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A Pilot Pen Geek's Dream - Comparing all 15 Nib Options!

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This week's topic is a little different from my usual, and it may seem boring to readers who aren't as much of a fountain pen geek as I am, but when store owner Leena asked me to write about it, I was thrilled. This may be the coolest pen opportunity I've had yet! Pilot recently announced 8 new nibs for their Custom 912, bringing the number of available nib choices for this pen up to 15, and I got to try ALL of them! 

(Look at that huge pile of Custom 912 boxes on my floor... WOW!)

So Many Choices

The Custom 912 now offers the complete range Pilot's nibs, including some unusual nibs I've always wanted to try, like Waverly and Posting. I am a huge fan of Pilot pens (I have 14) and I own a pretty big selection of Pilot nib sizes already (Extra Fine, Fine, Fine Medium, Medium, Broad, Double Broad, and Soft Fine), but getting my hands on every single Pilot nib is like something that would happen to me in a dream. (Yeah, I do have weird dreams like that sometimes.)

Here's the complete lineup, as described by Pilot:

  • Extra Fine (EF) (0.25mm): a hard nib for small lettering, almost needle point.
  • Fine (F) (0.32mm): a hard nib for fine lettering.
  • Soft Fine (SF)(0.32mm): a soft nib for fine lettering.
  • Fine Medium (FM) (0.4mm): a hard nib, in-between a Fine and Medium.
  • Soft Fine Medium (SFM) (0.4mm): a soft nib, in-between a Fine and Medium.
  • Medium (M) (0.5mm): a hard nib for medium lettering.
  • Soft Medium (SM) (0.5mm): a soft nib for medium lettering.
  • Broad (B) (0.61mm): a hard nib for bold lettering.
  • Double Broad (BB) (0.72mm): hard big for very bold lettering. Between a Broad and Coarse.
  • Posting (PO) (0.25mm): hard nib with a downturned tip shape that makes very fine, crisp lines with little pressure. Preferred for writing on paper prone to feathering.
  • Falcon (FA): features the ingeniously-crafted “hooded” design allowing for subtle flex while writing.
  • Waverly (WA) (0.5mm): designed with a slightly upturned tip delivering a uniquely flexible and customized, exceptionally smooth writing experience, regardless of the angle of writing.
  • Stub (SU) (0.63mm): features a blunted, squared-off tip for broad vertical strokes and thin horizontal strokes. Traditional italic nib.
  • Coarse (C) (0.85mm): extra broad nib for extremely bold lines.
  • Music (MS) (0.9mm): features three tines and was originally designed for writing sheet music and calligraphy. Modern italic nib.

All the nibs are 14K gold.  The Custom 912 pen comes with a proprietary Pilot ink cartridge and a nice CON-70 converter that has a large capacity and features a unique push-button filling mechanism.

Trying the Nibs

I decided to write with all the nibs on Rhodia paper using one of my favorite inks, Waterman Tender Purple.  I wanted an ink that would show a lot of shading and sheen if given the opportunity, so that the differences between the nibs would be more apparent in writing. This ink and paper combination ended up feathering with some of the nibs, but that's something that often happens with fountain pens in the real world, so I'm not going to censor it.  Keep in mind that Waterman Tender Purple is a fairly wet ink, so using a drier ink would mitigate this problem. 

There was no feathering on Tomoe River paper, but most people don't use such special paper the majority of the time, so I did not do my longer writing samples on this paper.  And, unfortunately, I needed to get the 15 pens back to Pen Boutique, so I didn't have time to try them on a wider variety of papers!

Here's how all the nibs looked side by side on Tomoe River:

As you can see, the nib has a huge effect on not only the line width but also on the color of the ink!

For the breakdowns of how each nib wrote, I'm just going to let you read my actual writing with the pens, as that will give the best illustration. I wish my handwriting was a little nicer, but I wanted to show how the pens look with my natural writing.  I will close with some more typed thoughts at the end.  (All the professional-looking images are the official ones provided by Pilot.  The quirky ones are mine, obviously.) 

