Whether you are looking to take a new approach to your grooming routine, looking to save a few bucks, or simply want total control over your morning shave, a quality double edge safety will make a world of difference. We found that the Merkur 38C HD was by and far the overall best double edge safety razor on the market today. For those who are more seasoned with the double edge safety razor, then we highly recommend the Merkur Futur adjustable razor given its impressive ability to provide an incredibly close yet comfortable shave in only a single pass.
But it would be a disservice to the entire wet shaving community and to you as the reader if we were to explain how just one single double edge safety razor could completely revamp your grooming routine.
In fact, when taking up wet shaving, and in particular using a double edge safety razor, there are a plethora of factors to consider. From comb design atop the razors head, the length of the handle, the overall weight of the double edge safety razor itself, or even just simply the design on the handle of the double edge safety razor can all have a direct impact on how the razor performs.
Of course its equally important to acknowledge that blades do have a huge impact on how they perform when you make the appropriate passes with your double edge safety razor in hand.
With all this being said – we are going to help you on this journey so you can find the absolute perfect double edge safety razor that will fit seamlessly into your grooming routine and should get you started on the right track to a better shave.
|Muhle r41||Merkur 38C HD "Barber Pole"||Merkur FUTUR 700 (Satin), 701 (Mirror), 702 (Gold)||Merkur Progress 500/510/570||Merkur 34C HD||Merkur 23C Long Handled Safety Razor|
|Country of Manufactuer||Germany||Germany||Germany||Germany||Germany||Germany|
|Peer Average (out of 5)||4.8||4.7||4.5||4.4||4.7||4.6|
|Tools of Men Score (out of 10)||8.5||10||9.5||8.9||9.2||9.1|
|Details||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price||See Price|
Prior to this in-depth review, we have spent countless hours publishing articles within the wet shaving realm that several men have depended upon to give them the very best information time and time again. From dissecting the difference in shave brushes to breaking down the differences between an aftershave balm when compared to splashes and lotions.
For this article we have spent over 100 hours looking at every single little detail in double edge safety razors.
Not only have we researched this topic exhaustively but we have also followed some of the very best wet shaving blogs, dove through interesting threads in forums like Badger & Blade, and even wadded through hundreds of reviews to see what actual users have thought about the safety razor they were using.
In addition we also ran a few analysis on user reviews compared to price to see what people thought about their select razor as well. To put it simply, we went nuts when it came to research and spared no expense in order to deliver the best information to you on selecting the right double edge safety razor.
When it comes to shaving in general, no one component of the entire process can stand by itself. Instead there is much reliance on every preceding and subsequent step.
You can’t have a great shave with the best double edge safety razor unless you are using a proper shaving cream. In addition, a proper shaving cream is only so good as it relies on a quality shaving brush and well moisturized whiskers.
Therefore we always feel its important to reinforce the proper shave routine as much as we possibly can to ensure that all pieces of the puzzle are in place before the blade ever touches your skin.
Even if you have been shaving for years, its important to understand the components to make sure you aren’t doing any bad habits that can leave your face or neck area feeling irritated or downright miserable.
If there is one sin to the wet shaving routine that can never be committed, its going to be a proper shower or hot towel session. When shaving its absolutely critical that you always take a very hot shower (preferred) for several minutes as your very first step.
Why is this important?
When you shower, the hot water will help to open up your pores and most importantly soften your whiskers. When you don’t shower, the hair follicles on your face are extremely rigged and are susceptible to be pulled and yanked on when the razor passes. In addition the razor will have a harder time cutting through the follicle when compared to one that has been soaked in water and swollen up.
A hot towel does act as an excellent backup plan, however it simply won’t be nearly as comfortable as a shave when compared to showering.
Now there is a lot of back and forth between wet shave enthusiasts when it comes to the use of a pre shave oil. Some men swear by it while others find that it doesn’t make much of an impact in their overall shave routine.
From our experience we found that a pre shave oil does make a material impact on the comfort of the shave. Pre shave oils act as a secondly barrier between your skin and the shaving cream when it’s applied.
The core ingredients of any pre shave oil is typically a carrier and essential oil. Most notably is the carrier oil as it makes up the majority of any pre shave oil mixture. Carrier oils for pre shave oil will typically be a castor or jojoba oil.
Castor and jojoba oils are incredibly popular in several beauty products for both men and women – from beard oils to balms, lotions, and shampoos, carrier oils are a natural way to provide moisture to your skin or hair follicle when applied liberally.
