The second in my series of reviews of the Maggard house brand razors, this one addresses the V2 Open Comb razor head.
Maggard has its brand of razors built in India, at least in terms of the heads. My impression is that they have design input and oversight in terms of quality control of these items, but I don’t have any insight as to how that works on the “inside” of the process. No matter.
The V2 Open Comb is, as you may intuit, the second version of their open comb head. It looks to be based upon the old Gillette open comb/short comb design, though the head is built of much thicker material and is generally more massive than the svelte little head of the Gillette “Old” style razor that was one of that storied brand’s first products. Still, the curvature of the baseplate and head are quite similar.
I own a cherished 1918 military model of the Gillette Old Style open comb, so I have the ability to contrast the two razors.
The Gillette “Old” open comb is a quite efficient shaver, and can deliver a great shave. My experience is that it requires patience. It isn’t a razor to rush. It’ll bite if you do. It isn’t the mildest, but it isn’t a super aggressive, either. I’ve found that, if you take your time on the first pass, much of the danger has been averted. It just needs you to try a little tenderness when you’re getting the beard stubble worked down at first. That said, the way the razor is set up, you could probably use most anything as a facial lubricant to get the shave going. Well, maybe not axle grease, but a lot of things.
Okay, on to the Maggard Open Comb, V2. The razor looks nice, with good tolerances and a nice finish. I chose to mount it on a Maggard’s stainless handle, the MR1. This handle is a medium short model, with solid knurling and a faux dial on the bottom, giving it a look like the Merkur 34C. It is a good handle. To me, it comes off as a very traditional, very bone-stock shape. The material and finish is more than adequate, though perhaps not as perfectly finished as a much more expensive product. Let’s be real. I got the MR1 handle for $14. It’s a screaming deal. As nice as the MR5? No. Not for me.
My test shave with the V2 used the Personna Lab Blue, a classic, moderate blade that I know well. If in doubt, I try to go with a blade that I have a lot of experience with, and that is somewhere in the middle of the sharpness spectrum. Often, it’s a Personna or a Dorco. This whole paragraph is going nowhere, so I’ll end it now, just to spare you any further misery.
And the shave? How did it go?
Hmmm. Well, it didn’t go badly. But…but, I have to say that the razor, to me, didn’t represent a ratio on the harshness vs. closeness scale that I could fully endorse. I found it to have a significant feeling of blade-on-face, and some level of roughness to the “delivery” of the shave that I wasn’t that fond of. I don’t mind if I feel the blade, even feel that minor thrill of danger when you draw a razor across your face. That’s all part of the game. When I get that feeling, though, I want it to be really slamming through the stubble. If it feels aggressive, but isn’t really that efficient, that’s kind of an issue.
I got a good, but not great shave after three passes. There was some irritation that needed to be mitigated with extra post shave treatment, but not large scale carnage. The V2 did not prove to be efficient enough to be a great maintenance shaver, so that doesn’t appear to be the usage case. In the same vein, I wouldn’t really feel like it would be a smart move for me to promote it to an everyday shaver, simply because it takes a bit too much of a toll on my face to get the job done. I have much gentler razors that cut as well or better.
In the end, I see it as a razor that is not quite what I was looking for. It doesn’t cut any closer (in point of fact, it doesn’t cut as close) than the V3 razor by Maggard, and it is much less comfortable for my skin, all other parts of the shave being equal (soap, prep, post, growth, season, etc.).
So, then, it falls well behind their V3 safety bar head. This, of course, may be altogether different from your own experiences. I find that, on balance, I tend to do best with a standard, solid safety bar, but that I can tolerate quite a large blade gap. That appears to be where I can “game the system” to get a really efficient razor. Slants are hit and miss, and I have only a few open combs that I really get along with.
In a larger scale, though, these Maggard heads are great. At the price of these devices, you can purchase all 4 Maggard heads for the price of a single Merkur. If you already have a handle you like, great. If not, I recommend the MR5 or MR11, as these are both excellent, and my favorites in the Maggard line. I should note that I don’t really favor long handles on a razor, so that informs my choice.
Cheers, and happy shaving.