A closer look at this 20 Year Old Legend - Pilot Custom 823

A closer look at this 20 Year Old Legend - Pilot Custom 823

Diamine's Inkvent Line - Perfect for the holidays! Reading A closer look at this 20 Year Old Legend - Pilot Custom 823 5 minutes Next Improving Poor Handwriting with a Pen

 Pilot Custom 823

Color: Amber Smoke (Brown)

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  • Description: A beautiful demonstrator Vacuum filling pen that has a massive ink capacity and beautiful nib.


  • Nib: 14k Gold
  • Material: Clear Resin
  • Filling Mechanism: Vacuum Filler with Double Reservoir
  • Weight: 29g unfilled 
  • Measurements: 5.9 in capped, 6.5 in Posted
  • Ink Capacity: 2.5 ml

History & Origin:

    Originally released in 2000, or year 82 of Pilot's existence hence the 82 in the name 823, the 823 has gained a great reputation. There is some speculation about how this pen came about but the leading theory is that this was Pilot's answer to the Pelikan M800. Since its creation, this pen has quickly risen to great heights becoming one of the most popular, moderately priced gold nib options for fountain pens. This is also one of if not the only vacuum filler in Pilot's arsenal and its simply because it doesn't get much better so there isn't much point to making another one. Enough talking about it, let's actually take a look at how the pen looks and most importantly, how it writes!

Appearance & Packaging:

    This pens packaging really makes it feel special, it comes in a black textured cardboard box that is embossed with the Pilot logo. Once you open the box you are met with a piece if foam protecting the pen but also protecting an exclusive ink bottle. The pen comes sealed unless you bought it an it needed to be nib switched, you get a couple of pamphlets, then of course the pen and ink bottle. The box is lined with a soft satiny material that keeps both products nice and protected while in the box. This Ink bottle design is also exclusive to the Custom 823 and is the only way to get it, please note that the ink color itself is not exclusive, just the bottle. 
The pen itself is a very nice full body demonstrator that allows you to keep an eye out on the ink levels, when filled the pen becomes quite a bit heavier which is nice because you can kind of control the weight. The cap bands spell out the name of the pen in nice, clear engravings filled with black lacquer. The pen is professional looking, cigar shaped but the demonstrator aspect kind of adds an extra something-something to set it apart from other pens in this price bracket. Enough of how it looks, lets checkout how it writes!

Nib & Performance:

        I have only written with the fine point nib because that is the one that I own and I love it! It is by far the finest nib that I own despite being labeled as a Fine instead of EF. This is Pilot's second largest nib and is comparable in size to a #6 nib but they call it their #15, The larger #30 is featured on pens like the Namiki Emperor and Custom Urushi. This nib is smooth as can be and only has a hint of feedback when you are using a notably dry ink. This can also be fit with a replacement ebonite feed from Flexible Nib Factory but I would only really recommend that if you were thinking of getting the semi-flexible FA nib. Another nice feature about this pen is that it has a dual reservoir system which is a preventative measure for leaks, this means a small amount of ink is kept behind the nib to supply the feed and the rest is shut off. When the small amount runs out you just unscrew the blind cap at the back and let some more ink in! The massive ink capacity makes this a great option for a daily workhorse and I strongly believe that if you are looking at a next level gold nabbed pen that you should check this one out! Lets take a look at some stuff I really like about this pen and some stuff I feel that they could improve.


  • Wonderful writing nib
  • Massive ink supply
  • Double reservoir system
  • Reasonable price point


  • Clear isn't currently available in the United States
  • Limited nib options

Price & Conclusion:

    This pen is lovely and just a very solid writer that is equipped for pretty much any everyday writing task and adds an elevated experience for said task. This pen is very reasonably priced in my opinion and comes in at $288 which is only $88 more than the Lamy 2000 and you get some interesting features. For this price you get a full sized pen, 14k gold nib that's fantastically adjusted, vacuum filling pen with massive ink capacity, from a well renowned brand that stands behind their products. This pen's looks may not be for everybody however I urge everyone to at least try it once, go to a store and have someone dip it for you, I think you'll find yourself walking out of that store with a new pen! This has been my look at the venerable Pilot Custom 823, let me know what you think and remember to Enjoy & Keep Writing!

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