Razor Blade Test: Dorco ST-300

Posted: October 15, 2016 in Shaving Articles
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1) Sharpness: Good
2) Comfort: Good
3) Value: Amazing
4) Availability: Great
5) Country of Origin: Vietnam (Korean company)
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: Yes
7) Longevity (# of shaves): 3
8) Notes: A great deal of debate has arisen about the differences between the razor blades from Dorco. Some say that the ST-300 and ST-301 are altogether different, made in different factories with different grinds and different coatings. Some say that the 301 is the cat’s whiskers, while the 300 isn’t fit for human consumption.

Then again, other people, including people who purport to be company reps, say that the only difference is in the packaging, with the 301s having a plastic container that has a used blade vault in the back, and the 300s having a simple cardboard container.

What should you believe? I don’t know for sure. I know that the prices of both versions of the blade are out of this world. Amazingly inexpensive. I know that the 300s tend to be a little cheaper, but they’re both at the very lowest price per blade you’re likely to find. We’re talking less than six cents per blade if you get 1,000 of the ST-300s (as of August, 2016, U.S.A.). The 301s are only marginally more expensive. Depending on where and when you look, it’s a toss-up as to which one will clock in at a lower price.

I tested the ST-301 blades somewhat thoroughly, and found them to be a very nice blade, money aside. They performed a lot like the Personna Lab Blues. Good sharpness, really good smoothness, no surprises. In that review, I was forced to admit that I had a bit of a negative bias toward the blades coming in, and had the resultant dinner of crow. Would it happen again with the ST-300, a blade that is somewhat maligned in the reviews? Read on and find out.

My first shave with the 300s was in my Gillette Black Beauty set on “5”, a setting I found to work well with other blades and provide a comfortable shave. The blade itself looked well produced, with a crisp logo and a generally well-sorted appearance.

So, what’s the early verdict? Boy, I have nothing bad to say about this blade thus far. I can’t tell you it’s the same blade as the 301, but I can’t point to anything that indicates that it’s not. I got a close shave with no irritation, blood, or drama. I take close shaves seriously, and my “test” shaves are always aiming for a baby smooth result. Though I’ve relaxed my stance in regard to which razors I’ll use during a test, I still feel that I can give you a good assessment of a blade’s qualities. Your mileage may vary, of course. Horses for courses, as it were.

I don’t know if Dorco is currently operating at a loss or at a minimal profit, trying to create a market presence and brand awareness in the West. That might be the case. Perhaps their operating costs are lower, or they benefit from the economies of scale, having already tooled up for the Asian market. I leave that to the business guys. Still, all my experiences with the brand thus far have been positive. I’m impressed. I’ll carry on with test, but I can tell you, barring the blade going right to crap, I’ll be recommending this one.

Shave two, and the Dorco faced a stern test. Could it perform in the 1918 Gillette open comb? Short answer. Yeah. Killer shave. Smooth as could be, no blood, no sting.

The third shave found me with a heavy heart for reasons I won’t go into here. I found myself wondering why I stood at the mirror and what the purpose of the shave might be. Still, despite what befalls us, we must carry on with the work of the day. I loaded the Dorco blade into the Merkur 39C “Sledgehammer”. I didn’t much care if I irritated my face or not. I was going to do a three pass shave with the big brute and damn the consequences. Well, it turned out to be quite a good shave. Only the mildest irritation at the neckline, very good closeness. In actuality, probably the best three pass result for this razor. I did give it the best possible chances, with using the RazoRock “Mr. Joe” preshave (which is really amazing) and the RazoRock “Essential Oil of Lime” soap. The combination of those two creates a lather suitable to the Olympians – the ones that shave, in any case.

I carried on with a new blade, going for another round of testing, just to make sure that it wasn’t a fluke blade. Science, remember. Everything for science. I loaded the new blade into the Merkur 34C HD razor, and had a very pleasant shave. Again, very nice performance from the blade. I have neglected the 34C as a razor, and each time I go back to it, I do find it to be a fine tool. Effective, but quite gentle. There is a reason that it remains a popular option for new shavers and salty dogs alike. I would say that it’s probably a bit easier to get a close shave than some of my others. However, coming to it after having some enforced discipline with a less forgiving razor makes it quite relaxing. I needed a relaxing shave on that day, as it had not been a fun week for me. Even the wonderful smell of Cella could not entirely lift my bleak mood. And perhaps it shouldn’t have. We are not machines. We cannot always function unhindered by emotion.

I had a nice shave with the AS-D2 for my second shave of the test. No complaints. The Feather razor isn’t super fussy, so I had no reason to think it would have a problem, but it is good to touch base with your de-facto standard here and there.

For the third shave in the second blade of the test, I tried the razor out in a new and inexpensive razor, the RazoRock Quick Change. This shave also came off with no issues, proving that one needn’t spend very much to have an effective and comfortable shaving experience.

In the end, I didn’t feel like the ST-300 blade had anything to apologize for.  It’s sharp enough, smooth enough, and seems to last easily through three shaves. I didn’t push it with this blade, because what would the point be? It can be had for less than eight cents per unit. I would have no real reservation with buying a large pack of these blades. In point of fact, I ended up buying a hundred pack of the 301s, which were cheaper on that given day. I can’t say that there’s much difference between the 300 and the 301. Your results and opinions may vary. For me, both of the blades have turned out to be a superb value, and the miser’s wisest choice, provided you like a moderate, smooth blade. Highly recommended.

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