Therefore when pre shave oil is incorporated into a shave routine, it will help to improve the elasticity of your skin to help prevent any tearing or nicks, and will allow the follicle to be a bit more pliable making for a smoother cut with the razor blade.
Essential oils found in pre shave oils act as an added layer of benefits (i.e. tea tree oil is a very common ingredient and is a natural antiseptic). Essential oils can also be great at providing skin toning, reduction of acne, and cures several other skin aliments along with helping the comfort of your shave.
If you are thinking about a pre shave oil – we recommend checking out our in-depth analysis on how we selected the best pre shave oil.
If your shaving cream still comes out of a can, its time to consider the alternatives. The best shaving cream that we reviewed was the 162 year old Taylor of Old Bond street. Taylor of Old Bond street has been trusted by men for generations and still continues to set the bar in this day and age as well.
But why is this so important?
Simply put, when you use a quality shaving cream like Taylor of Old Bond Street, it does a terrific job at locking in both the heat and moisture when whipped up properly. This heat and moisture allows for your pores to stay open and to further increase the pliability of your whiskers.
A quality shaving cream is also incredibly slick which makes for a much smoother shave that will allow the razor blade to glide effortlessly as opposed to any sort of skipping or chopping of the blade. A “dry” shaving cream like those found in the can varieties don’t provide this rich level of moisture.
In addition to being considered “dry”, a canned cream also is loaded with several chemicals that will dry out your face upon shaving. This dry face will leave you susceptible to general ashiness throughout the day.
When you compare a shaving cream to a soap, they are largely the same. However advanced wet shavers may be able to draw out a bit more of the lubricating properties of a soap compared to a shaving cream. If you are new to the whole world of wet shaving, we heavily advise checking out a shaving cream instead since they are more beginner friendly as opposed to soaps. In a pinch? The Art of Shaving also delivers relatively good shaving creams as well.
While a fluffy shaving brush may seem a bit feminine for such a masculine routine – a shave brush should never be overlooked and will help to draw out the properties in the best safety razors.
Typically made of badger hair, these brushes do a phenomenal job at providing a gentle pre-exfoliation of your skin that will ensure that the dirt and oils found within your pores are loosened up prior to the first pass with your safety razor.
In addition to the pre-exfoliation, a shaving brush will help to make your whiskers stand on edge. When your hairs are on edge, this will allow for the blade to have a much cleaner cut of the hair follicle as opposed to any tugging or pulling. Conversely if you use your hands to apply a shaving cream, whiskers will likely be matted down against your face making it much more difficult for the razor to get a clean sweep.
While we eluded to effectiveness of shaving creams and shaving soaps in the previous section, many of these higher performing products do require you to own a shaving brush as they will be near impossible or difficult to apply otherwise. A brush will ensure adequate coverage of the cream that allows for both a slick lubrication and cushion for the blade to glide effortlessly.
If you are interested in a shaving brush, we invite you to check out our in-depth review of some of the best ones on the market.
When it comes to using your double edge safety razor, many men often get tripped up on the proper technique for the first use that will leave a (likely) bloody mess on your face. Unlike a cartridge razor that has the blades pre-set to the desired 30 degree angle – when using a double edge safety razor for the first time, you will want to mimic this angle.
What some men may do to ease into the transition from using a cartridge or electric based razor to that of a double edge razor is that they will first just shave their cheeks due to their relatively flat surface. This allows for you to get comfortable with the optimal 30 degree angle that will leave you with a comfortable shave afterwards. To get used to the technique further, you may want to then ease your way into the trickier chin area – again make sure that you always keep the razor blade at a 30 degree angle.
Now when it comes to the desired smoothness of the shave, you will want to go with either two or three passes for the razor. When using a double edge safety razor you will first want to go with the grain of your hair follicles. This will allow for much of the hair to be cut. However, when you rub your hand over your freshly shaved face, you will notice that there is some coarseness on your skin.
To get a closer shave you have one of two options at your disposal. For men looking for the ‘BBS’ shave (i.e. Baby Butt Smooth), you will want to go across the grain of your face.
With this optional step, you will want to first go downward for the first pass then towards your ear or mouth for the across the grain pass (second pass).
