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...in which Tankerjohn reviews the Pilot Custom 912

tankerjohn

A little poofier than I prefer
I like Pilot. Rather than simply churning out the same model or two in a couple sizes and new color variations, Pilot offers a plethora of unique fountain pens in their gold nib lineup. The Custom 912 is one such offering. Beneath the classic, conservative black exterior lays a pen with unmatched nib options and a great size and feel for daily writing.

IMG_7127.jpg

Body – This is an extremely stylish pen. Stylish in the classic and timeless sense of Cary Grant’s suits and Audrey Hepburn’s “little black dress”. Flat ends and rhodium trim always look good and seem to be generally preferred by a large part of the enthusiast community. It’s a Goldilocks size – small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, but big enough to comfortably hold. It works well posted or unposted. I like the grip section in particular, which is somewhat wider than the Platinum 3776. For a plastic, er, excuse me, resin pen, it is well built and has a premium feel. Pilot offers the 912 in any color you like, as long as it’s black. I can appreciate the Henry Ford approach and piano black is something of the “vanilla ice cream” of pen colors – everybody likes it even if it’s not their favorite. Nevertheless, Pilot is really shooting itself in the foot by not offering this pen in a variety of colors. This would be a sure fire best seller if you could get it in at least as many colors as the Falcon or CH91 and give the Sailor Pro Gear a real run for its money. But whatever. Far be it from me to lecture the biggest pen company in the world.

IMG_7128.jpg

Con-70 – A distinguishing feature of the 912 is its standard converter, the Con-70. I think this might be the most controversial converter on the market. People seem to either love it for its high capacity and push-button design or hate it for its difficulty to clean and push-button design. I could probably be in either camp depending on what day you asked me. Like all converters, it’s not a particular joy to use. I find the button rather awkward to activate while balancing the section in the ink to prevent it from detaching and falling into the bottle. Finicky for sure. But it does hold a good amount and the little sliding agitator inside seems to do a decent job keeping the ink flowing. It is a pain to clean, but much easier if you flush it with a needle syringe. Even then, you can’t easily get to any ink that gets behind the plunger, and it’s hard to get all the water droplets out since a q-tip doesn’t fit through the opening. Not for the OCD pen clean freaks.

Nib – THE raison d'être for this pen is its family of #10 size nibs. You want it – the 912 has got it. From super narrow (posting) to super wide (stub) and everything in between – F, FM, M, B plus “soft” variants of all those. It has an extremely stiff nib that makes cool line variation (waverly) and an extremely flexy nib that make cool line variation (falcon or “FA). It is this last nib that adorns my pen and that I will address in more detail below. I should note that the FA is “extremely flexy” only relative to the rest of the Pilot nib selection, not compared to flexible dip nibs or vintage “wet noodles”. Some nibmeisters offer a modification, such as John Mottishaw’s “Spenserian” grind, that will take to the FA to that level of flex. However, while the stock FA may not really be a serious calligraphy tool, I must say that it can hold its own and is more than adequate for my dabbling and doodling.

The FA nib is a high performance instrument. Like other high performance instruments – sports cars, match-grade firearms, gaming computers, etc – it is finicky and requires upgraded components and consumables to get the best out of it. In this case, that’s the feed and ink. The stock plastic feed was designed for slowly lettering Kanji characters and is entirely inadequate for writing long sentences in the Latin alphabet. Fortunately, Flexible Nib Factory makes a direct replacement ebonite feed that does a much better job keeping up with the nib. Even with the ebonite feed, the FA nib likes a really wet ink such as Pilot Iroshizuku. Even J. Herbin Perle Noir led to skipping for me. Good thing I really like Iro.

IMG_7125.jpg

With the feed and ink sorted, this nib just flies! It is such a joy to write with. It’s got a nice bounce and little bit of pleasant tooth, particularly on the upstroke. With a very light hand, I can get a reasonably fine line – even more so writing reverse. It looks closer to a European medium/Japanese broad with my normal writing pressure, which suits me just great. The nib responds to subtle inputs to add line variation at will. It’s easy to write as reserved or as expressive as I want. And if I really get cooking, I can produce extreme line variation for a quite passable Copperplate (although I need a LOT more practice).

