Grooming,  Review

The top four Razors in my Collection

I’ve received many new shaving products between my last post and the 2022 year-end holidays. I have fallen behind in reviewing my new products, but I am ready to reveal what I have learned.

The one double-edged razor I started with is now part of a seven-razor collection. My first two shaving creams have expanded to six shave soaps and creams, soon to be twice as many. Additionally, I acquired three shaving bowls for lathering, four pre-shave conditioners, and four DE razor blade brands. I also have three after-shave balms.

Before continuing, let me re-state the obvious. I am not you. You are not me. Many people start with one razor, blade, and cream, then stop. Their first razor meets their needs. They have no complaints about the razor blade or the shaving cream and see no need to explore. If this is you, congratulations. There is nothing wrong with being satisfied with what you have. But I am not that guy.

The Razors

My first DE razor in the modern era was a Merkur 34 HD (also known as the 34C because of its chrome finish). It is an excellent non-adjustable razor, great for beginners or those who want a mild, non-aggressive shave.

Then came the following: Vikings Blade Chieftain Jr., Leaf Twig (a single-edge razor that uses half of a double-edge blade), Vintage Gillette Super Speed Flare Tip, Vintage Gillette Slim Adjustable, Rockwell T2 Adjustable, Vintage Gillette 195 Fatboy.

My top 4 razors (L to R) Fatboy, T2, Slim Adjustable, Flare Tip.

My # 1 Choice: Gillette Fatboy

If my first razor had been the Gillette Fatboy, I might have never tried anything else. It is my favorite razor in my small collection and gives an excellent shave every time. But, it was the last razor I received, a Christmas gift from my wife, and because each razor that came before was as good or better than the previous, but none until the end were great, I kept trying other razors.

My 2nd Place Choice: Rockwell T2

The most expensive razor I’ve purchased is the Rockwell T2 Adjustable. Even after getting the razor at a Black Friday Holiday sale price, it is an expensive razor, currently listing for $150. The razor is tall, fat, and heavy, all qualities I like in my razors. 

The gap adjustment dial goes from 1 to 6 to mimic the gaps on the Rockwell 6C or 6S. But the T2 is a true adjustable with butterfly doors, and the dial is continuously adjustable, unlike the two Gillette adjustable razors I own, which have click stops for gaps numbered from 1 to 10.

My initial impression of the razor was that it seemed slightly more aggressive at approximately the same gap widths as the Gillettes. There is more to aggressiveness than the gap; I can’t entirely explain this. But one guess is the T2 changes both the blade angle and the gap. If the Gillette adjustable change the blade angle, it is minimal.

Nevertheless, I get a great shave with the T2. I am currently using a dial setting of about 4-1/3 on the dial, which should give a gap of 25 thousandths of an inch, the same as the gap on my Fatboy when its dial is at 5.

My 3rd Choice: Gillette Slim Adjustable

You would think my second favorite razor would be the Gillette Slim Adjustable. The Slim and Fatboy are very similar in design. But in fact, for me, the Slim (nearly) ties with my fourth-place choice. The Slim is a great razor, and when I first got it, it was in first place among the razors I then owned. But the Rockwell and the Fatboy are superior against my face and always give a smooth shave.

My 4th Choice: Gillette Flare Tip

The only reason to continue to my fourth choice among my razors is that I find it nearly as good as the Slim Adjustable, in third place. Fourth is the Gillette Flare Tip, a non-adjustable razor. 

I purchased this by accident. An eBay seller misidentified the razor as an adjustable. The photos didn’t show a view where you could see the adjustment dial. I got excited by the price and bought it before examining the deal’s suspicious aspects. In fact, the price I paid was fair for a Flare Tip, and the razor was in good condition.

All three of my vintage Gillettes give smoother shaves than my other razors. Gillette knew what they were doing. The Flare Tip has a gap of 0.024 inches. Until recently, I have been using a setting of 4 on the Slim Adjustable. I measured the gap at 4 to be 0.023 inches. So, the two are very close in blade gap.  

My other razors

My first razor of the new era was the Merkur 34C. It is an excellent razor, but I didn’t rate it in the top four because it seems too mild after four months of DE shaving. I also find the two-piece design mildly annoying compared to razors with butterfly doors that open with a twist of a knob on the handle. Yet, after shaving with it yesterday, I have to admit it is a fantastic razor that gives smooth, close shaves despite its mild feel and small gap.

The Leaf Twig lost out because it, too, gives too mild a shave. It was an impulse purchase and is a well-designed razor that uses half of a double-edged blade for a single-edged experience. However, it offers me no advantages over the Merkur or my Gillette razors. It does have a compact head which might be useful for those who want to shave intimate areas of their body.

The Vikings Blade Chieftain Jr. is a bargain. I paid under $15 for it. It has butterfly, turn-to-open doors for changing blades. The blade gap is identical to my Gillette Flare Tip, and that is the problem. If you’re just starting out and don’t want to spend much money testing the waters of DE safety razor shaving, this is a good choice. But the Gillette Flare Tip gives a smoother shave and doesn’t cost that much more on eBay.com or Etsy.com.

4 Comments

  • Ronald Levenberg

    I’ve been using Harry’s blades and shaver for a long time. I don’t know how they can be improved. As for shaving cream, I used Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood for quite a while and experimented with other TOOBS fragrances. However, I gave up on TOOBS in favor of Trader Joe’s Honey Mango shaving cream, which comes in a tube. It’s much cheaper when bought in the store and gives great results for me. No shavebrush needed!

    • Dan

      What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. I didn’t like Harry’s razors. I have used Cremo and Harry’s brushless creams in a tube. They’re both good. I haven’t tried TJ’s shaving cream. But, I like the process and feel of whipping up a shave cream or soap with a brush and applying the lather.

  • Mike

    Have you tried any open-comb razors yet? My go-to razor these days is a Gillette New Long Comb. I started single-blade shaving about a decade ago, and for the first few years I was happy with a rotation of razors that I had accumulated — a couple of Merkurs, a Gillette Rocket, an early Gillette Super Speed, a Gillette Slim, a Schick Krona, and a Gem G-Bar — the only single edge razor of the bunch. While I came to prefer the Slim, I appreciated them all. But they have been collecting dust for years now (except for the Slim, which I pull out every January because it was manufactured in the first quarter of the year I was born). What shelved them all? My discovery of the Gillette New LC in an antique store. After a good cleaning, I lathered up and tried the thing. Once I got the angle right, it was just a better shaving experience for me, probably because I barely feel the comb, and the lack of a straight safety bar allows for a closer and smoother shave. Whenever I shaved with one of the other razors, I found myself wondering “Why bother?” So I’ve been a New LC shaver ever since. If you’ve tried one (or some other vintage open comb razor), I’d love to get your take on it. If you haven’t, you might be surprized.

    Great and informative blog, by the way. I just stumbled across it looking for reviews of hollow body guitars. You’re bookmarked now.

    • Dan

      I haven’t yet tried an open comb but have been looking at them for the past few months and wondering if I should. I did purchase a slant razor by Parker. It’s fine, but I rarely need the slant design, and therefore it is not among my favorites.

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