Archive for the ‘Shaving Articles’ Category

Ease of Lathering: Very easy. Bowl lathering the Trumper’s cream is equally easy as the best creams I’ve tried. A small amount of the product whips up into a thick and voluminous lather, more than enough for a three pass shave.

Protection: I believe that the Trumper’s cream has a slight edge on the Taylor’s in terms of the thickness and protective nature of the lather. Slight. I would say that it seems the equal of the St. James cream in this category. A very rich and useful lather that feels luxurious and nutritive is provided by the Trumper’s product.

Residual Slickness: The shaving creams I’ve tried have typically provided adequate, but not exemplary slickness. I believe that this is likely to do with the prevailing formulation. They are typically based in glycerin, rather than coconut oil or tallow. Though glycerin is a slick component, it doesn’t have the same “fatty” slickness that those other components I mentioned often possess. That said, there is a spectrum.

With creams that come from mass manufacturers, most don’t leave quite the same level of slick film behind that an artisan soap would do. This isn’t a problem, but you have to be a bit more assiduous with relathering to maintain your best protection.

As shaving creams go, the Trumper’s cream has very nice slickness. Post shave feel is also quite nice. This tracks with St. James of London in terms of richness. This is where the higher cost (in relation to Taylor’s, which is the least expensive of the classic English shaving creams) seems to bear out.

Scent: Often, inexpensive soaps and creams can provide solid performance. Many of them have pleasant scents, as well. In my experience, one of the tell-tales of a more expensive soap or aftershave is that the scent is longer lasting once deployed. Although I am not a perfumer, my instinct on this score is that the fragrance oils and essential oils that are used in more expensive products are of greater quality. Perhaps there are secondary elements in the mix that act as fixatives for the scent profile and keep it going longer. I’m devolving into guesswork, so I’ll stop.

The long and short of it is this: the Trumper’s product has a long-lasting scent that hangs around for hours after the shave. What’s the scent like? Spanish Leather is a great name for the product. There is a leather-based scent, with a warm cologne underpinning. I think it would go well in tandem with a tobacco scent or some of the “dirtier” woodsy scented aftershaves. I quite like the Spanish Leather scent. It isn’t my absolute favorite, but it could certainly find a place in my rotation.

Production/Value: Geo F. Trumper creams are in that middle ground between Taylor’s (reasonably high value) and D.R. Harris or Trufitt and Hill (champagne budget stuff). Although I think it has a few tangible points in its favor when compared to Taylor’s, whether this is worth several dollars more per tub is a point you’ll have to work out for yourself. I would like to point out that, when amortized over the life of the product, most soaps and creams are not particularly expensive. If a product gives you significant improvement in a functional or subjective assessment, it may be worth the extra cost. Trumper’s, for me, would likely be a luxury shave product, one that I dusted off from time to time, rather than using as my day-to-day regular.

Notes: Trumper’s cream is really nice stuff. You can get a great shave out of it. The same can be said for many other soaps and creams that go for less. Its scent is a bit more refined and long lasting, and its formula feels a little richer. One thing to consider is that, if my information is correct, the Trumper’s formula still utilizes Parabens as a preservative. If they are known to irritate your skin, or if you have strong aversions to their presence in your skin-care regiment, you’ll want to research this and perhaps make your purchase elsewhere. If you find yourself drawn to some of the old, classic English shaving products, Geo F. Trumper’s are certainly in that pantheon, and deserve a look.

Ease of Lathering: Very easy. This soap loads quickly into the brush, rivaling anything I’ve used. It always created plenty of lather for a full shave, and the performance of the lather was consistent. No failed lathers, no watery messes. The soap can tolerate quite a lot of water, and creates a lather that is both thick and voluminous. I would call this about as soft as anything that is called “soap”, at least as it stands coming out of the sample container. As delivered, it could have functioned in a tube. That’s how soft it was. This initially concerned me, as I was going to press it into the bottom of a bowl and lather it like a soap. Would it be used up way too fast? (more on this later)

Protection: Through the run of this soap, I’ve been using the Razorock Hawk razor, which is known to be incisive and require good protection. The Maggard’s soap always provided me with plenty of support, and I didn’t suffer any nicks, cuts, or irritation that could be blamed upon the soap. Thick and thin layers seemed to work equally well.

