Pen Review: Pilot Custom 74

Pilot Custom 74 Orange

I was lucky enough recently to borrow an orange Pilot Custom 74 with fine nib.

I’ve had my eye on the Custom 74 for years; and every once in a while I think, “Should I?” The lure is the nib: I think the Pilot fine nib is perfection. But I haven’t yet found the perfect Pilot fountain pen. Could the Custom 74 be the answer?

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30 thoughts on “Pen Review: Pilot Custom 74

  1. I read in your (excellent) blog today that you have to like aesthetically the pen you write with. I bought a maroon Pilot 74 and there was nothing really wrong with it, but I sold it really fast out of pure dislike. It was by far the ugliest pen in my collection. I expected the colour sort of burgundy, but it was a most appaling brown…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “… and I don’t like the soft nib as much”

    Blasphemy! πŸ™‚

    I have a 74 with a SFM nib that is the best writing pen in my small collection. I really love the FM Pilot nibs, and the “soft” really adds something special IMHO. It”ll be in tow at the meetup in a couple weeks, so if you’ve never tried one, you might have to redact that prior statement after!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, great! I would love to try it. I’ve (briefly) tried a Platinum soft fine, and I liked that very much.

      In that quote, was I referring to the Pilot Vanishing Point nib? I don’t want to drag those — I understand why many people love those nibs, and they are very good. I was just trying to say, they aren’t as good a match for my writing style.

      See, here is the thing: Show me any fountain pen style or type, and I’m likely to say, “ooooh, want! So I just have to make petty and irrational distinctions, just to narrow down the list of pens I want to own from “all of them” to merely “most of them.” Liking the Pilot open nib more than the Pilot Vanishing Point nib is one example. It saves me an absolute fortune. πŸ™‚

      On the other hand, sometimes there’s a pen that I think would be appealing to a lot of people, and the Custom 74 is such a pen.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Totally understand! I personally always have my VP inked and at work because I need to quickly jot notes in meetings and the quick click allows me to use a FP in a situation where the normal pop or screw cap simply would be too much a hassle. But I don’t ever elect to use it for any length of time. It is definitely a purpose-built pen for me. And while the nib is good (because what Pilot nib isn’t, really??) it’s nothing special in my book and the grip I have to use because of the clip placement isn’t conducive to any long writing sessions.

        Looking forward to seeing how you like the SFM – for me it was one of those “alleluia chorus” moments when I first put it to paper.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Just a quick question… never having tried, because I’ve only ever borrowed a Pilot before, how easy is it to peel off those large, silver, nib size stickers, that they put on the barrel? And do they leave a mark at all? I’m seriously considering a Falcon or a Custom 74 with a SF nib, but that label would annoy me. Have you any thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well written and entertaining too πŸ™‚ I’ve been in the market for a Pilot Custom 74 for quite some time now. The only thing holding me back, is I can’t make up my mind what colour I want, or whether I want a transparent one … or not?! The blue transparent looks very nice, but that’s much more expensive than buying a green one from Japan … decisions, decisions!

    Do you own/have you tried a Pilot Stella/Stargazer, and if so; how would you say the nibs compare? They look very similar. I know Stella is small — I have one — but it wouldn’t hurt to have a Custom 74 too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ve been there. For myself, I’d go for the blue transparent,* though, yes, the price is hard to swallow. *Or the clear or the smoke. πŸ™‚ I’ve learned it the hard way that whenever I compromise and buy a new pen in a material I don’t like, to save money, it ends in regret. I always wish I had just bought the one I really wanted. And then I end up getting that one anyway. πŸ™‚

      I have never used the Stella or Stargazer — thanks for telling me about those. I checked with my Pilot dealer friend, Dan Smith, the Nibsmith, who said the Stargazer has Pilot’s #3 14k nib, so it’s a smaller nib in physical size than the Custom 74, which is a #5 size. I wouldn’t expect a huge difference in the writing characteristic or quality of the nibs. The firm open nibs seem pretty similar up and down Pilot’s lineup. Even the inexpensive steel nibs on the Prera (and Plumix, Penmanship, etc.) pens are excellent, if you ask me.

