Razor Blade Test: Blue Bird Hi-Stainless

Posted: June 11, 2016 in Shaving Articles
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Blue Bird Hi-Stainless:

1) Sharpness: Poor
2) Comfort: Fair
3) Value: Good
4) Availability: Fair
5) Country of Origin: Turkey (I believe)
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: No
7) Longevity (# of shaves): See below
8) Notes: Can one get a decent shave with this blade? Yes. It’s perfectly possible to get a good shave from sub-optimal gear. And let’s face it, Blue Bird blades are sub-optimal. They’re not sharp. They just aren’t. It boggles the mind that companies who make razor blades for commercial sale turn out some of the products that they do. A razor blade has one job. Namely, to be sharp enough to comfortably cut hair off of people’s skin. As a stretch goal, this process could take place without painstaking attention to detail, the patience of a saint, and the luck of the Irish. So, down to cases. The Blue Bird blade’s shortcomings were quickly apparent to me on the first pass. I was shaving two day’s growth, which is fairly standard. My beard is not light, but it’s not comprised of extruded tungsten carbide, either. I had, in preparation for meeting with an unknown blade, put a nice layer of coconut oil lotion on my face a few hours beforehand. At shave time, I warmed my face and washed the excess oil off. The shave soap was Cella, and it lathered to absolute perfection, creating all the protection that any shaver could ask for. I put the Feather AS-D2 to my face and took my chances.

With anything from middle-of-the-road to sharp blades, the AS-D2 waltzes merrily through beard stubble (for me). There is no skating over the growth or juddering on the first pass. You gently draw the razor, and the bulk of the growth is gone. It isn’t quite as miraculous as a slant bar razor, perhaps, but for a mild safety bar razor, it is fairly efficient. One of the great benefits of the AS-D2 is that, with a good sharp blade, there’s almost no feeling of blade-to-face interaction. It pops the hair, leaving the skin unmolested.

With the Blue Bird blade, not so much. I had to kick it down into granny gear and use all my artifice to get the process done. The dullness of the blade made this, a very refined product, act like a rough, rowdy hombre that takes all your attention to safely employ. Not awesome. The “first pass” ended up being about four cautious passes long. It should be said that the Cella soap aided me with heroic work here, maintaining wonderful residual slickness and allowing me to slowly ablate the beard away. Somehow, I managed to churn my way through the first pass without injuring myself.

The second pass required similar patience on my part, and featured a lot more feeling of razor-scrape than would typically be the case. The Feather is a very non-dramatic razor. It should be noted that the second pass had a lot more work to do in regard to getting the shave close than would be typical for this razor. By the third pass, the stubble was finally on the run. No blood, no foul, right? Well, sure. But the dullness that I felt with this blade upon loading it in, brand new, was the type of feedback that would typically tell me that the blade was done for, and needed replacing. I mean, four or five shaves down the line dullness for a lot of blades. If it’s all down hill from here, I can’t see that you could ever get more than a shave or two from these things. I’m guessing even a second shave would be a stretch.

Admission time. I got a really good shave, all things said and done. It wasn’t terribly relaxing. I feel great about the rest of the gear that allowed me to overcome the blade’s shortcomings. The Cella worked like a boss. The AS-D2 is a razor of distinction. I’m actually a little proud of myself. I feel like my technique isn’t too shabby, coming away without any blood, and with a smooth shave. It should should be a hell of a lot easier than that. With any of the “better” blades, it would be. I’m not saying that the result would be a lot different, but the task would be less frought with peril and frustratin. In the end, aren’t we wet shaving because it’s fun, meditative, and gives us, as the kids say, “the feels?” I submit that those are reasons for a lot of us. There’s no real reason to let a bit of marginal equipment compromise that. What’s the difference between blades? A few pennies a blade, often times. Not a compelling economic motivator. If it takes a few extra bits of change to get the blade that lets your razor perform as it should, I say drop those coins on the table and make that purchase happen. Let ’em keep the Blue Bird blades. Find something better. Closing your eyes and pointing to one stands a good chance of bettering your pick. Or read some reviews. Whatever works for you. In the end, have a good time. Me? I’m stepping down off the soap box now. I have to get some sleep sometime.

Postscript: I’ve been reading some commentary online about this blade, and it appears that, in the main, my experience is atypical of the majority opinion. Most say that the blade is sharp and fairly smooth. Some go so far as to put it high on the sharpness index. I certainly did not see that in my review. The sharper blades, when employed with the test razor, are able to quickly put paid to the stubble, with very little sensation on the skin. They leave markedly less residual stubble after the first pass. As with all things shaving, your mileage may vary. One person’s disaster is another’s miracle, I suppose. Or, as I recently heard, there’s a hat for every head. Even with these things having been added to the review, I would urge you to try tons of other blades I’ve been kinder to in their reviews before checking out the Blue Bird.

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