To wrap things up, for the last pass you will want to go against the grain on your face. This will give you the closest shave and the most desirable results from your double edge safety razor. Many men may feel that this goes against their learnings from when they first shaved. Traditionally when you use a cartridge razor, ingrown hairs may occur when shaving against the grain. However, with a double edge safety razor that has already made one initial pass on your face, the subsequent pass that goes against the grain will be fine (if done at the appropriate angle), shouldn’t allow for any increase prevalence of ingrown hairs.
If you are starting to age and have skin that has a bit less elasticity or general folds in the skin, you will want to make sure that you always pull on your skin to make sure that the surface is tight to reduce any unnecessary chopping of the blade. Keeping a taut surface is key to comfort.
When shaving with a double edge safety razor for the first time and making sure that you go with the grain, across the grain (optional), and against the grain, its important to take a moment and study how your hairs are actually growing in.
All men have different hair growth patterns, so what you may have learned from someone else will likely not apply when you go to shave yourself. Therefore don’t follow your favorite YouTube shaving tutorial on this – look at your whiskers and shaving accordingly.
If you like to manscape by shaving your chest, back, head, or groin area, a double edge safety razor is not the best tool for the job. You will likely get nicked badly if you aren’t careful. While a double edge safety razor is technically of course a razor that can cut hair, there will be men out there that claim they can cut hair in any of the areas listed above, its best to leave that for the experts.
For general body grooming, we recommend using a mutigroom tool like the Philips Norelco 3100. Depending on the desired results, you may want to go with a swivel based head like that seen on the Gillette Fusion ProGlide (with the Flexball) when shaving your head and groin areas given the surface area and general curvatures (the Flexball makes a huge difference for these areas).
When you are purchasing a double edge safety razor, you are truly buying a metallic handle and head. Virtually all razor blades used for double edge safety razors are can be swapped out of any system. Therefore if you want to use a Merkur 23C with an Astra or Derby blade, you can. Or what about a Edwin Jagger handle with Merkur or Feather blades? You bet!
Generally speaking, blades are largely a personal preference and results that some men find for one blade may not exactly be the best for another man. Luckily however, there are variety packs that do exist in the marketplace that allow men to try out a set of blades from differing manufacturers in order to select the blade that yields the best overall performance. Remember everyone is different, therefore what may work for one person does not necessarily mean it will work for you.
With many manufacturers, razor blades are incredibly cheap when compared to their cartridge or electric counterparts. Therefore when purchasing a box of blades for your double edge safety razor will likely last you not just a few months, but rather a few years! So be sure when selecting a razor blade for long term use, that you don’t just buy a box of razors that is necessarily the cheapest or one that has some slick marketing – get a sample pack and test a few out before investing in an entire box.
Aftershaves can be a great way to either add flair or comfort to your post shave maintenance. While we outlined the differences between splashes, lotions, and balms in this post here are a few of the highlights:
Many traditional aftershave splashes contain alcohol which actually isn’t that great for your face. Alcohol when applied as a post shave ointment, while it may be an antiseptic to help flush out the pores through the terrible stinging sensation, it actually also completely drys out your face making for an ashy jawline that can be unsightly for some.
Several lotions, just like splashes do tend to also contain alcohol as well, and its generally recommended to avoid these products.
What we and many wet shavers alike prefer, is an aftershave balm. Unlike splashes, balms are used to hydrate your skin that was just fully exfoliated through the shaving process and will work to repair the surface. Balms do not contain alcohol and therefore will not give you any sort of post shave razor burn or irritation. They largely contain mild products that will leave you feeling comfortable throughout your morning. If you are looking for a recommended aftershave balm to try out, we fell in love with the Nivea Sensitive Skin aftershave balm, you can read our full review in our in-depth aftershave balm guide.
While balms can act as an antiseptic, many men may look for other solutions outside of balms for repairing any nicks or cuts that were experienced during the shave. What we recommend for those men, is to use either an alum block or styptic pencil for easy application to help stop bleeding.
While many double edge safety razors may look the same at first glance, there are several little nuances that separate each and every single one of these devices apart from each other. Razors can come in a variety of mechanical forms – two piece, three piece, butterfly, and adjustable. Here is an explanation on each one of them:
One of the classic designs of the double edge safety razor is the two piece system. Found in razors like the Merkur 37C and 34C, these razors have just a two parts – namely the head and the handle.
When comparing all the systems there aren’t huge advantages of one design over the other. Some men prefer the two piece simply because its less parts and therefore reduces the chances of anything breaking. When it comes to swapping out the blade, the two piece system is fairly quick as all you will have to do is simply unscrew the top of the head and drop the blade in. Being that you will only have to swap a blade once a week, this typically isn’t a huge selling point of one design over another.
