the 92, I have several piston fill pens and am bored with it. I thought at least the vac fill of the 823 brings some novelty.

 

Mainly in comparison I am wondering how the 74 writes in terms of smoothness compared to the 823, and if folks find the 74 too small or the 823 too big. It seems like you find the 74 to medium? haha.

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JunkerJorge
1 hour ago, RJS said:


That's surprising for me to read. The straight-up-and-down cylindrical shape is what I find most comfortable. I slightly prefer the 823 for having a bit more girth, but these are two of my favourites. At Japanese prices I'd say buy both...

Thanks for the feedback. I've yet to see "Japanese prices" from here in the States.

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JunkerJorge
5 hours ago, Karmachanic said:

 

Con-20s can be found on aliexpress, or one can refill cartridges.

Wing Sung 699 is reported to be very close in experience to the 823, for low cost, if you'd like to get a feel.

Interesting. Thanks.

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A Smug Dill
3 minutes ago, JunkerJorge said:

I agree about it being plain in appearance,

 

The Pilot Custom 74 is now available in a number of different-hued demonstrators. Eight opaque or translucent colours in the standard line-up, and fellow forum member @Olya posted recently that there will be three more demonstrator colours available.

 

9 minutes ago, JunkerJorge said:

The other pen I was/am looking at is the Pro Gear but I can't get a handle on the girth to length ratio on that one. Looks like it might be hard to use unposted.

 

129mm in length, with barrel diameter of 13mm, according to the official product catalogue on Sailor's Japanese web site. The Sailor Professional Gear Realo is longer by 6mm.

 

I find the Sailor Professional Gear (‘Classic’) more comfortable to use with cap unposted than with cap posted, mainly because I don't like the slightly raised cap ring pressing against the webbing between thumb and index finger when I write.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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JunkerJorge
23 minutes ago, A Smug Dill said:

I find the Sailor Professional Gear (‘Classic’) more comfortable to use with cap unposted than with cap posted, mainly because I don't like the slightly raised cap ring pressing against the webbing between thumb and index finger when I write.

Yeah, that's my concern as well.

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MuddyWaters

I have tried the C74 (own it) and the C823 (sold it). My opinion about the C74 is the same as ASmugDill's. That's why my partner uses it. The C823 has slightly more shapely body but seriously I found the vaccuum system useless and back-heavy for nothing. This is the main reason why I am looking at getting a Pilot Custom 912. It has the approximate girth of the 823 without the back-end mechanism and is 100$ cheaper. 

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There's also the Custom 743.  It's not distributed by PilotUSA but can be found on Amazon and ebay.  It's the same size as an 823, uses the same nibs as the 823, but it's available with more tip options. It also uses the same converters as the C74, and I believe includes a CON-70 with the pen.  I very much like mine, it's only downside being that I have an FA nib in it; if I were to do it over I'd probably get an SFM.

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TheDutchGuy

How two pens specifically compare for longer sessions is hard to answer objectively.  Both the C74 and the C823 are well-made pens. Which one to get depends mostly on personal preference and budget. Having said that, here are my experiences with both models.

 

Owned a C823F, tried long and hard to love it but failed, and sold it after a year. Objectively it was a good pen, but I did not like the nib at all and I had trouble to write consistently and tidily with it. Somehow, the pen seemed to resist me.

 

The C74, that’s totally different story.

 

BA00C3A8-0A38-4AA2-A6D5-FC8369A56094.thumb.jpeg.a9d2e49848789e5e720c7718c1f1ca62.jpeg

 

Just spent a solid month with a newly bought translucent-grey C74F and I’ll never, ever, ever part with it. Pretty much everything about it is exactly how I’d like a modern ‘workhorse EDC’ fountain pen to be. On my pen, the objective aspects like build quality, fit, finish, functionality, etc. are 10/10. The more subjective aspects like flow, feedback, how it feels in my hand and the pen’s design and appearance tick all my boxes. I would even go as far as saying that my appreciation of this pen is regardless of price; this isn’t just a very good pen for the money; this is a very good pen, period. I have barely touched my two Justus 95 pens since getting the C74.

 

Personally, I can’t justify the price difference between the C823 and the C74. I’d pick the C74 over the C823 every time. Whenever people ask me to recommend them a really good workhorse fountain pen that’s not going to back them into a corner later on, I still recommend the Justus 95 because of its unique features and versatility. Strictly for myself, I’d take the C74.

 

 

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A Smug Dill
9 minutes ago, TheDutchGuy said:

Whenever people ask me to recommend them a really good workhorse fountain pen that’s not going to back them into a corner later on, I still recommend the Justus 95 because of its unique features and versatility.

