How to replace a Pilot steel nib

Did you drop your pen or screw up your nib somehow on your Pilot Metropolitan, Prera, Kakuno, or other Pilot steel nib pen? Luckily you have a few options for replacements!

How to replace a Pilot steel nib
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash

Did you drop your pen or screw up your nib somehow on your Pilot Metropolitan, Prera, Kakuno, or other Pilot steel nib pen? Luckily you have a few options for replacements!

What pens does this article cover?

The following replacements fit in Pilot entry-level steel nib pens, including the following:

  • MR (Metropolitan)
  • Kakuno
  • Lightive
  • Explorer
  • Prera
  • Plumix / Pluminix
  • Penmanship
  • 78G/78G+

These have different nibs and won’t fit the advice given in this article:

  • Varsity / V-Pen
  • Petit1
  • Any Pilot gold nib pens

Option 1: Cheap Pilot pens

You can buy a cheap Pilot pen and pull the nib out of there. The cheapest available Pilot pens with a compatible nib are:

  • Penmanship - has EF option only
  • Kakuno - full range of nibs
  • 78G+ - full range of nibs, plus option for italic B nib, Chinese market only. Outside of China, you may buy on various marketplaces like AliExpress, Etsy, or Amazon.
  • Plumix / Pluminix for italic F, M, or B nibs — if you can still find them in stock. Recently discontinued in 2023.

Option 2: WINGS nibs from Wing Sung (Yongsheng)

These nibs are used on the Wing Sung 659, 698, 3001, and 3008a[1]. They are made on ex-Pilot equipment and are made in the same exact shape as original Pilot nibs, and are drop-in replacements.

They are available in EF or F, and are available in steel finish or gold-plated finish. PLEASE NOTE: The fineness is in Parker/western equivalent sizing, thus Wing Sung EF and F correspond to Pilot F and M, respectively.

You can buy the pen, or buy just nibs and feeds separately. The most reliable source is AliExpress or Etsy.

If you’re in the market for a second pen anyway, consider buying the Wing Sung 659. This is a clone of the 78G that comes with two sections, one F and one EF. The nib and feed from one section can be used to repair your broken pen, and you will still be left with a complete Wing Sung 659.

  1. Wing Sung 3008 (no A) will not work, as that pen uses Lamy-style nibs, not Pilot-style. ↩︎

Option 3: Generic #5 nibs

Generic nibs intended for 5mm diameter feeds will often work on Pilot feeds. Faber-Castell, JoWo #5, Bock 180, and Jinhao #5 nibs work OK on these feeds, but the fit may not be exact, and your mileage may vary. There is the potential for ink flow issues and the need for some trial and error with this option. This is the least reliable option and should only be used if you cannot use the above options, or your desired nib grind or fineness is not available with option 1 or 2.

Note that the reverse does NOT work, Pilot nibs will not work on generic #5 pens, due to the shoulder clip design on Pilot-style nibs.

How to swap the nib

The nib and feed in these pens is friction fit.

  1. On the pen needing a replacement: using your thumb and middle finger, or using a rubber grip, grasp the bottom of the feed and the top of the nib. Avoid gripping by the shoulders or the tip of the nib. Make note of the orientation of the feed in the pen. Pull slowly straight out from the pen.
  2. If you bought a full replacement pen, do the same on the replacement pen to remove the new nib and feed.
  3. If you bought just a nib, remove the original nib from the feed, and place the new nib, making sure the shoulder clips slot into the correct place on the feed. (Generic #5 nibs will not have clips, so just center the new nib on the feed as best you can.)
  4. Before placing back into the pen, use an old toothbrush and a drop of dish detergent to thoroughly clean the nib and feed on both sides. After brushing, rinse the nib and feed and pat dry with a paper towel or cloth, then realign the nib and feed together.
  5. Holding the new nib and feed together, line the nib and feed up with the original pen in the original orientation as noted in step 1. Push the nib and feed together in one motion back into the original pen.
  6. You’re done! Test the pen to make sure it writes properly.

If you have any questions, reach out to us on Mastodon!