Now when it comes to cleaning a two piece system over a three piece or butterfly design, it may be a bit more trickier. Given that the base where the razor rests cannot be removed, some men may either prefer or dislike this. Some men may wish that the base could be removed for a more comprehensive cleaning while others enjoy that the base is affixed to the handle which can provide leverage if necessary – overall though this is largely a personal preference and shouldn’t be a huge impact on deciding one double edge razor over another.
Whether you are considering a Parker 97R, Edwin Jagger 89lbl, or the Merkur “1904” Classic, these double edge safety razors all come in a three piece design.
With the top of the head (also known as the safety bar plate), base plate (where the razor rests), and the handle all being independent pieces.
Many mens first ever double edge safety razor will likely be a three piece system simply due to its worldwide popularity. With a three piece system, men can thoroughly clean each part by either dipping it into a cleaning solution of their choice and take it a step further by polishing each component separately as well for long term use.
Unlike the butterfly or adjustable razors, both the two and three piece design contains no moving parts making it prime for long term use without any mechanical issues. A three or two piece design will have no direct impact on the quality or comfort of your shave.
Another incredibly popular choice when it comes to double edge safety razors is the butterfly style (also known by some as ‘Twist to Open’). The butterfly design is what some would consider a single piece system.
To use a butterfly double edge safety razor, all you simply need to do is twist the bottom part of the handle and the head of the razor will open from the center to reveal the razor blade. Simply turn the handle in the opposite direction and the head will close back up.
With the exception of the adjustable double edge safety razor, the butterfly style is rather difficult when it comes to cleaning and long term use. Being that the entire system is contained to one piece that cannot be dis-assembled, trying to clean shaving cream that has been caked up or stray whiskers that have been wedged into the hinges of this razor can be rather difficult to reach without a makeshift toothpick or other narrow tool.
If proper maintenance/cleanliness is something that you look for when deciding on a double edge safety razor, then we recommend going with the two or three piece designs.
What makes an adjustable double edge safety razor so unique when compared to their butterfly, two, or three piece counterparts is that the adjustable system has a direct impact on the quality and comfort of your shave.
When looking at the Merkur Progress 510 for instance, when this razor is adjusted to a setting of 5 (considered the most aggressive), this blade will provide one of the closest shaves available from a double edge safety razor on the market today. For many men, this double edge safety razor can provide that often desired BBS (baby butt smooth), shave on just the first pass. However, with such an aggressive take on shaving, this blade can of course cause nicks and cuts rather easily.
Generally speaking adjustable double edge razors make for a great second or third razor purchase rather than your first simply given the nature of how aggressive the shave will be (i.e. its best suited for those who are experts in using a safety razor).
The beauty of this system of course is the ability to hone in on just the right set up for you that just simply can be achieved with any other systems on the market. Generally speaking, adjustable double edge razors tend to cost substantially more when compared to their stationary counterparts.
When examining safety razors closely, you will start to notice little nuances in the head design of them. Whether you are looking at the Merkur 37C that has a slightly slanted head (pictured top), or the Merkur 34C HD (pictured middle) that has a straight razor with a scalloped safety bar (also known as closed comb), and lastly the Parker 24C with open comb head (pictured bottom).
All the unique heads can provide a vastly different approaches to your shave. A misnomer about open comb razors is that they will provide a much more aggressive shave when compared to a scalloped safety bar or slant head razor. When it comes to selecting a double edge safety razor, head designs (whether its open comb, slant, or safety bar) can all have varying levels of aggressiveness.
Its important to know that the aggressiveness of the shave doesn’t come necessarily from the design of the head, instead aggressiveness is determined by how exposed the blade is within the head. Therefore if you use an adjustable based razor like the Merkur Progress 510, you can easily adjust the aggressiveness by simply turning the dial to increase or decrease blade exposure. What makes the Merkur Progress 510 different from other safety bar razors is that the default blade exposure of the head on the lowest setting may still be more exposed when compared to others.
With that being said, typically speaking open comb razors do generally tend to have a slightly higher level of aggressiveness when compared to a safety bar razor.
For the slant design, these heads allow the blade to slice through your whiskers in more of a guillotine fashion. Like any variety of razor heads out there, the slant design does have a learning curve. These heads make for a great second or third razor geared towards the intermediate or advanced wet shaver. Slant heads like open combs do have a tendency to run a bit more on the aggressive side with typically a bit more blade exposure.