IMG_7124.jpg

Pilot’s #10 nib is bigger than the #5 on the CH74, 91, and 92 but slightly smaller than the #15 on the 823 and 743. It’s a good size – comparable to the Platinum 3776 or Jowo #6. Plenty big. Looks proportionate to the pen body. The FA is unadorned and utilitarian, but has a cool shape with those cutouts on the side.

IMG_7126.jpg

Value – This is not a cheap pen, but a good value. I paid a little under $200 with a coupon code from Pen Boutique. Depending on the nib, I’ve seen the 912 for as low as $170-$180 on the ‘Zon. So not cheap. But not a big step up from Pilot’s #5 nib pens. Also, Sailor’s full-size Pro Gear, the 912’s closest direct competitor, usually goes for quite a bit more. And European pens of similar size with a gold nib are routinely over the $300 mark.

Who should get this pen? Probably everybody! I really think it would fill a niche in just about any collection if you are willing and able to go to that price point. Want one, nice classic looking gold nib pen? You could do a lot worse than the 912 with a standard or soft F, FM, or M nib. Already have some nice pens and want one that offers a different writing experience than the others? 912 has you covered there too with its wide selection of specialty nibs. And as for the FA nib in particular, it’s a connoisseur’s nib for sure. I would not recommend it as someone’s first or only gold nib. And truthfully, if someone is serious about calligraphy, this isn’t the best nib for that either. But it’s a very fun nib and worth checking out if you like a soft, bouncy nib and want to go to the next level. So there you have it – my extremely wordy look at the Pilot Custom 912.
 
I like Pilot. Rather than simply churning out the same model or two in a couple sizes and new color variations, Pilot offers a plethora of unique fountain pens in their gold nib lineup. The Custom 912 is one such offering. Beneath the classic, conservative black exterior lays a pen with unmatched nib options and a great size and feel for daily writing.

View attachment 1279446

Body – This is an extremely stylish pen. Stylish in the classic and timeless sense of Cary Grant’s suits and Audrey Hepburn’s “little black dress”. Flat ends and rhodium trim always look good and seem to be generally preferred by a large part of the enthusiast community. It’s a Goldilocks size – small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, but big enough to comfortably hold. It works well posted or unposted. I like the grip section in particular, which is somewhat wider than the Platinum 3776. For a plastic, er, excuse me, resin pen, it is well built and has a premium feel. Pilot offers the 912 in any color you like, as long as it’s black. I can appreciate the Henry Ford approach and piano black is something of the “vanilla ice cream” of pen colors – everybody likes it even if it’s not their favorite. Nevertheless, Pilot is really shooting itself in the foot by not offering this pen in a variety of colors. This would be a sure fire best seller if you could get it in at least as many colors as the Falcon or CH91 and give the Sailor Pro Gear a real run for its money. But whatever. Far be it from me to lecture the biggest pen company in the world.

View attachment 1279447

Con-70 – A distinguishing feature of the 912 is its standard converter, the Con-70. I think this might be the most controversial converter on the market. People seem to either love it for its high capacity and push-button design or hate it for its difficulty to clean and push-button design. I could probably be in either camp depending on what day you asked me. Like all converters, it’s not a particular joy to use. I find the button rather awkward to activate while balancing the section in the ink to prevent it from detaching and falling into the bottle. Finicky for sure. But it does hold a good amount and the little sliding agitator inside seems to do a decent job keeping the ink flowing. It is a pain to clean, but much easier if you flush it with a needle syringe. Even then, you can’t easily get to any ink that gets behind the plunger, and it’s hard to get all the water droplets out since a q-tip doesn’t fit through the opening. Not for the OCD pen clean freaks.