Residual Slickness: Auxiliary passes proved to be comfortable and safe with this soap. It also provided a nice face feel after the shave, never giving me the sense that it was drying out my skin or giving me any chemical irritation.

Scent: I like citrus scents, particularly orange. I find that this soap has a nice sweet orange scent. Not the pungent orange zest scent, but the sweeter type you might associate with orange candy, perhaps. I didn’t really catch any menthol spike in the scent, for me. I would say that the strength of the scent is present, but not strong. It doesn’t hang around much, to my nose, after the shave. Clearly not enough remains of the orange scent to interfere with your aftershave or cologne. Overall, a pleasant scent, but not strong or complex enough to make you swoon with joy or wrinkle your nose in disgust (unless you hate oranges, in which case…)

Production/Value: The Orange Menthol soap, as mentioned earlier, was very, very soft coming out of the tub. For me, I’d probably leave the cap off a full puck for several days to let it solidify just a touch. It doesn’t need blooming or a high-backbone brush, that’s for sure. I found that it worked great with a Plissoft synthetic, and that it took no real effort to load. That being said, my fears about it ablating too quickly proved to be unwarranted, as it hardened up (to some degree) being left out in the air between shaves, and also did not prove to need a great deal of product to create a great lather. Maggard’s offers this soap at a very fair price, considering it is an artisan soap made in small batches by hand. I believe that the soap maker behind Through the Fire Fine Craft soaps makes the soap for Maggard’s, but I could be wrong on that count. In any case, it has proven to be an excellent soap, and I would say that it is well worth your dollar, if one of the Maggard’s scents sounds alluring.

Notes: I have very few negative things to say about this soap. The scent is nice, its performance is excellent, and the price is reasonable. If I could make one critique, it is that the menthol content is not quite strong enough for my taste. I find that I only get the faintest hint of menthol cooling right at the end of the shave, even when I dither and let the face lathering go on longer than strictly necessary. Yes, there is menthol there, but unless your face is far more sensitive to it than mine, it’s almost not enough to warrant having the word in the title of the soap. For me, I’d double down on the menthol to give the soap a bit more kick. Everything else? Leave it like it is. Recommended.

Cheers, and happy shaving!

The Dollar Store Shave

Posted: April 16, 2017 in Shaving Articles
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Shaving stuff is basically everywhere. Sometimes, even in the Dollar Store. Some time ago, I found some vaguely wet shave-like gear in my local dollar store. It was being marketed under the name “Wit and Wisdom”. In the byline, it also says “New York”. The listed scent is spiced cedar. The products were a brushless cream and a post shave balm.

First things first. These are products made in China. New York doesn’t seem to come into it at all. The importer is in Canada. So, the name and nominal point of origin are hokum. Which is okay. Any badging and labling has an element of smoke and mirrors to it. It is a rarity to have it any different.

So, then: the brushless cream. It’s 6.7 ounces for, you guessed it, one dollar. The ingredient list is, shall we say, not quite up to the artisan standard. It has Parabens, mineral oil, and a few other chemical-sounding ingredients. And it’s brushless, so there’s that.

I don’t have a strong feeling against mineral oil. It’s fallen out of favor in the artisan cosmetology industry, but I think it’s fine. As for Parabens, I think that they are probably resonably safe in small amounts, and so if I like a product otherwise, I will tolerate them.  (Looking at you, Arko balms.) I would prefer them to not be present, though.

For a dollar, one cannot be overly picky. So the proverb says, or very nearly.

I’ve used the soap several times. Often, when I just need to do a quick touchup that doesn’t become clear to me until well after I’ve cleaned up. I’ve also used it a few times to shave the hair off the nape of my neck. It has served its purpose well enough.

This is not a lathering product. It doesn’t feature several important ingredients that constitute a soap. It is not, therefore, in any way voluminous. It relies upon a slick, thin layer provided by the glycerin and mineral oil.

Protection is okay, but this thin layer is not the equal of a true shaving soap or cream. It will suffice, and one good thing about it is that it goes on quick and has somewhat positive moisturizing properties to the skin.