Considered by many wet shaving enthusiasts to be one of the most aggressive double edge safety razors on the planet, the Muhle r41, like Merkur, is made in Germany.
With carrying the title of being one of the most aggressive shaves in the world, we did a bit of deep diving into the details on the r41 and dug up some interesting information. When the Muhle r41 was originally produced, the shave was considered to be aggressive, however not one that deemed too over the top. However, back in 2011, Muhle redesigned the r41 to be more aggressive of a razor, and when many folks claimed that it may have been too aggressive for their own liking. Fast forward a few years later to 2013, Muhle redesigned the r41 to its pre 2011 design and now conforms to still a less than aggressive shave when compared to the 2011 revision, but still not to be taken lightly.
To further add to the confusion of the information regarding the aggressiveness of the r41 is that Muhle never revised the model number for the double edge safety razor. Therefore men don’t know if they were/are getting the 2011 or 2013 revision. Of course as the saying goes, if you publish something online its out there forever, this certainly holds true for mens thoughts on the performance of the Muhle r41. Therefore if you are doing additional research on this razor, you will want to take note of the publication and revision date of the article before reading the information.
One factor that lends itself to the aggressive shave of the Muhle r41 is its blade exposure and of course the head type on this particular double edge safety razor. This razor has an open comb design allowing for the blade to be exposed without the safeguard of the safety bar found in many of the other razors that we reviewed. Being that this razor is absent of a safety bar, you will want to use this razor only if you are coming with substantial experience in shaving with a double edge safety razor. The reason for the caution (as we eluded to in our open comb vs closed comb section above) is that the safety bar helps to protect the skin and press it down and make it tight before the blade actually comes in contact with the skin. By and large, the safety bars (closed combs) were considered an evolution of the double edge safety razor over the years to help ensure that men don’t accidentally nick themselves (as easily) as their open comb counterparts.
So why the open comb design in the Muhle r41 then?
The open comb design gives a man full control on the blade angle (for better or for worse) that is unparalleled in any other type of razor with exception of the straight razor.
Aggressiveness and head-type aside, this double edge safety razor is classically designed as a 3 piece system. Regarding the key statistics on this razor, the length of the handle is a very long 5.4″ inches (one of the longest we reviewed) with a weight of 2.25oz.
While the weight is substantial for this double edge safety razor, it is considerably less than other razors that provide an equal aggressive of a shave – namely the Merkur Progress 500 (at 3oz), Merkur Progress 510 (at 3.5oz), and the Merkur Futur (at 4.3oz). Even the Merkur 34C HD even weighs a substantial half ounce more than the r41 at a total weight of 2.72oz.
Generally speaking though, the r41 should be able to provide a close shave with merely the weight of the razor itself, any additional pressure applied during your passes will likely lead to unnecessary nicks and cuts.
Regarding the length of this razor, this is among the longer ones available on the market. At a 5.4″ only the Merkur Progress 510 edges it out by .225″ (total length of the Progress 510 is at 5.625″). Therefore this razor would make most sense for men who prefer larger handles or simply have larger hands.
Overall this razor can, and will, provide an extremely close shave after one pass. If you are looking for your first ever double edge safety razor, there are less intimidating options available on the market (see Merkur 38C HD). If you are looking for an aggressive shave we would recommend the Merkur Futur over the r41 due to its adjusting abilities to hone in on a setting that works perfectly for you.
The Merkur 38C HD is somewhat of a hybrid between the shorter and stout 34C HD and the lengthier but lighter 23C.
The 38C is a quarter of an inch longer than the 23C, totaling 4″ in length. Just like the 23C the 38C HD is going to be geared towards men with larger hands as the increase in handle length will allow for an easier shave.
However if your hands are average in size, the 38C HD may seem a bit too long and will likely lead to some control issues when making the passes over the contours of your face. Typically when it comes to many double edge safety razors, what you gain in handle length you lose in control making the selection of the right double edge safety razor a delicate balance between compromises.
The stand out property of the 38C HD is going to be its weight, especially when compared to the extremely popular 23C. Many men try out the 23C as their first razor given that it is a bit lighter in nature and one that closely mimics their cartridge razor they were likely using prior to diving into traditional wet shaving.