 

Extra Fine, Fine, Soft Fine, and Fine Medium

Extra Fine <EF>
Fine <F>
Soft Fine <SF>
Fine Medium <FM> 

 

Soft Fine Medium, Medium, and Soft Medium

Soft Fine Medium <SFM>Medium <M>Soft Medium <SM> 

 

Broad, Double Broad, and Coarse

Broad <B>

Double Broad <BB>Coarse <C> 

 

Posting and Waverly

Posting <PO>Waverly <WA>

 

Falcon and Stub

Falcon <FA>

Stub <SU>

 

Music Nib

Music <MS> 

Choosing A Favorite... If That's Even Possible

Maybe I should have been impartial in this report, but that isn't really my style, so it was probably pretty obvious that I got most excited about the Waverly and Falcon nibs. They were both just so cool and different, and so fun to write with.  I would love to own either! I enjoyed experimenting with all the nibs, though.  I don't think I'd want to own a Music nib because I'm not a musician or a calligrapher, and the music stub was just too extreme for me to use for normal writing, but all of the others are nibs I'd be happy to own.

(The Waverly nib Custom 912 hanging out with two of my own Pilot pens--a SF Falcon and a BB Custom 74.)

Which one would you like best?  I can't say.  There are so many factors that effect which nib will work best for you and be the most enjoyable for you to use.  A few of the things that come to mind are:  how small you write, the angle with which you hold your pen, how much feedback feeling you prefer, whether you're left or right handed (lefties often prefer finer nibs because of smearing issues), how hard you press when you write, what you're writing (cursive, printing, kanji, art...), what paper you use (texture and absorbency make a big difference), and what ink you use. 

I have more Japanese medium nibs than any other size, because that size tends to be comfortable for me to write with, and I enjoy the smoothness and amount of shading and sheening a medium nib offers. That said, I like using a wide variety of different nibs, just because it's more interesting that way, and also because I use different nibs for different purposes.

If I were to choose one of the flexible/soft options, I'd go for a Falcon (FA) nib for an experience most similar to a vintage flex nib, or a Soft Fine if I wanted something a little more controlled but still distinctive.

If I wanted a really nice pen that writes beautifully and is reliable and smooth, but I didn't want anything funky going on with the nib, I'd pick an Extra Fine, Fine, Fine Medium, or Medium.

For thicker, fun writing and dramatic signatures, I'd go for a Broad, and, for art or a truly bold statement, Double Broad and Coarse are both fabulous.

The Custom 912's Stub is great for stub lovers... it's easy to write with and has excellent flow, unlike some cheaper stubs I've tried.

And for people who love very fine nibs and don't want to use "fountain pen friendly" paper, the Posting nib is an awesome option to have!

 

What About the Pen Itself?

All these exciting nib possibilities aside, is the Pilot Custom 912 worth owning?  Absolutely!  This is a handsome resin pen that is very comfortable to write with, along the same lines as the Pilot Custom 74 and Pilot Falcon.  (See my earlier blog article on the Custom 74 and Custom 823, of you haven't already.) Here's how the three look side by side. The Custom 912 is in the center.

Yes, the 912 only comes in black, but with all these incredible nib choices, I don't really care.  I love black pens.  They are elegant, cool, and timeless.  And this is a beautiful, reliable, and very accessible black pen, at an astonishing price for this level of quality. Thank you, Pilot.

-Laura P.

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6 comments


  • when testing the falcon nib you said it was more flexible than a pilot falcon.
    I thought it WAS a Pilot Falcon!

    mimi on

  • I am encouraged to see that Pilot is making all these nib variations available in North America. The Custom 912 has a Pilot #10 nib, and essentially the same variations are available in Japan for the larger #15 nib used with the Custom 743 and 823 pens; hopefully all of them will eventually make it here, to Pen Boutique. The FA nib would be my top choice to start. Great nibs can transform the writing experience.

    Paul M on

  • What a marvelous article, a perfect blend of personal thoughts and direct examples. I use a Pilot Falcon regularly but I may now get another to try some of those nibs.

    Daniel Muchinsky on

  • A really good review. Can you buy nibs separately and swap them in and out of the 912?

    Richard Koenig on

  • I myself like a Fine nib or Extra Fine nib I liked the blog a lot.

    Michael A Milkovich on


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