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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!