Nib – THE raison d'être for this pen is its family of #10 size nibs. You want it – the 912 has got it. From super narrow (posting) to super wide (stub) and everything in between – F, FM, M, B plus “soft” variants of all those. It has an extremely stiff nib that makes cool line variation (waverly) and an extremely flexy nib that make cool line variation (falcon or “FA). It is this last nib that adorns my pen and that I will address in more detail below. I should note that the FA is “extremely flexy” only relative to the rest of the Pilot nib selection, not compared to flexible dip nibs or vintage “wet noodles”. Some nibmeisters offer a modification, such as John Mottishaw’s “Spenserian” grind, that will take to the FA to that level of flex. However, while the stock FA may not really be a serious calligraphy tool, I must say that it can hold its own and is more than adequate for my dabbling and doodling.

The FA nib is a high performance instrument. Like other high performance instruments – sports cars, match-grade firearms, gaming computers, etc – it is finicky and requires upgraded components and consumables to get the best out of it. In this case, that’s the feed and ink. The stock plastic feed was designed for slowly lettering Kanji characters and is entirely inadequate for writing long sentences in the Latin alphabet. Fortunately, Flexible Nib Factory makes a direct replacement ebonite feed that does a much better job keeping up with the nib. Even with the ebonite feed, the FA nib likes a really wet ink such as Pilot Iroshizuku. Even J. Herbin Perle Noir led to skipping for me. Good thing I really like Iro.

View attachment 1279444

With the feed and ink sorted, this nib just flies! It is such a joy to write with. It’s got a nice bounce and little bit of pleasant tooth, particularly on the upstroke. With a very light hand, I can get a reasonably fine line – even more so writing reverse. It looks closer to a European medium/Japanese broad with my normal writing pressure, which suits me just great. The nib responds to subtle inputs to add line variation at will. It’s easy to write as reserved or as expressive as I want. And if I really get cooking, I can produce extreme line variation for a quite passable Copperplate (although I need a LOT more practice).

View attachment 1279443

Pilot’s #10 nib is bigger than the #5 on the CH74, 91, and 92 but slightly smaller than the #15 on the 823 and 743. It’s a good size – comparable to the Platinum 3776 or Jowo #6. Plenty big. Looks proportionate to the pen body. The FA is unadorned and utilitarian, but has a cool shape with those cutouts on the side.

View attachment 1279445

Value – This is not a cheap pen, but a good value. I paid a little under $200 with a coupon code from Pen Boutique. Depending on the nib, I’ve seen the 912 for as low as $170-$180 on the ‘Zon. So not cheap. But not a big step up from Pilot’s #5 nib pens. Also, Sailor’s full-size Pro Gear, the 912’s closest direct competitor, usually goes for quite a bit more. And European pens of similar size with a gold nib are routinely over the $300 mark.

Who should get this pen? Probably everybody! I really think it would fill a niche in just about any collection if you are willing and able to go to that price point. Want one, nice classic looking gold nib pen? You could do a lot worse than the 912 with a standard or soft F, FM, or M nib. Already have some nice pens and want one that offers a different writing experience than the others? 912 has you covered there too with its wide selection of specialty nibs. And as for the FA nib in particular, it’s a connoisseur’s nib for sure. I would not recommend it as someone’s first or only gold nib. And truthfully, if someone is serious about calligraphy, this isn’t the best nib for that either. But it’s a very fun nib and worth checking out if you like a soft, bouncy nib and want to go to the next level. So there you have it – my extremely wordy look at the Pilot Custom 912.

Very good review, thank you.
If all goes according to plan, this will be my next pen soon with the waverly nib.
 

tankerjohn

A little poofier than I prefer
Very good review, thank you.
If all goes according to plan, this will be my next pen soon with the waverly nib.
Thank you sir! Glad you liked it. Do please report back on the Waverly nib. That's not one I've heard too much about, but its definitely unique and interesting. So many cool nibs on the 912 that are harder or more expensive to get on other pens. If only Pilot would make the 912 in a few more different colors, it would be a lot more compelling to collect multiples with different nibs.
 