In fact, this stuff may have as much in common with skin cream as with shave soap. It will quickly begin to disappear into your skin, and excess amounts can, if the literature is to be believed, be just massaged in after the shave. I wash it off, as I don’t want bits of beard stubble hanging around on my face after the fact.

Slickness, because it’s basically an oil, is quite good. The razor glides just fine. I have never felt that there was an undue amount of “gloopiness” or the tendency of gumming up the razor, but it could be an issue if you shave really thick stubble down.

In all, it works reasonably well, especially considering the price. Is it a whole new world of amazing awesomeness? No. It’s passable, and pretty darned good for the price. Not too shabby for a quick shave, especially with a relatively mild razor. Using a Razorock Hawk? You might get a few weepers and nicks. That’s a lot to ask, protecting your skin from an Artist Club blade. Just sayin’.

The scent is basically just that of a skin cream. Neutral. Not strong or lasting. You have to use a lot of this stuff to get the shave done. I mean, the amount used for a two pass shave would probably shave you for ten days with a lathering cream. Thus, the economy begins to look slightly less tantalizing.

Post shave feel is…a bit oily. Your skin will feel like it has some mineral oil on it. Because it does.

Moving on to the shaving balm, also a dollar, carrying 6.1 ounces, it is a similar product with similar ingredients. It’s a somewhat runny moisture cream. It didn’t give me the hives, but it didn’t prove itself to be particularly good, either. It’s a dollar store product. It kind of acts that way.

Can you get good shaves from these products? Yeah. Pretty decent. They are probably as good as the stuff a lot of cartridge razor shavers use, and cheaper. They will do in a pinch, or for that emergency touch-up shave you don’t have time to dawdle while accomplishing. That said, any good shave cream, just swirled onto your wet face, will probably do as well or better.

In terms of shaves per dollar, there are more than a few “real” shave products that could meet or exceed the dollar store stuff. That, with having better ingredients, scent, and performance. I’d take the Italian Barber “Amici” soap and some normal moisturizer over this stuff, ten times out of ten. In a narrow usage case that sees you desperate for a shave and out “in the wild” where you have no other options, this stuff will do the trick. I’d recommend that you use it liberally, and don’t get to aggressive with your technique. This is not going to give you the leeway that you’d get with a really fine soap. It’ll do, though, and that’s what you should expect from things you’re getting at the dollar store.

Thus endeth the experiment.

Cheers, and happy shaving.

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Ease of Lathering: Quite Easy. The Soap Commander formula is harder than some of the other soaps you’ll find on the market today, and it takes a few more swirls to get a good load into the brush, but it is in no way difficult. If you have any patience and a reasonable brush of some sort, you’ll be fine.

Protection: Very Good. Once lathered, Soap Commander soaps provide a nice layer of protection. Not quite as voluminous as some, not quite as dense as others, it’s a great compromise that carries plenty of water, and can work in a thinner or thicker iteration, as you prefer.

Residual Slickness: Very Good. Very nice slickness, about as good as you could achieve with a vegan soap base. Also, really good face feel after the shave. No qualms here.

Scent: Fantastic! The few Soap Commander soaps I’ve tried have both been tremendous in terms of their scent, and have also had great staying power after the shave. Most soaps pretty much die off before you leave the shaving mirror. Not so with the Soap Commander. They retain a full, nuanced scent profile for hours. This would only be a negative if you had a plan for a conflicting aftershave balm or splash. The “Fortitude” scent is dark, warm, and masculine. Though scent is highly subjective, I find it intoxicating. One of my very favorites.

Production/Value: Soap Commander offers a larger amount of soap than most brands. (Six ounces, versus four or so for a lot of other companies.) They also have great labeling and thoughtfully large tubs to make lathering easier. I have no reservations about their value. Not the cheapest, but you get what you pay for here.

Notes: You could do a lot worse than a Soap Commander product. Though I have many soaps to use, and I try to rotate through them, I could be perfectly happy with using SC soap exclusively. Great scent, great soap base, well-sorted packaging. It’s the real deal. Highly recommended.

