Two of the most popular Japanese fountain pen brands in the world are Pilot and Platinum and with so many people upgrading from an entry-level fountain pen to an intermediate level fountain pen recently, there as been a surge of interest in their fountain pens. Due to this, we have seen a spike in people looking for a dedicated Pilot Custom 74 vs Platinum 3776 comparison article to try and make sure they are getting the perfect pen for their needs.
Due to this, we have decided to publish our own comparison article going over the Pilot Custom 74 and the Platinum 3776 to try and help as many of our readers as possible who may be considering adding either model to their collection. Please note though, before we go any further, both the Pilot Custom 74 and the Platinum 3776 are excellent pens that are well worth having in your fountain pen collection, they both offer excellent performance, have a similar price tag, and have a great reputation amongst the community.
With this being the case, you may be able to tell that the decision will come down to personal preference on the slight differences between the two pens as although they are quite similar, they do writing totally differently. We have our dedicated comparison table below going over the core features and benefits for both pens if you are short on time and then we have a detailed deep-dive on both pens below that for anyone with more free time where we go into much more detail.
Pilot Custom 74 Vs Platinum 3776 Head To Head
As you can see from our comparison table above, we have selected the Platinum 3776 as our primary recommendation for our readers but it is only by a very small margin due to both featured pens being excellent options. We feel that either pen will be a solid option for our readers but for most people, the 3776 will sneak out ever so slightly ahead of the Pilot Custom 74.
As we go through our article below, we will go over the different situations where one pen sneaks out ahead of the others to try and make sure that you are getting the best pen possible for their needs. On top of this, we may touch on other fountain pen models throughout the articles where other options at a similar price point sneak out ahead too.
Platinum 3776 Review
Getting right in with our deep dives for both pen options and starting off with our primary recommendation between the two pens for our readers, the Platinum 3776. Although Platinum are slightly less known than some of the other large Japanese pen brands in the west, in Japan, the Platinum range are one of the dominant forces in the pen space and offers excellent quality and performance for the lowest possible price.
The Platinum 3776 Nib
One of the main advantages of the Platinum 3776 is its softer nib that offers a very smooth and gentle writing experience that most people tend to prefer when writing. As both featured pens have a 14 carat gold nib, there is minimal difference in nib performance due to material but the design of the Platinum nib does offer more spring and flex than the Pilot nib.
The 3776 is available with the standard extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad nib sizes as well as the less common double broad nib size that can be hard to find at this price point in the market with western pen brands. That said though, double broad is one of the less common nib options and usually only makes up for a small fraction of the sales for the overall fountain pen market.
As we touched on above, Platinum is a Japanese pen brand and that’s actually where the name of the 3776 comes from, Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan is 3776 meters high but the point is that Asian fountain pen nib sizes can be slightly smaller than their counterparts from Western brands. This means that if you are currently using something like the Lamy 2000 from a western fountain pen brand, you may want to upsize your nib options with the Platinum 3776 to have a similar font size when writing.
For example, if your western fountain pen comes with a fine nib size and you are happy with the font size when writing with it and would like to keep something similar, upsize and go with the medium on the Platinum 3776. Although it will not be exactly the same, it will be similar and many people will not be able to tell the difference.
Unlike the vast majority of competing fountain pens on the market right now, the wetness of the nib on the Platinum 3776 actually depends on the nib size you opt for with your pen rather than the design. The extra-fine, fine, and medium nib sizes tend to be on the dryer side where as the broad and double-broad nib sizes tend to be on the wetter side. Keep this in mind when making your selection as some people prefer a dry writer where as others prefer a wet writer.
Both wet and dry nibs do offer their own advantages too and it does tend to be easy to tweak a dry writing nib to be a wet writing nib anyway. If you do go with a dry writing nib size on your Platinum 3776 then you will usually have less issues with ghosting, bleeding, and fathering when writing but may have some levels of scratch. On the flipside of this though, if you opt for a wet writing nib size then you will have little to no scratch but may have issues with ghosting, bleeding, and feathering.
If you do want to go with the wet writing nib sizes due to them usually offering a slightly better writing experience that tends to be smoother than a dry writer, you can upgrade the paper that you are writing on to a 120 GSM rated paper for the added thickness. This will drastically reduce the issues you may have with ghosting, bleeding, and feathering when using the pens when compared to a lower GSM-rated paper size.
The Barrel Of The Platinum 3776
Another reason that we felt we had to push the Platinum 3776 ahead of the Pilot Custom 74 is the slightly shorter section on the pen and the step down from the barrel. Although this will come down to your own personal preference when writing, we prefer having a step-down as well as a shorter section as it can help with certain grip types when writing but if you don’t like having a step down on your fountain pens then go with the Pilot Custom 74 as it has a seamless barrel and section joint.