Thank you sir! Glad you liked it. Do please report back on the Waverly nib. That's not one I've heard too much about, but its definitely unique and interesting. So many cool nibs on the 912 that are harder or more expensive to get on other pens. If only Pilot would make the 912 in a few more different colors, it would be a lot more compelling to collect multiples with different nibs.
I think the waverly nib is supposed to be more forgiving to left handed writers like me, or anyone that tends to roll the nibs a bit I guess.
 

tankerjohn

A little poofier than I prefer
As a neophyte, I wonder what you mean by Reverse?
Writing with the nib reserved. Or upside down, if you prefer. Feed facing up. Its a nice hack if you need to write a line finer than the nib width or for writing on cheap paper. I wouldn't do it a lot, especially with a gold nib. There's no tipping on that side. Plus, you have to use a VERY light touch to avoid bending the nib the wrong way and damaging it. But for quick ad hoc jobs like the sign in sheet at the doctors office or a quick note in the planner, its fine.
 
Thank you sir! Glad you liked it. Do please report back on the Waverly nib. That's not one I've heard too much about, but its definitely unique and interesting. So many cool nibs on the 912 that are harder or more expensive to get on other pens. If only Pilot would make the 912 in a few more different colors, it would be a lot more compelling to collect multiples with different nibs.

Here is a good short review of the Waverly nib if you're interested.

 

Rhody

I'm a Lumberjack.
I like Pilot. Rather than simply churning out the same model or two in a couple sizes and new color variations, Pilot offers a plethora of unique fountain pens in their gold nib lineup. The Custom 912 is one such offering. Beneath the classic, conservative black exterior lays a pen with unmatched nib options and a great size and feel for daily writing.

View attachment 1279446

Body – This is an extremely stylish pen. Stylish in the classic and timeless sense of Cary Grant’s suits and Audrey Hepburn’s “little black dress”. Flat ends and rhodium trim always look good and seem to be generally preferred by a large part of the enthusiast community. It’s a Goldilocks size – small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, but big enough to comfortably hold. It works well posted or unposted. I like the grip section in particular, which is somewhat wider than the Platinum 3776. For a plastic, er, excuse me, resin pen, it is well built and has a premium feel. Pilot offers the 912 in any color you like, as long as it’s black. I can appreciate the Henry Ford approach and piano black is something of the “vanilla ice cream” of pen colors – everybody likes it even if it’s not their favorite. Nevertheless, Pilot is really shooting itself in the foot by not offering this pen in a variety of colors. This would be a sure fire best seller if you could get it in at least as many colors as the Falcon or CH91 and give the Sailor Pro Gear a real run for its money. But whatever. Far be it from me to lecture the biggest pen company in the world.

View attachment 1279447

Con-70 – A distinguishing feature of the 912 is its standard converter, the Con-70. I think this might be the most controversial converter on the market. People seem to either love it for its high capacity and push-button design or hate it for its difficulty to clean and push-button design. I could probably be in either camp depending on what day you asked me. Like all converters, it’s not a particular joy to use. I find the button rather awkward to activate while balancing the section in the ink to prevent it from detaching and falling into the bottle. Finicky for sure. But it does hold a good amount and the little sliding agitator inside seems to do a decent job keeping the ink flowing. It is a pain to clean, but much easier if you flush it with a needle syringe. Even then, you can’t easily get to any ink that gets behind the plunger, and it’s hard to get all the water droplets out since a q-tip doesn’t fit through the opening. Not for the OCD pen clean freaks.

Nib – THE raison d'être for this pen is its family of #10 size nibs. You want it – the 912 has got it. From super narrow (posting) to super wide (stub) and everything in between – F, FM, M, B plus “soft” variants of all those. It has an extremely stiff nib that makes cool line variation (waverly) and an extremely flexy nib that make cool line variation (falcon or “FA). It is this last nib that adorns my pen and that I will address in more detail below. I should note that the FA is “extremely flexy” only relative to the rest of the Pilot nib selection, not compared to flexible dip nibs or vintage “wet noodles”. Some nibmeisters offer a modification, such as John Mottishaw’s “Spenserian” grind, that will take to the FA to that level of flex. However, while the stock FA may not really be a serious calligraphy tool, I must say that it can hold its own and is more than adequate for my dabbling and doodling.