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1) Sharpness: Good
2) Comfort: Great
3) Value: Good
4) Availability: Good
5) Country of Origin: Turkey
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: Yes
7) Longevity (# of shaves): 3
8) Notes: The topic of the Derby Extra blade is a devisive one in a lot of shaving forums. Some people love it. Many people hate it. The detractors of the classic Derby blade say that it is far too dull, and that it is not capable of a good shave. May as well shave with a soup spoon, some say. As for me, I was hesitant to try the Derby Extra at first, since many negative opinions where swirling around. I found that, in my usage, it turned out to work very well in some razors. For some of my stable, the Derby Extra has proven to be a sub-optimal choice, but there are a lot of blades to choose from. For a few of my razors, the Derby Extras work great. In the end, I found that I quite liked the blade, and its inherent value was enough to justify purchasing a pack of 100. For a very aggressive razor, the smoothness of the Derby Extra has proven to be useful. Also, its gentle nature is great if there is a concern about how aggressive a newly-acquired safety razor may be.

I was intrigued when I learned that Derby was coming out with another blade, the Premium. It is about $4 more expensive than the Extra for a pack of 100, putting it right in the middle of the road in terms of price. The description of the blade makes it seem that the components of of the coating are the same as the Derby Extra. Which is basically an amalgam of every steel coating known to man, it seems. I won’t list them all here. You can take a look elsewhere if you’re interested in the full chemical breakdown. The primary difference is the naming convention, packaging, and the “Swedish Steel” it purports to be made of.

Now, the Swedes are known to have some pretty darned good metallurgy. You’ve got Sandvik and Udderholm (sp?), who both make really great blade steels for the knife industry. In shaving, you’ll see that some of the new old stock straight razors from Parker, for instance, were made from Swedish Steel. I believe that other straight razors, especially those made in Japan, seem to favor the Swedish Steel. I would anticipate that it’s likely a Sandvik alloy of some kind. I have knives that use this type of stainless steel. and they’ve always served me well. There are a few DE blades that are made of this type of steel, the Rapira Swedish Supersteel, for instance.

What are we to make of all this? Is it balderdash? There’s only one way to find out. You guessed it. Science. Possibly Great Science. But maybe not. The funding for great science has been cut back in recent months. (Just kidding, the funding’s still there. It’s better known as my credit card.)

My first test blade went for a ride in my wonderful ’46 Gillette Aristocrat. It performed beautifully in the old miracle machine, and I got tremendous shaves over three passes, close as can be. No complaints at all. The Aristocrat likes a moderate blade just fine, so this wasn’t altogether unexpected. I did three shaves with this combination, and had no negative experiences. No palpable deterioration of the blade was obvious to me by the end of the run.

The second razor (with a new blade) was the Phoenix Artisan Accouterments Bakelite Open Comb Slant. Yeah. Totally different in every way from the Gillette. This razor has unholy amounts of blade torsion and blade reveal. It looks like you should sign a waiver before being allowed to use it. It is exceedingly efficient, but it’s safe enough. I just don’t find it to be terribly wise to go against the grain very often. I did do one shave in this way, and it was a little more aggressive than I prefer. Not the blade’s fault. It did the best it could. I just shouldn’t go against the grain with a slant. That’s just me.

The second and third shaves were two-pass affairs, and they went along swimmingly. The third shave came and went, with the blade performing like brand new. Through the first two blades, it seems that the Premium blades have good service life. I didn’t push it, because I typically don’t find that to be a wise or useful thing to do, but I believe that this blade, in my usage pattern anyway, has at least 4 shaves in it.

The last test razor was the Feather AS-D2, the razor that, nominally, is still my reference shaving tool. (It really hasn’t been for several months, but because the Feather had such a good run with the Derby Extras when I was testing that blade, it seems wise to give it a shot with the Premium.)

In the shaves I did with the AS-D2, it acted…just like one would expect for the big Feather. Very smooth, very easy shaves. Great handling charactaristics. Not the final word in efficiency or absolute closeness. As others may have pointed out, the Feather requires a more extreme angle of approach to allow the blade to address the whiskers to its best advantage. The Derby Premium blade did not let the razor down, nor hold it back it its task.

