(This is a guest review by Joseph Pang)
Unlike many fountain pen users, I have the luxury of living near some of the finest pen stores in the country. For those who haven’t been to a good pen store yet, let me fill you in. Being able to go to a brick and mortar location to see pens in their display cases, try out new nibs, and look at hundreds of bottles of inks is still one of my favorite things to do on the weekends. There is one disadvantage; it is extremely dangerous for your wallet.
On my most recent spending spree I picked up the Pilot Custom 74, the most beautiful fountain pen that I have ever seen. When I think of the ideal fountain pen, a few things come to mind: a screw-on cap, simple yet elegant styling, the ability to use a converter, and a comfortable section. The Custom 74 has all of those qualities and more. Aside from the nib, the pen seemed to be custom tailored to my preferences right out of the box.
My handwritten review briefly recounts the experience that I had with the nib. When I first brought the pen home and loaded it with ink, I was disappointed. The nib was a little scratchy and the ink flow was inconsistent. Upstrokes and sidestrokes in one particular direction were nonexistent (a common problem for this pen). After applying some of the very basic nib tuning techniques that I have learned over the years, I had the pen writing like what I had dreamed it would be from the start. The line is wet, smooth, and consistent.
If I had to point out a shortcoming of the Custom 74, it would be the durability. Because the pen is plastic, it is prone to cracking. This means that you do not want to drop the pen on a hard surface like tile flooring, as I found out the hard way. My pen will be making a trip down to Pilot USA to get a new cap in the near future. I have never really worried about dropping my Lamy CP1 or Kaweco AL Sport, as I know they would survive the fall just fine. Ironically, I have never actually dropped those pens.
So, should you buy one? If it helps you out at all, I am in the process of buying a second one in blue. The nib will take some getting used to for those who have never used a gold nib before. In my experience, steel nibs are stiff whereas gold nibs have some flex and spring to them. For $160, the Custom 74 is priced near pens offered by Edison, higher end Pelikans, and maybe even Mont Blanc if the right deal comes along. For that price, it really comes down to what is right for you. If you can find this pen for cheaper, perhaps $100, I think that it is a no-brainer. If you are like me and cannot resist the good looks of this pen, go for it; you will not be disappointed.