But when you compare the 38C HD to the 23C they are a world apart when looking at the weight. The 23C weighs only 1.76oz whereas the 38C HD weighs in at a very impressive 4.25oz. This weight will have a large impact on your technique and how your shave performs.
When using the 23C, you are required to apply a light pressure to your face in order to get a clean cut of your whiskers. Contrary to that the 38C HD requires no pressure whatsoever in order to achieve a clean cut. The weight of the 38C HD will do all the work for you when you make your first, second, and even third pass with the razor. Should you apply any additional pressure to your face with the 38C HD you will likely nick yourself.
Given that the 38C HD carries such a hefty weight, many novices may sometimes get tripped up if this is their first double edge safety razor. However, if you are coming from a 34C HD, there won’t be nearly as much of a learning curve. With that being said though, the 38C HD can deliver a fine shave for beginners that are patient with practicing their technique.
When it comes to the specifics on the 38C HD, the handle is where the razor gets its namesake. Carved like the classic barbershop pole that you see in front of the many barbershops across the country, the 38C HD embraces its heritage and makes for a fine addition to both barbershops and your bathroom countertop.
While its not the classic knurled design that we see in other Merkur’s, the barber pole grip does suffice in order to prevent any accidental slippage when your hands are likely coated with a shaving cream.
When it comes to cleaning the 38C HD, it is classically designated as a two piece design. Therefore with the removable head you will be able to clean between the components with relative ease.
While the weight and size of this double edge safety razor may seem intimidating at first, this razor will shine brightly the longer you use it. Many novices may be turned off initially by its weight, however, if you have larger hands and are looking to dive into the wet shaving realm for the very first time, we would highly recommend the 38C HD over the 23C given its weight and design.
Generally speaking though, this was the best safety razor that we found suited for beginners when comparing it to the other leaders on the market.
One of the sleekest looking razors on the market is the Merkur Futur. With its stream-lined design, the Futur is Merkur’s play on words for “future”. First and foremost, the Futur, just like the Merkur Progress 500/510/570 is an adjustable double edge safety razor allowing you to change the settings (1 through 6) to achieve the desired aggressiveness that you are looking to draw out from this razor.
The Futur does allow for half settings so you can fine tune the blade exposure for your liking.
In addition to being an adjustable razor, the bulky head is a snap on and is classically considered to be a two piece double edge safety razor. Making it relatively easy to clean when you pop off the head of the razor.
One factor that sets this razor far apart from other adjustable double edge safety razors is its weight. Weighing in at an impressive 4.3oz. To put that in comparison, the Merkur Progress (long handle 510) weighs 3.5oz, 34C HD weighs 2.72oz and the Edwin Jagger DE89L at 2.2oz. Simply put, the Merkur Futur 700/701/702 is an incredibly heavy razor that should never require additional pressure when shaving.
If you are on the fence deciding between the Merkur Progress 510 or the Futur, many wet shaving enthusiasts within the Badger and Blade forums and elsewhere, have time and time again seemed to largely sway towards the Futur given its weight and simply its “sturdy design”. In addition, men have really loved its user friendly adjustment settings making it feel great when dialing in between the levels.
The last point of consideration for the Futur is the head design. As we eluded to earlier, the head on the Futur is rather bulky when compared to other double edge safety razors (adjustable, butterfly, or classic two or three piece designs). Therefore some may find that it does tend to be a bit difficult to get at areas that around your nose or upper lip area. However, many men were able to simply mitigate these problems by pulling the skin in one direction and then making the appropriate pass.
Lastly, the Futur comes in a variety of finishes: matte, polished, and gold plated. If you live in an area with harder water are aren’t interested in keeping your razor looking well polished, the matte finish is a desirable model that requires little maintenance and will look terrific for years to come. An important note though: regardless of the finish that you select for the Futur, the weight and design of the razor does remain the same across all models.
The Futur tends to be a bit more welcoming to novices when compared to the Mekrur Progress. Its range of adjustment settings and heavy weight should suit wet shavers at just about any level of expertise. Therefore if you are considering a double edge safety razor the Futur makes a fine addition. If this is your first ever double edge safety razor, be aware that there will be more of a learning curve when compared to some of the entry level models like the Merkur 23C or 34C HD.
This razor does command a slightly higher price tag than some of the entry level models, the versatility of this razor will be able to grow with your expertise making it a sound investment.