(I should mention that I used the Derby Premium in conjunction with the Merkur Futur for the remaining two blades in the first pack, and it did just peachy in that beast. The Futur is not the most discerning razor when it comes to blades, however. It seems to plow through the stubble in a similar way with anything remotely sharp.)

In recent times, I’ve taken to testing a blade more thoroughly than I did early in my testing phase. Over five blades in four razors, I felt that the Derby Premium acquitted itself very well. I never felt as if there was any roughness, nor was there a sense of futility in terms of cutting power. It got along well with four very different razors, and so I feel confident that there is a certain level of consistency and utility to be had. In terms of simply answering the question of whether or not it’s worth a try: that’s easy. Certainly worth a try, unless you require the very very last word in sharpness to be at ease.

Now to the harder question. Is the Premium blade significantly better than the Derby Extra? Hmm. I feel like they are a bit sharper, and also feel as if they keep their edge a bit better than their less expensive stablemates. Night and day difference? Perhaps not. Both are smooth. Both, in my experience, are pretty reliable to do what you think they’ll do. Both have nice packaging and are marked with a nice, even print. It is possible that I’ve been hoodwinked, and that there is no difference between the Extra and the Premium blade, but I don’t think so. I injected a few Derby Extras into the test to see if I could notice the difference on successive nights, and it felt like I could. All of these assertions are doomed to be slightly subjective, and confirmation bias can exist even after learning about confirmation bias, so who knows? I will operate on the assumption that they are, in fact different in more fundamental ways than packaging.

On to the value question. Is the admittedly small difference between the two Derby blades’ performance enough to warrant the significant price hike? That is a very tough call. At around $14 American (Winter 2017), the Premiums are costly enough to be in competition with a lot of great blades. Not to be repetitive, but I’d probably take the Astra SP blade over the Derby Premium. That said, I think that the Astras probably dull out faster than the Derbys do, so it’s possible that you’d get a few more shaves out of the Derbys, if you really pushed it.

Then again, all discussions of blade value may be semi-moot, as the blades are one of the least expensive elements of a shave. Do you really care whether it’s 9, 11, or 14 cents a blade? Is that margin you want to watch? I have long since abandoned the idea that wet shaving is primarily a money-saving venture. I do it because I like to. A few pennies here and there don’t really matter much. Percentage-wise, the Premium is significantly more expensive. In actual money, though, who cares? It’s a good blade. It does the job. For a segment of the shavers out there, it might be just the thing.

Cheers, and happy shaving!

For the most part, the wet shaving world is an a la carte sort of place. Find a soap, find an aftershave, so on and so forth. Mix and match. As you please.

That said, there are some makers that endeavor to provide you with a full “system” of products to shave with. In some cases, the company will go out of of its way to talk up the advantages of using their full line of products. I suppose that, if they didn’t it would be something of an oversight on their part. Ad execs are not known for the slow roll.

On the upside, doing this will typically give you a cohesive scent profile, and it is possible that dermatologists have been in on the game, trying to create a sensible approach in terms of PH balancing and otherwise taking care of your skin.

Downside? Well, it doesn’t involve a lot of agonizing, picking, choosing, and otherwise “metashaving” like we like to do. What shall we do with our time and mental processor cycles, if we’re not spending them all on the bits and bobs we’re going to use to shave that night? We may have to read a book or take up another hobby. The horror.

In the spirit of science, I picked a few brands and bought up a few of their products to give them a shot. Let’s see if this whole “system” business has anything to commend it.

The Body Shop:

The first product like I tried was from The Body Shop. I purchased the maca root-infused products in these three capacities: 1) Face Wash 2) Shave Cream 3) Post Shave balm (Razor Relief).

I used them together multiple times, and here are my thoughts:

Face Wash: This is a gel wash. It has a smell similar to the other products in the line, which I find to be mild and slightly floral. They smell okay. Nothing to write home about. I didn’t find the face wash to provide any unusual benefit later in the shave. It appears to be mild enough, but it takes a good dollop to function, and didn’t strike me as anything that I would go out of my way to use on a daily basis. There are a million face washes out there. This one will serve the purpose, no more.

Shave Cream: This is, far and away, the best part of the system. Very quick to lather, and probably the slickest shave cream I’ve ever tried. If it had a scent that I could hook into, it would be among my favorites. With a nondescript scent, it still ingratiates itself.