      I would agree that it wouldn’t hurt to have a Custom 74, too. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. πŸ™‚

      I actually am a big fan of demonstrators. So at first, the Custom 74 design seemed a little … dare I say, Victorian? It seemed so proper. πŸ™‚

      But the pen does look nice and clean this way. And I think we all like a nice clean pen, too. So, I’m still amused, but I see why they did it, too. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Another fab review. The 74 is a pen I passed over thinking I would get a 92 instead, and ended up getting neither. Such is the way of things I guess. Incidentally, the CON70 can be filled without attaching it to the section but it is awkward, and if doing that one may as well refill a cartridge. On the other hand, the CON70 is also very quick and easy to clean – yes, really. Just use a plastic pipette and squirt water into it a few times. Works a treat. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And thanks for the converter-cleaning tip. Since there’s no piston in the Con-70, you don’t have to worry about squirting water (or inky water) behind the converter piston.


  6. Great review – plenty to think about. My only reservation is the Con-70. I have one in a Custom 91 and it’s a faff to fill, but a nightmare to clean. I guess my only solution is to decide on one ink for it and stick to it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have the same reservation about cleaning this converter. Couple thoughts: 1. Sticking to one general ink color should work just as well – I do that with 51s and PFMs. Keep the pen to blue, say, or green. You can switch between light or dark shades pretty freely, without having to clean perfectly, if you stay with the same color. Also you can switch from blue to green, or blue to purple, etc., the same way. 2. I was thinking there could be a better Pilot converter we could use? Easier to clean anyway. 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review! Thank you!

    >> Not at this point. It’s an excellent pen with a great fine nib. But I don’t need it.
    >> The thing is, I already have pens with similarly excellent, similarly fine nibs.

    You’re so right. I love the sound of this pen (in boring old fart black, of course), but I have so many great pens I use already. I would buy a Pilot 74, but I wouldn’t use it instead of my Sailor 1911L, my Platinum Century 3776, or my Edison Collier… and I really love stub nibs; so I would probably still carry my TWSBI Diamond 580AL, because I love the nib and I’m not worried about losing it. Sooooo, your review nails it, why would you buy it?

    So, I guess that means that neither of us will ever buy another fountain pen again?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But, but … a blue one with a broad nib? That seems sensible. No?

      Honestly, the real takeaway of reviewing this pen — for me — was that I should have bought a Custom 74 with fine nib years ago. I could kick myself. (Speaking metaphorically, of course. I can’t actually “kick myself.” That would require getting off the couch. As if.)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You knocked this review out of the park! The only Pilot pens I have tried so far, have been the Prera. I started with a F nib, and later got the CM nib pen. Sadly I dropped the F nibbed pen, and part of the tip broke off. You can still write with it, but it is not the same.

    As far as your review you did an excellent job, exceeding expectations for sure. Eventually I’d like to try more than a basic Pilot pen. I happen to like this orange color a lot. This orange, or the blue would be my choice. I did want an 823 for a long time. After reading what you said, I’m not so sure I want one anymore. I am a serial ink switcher, and get bored with the same ink color in a pen all the time. So that would be a problem for me. I liked the filling system, and that was the draw for me. (forgive the pun)

    As far as the Custom 74, I liked the size comparison. It is not as long as I feared it may be. Maybe one of these days someone will have one inked up, and let me try it. There are no pen clubs here. So maybe I will be at a pen show, and get a chance to try one there. I like cigar shaped pens, they are ergonomic for me. The nib is the most important part, but looks matter too. I also like comfort, and that can be a huge plus as well. Some pens fit your hand well, others not so much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I do like the orange one, it’s very nice. It’s just that I find blue hard to resist. And the clear seems nice, too. And the smoke.

      Even the violet, honestly, looks fine to me. πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you!

      I’m not restrained enough, apparently, because after reading your comment, I immediately went to, “Ooooh, a broad nib in the blue would be really nice….” πŸ™‚

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Blue would be lovely. The two that I saw yesterday were one clear and one in burgundy. Here, Cult Pens has only the smoke or the orange. At The Writing Desk, currently the choice is smoke or not at all, and even that is sold out. I will park it on the wish list for a little while😊


        1. When I make my list (in my head) of the ones I want, I veer between blue, clear and smoke. The smoke is the only one without contrasting accent colors, which has an appeal….

          I suppose the opaque burgundy is from Japan? I’ve even seen some in (opaque) blue and green in some models. Those are well-priced. Unfortunately, I like the transparent ones with silvery trim, which cost more. πŸ™‚


          1. I don’t know where the opaque burgundy one came from. It could have been bought in Japan.
            Yes, I would agree with your top three colour options. But since smoke seems the most available here I am veering towards that one…if any.😊

            Liked by 1 person

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