One of the most popular adjustable double edge safety razors is the Merkur Progress 500. To note there are a few Merkur Progress’ available on the market, 500, 510, and 570. When comparing the 500 vs 570 the only difference is the inclusion of a plastic case (which will likely break rather easily and not worth the additional cost).
The biggest significant difference between the 500 vs 510 is the length of the handle. Therefore if you have larger hands you are going to want to pick up the 510 instead. For measurement sakes, the 500 is 4″ in length compared to 5.625″ found in the 510 – a total net difference of 1.625″. Regarding the diameter between the 500 vs 510, they both have the same barrel width.
Now when it comes to the closeness/aggressiveness of the shave provided by the Merkur 500/510/570 – these razors are incredibly aggressive leaving you with a near BBS (baby butt smooth) shave on only one pass – of all the razors on the market, with exception of the Muhle r41, the Merkur Progress is one of the most aggressive razors available.
A great selling point to the Merkur Progress is that it has an adjustable dial located on the base of the razor handle that allows you to move the blade up and down to increase and decrease the blade exposure. In total the Merkur Progress has 5 distinct settings, however, many wet shavers may adjust to half settings for a more honed in and defined shaved.
Regarding the design of the Merkur Progress, even though it tends to be a bit more aggressive due to its adjustable dial, the head of the razor has a safety bar (closed comb). In addition, the construction of the razor is a classic two piece design.
Unlike the 34C HD or other popular Merkur razors, the Merkur Progress is absent of a knurled design on the handle which may cause some slippage if your hands are coated with shaving cream. Compared to the Merkur Futur, the Progress does have more of a ribbed handled which does provide at least some grip.
Overall this razor will be able to provide an incredibly close shave that will likely never require more than two passes. If you are buying your first ever double edge safety razor, we do not recommend this razor – instead go with the Merkur 38C HD “barber pole”. The aggressiveness of the blade can even nick some of the most experienced wet shavers. However, once fully trained with this razor, you will find why so many men fall in love with this razor.
If you are considering an adjustable razor, we also recommend reading about the Merkur Futur as its a rather newer design by Merkur and one that tends to win the hearts of many wet shaving enthusiasts.
While the Merkur Long Handled safety razor (23C) may be one of the most popular double edge safety razors on the market, the Merkur 34C Heavy Duty (HD) is by and far one of the most well regarded double edge razor systems in the inner circles among wet shaving enthusiasts everywhere, and we can see why.
To start our review of the Merkur 34C HD, let’s first examine the weight of the razor itself. The 34C weighs a substantial 2.72oz. When you compare that with the 23C that only weighs 1.76oz, there is quite a sizable difference among the two besides just their height.
Although keep in mind this isn’t the heaviest razor we reviewed, currently the Merkur Futur takes that crown at an impressive 4.3oz.
It’s not to say that the weight is a good or bad thing, its just simply a matter of opinion and how a double edge razor will handle when going over the contours of your face.
For example, when you perform a shave with the 23C, you will have to apply some pressure with the blade in order to achieve a smooth and close shave. On the contrary, with the 34C HD the weight of the handle and head is more than sufficient to cut the whiskers on your face quite comfortably. In a sense, the weight of the 34C HD does all the work for you when shaving leaving you perhaps less prone to getting nicked.
Another key component to any double edge safety razor is going to be the length of the handle itself. The 34C HD is about 3″ long, which is about average when compared to other safety razors in its class. If you have average sized fingers, the 34C’s handle length should be sufficient in order to provide proper control when making your passes with the blade. A general rule of thumb when it comes to double edge safety razors, is that the longer the handle length, typically the less control you will have when performing the appropriate passes. The reason men opt for the 23C instead of the 34C HD will have to do with comfort and general size of their hands. Larger men feel that they fumble over the 34C’s handle too much given its shorter length.
If you are a bit larger, but want a heftier handle that is also just a little bit longer, we highly recommend the Merkur 38C (barber pole) design. The 38C HD has the same head as the 34C HD (closed comb) however is just a bit longer of a handle – similar in length to the 23C.
With a safety bar (closed comb) design for the head of the 34C – generally speaking the shave is not nearly as aggressive when compared to the adjustable Merkur Progress or Futur and open comb razors like the Muhle r41 or or Parker 24C.
Now if you are looking for a razor that is nearly the exact same as the 34C HD with the exception of the weight, we would recommend looking at the Merkur 33C. The Merkur 33C is identical to the 34C HD with the exception of the total weight of the razor itself. Both feature identical heads and lengths. The only noticeable structural difference comes with the girth of the handle (with the 33C being slightly narrower in diameter).