The FA nib is a high performance instrument. Like other high performance instruments – sports cars, match-grade firearms, gaming computers, etc – it is finicky and requires upgraded components and consumables to get the best out of it. In this case, that’s the feed and ink. The stock plastic feed was designed for slowly lettering Kanji characters and is entirely inadequate for writing long sentences in the Latin alphabet. Fortunately, Flexible Nib Factory makes a direct replacement ebonite feed that does a much better job keeping up with the nib. Even with the ebonite feed, the FA nib likes a really wet ink such as Pilot Iroshizuku. Even J. Herbin Perle Noir led to skipping for me. Good thing I really like Iro.

View attachment 1279444

With the feed and ink sorted, this nib just flies! It is such a joy to write with. It’s got a nice bounce and little bit of pleasant tooth, particularly on the upstroke. With a very light hand, I can get a reasonably fine line – even more so writing reverse. It looks closer to a European medium/Japanese broad with my normal writing pressure, which suits me just great. The nib responds to subtle inputs to add line variation at will. It’s easy to write as reserved or as expressive as I want. And if I really get cooking, I can produce extreme line variation for a quite passable Copperplate (although I need a LOT more practice).

View attachment 1279443

Pilot’s #10 nib is bigger than the #5 on the CH74, 91, and 92 but slightly smaller than the #15 on the 823 and 743. It’s a good size – comparable to the Platinum 3776 or Jowo #6. Plenty big. Looks proportionate to the pen body. The FA is unadorned and utilitarian, but has a cool shape with those cutouts on the side.

View attachment 1279445

Value – This is not a cheap pen, but a good value. I paid a little under $200 with a coupon code from Pen Boutique. Depending on the nib, I’ve seen the 912 for as low as $170-$180 on the ‘Zon. So not cheap. But not a big step up from Pilot’s #5 nib pens. Also, Sailor’s full-size Pro Gear, the 912’s closest direct competitor, usually goes for quite a bit more. And European pens of similar size with a gold nib are routinely over the $300 mark.

Who should get this pen? Probably everybody! I really think it would fill a niche in just about any collection if you are willing and able to go to that price point. Want one, nice classic looking gold nib pen? You could do a lot worse than the 912 with a standard or soft F, FM, or M nib. Already have some nice pens and want one that offers a different writing experience than the others? 912 has you covered there too with its wide selection of specialty nibs. And as for the FA nib in particular, it’s a connoisseur’s nib for sure. I would not recommend it as someone’s first or only gold nib. And truthfully, if someone is serious about calligraphy, this isn’t the best nib for that either. But it’s a very fun nib and worth checking out if you like a soft, bouncy nib and want to go to the next level. So there you have it – my extremely wordy look at the Pilot Custom 912.
Great review
I’m curious about the nib and feed. Did you replace the feed yourself? That’s a possible significant cost increase no?
 

ajkel64

The Aussie Basshole
How did I miss this? Very remiss of me. Great review, thanks for taking the time and effort to write and photograph your review.
 

tankerjohn

A little poofier than I prefer
Great review
I’m curious about the nib and feed. Did you replace the feed yourself? That’s a possible significant cost increase no?
Thank you! Yes, I replaced the feed myself. Very simple operation, actually. I did watch a youtube video before hand to ensure I wasn't going to screw anything up. The nib and feed are fiction fit into the section and came loose with just finger pressure. The ebonite feed from Flexible Nib Factory is an exact replacement, so the nib clicked right on and everything went back together easily. I believe the new feed was around $30 shipped. Well worth it for the improvement it made in the pen.

Quick shout out to Flexible Nib Factory. They have some really cool products. Besides doing replacement ebonite feeds for the Japanese big three, they also make feeds and housings that will let you put those nibs into a standard Jowo or Bock assembly. So you could have a fancy, custom pen from Franklin Cristoff or Edison or other maker and replace the generic Jowo nib with a Sailor or Platinum 3776. Or a Pilot FA! They also have feeds to convert the Zebra flexible dip nib for fountain pens. I don't know of anyone else doing that.
 

tankerjohn

A little poofier than I prefer
@KeenDogg and @ajkel64 Thank guys! Glad you enjoyed the review. Yes, the 912 is one of my mainstays. Its become my go-to for written correspondence like letters and cards because the expressiveness I can get out of the writing. Its a really fun pen.
 
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