Safety Razor Review: Maggard V3A

Posted: March 25, 2017 in Shaving Articles
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Last on my whistle stop tour of the Maggard house brand razors is the V3A head mounted to the MR14 handle. (The picture above depicts the MR11 handle. The results of the test and the events described herein are based upon the use of the cited, MR14 handle.)

Maggard razors are made in India. They are part of a line of razors that Maggar’s has designed. They are manufactured under a subcontract of some kind. They occupy a very competitive price point in the market, particularly for the quality of the manufacture and the materials utilized. The Maggard heads are available a la carte, so you can mount them to the handle of your choice, culled either from a razor you already own or from a purchased handle. They are priced anywhere from about $7 to about $20, depending on the model. They are constructed coated zinc alloy, with either a hard chrome plating or a gunmetal gray coating.

If you choose to purchase a Maggard handle to go with one of these heads, your cost will be somewhere between $14 and about $19 dollars (current pricing, early 2017). Purchasing multiple items in combination can provide some price breaks from there. The entire razor, if constructed from items in the Maggard catalog, will typically have an aggregate price of somewhere between about $20 to a shade under $40. Thus, even at the high end, their price is quite affordable.

Most of the Maggard razor handles are made from stainless steel. They feature clean finishes without any machining tool marks or large holidays in the finish. They may not have the obsessive finish perfection of a far more expensive piece, but they have accurate and useful knurling machined in (for the most part – some don’t have knurling). They are an astounding deal for the money, considering that all stainless razors are hard to find for under a hundred dollars.

The MR14, breaking from the norm for Maggard handles, is an anodized aluminum piece. It features a gunmetal gray finish that matches the slant and the V3A. Being aluminum, it is fairly light. That said, it handles nicely and doesn’t result in a head-heavy presentation, at least with the V3A.

The V3A head is a design derived from the basic blueprint of the Edwin Jagger DE89 and its ilk of razors. As I’ve already discussed, the standard V3 razor is an excellent head, and hits way above its price. The V3A diverges from the DE89 mold by increasing the blade gap by a significant degree. To my eyes, it also biases the blade somewhat less, giving it a very flat blade presentation. The “A” in V3A stands for “aggressive”.

Would it be right to assume, then, that this is a perilous and rough razor? Does it need the uttermost attention to avoid large scale facial carnage?

Not in my experience, no. Actually, I find the V3A to be a very mild mannered razor that gave me no sense of danger. There is an awareness of the hair being cut, and cut close, but the blade-on-face feel was in no way rough or stringent. I was performing the test, by the way, with the Personna Lab Blue blade, a classic moderate choice.

To me, the magic of an efficient razor is that I can get a good shave while only going in the safer directions. To be more specific, I can get quite a close shave with only with the grain and the more gentle across the grain passes. Results can differ, but these are experiences that I’ve found to be true for my beard growth. If you have moderate to fine stubble, which I suppose would cover about 2/3rds of the shaving populace, I imagine that you’ll have a similar experience. Thus, I’m going to generalize. If you have very coarse hair, feel free to disregard my findings or take them with a grain of salt.

Anyway, back to efficient/aggressive razors. If you’re a daily shaver, they can allow you to always be presentable, but not beat the stuffing out of your face. Two, or even one pass will suffice to get you close enough to function in society, and you won’t always be nursing minor facial irritation. After all, we’re looking for a repeatable, comfortable experience, not a bloodbath. (I think. Hey, if your nickname’s “Bloodbath Jim”, have it it. I’d recommend the Muhle R41.)

Back to sane shaving in the daily/maintenance realm. What you need for this usage case is a razor that is efficient, but not prone to nipping or irritation. The V3A fits this bill very well. It feels gentle on the face, but is quite efficient. Two passes, with a moderate blade, yields a very nice shave, with precious little remaining rough stubble, even in the spots where I tend to have those issues.

This brings us to the question of aggressiveness, and the subjective nature of such an assessment. I felt that the V3A was smoother and more comfortable than either the Maggard Open Comb (V2) or the Maggard Slant. At the same time, it clearly delivered a closer shave than either of those two heads while using the same methodology. I feel like I could shave a two-pass every day of the week with the V3A and do it safely. It doesn’t appear to need a special blade to get the job done, which is another tick in the win column.

After a pause in the test, I came back and tried the V3A with the Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade. This proved to be a great combination. I did two consecutive 3 pass shaves with the razor, and found that it delivered superb closeness without cuts or irritation with this combination. Going against the grain, you need to be sure to avoid pressing the razor into your skin, but it is certainly safe enough to use in that manner. I wouldn’t go so far as to do it every day, but the two pass shaves are good enough to allow you to rest your skin on “off” days without walking around looking like a slouch. I found that I preferred the razor with the MR 11 handle, as opposed to the MR14, but that is a taste issue. Both of the handles are inexpensive and of good quality.

I did find that there was a small “half moon” of slight discoloration in the finish, but it didn’t appear to be anything more than cosmetic. For the price of the head, I’m willing to let it pass. To me, the V3A is a huge win for Maggard.

My sense of the razor, however, may not be yours. By and large, I’ve found that somewhat aggressive safety bar razors tend to work better for me than open combs or slants. Given my face, skin, and level of finesse, I seem to be able to perform good shaves more reliably with a big-gap solid safety bar than with other designs. Other people tend to have far better luck with a slant. Some swear by open combs. If you know that your past experience has told you that the big blade gap on the V3A will be a bad feature for you, that’s totally valid. For me, a guy who quite likes the Gillete Adjustables turned up to 9, the V3A is a sweet shaver.

Hope this series of reviews has helped you make a choice. I’ll be back with a final wrap-up article in which I rank my choices of which Maggard heads and handles I liked the best.

Cheers, and happy shaving.

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