Pilot Converter Ink Capacities

I get asked pretty often about which Pilot converter to choose for a given pen, with ink capacity usually as the motivator for making the choice. So I decided to dedicate a whole video to the 5 different options available today from Pilot. I broke it into two parts: Part 1 is an overview that will provide you with the takeaways from my testing, and Part 2 is the nitty-gritty showing how I actually did my measurements. I compiled them into a playlist so you can easily skip from one vid to another.

There are 5 different options for getting ink into your Pilot/Namiki fountain pens. It should be noted that older versions of today’s available pens may be limited in converter selection, though I’m not knowledgeable enough of all vintage pens to say for sure what those are. I do know that all of the modern Pilot and Namiki pens available in the US as of this posting will accept all 5 of these filling mechanisms, with the exception of the Con-70, which only fits in the Pilot Custom 74 and Pilot Metal Falcon (perhaps others, but I’m not aware of any more).

Here are the 5 different filling mechanisms, with the ink capacities that I measured in my test. It should be noted that I didn’t fill them to the absolute brim, as that would not be practical since it would gush out when you go to put the filling mechanism on the pen. I filled them all to an equal level to give adequate space for placement onto the pen. That’s just how I decided to do it.

Pilot/Namiki Cartridges, proprietary to these brands of pens, hold about 0.9mL of ink
Pilot “Cleaning” Converter, not sold separately, but comes with the Pilot Parallel and Metropolitan pens. Holds about 0.9mL of ink, and essentially a stripped-down version of the Con-20 squeeze converter.

Pilot Con-20, squeeze converter that fits all Pilot/Namiki pens that I’m aware, and holds about 0.9ml of ink.

Pilot Con-50, the most common and recognized of the group, it’s a twist/piston converter with an agitator. The agitator can be removed with proper skill and determination! As is, with the agitator, you’ll see about 0.6mL ink capacity, and without it about 0.7mL. 

Pilot Con-70, the big daddy. This monster button-filler is only accommodated by the larger Custom 74 and Pilot Metal Falcon, and comes in silver on the pens, yet replacement converters sold are black, as pictured here. This one will yield about 1.0mL of ink.

What does all this mean?

When it comes time to actually make a decision about which converter will be suit your needs for your Pilot/Namiki pen, there are a variety of factors involved such as compatibility with your pen model, price, functionality, ink capacity, price, and ease of cleaning.

I decided to focus mainly on ink capacity for this blog post to keep myself focused, so with that in mind, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a pen that accommodates the Con-70, the Con-20 or refilling ink cartridges will get you the greatest ink capacity. They both have their drawbacks though, to fill cartridges you’ll need something like an ink syringe to be able to do it, and it’s an extra cleaning step involved there. I have a video showing how to refill cartridges here. The Con-20 doesn’t show you the ink capacity, which something I miss from the Con-50. Removing the agitator will gain you about 0.1mL of ink capacity, but it will also be more likely to have flow issues if the ink hangs up in the back of the converter (which is exactly why Pilot puts that agitator in there, to prevent that).

Like most things in life, it all comes down to compromise. There are some slight tradeoffs going from one converter to another, and none of them are ideal for everyone, which is likely why you see the broadest range of converters in this brand than any other modern pen brand. But at least now you are a little better educated about how ink capacity factors in to your converter choice. If you have any questions or need clarification, just ask in the comments.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-06T18:31:22+00:00 August 15th, 2013|Tips & Tricks|19 Comments
  • brian smith

    good information. I will have to try replacing the con-50 with a con-20 in my vanishing point.

  • brian

    good information. I will have to try replacing the con-50 with a con-20 in my vanishing point.

  • Dave Fine

    I use the so-called “cleaning converter” in both of my Pilots (Metropolitan and 78G). the pens just seem to go for ever — way longer than any of my other sort of “regular” size converters. And if you’re careful not to allow any air in while loading, and you pump the converter three or four times while the section is submerged in the ink, you can really maximize the capacity.

  • Dave Fine

    I use the so-called "cleaning converter" in both of my Pilots (Metropolitan and 78G). the pens just seem to go for ever — way longer than any of my other sort of "regular" size converters. And if you're careful not to allow any air in while loading, and you pump the converter three or four times while the section is submerged in the ink, you can really maximize the capacity.

  • Dr. Moby

    Thanks for the great video, Brian! I’d wondered how much those big cartridges hold. Glad to see the “cleaning converter” stands up so well. That was my first-ever converter, on a Pilot 78G (which is currently inked up w/ Goulet-supplied Noodler’s Walnut!). Super-easy to use, and plenty of capacity.
    Also, I have to say I like that you’re back to the horn intro music. It’s a happy sound.

  • Dr. Moby

    Thanks for the great video, Brian! I'd wondered how much those big cartridges hold. Glad to see the "cleaning converter" stands up so well. That was my first-ever converter, on a Pilot 78G (which is currently inked up w/ Goulet-supplied Noodler's Walnut!). Super-easy to use, and plenty of capacity.
    Also, I have to say I like that you're back to the horn intro music. It's a happy sound.

  • David

    I have found the Pilot squeeze converters to hang on to the ink, which causes flow problems. Now when I run across one of these converters I pull it and replace it with a cartridge, which I then syringe refill.

    • Dr. Moby

      I’ve noticed that w/ my Metropolitan; never an issue w/ my 78Gs, for some reason.

  • David

    I have found the Pilot squeeze converters to hang on to the ink, which causes flow problems. Now when I run across one of these converters I pull it and replace it with a cartridge, which I then syringe refill.

  • Dr. Moby

    I've noticed that w/ my Metropolitan; never an issue w/ my 78Gs, for some reason.

  • Caitlin Sheehan

    for context, how much ink does a lamy converter (safari) hold?

  • Caitlin Sheehan

    for context, how much ink does a lamy converter (safari) hold?

  • Very useful, thank you.

  • Dean Reed

    very useful info. thx

  • Dean Reed

    very useful info. thx

  • JG

    Does the “cleaning” converter fit Vanishing Points?

  • Truth Arrives

    RE: “The agitator can be removed with proper skill and determination”.

    Not really. The metal part easily unscrews, and you can pull out the piston mechanism and then the metal thing, through the back end.

  • Verónica R.

    One question, does the pilot metropolitan converter fits the pilot preppy? Thanks!

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      The Preppy is actually from Platinum so they take the platinum proprietary converters. Sorry about that!