The barrel of the 3776 is made from high-quality acrylic resin helping it score points over the plastic based barrel of the Custom 74. Although each of the commonly used materials for pen barrels do have their own advantages, we do personally feel that resin based options are better. They tend to be as light as plastic while offering the robustness of steel and brass without the higher price tag.
We are confident that with proper care and use, the Platinum 3776 will easily be able to last you decades due to its tough build and robust nature. Do to pens often being subject to accidents such as being dropped or rolling off your table when not in use, this is a key factor, especially when you are purchasing a fountain pen at this price point in the market.
The barrel of the 3776 contains the cartridge convertor system that the pen uses for its ink delivery and storage and this is the main area where the Custom 74 pushes out ahead over the 3776. In our opinion, the design and push to use system on the CON-70 converter that Pilot use is the best system on the market right now within the convertor space. Although it is still not able to compete with a piston filler system, it is easier to use than the majority of other convertors.
That said though, the Platinum is not difficult to use and is just a little tricky at times. Both of the convertors do have solid reputations amongst the community though and have no issues with leaking either so in the grand scheme of things, the main difference is that the Platinum system will take a little more time to switch out your ink cartridges and clean than the Pilot system.
Although the Platinum 3776 is available with its barrel in a decent selection of standard colors, there are a number of unique beautiful limited and special edition runs of the 3776 that really do stand out. If you are a general fountain pen user then the higher price tag is probably not worth it but if you are a fountain pen collector then the unique color schemes are well worth considering as they tend to hold their value well too.
The Platinum 3776 Cap
The cap of the Platinum 3776 is also made from high-quality resin helping to ensure that it is just as tough as the barrel of the pen while also being incredibly light too. Not only does its tough nature help to ensure the pen will last you for many years to come if not decades but the light weight of it helps to prevent you from having any issues with back weighting while posted too.
This means that when in use, there is no detraction from your writing experience when using the Platinum 3776 when having its cap posted. Although more and more intermediate price point fountain pen brands are starting to get their act together when it comes to the balancing of their pens, there are still some lagging behind that may have issues with back weighting. Thankfully though, the Platinum 3776 is not one of them and the design and engineering of the cap are flawless.
The 3776 cap uses a screw lock system to secure the barrel and cap together when the pen is not in use with the threads being of the same high-build standard as the rest of the pen helping to drastically reduce the chances of accidental cross threading. Although some people do still prefer the push to lock systems, we defiantly recommend our readers to try to go with screw lock caps at this price point in the market as they are better at securing the barrel of the pen to the cap to prevent it from accidentally going missing.
The clip of the fountain pen does get the job done and offers a nice blend of spring, flex, and firmness so should not have any complaints from the community. This allows you to quickly and easily secure the pen in your pocket or to your paper via the clip without having to worry about the pen coming use due to a weak clip and then going missing or falling to the floor and potentially being damaged.
The Ink Reservoir Of The Platinum 3776
As we mentioned earlier in the article and in our comparison table, the Platinum 3776 is based around a cartridge convertor system rather than a piston filler so the maximum ink capacity of the pen is dictated by the ink cartridge rather than the ink reservoir. Although there are a number of ink cartridges that can fit the 3776, we would always recommend you use the official Platinum ink cartridges to ensure you get a perfect seal and reduce any issues with ink leaking.
Although there are ink cartridges within the Platinum range that offer a maximum ink capacity of 1.5ml, the 1.2ml cartridges do tend to be more popular due to being cheaper and easier to mount on the convertor. The ink is available in a number of colors too ensuring that you should always be able to get what you need for the task at hand.
One thing that we would love to have seen on the Platinum 3776 is a decent ink view window but unfortunately, Platinum has not included one in the pen so it can be a pain to check the current ink levels and plan your cartridge refills at times. That said though, due to the Platinum cartridges offering you a higher than average maximum ink capacity for your 3776 this is not as much of an issue as with a pen with the smaller, sub 1ml ink capacity cartridges.
Platinum 3776 Writing Samples
Pilot Custom 74 Review
Moving on to our in-depth look at the Pilot Custom 74 and we would just like to remind our readers that we think that the Custom 74 is also an excellent pen that will make an excellent addition to your stationary collect. As we covered earlier in the article though, we feel that the Platinum 3776 is a slightly better pen and that is why it is our primary recommendation to our readers.
The Pilot Custom 74 Nib
One of the most obvious differences between the Custom 74 and the Platinum 3776 is that the nib of the Custom 74 tends to be about as wide as a fountain pen from a western brand even though Pilot are an Asian pen brand. This makes upgrading to the Custom 74 a little easier if you currently use a fountain pen from a western brand as you keep to the same nib size that you are currently using to keep a similar font size.