Razor Relief: This product is a fairly runny aftershave balm. I found it to provide no better post shave feel than, say, Arko aftershave, or simple Aveeno moisterizin cream. Both of those mentioned are far less expensive per ounce than the Body Shop brand. The Arko has much better scents on offer, while the Aveeno gets out of the way and lets your aftershave speak for itself.

Overall: The Body Shop products are all okay, though I would only recommend the shave cream. The other stuff is pretty forgettable, and probably significantly overpriced. You can match or improve the performance of the ancillary stuff elsewhere. The scent, or lack thereof, also doesn’t score anything in its favor for me. That said, it would serve men or women equally, as there’s no masculine component here to speak of. I should point out that I have no stand or orthodoxy in terms of what smell someone likes. Whatever you’re into, good deal.

What it’s missing: No post shave astringent/tonic. Some may not need it, but I just don’t feel like the shave has come off correctly without some aftershave splash. Sure, it isn’t strictly necessary, but to me, it feels like an omission. Also, the lack of something I would think of as a definable scent is sort of a miss for me. The smell doesn’t have to linger, but having something going on in that department seems like a minimum requirement.

Lucky Tiger:
The second product line I tried was from Lucky Tiger. This one featured these three products: 1) Face Wash 2) Liquid Shave Cream 3) Aftershave Tonic.

Face Wash: This product, as all the others did, has a nice orange scent to it, with a little undertow of other scents, like calendula and chamomile. Very pleasant, and very much appreciated by me. It would be applicable to men or women, I think, though it has no “foofy” element to it. Just a nice citrus tang. I found that the face wash felt nice on the skin and seemed to work just fine. It left my skin refreshed, and seemed to have reasonable yield per ounce. Not bad.

Liquid Shave Cream: This is really nice stuff. Lathers super quick, gives a good shave, and doesn’t require much to make it happen. Scent is a dead ringer with the rest of the products in the line, and if you like natural smelling orange, this will be right up your street.

Aftershave Tonic: I believe that, for Lucky Tiger, this is their core product. It’s easy to understand it, because this is a fine tonic. If you prefer a non-alcohol splash after your shave, this one is a winner. I would say that it’s certainly every bit as nice to feel on the face as, say, Thayer’s witch hazels. Soothing to the face, smells nice, and leaves the skin feeling clean, calm, and easy. This is not a moisturizing balm, however, so if you’re in need of that, you’ll need to provide it afterward.

Overall: This system works. It has a cohesive smell, and every product seems to hold up its end. Because the scent is much more enjoyable, and I find the peripheral products to all function, I would give it the win over The Body Shop. That said, I think that the Body Shop cream is possibly better than the Lucky Tiger stuff, by virtue of its slickness.

Lucky Tiger produces a moisturizing balm in this line, though it appears to be unscented, and seemed a bit pricey. I can’t say, then, that the line lacks that portion. I simply didn’t discover its existence in time to include it with this test. Because of the unscented nature of the balm, I would say that any balm that has a scent along the same or complementary lines would work as well. None of the Lucky Tiger products have a drying component to them, a balm would only be required if climatic and cosmetological reasons called for it.
Afterthoughts:

I think that it’s a noble effort to create a full line of products for shaving. For me, Lucky Tiger hits the mark just a bit better. With The Body Shop, really only the shave cream made a big impression. My sense is that there’s no compelling reason to “system up” your shaves, unless you just like to do so for your own reasons (scent, OCD, whatever).

For instance, neither of the face washes could hold Noxyzema’s shoes. The moisturizing balms, where tested, didn’t bring anything special to the party. Certainly, there are a lot of other great shave creams out there, with every scent known to humankind. No, I think that it’s still probably just fine to mix and match your shaves. Find the best part of multiple “systems” and you’ll have the best chance at a great shave.

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

 

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I had been interested in the Maggard’s line of safety razors for a while. There is an almost daunting amount of choice in the line-up, and the number of configurations is head-spinning.

At last, I resolved to buy one of each of the heads, and four handles to go along with them. I have written reviews on all the heads already, and I’ll now do my authoritative ranking of all the heads and handles, with a brief explanation of why they are thus placed. Buckle your seatbelts, because I’ll be going with some dispatch.