 

Amen… although it's still up to the pilgrim to choose the subjectively most suitable nib width grade (between F, M and B) upfront, if and when purchasing/ordering a new Pilot Justus 95. I'm not a fan of products that back someone in a corner, but I'm all for allowing individual consumers as much latitude and choice upfront to select from a multitude of product options, and sow the seed of their own discontent voluntarily and with nobody else to blame for whatever they thought was the best or smartest decision.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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I am always wondering why people ask such questions. Does it really help you if I say, I like this pen more than that pen? Especially if someone else says exactly the opposite.

 

You can rely only on the facts that I can give but not on my like or dislike.

 

Here some facts: the size comparison of the pens mentioned: from left to right

Sailor ProGear

Sailor ProGear Realo

Sailor ProGear Sigma

Pilot Custom 74

Pilot Custom 823

Pilot Custom 743

 

And yes, the Wingsung 699 with steel nib is performing (nearly) as well as the Pilot Custom 823 with a gold nib.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7nyKPgDPmb/

Try it.

 

PXL_20210117_090611688.jpg

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TheDutchGuy
4 hours ago, mke said:

I am always wondering why people ask such questions. Does it really help you if I say, I like this pen more than that pen? Especially if someone else says exactly the opposite.

 

I’d say that depends on the explanation given. I.e., if several users say that a certain pen is too large or heavy for their hands and that they therefore prefer the other one, than that might be helpful. If someone says that the threads are in the way because he/she grips pens high-up the section, then that might be useful. Etc.

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JunkerJorge
18 hours ago, mke said:

I am always wondering why people ask such questions. Does it really help you if I say, I like this pen more than that pen? Especially if someone else says exactly the opposite.

You don’t understand why humans with less experience, ask other humans with more experience, to share their experience? Ha. That’s sort of how the human experience works. 
 

Well I appreciated your answer and found it helpful so thanks!

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I have a 74 that i inherited from a distant relative who was into pens.  I never use it.  It just doesn’t appeal to me.

 

That said, neither does the 823.  I dislike vac fillers, and especially that one.  The nib choices are limited, too.  I prefer the 742 or 743 which are available with more nib options.

 

I like to switch pens for long writing sessions.  Here are some pens i often use:

 

MB146 (1950s model) 

 

Pelikan 400NN

 

Lamy 2000

 

Lamy Al-Star

 

Parker 51

 

all are stubs or obliques 

 

It would be difficult to say which is best, but the one i tend forget about and just write with is the Parker 51.  I take that as a good thing.  

 

One pen i never use for longer writing sessions:

 

Pilot Capless

 

Too heavy. 

 

 

 

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On 1/17/2021 at 4:23 AM, mke said:

I am always wondering why people ask such questions. Does it really help you if I say, I like this pen more than that pen? Especially if someone else says exactly the opposite.

 

You can rely only on the facts that I can give but not on my like or dislike.

 

 

I disagree. When other's share their subjective experiences, it expands the range and scope of the discussion and opens up opportunities for me to refine my own understandings based on my ability to interpreter and recognize the differences in structure and framework used by the reviewer. Besides being fundamentally social and fun (which is a big deal), it also helps me to better understand my own preferences when I see how others view something. That doesn't mean I'm going to agree with them or use their advice direction, but it helps me to gain insights and appreciations in an assimilated form beyond my own understanding and abilities. I think that's worthwhile. 

 

In most endeavors, there is too much information for people to just stick to raw facts and process everything. Most people don't have the time, energy, or the capabilities to do that (I've never met anyone who does). Doing that for pens would require going all the way back to foundational flow calculations on a feed, which "ain't nobody got time for." Even saying something as common as "these pens tend to write wet" is a subjective opinion, not fact. But these subjective impressions are always useful, though at some point you must of necessity reach a point of diminishing returns. 

 

And even if the facts were all that were necessary, the whole point of a forum is to engage in the social discourse and enjoyment of sharing and experiencing the opinions of others and ourselves around a common joy (well, or frustration, as the case may be). 

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A Smug Dill
On 1/17/2021 at 8:23 PM, mke said:

You can rely only on the facts that I can give but not on my like or dislike.

 

10 hours ago, arcfide said:

I disagree. When other's share their subjective experiences, it expands the range and scope of the discussion and opens up opportunities for me to refine my own understandings based on my ability to interpreter and recognize the differences in structure and framework used by the reviewer.

 

I'm with @mke on this. The question (or statement) is not whether someone can use others' subjective judgment and insights to derive some benefit, but whether he/she can rely on those, in the absence of sufficient visibility and/or control of others' (however well-defined or fuzzy) analytical frameworks and processes. Even if, retrospectively having since used the products for yourself, you find yourself in agreement in every single instance with a particular fellow hobbyist's opinion about five or even fifteen different products, you still cannot rely on his/her opinion as proxy for your own to project how satisfied or dissatisfied you would be with the next prospective acquisition.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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