The nib of the Custom 74 is also made from 14 carat gold and although the rhodium plating does give the nib a nice look to it, it offers a minimal difference in performance and many people will probably prefer the writing experience of the Platinum 3776 due to it having a more flexible nib than the Custom 74. That said though if you do prefer to use a pen with a more rigid nib then the Pilot Custom 74 should be your primary option as its nib has a more rigid design than the nib of the 3776.
The Pilot Custom 74 also has some of the best nib size options available at this price point in the market with it being available with an extra fine, fine, soft fine, fine medium, medium, broad, double broad nib as needed. Although the majority of people will use extra fine, fine, medium or broad, there are smaller niches where the soft fine, fine medium, and double broad help to push sales to the Custom 74 over competing brands.
The Pilot Custom 74 does tend to be a dryer writer similar to some of the nib sizes for the Platinum 3776 but one common point of criticism that we see for the Custom 74 is that it can be a little too dry on upstrokes. This can lead to a scratchy writing experience and become annoying with lower GSM paper grades but if you are using higher GSM notebooks, you can usually feel the dryness but it is not as scratchy as it would be with low GSM paper.
On the flipside of this though, the Custom 74 tends to have less issues with bleeding, feathering or ghosting when writing, even on lower GSM paper so depending on what you are going to be using your fountain pen for, this could push it ahead of the 3776 for your specific circumstances. The more rigid nib of the Custom 74 also scores it points for people who like a more consistent ink flow no matter the pressure they are applying when writing too but we doubt most people will even be able to tell the difference between the ink flow of the Custom 74 and the 3776 due to them being very similar.
The Barrel Of The Pilot Custom 74
The main drawback of the Custom 74 is that depending on the specific variant of the pen that you purchase, its barrel is either made from a majority of high-quality plastic or a large amount of high-quality plastic. Although this may not bother some people, we do prefer fountain pens with a barrel that is predominantly resin based like the Platinum 3776. Although we would still rate a decent plastic barrel above steel or brass, in our book, resin will always be top dog and the material to look for in your barrel and cap.
Pilot have done a great job with the construction of the barrel of their pen though and it is very light and although we doubt that it will take as much punishment as the 3776, the plastic is probably better than some other plastics used by competing brands for their pens. At this price point in the market though, it is hard to see why a brand would go with chemical based plastic over naturally occuring resin as their key material.
The barrel of the Custom 74 seamlessly hides the CON-74 cartridge converter that Pilot has managed to perfect over the years. Although our regular readers will know that we are fans of piston filler fountain pens, credit has to be given to Pilot for their CON-74 converter as it is the best on the market right now. Its push-to-use design is very simple and easy to use and you can also easily clean the whole pen with a cheap flush kit if needed without having any major issues wither.
The converter in the Pilot Custom 74 is the main advantage that the pen has over the Platinum 3776, especially if you are new to using a fountain pen and want the easiest possible time when replacing your cartridges. That said though, although the system on the 3776 is a little trickier to get used to, once you have replaced a few ink cartridges when using the pen you should be able to get through the process without having any issues.
The Pilot Custom 74 Cap
As you would expect from any modern fountain pen, the cap of the Custom 74 is made from the same high-quality plastic as the barrel and has the same advantages and disadvantages. Although the plastic is not as tough as the resin used on the Platinum 3776, it is still tough enough to last you for many years without issue provided you are not accident prone.
The main advantage of the plastic cap is that it is very lightweight and will not cause you problems with back weighting when writing with the cap when posted. That said though, the resin used for the 3776 also offers this same advantage while also being tougher helping to extend the lifetime of the pen. The plastic on the cap means that the twist lock threads may be a little more susceptible to cross-threading too than a resin-based pen too.
The Ink Reservoir Of The Pilot Custom 74
With the Pilot Custom 74 also being a convertor based pen, its maximum ink capacity is dictated by the cartridge that you use but unlike the Platinum 3776, the Pilot cartridges max out at 0.9ml of ink. This can be a pain as it is just below the average ink capacity for a modern fountain pen and the lack of an ink view window can make it frustrating as it is a pain to check your current ink levels.
Due to ink cartridges being so cheap these days, most people simply keep spares with them so then their Pilot fountain pens do run dry, they can simply switch out the cartridge for a fresh one and keep on writing as required. Pilots ink cartridges don’t offer the same color selection as the Platinum ink cartridges either and although there are third-party cartridges that can mount the Pilot range, they tend to have a bad reputation so we usually recommend that people stick to the official ones.
Pilot Custom 74 Writing Samples
That brings our Pilot Custom 74 vs Platinum 3776 comparison article to an end and we hope that you have found it helpful and that we have been able to help you choose the best fountain pen for your needs. As we mentioned a few times now, both pens are solid options but the Platinum 3776 is ever so slightly better in our opinion-making it our primary recommendation over the Pilot Custom 74.