Whew! The past month has been absolutely crazy. With the holidays, orders for Dudek Modern Goods go up in November which puts most of my free time into production mode. This has prevented me from sitting down to write a full-on pen review for a couple of weeks now, but I knew the Pilot Custom 74 fountain pen was the next on the list to review as it has surprised me as an overwhelming favorite.
I acquired this blue Custom 74 fountain pen about a month or so ago from Pen Chalet and have been so pleased with it. The honest truth is, I almost didn't buy one. I have two or three other 14k Pilot fountain pens (Stargazer and CH 92 to name a couple) and I thought, "do I really need to try another one?" The more and more I kept looking at them, the more I found that I appreciated its design and aesthetic.
There were three things that really made me want to buy one: looks, size, and that it was a cartridge/converter style. I really like the Pilot Custom Heritage 92, but I honestly feel that piston fillers probably aren't my favorite. There are pens where I make an exception as there is no other option like the LAMY 2000, but I prefer to go the cartridge/converter route due to convenience and cleaning. I find that with piston fillers that it is nearly impossible to get all remnants of the previous ink out and in the CH 92 which is a clear demonstrator, you see it.
From a size perspective, the 74 comes in just a hair longer than the 92, but isn't big at all. Again, going back to the cartridge/converter thing, I have the Stargazer, but feel I prefer the more full sized pen for everyday writing and use.
I think the Pilot Custom 74 is a handsome, yet sporty looking pen. It comes in a range of colors from orange to purple, but still maintains a sense of class. There is just enough chrome trim to dress it up a little.
Both ends of the pen have a domed piece which softens the looks in comparison to most other Pilot fountain pens I own. The Falcon, CH 92, Stargazer, and even my vintage Customs, all have flat ends. Pilot also chose to make the clip a bit different than the others by adding a small round ball to the end of a tapering piece. I'm sure this allows for easier pocketability if you really think about it, but I presume it is to fit the overall, softer looks they chose to give the pen.
The nib, to be expected, is fantastic. Wet and smooth, and haven't had a skip to speak of. The medium runs, well, medium, but if you are used to a fine nib on a Pilot then prepare to be about double the line width. The jump from <F> to <M> (Pilot nib language) is pretty big. At first I wasn't so sure about mediums, but they are very enjoyable due to how smooth the experience is. When I say "smooth", not like glass smooth, but not scratchy and just enough feedback.
As usual, I've been using my large Rhodia dotPads which are excellent for fountain pens. I'm also writing with a black ink which is pretty rare for me as I'm usually a blue guy, but a friend of mine let me fill it up with some Noodler's Borealis Black (which is awesome by the way and super saturated).
Final point on the board for the 74: the CON-70 converter. This is the first pen I've bought that takes the CON-70 which is the largest of the Pilot converters. The CON-20 is a sort of squeeze filler, the CON-50 is more of your traditional piston filler, while the CON-70 is a button filler that you have to pump a few times to fill up. Sort of strange, but surprisingly effective. Bigger reservoir for longer writing stints...
If my opinion isn't fairly clear, I really like the Custom 74 and I think it will be a pen in the rotation a lot. It looks good, but isn't a lot of fuss and I like that. Kind of the "old reliable" type if you know what I mean. Does it have the same technically sophisticated look of my clear Custom Heritage 92? No, but is probably a pen I'll use excessively more.
Again, I picked this one up from Pen Chalet where they have it listed for a good price and you can get an extra 10% off using the promo CLICKYPOST.