Heads:

  1. V3A: This is the winner. It’s nearly as smooth as the normal V3, yet very efficient. It has, to my opinion, the best efficiency vs. comfort ratio in the group. As an efficient razor choice, it doesn’t have to make apologies to be in any company. If I had to keep just one of the heads, this would be the easy choice. I find it to be equally as efficient as, say, a Merkur Progress on 4 or 5. It matches up to the Merkur Future on, say, 3. Maybe not quite that efficient, but only behind it by the smallest of margins. It can be safely used against the grain, but it’s a little too much for that usage every day, at least with my face. Big home run.
  2. V3: This is every bit as good as my Merkur 34C. I think, on balance, I like it better. I would say that it shaves in a very similar fashion, but having the ability to exchange handles to get just what you want gives it the edge. It’s also less expensive, and I find it to be just slightly more efficient (though that is the smallest of margins.) A great daily shaver, or inexpensive option for travel, so you don’t have to take your heirlooms on the road and risk leaving them in a hotel room in Pittsburgh. Another great option.
  3. Maggard Slant: This is one of the milder slants you’ll find. If you don’t have a coarse beard growth, or you shave frequently, this might be just the thing. I found that it was usable and pleasant, but didn’t offer anything in the way of efficiency improvement over the V3. The fact that it is significantly more money, and didn’t yield any real world advantage in my testing, put it back a few rankings. If you find that the slant head works best for you, your results may be different.
  4. Open Comb V2: This is the only head of the bunch that I didn’t get along great with. I could use it, if it were the only option available to me, but I would have to be careful. My testing showed it to be a little rough on my face, even with a middle-of-the-road blade. I have only found a few open combs that really work well for me, though, so I may just not enjoy their presentation. This is the only head of the four that I have had no real urge to come back to after the duration of the test.

Handles:

  1. MR11: This handle is my clear favorite, though that would not have been my guess when I purchased the set. The MR11 is a classic “Bulldog” handle. It’s somewhat heavy, short, and has superb knurling. To me, that ticks all the correct buttons, as I prefer all the features mentioned. It has good fit and finish, and is functionally as good as any razor handle I’ve used. I can’t see what could realistically be asked beyond that, considering the price. Chock full ‘o win.
  2. MR5: The MR5 handle is the one you see most often, and the one that is heaped with praise in most forums. I like it quite a lot, and the machining alone far exceeds what the asking price would indicate. I didn’t quite like it as well in practice as I did while simply looking at it. The handle is beautiful. There’s no question about it. It feels great in the hand. I just found that the machined-in grooves did not always lead to a feeling of better control on my part. Still, fantastic, and easily recommended.
  3. MR1: This is your classic, bog-standard handle. Very much akin to the MR11, yet isn’t quite as good at anything. To me. This handle is what the Merkur 34C’s handle would be, if the razor was a 3-piece. Good performance, decent machining. If you intend to mount a vintage head on it, this could work really well, since the handle itself is very unassuming and will not clash or take away attention from the head.
  4. MR14: Placing last in this group of handles is no shame. They are all good. The MR14 simply goes to the back of the line because it doesn’t have the same traction plan or quite the level of confidence-inspiring “X” factor that some of the other handles feature. The fit and finish is very nice. The weight, though light, is still plenty to balance out most heads. The in-use traction is good enough for most situations. There’s really nothing bad to say about the handle. There’s just so much great to say about the others. If you’re getting one of the heads that features the gunmetal gray coating, this might give you the most cohesive appearance. That’s a big selling point, if you’re not looking for a two-tone look.

All in all, this is a great product lineup with tons of value options to be had. There are a lot of other handle options. I only chose the ones that catered more to my taste, so you might find a different one to be just your cup of tea.

I hope this helps you make a decision, if you were looking into purchasing a Maggard razor. In my view, there are no bad options here, just different choices. For the price, you could easily order a sampling of multiple heads and handles, deciding on your favorite. Four complete razors can be had for less than what a single premium-priced offering would set you back. For all but a select few, at least one of the heads and handles will prove to be a solid option.

Cheers, and happy shaving!