Pilot Custom 743 Falcon Fountain Pen Review

Pilot Custom 743 Falcon Fountain Pen

The Pilot Custom 743 is the only pen to use Pilot’s full line of #15 size nibs.  In the store I tried three of the more unusual nibs: a music nib, a Waverly nib and a falcon nib.   I ended up picking the falcon nib, which is a soft flexible nib.  

Appearance

Like most pens in the Custom series, the 743 is a very traditional and classic looking executive pen with a black plastic body and yellow gold furniture.  The trim level is the same as you get on the Custom 823 and they look almost identical.  The trim ring on the bottom of the body is closer to the end of the pen than on the 823 (the 743 has vacuum mechanism to accommodate) but otherwise they look the same.

Pilot Custom 743 Falcon Fountain Pen

The cap has a rounded top with a clip that starts broad and narrows ending with a ball; this is the classic Pilot/Namiki clip and I think it looks great.  The gold band at the bottom of the cap reads “* * * CUSTOM 743 * * * PILOT MADE IN JAPAN”.  The letters are filled in with black (paint?) just as you would see on the Custom 845 and Custom 823.  The large 14ct gold #15 nib is plain, with no decoration to speak of.  The cuts on the sides of the nib help to increase flexibility and in my opinion make up for the lack of decoration.

Pilot Custom 743 Falcon Fountain Pen

 

The gold trim is much more yellow in color than the 14ct gold nib.  This is quite apparent with the cap posted.   I would like to have seen the gold match a bit better but it’s not a big deal.

All things considered, the Custom 743 is a clean looking pen with no strangeness to its proportions.  It’s not going to score any points for originality but it’s a nice looking pen nonetheless. Score: 3/5

 Build Quality

The build quality like most Pilot products is quite good.  The section (as on the Custom 845) has two big seams that just look cheap on a $300 pen.

Custom 845 with Custom 743.  Both have the same plastic section.
Custom 845 with Custom 743. Both have the same plastic section.

Unlike the Custom 845, the 743 also suffers from seams on the body as well. They are clearly defined in the threading on the body and then they disappear about a quarter of an inch in on the glossy part of the body.  You wouldn’t really notice any of this unless you are looking closely.  The fit and finish is otherwise quite good and I suspect this pen will last a long time.  Score: 2.5/5

Size & Weight

The Custom 743 measures about 5.9” capped and about 5.2” uncapped.  At its widest point it is about 0.6” and weighs about 25.6 grams with a converter full of ink.  Like the 845, the 743 is a good sized pen similar in girth to a Montblanc 146 but closer to the 149 in length. I find the 743 to be well balanced in my hand.  It looks quite long posted but it remains comfortable.  Score: 4/5

Performance

 

I think it is fair to say that this pen will not be for everyone.  I was lucky enough to try it in a store in Japan before I purchased it.  It would be a mistake to think you are getting a new pen that is going to write like a vintage flex pen; it does not and I haven’t seen a modern flex pen that does.

Compared to a vintage flex pen there is minimal flex when pressure is applied to the Falcon nib.
Compared to a vintage flex pen there is minimal flex when pressure is applied to the Falcon nib.

The falcon nib is a bit on the scratchy side, not unpleasantly so but there is a good amount of feedback.  With little or no pressure the nib writes with a pretty fine line, definitely an extra fine by western standards.

If apply some pressure you can get the line to become broad but this will require more force than you would need on most vintage flex pens.  I find that with nib flexed and writing slowly (as you should) the pen has a tendency to railroad by which I mean produce two thin parallel lines instead of one fat line.  The feed seems unable to keep up with the pen.

I have been experimenting with different inks and I have found Diamine inks to work the so far.  I tried Noodler’s Blue Eel as I thought that might help with the railroad situation but alas it performed the same as the Waterman and Pilot inks I tried.

The "no pressure" and "medium pressure" writing samples were written quickly at my normal pace.
The “no pressure” and “medium pressure” writing samples were written quickly at my normal pace and the “Pressure” sample was written slowly with the most pressure…notice all the railroad tracks.

In normal writing there are no real performance issues and I can get some nice (not huge) line variation with medium pressure without causing any problems but if you want to make extra extra fine lines and triple broad lines the Falcon nib isn’t going to cut it.  With a careful hand (sadly not something I possess) I have seen some beautiful western writing with the 743 Falcon.  Score: 2/5

Filling System

The Custom 743 uses Pilot’s top-of-the-line Con-70 converter that is considered by many to be the best converter on the market.  It holds a good amount of ink and is quite easy to use.

Pilot Custom 743 Falcon Fountain Pen

The 743 has the standard metal Con-70 which is not quite as nice as the black one you get in the Pilot Custom 845 and most Namiki pens but the function is the same.  Score: 3.5/5

Value

I bought my Custom 743 in the low $200s, which I think is a pretty reasonable price for this pen.  The retail price is 30,000 Yen (approximately $295 USD) is pretty high.  If the pen had no seams and the gold trim matched the nib nicely I could easily justify a $300 price tag for the 743.  Score: 3/5

Bottom Line

The feed prevents the 743 Falcon from living up to its full potential as a “flex” pen.

Final Score 18/30

 

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10 thoughts on “Pilot Custom 743 Falcon Fountain Pen Review”

  1. I was studying this pen with an FA nib earlier this week hoping that it would be a purchase candidate. Unfortunately the reviews I’ve seen match your findings – the feed cannot keep up with the FA nib and it railroads. This may not be a big problem with small brief strokes, such as with Kanji characters. But it is a deal killer for my hand. Why Pilot doesn’t remedy this problem and sell the 743/FA in the West remains an open question. I guess they’re just making too much money to bother. Thanks for the nice review. David

    1. Hi David thank you for your comment! I enjoy using the Falcon nib quite a bit and if you know its limitations you can get some nice variation, though, not anything near a real flex pen.

      I suspect Pilot doesn’t sell the 743 in the West because the market is just too limited. There are a lot of pens in the Custom line and I think it becomes to granular after a while.

  2. In my experience the feed is not the issue on this pen it’s the con 70 and or the con 50 … Take a pilot empty cartraige and remove the small plastic disc inside fill it with any pilot ink or the best is platinum carbon ink leave a small bubble in the back … This nib sings !! And you can some amazing work with it ! I would love to hear If you try it !! Have fun and thanks for the amazing review

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