To help fight the slipperiness and accidental falls on the 34C while shaving, the handle is a bit thicker in diameter and has a knurled steel design like many of the other handles in Merkur’s lineup. This cross-hatched design makes for an easier grip especially when your hands are covered in a slick shaving cream.
To also touch on the build aspect of this double edge razor a bit further, the Merkur is chrome plated. Therefore if you let it rest in the water after use (or simply you didn’t have time to clean it), its not susceptible to rust. Therefore there is never a concern of rust build up with prolonged use. The only instance where rust could build up would be if the chrome has been chipped away (which is incredibly rare to happen).
When you purchase a double edge safety razor like the Merkur 34C HD, you are buying it for life. This long term investment has always been among the biggest selling advantages, especially when compared to their pricier cartridge based counterparts.
Cleaning your 34C is incredibly simple as well. Since this is a two piece design, you can simply unscrew your blade head from the handle (just as you would to change the blades) and wash each of the two pieces separately.
While we have often compared the 34C to its long handled brethren (23C) or lighter version that is the same length and head (33C), however if you are looking for an alternative that isn’t from Merkur, we would suggest checking out the Edwin Jagger DE89Lbl.
While the EJ DE89L is very similar in nature to the 34C HD there are a points of distinction between both razors.
The biggest difference is going to be the handle design. While as we spoke earlier about the 34C’s knurled (cross-hatched design), the EJ DE89Lbl has longer vertical lines, which isn’t nearly as friendly to your hands when it comes to grip.
A second point of difference between the DE89Lbl and 34C HD is that the DE89Lbl is a 3 piece system (as opposed to the 34C’s 2 pieces). While there isn’t a distinct advantage of one over the other, it is important to call this difference out.
With respect to the length and weight of the DE89Lbl and 34C HD, they are nearly identical in both aspects allowing you to have very similar shaves.
The 23C (model 180), also known more commonly as the Merkur Long Handled Safety Razor is by and far the most popular double edge safety razor in their lineup. The 34C HD (commonly referred to as “Heavy Duty”) is their second most popular double edge safety razor and one that most men compare between when purchasing their first double edge safety razor.
The primary difference between both the 23C vs the 34C HD is of course going to be the length of the handle.
For the 23C, the handle length is an impressive 3.74 inches in length and is best suited for men with larger hands. If you are coming from a cartridge/disposable razor based background, the lengthier handle on the 23C will help ease the transition as its length is very similar in nature to the typical cartridge razor.
The most common complaint that many men have with the 23C is tied to the weight of the double edge safety razor in its entirety. Most men are thrown off given that the handle is longer, therefore inferring that the weight should be heavier. However, the 23C is quite a bit lighter than its 34C HD brethren (2.24oz lighter to be exact).
Typically when you use a double edge safety razor, you let the razor do all the work for you as the weight of the handle will provide enough pressure on your skin in order to get a clean cut of the whiskers.
However with the 23C, much of the weight is lost due to how narrow in diameter the handle is. Unlike the 34C HD that is considered a bit more heftier, the 23C handle strikes similarities to old bic orange disposable razors usually found at the grocery store checkout.
Therefore when using the 23C, a very slight amount of pressure will be required in order to achieve a clean pass with the razor blade. Which isn’t often seen in the 34C HD, but is likely a familiar muscle movement you are used to if coming from a cartridge based background.
With that being said, if you are currently using the 34C HD (or a razor similar in nature to it – like the 38C HD), the 23C will likely leave you disappointed given its lack of weight when you go to make the required passes with the blade.
If you are looking for a long handled double edge safety razor with weight, we would recommend taking a look at the Edwin Jagger DE89Lbl instead. The DE89Lbl is nearly as tall as the 23C, however, its a fair bit beefier allowing you to have that familiar weight you expect when handling a double edge safety razor. If you are looking to stay in the Merkur family the 38C HD (barber pole) is nearly as long as the 23C but weighs a substantial amount more – and our winner for the best safety razor.
Handle length aside, the head of the 23C is a closed comb design. Therefore the shave that you get with this razor won’t be nearly as aggressive as an open comb design seen in the 15C, Parker 26C, and Muhle R41 among others.
One interesting observation that you will see on this handle and many other Merkur handles is the knurled texture. This cross hatching pattern allows for excellent grip when your hands will get inevitably wet and slick when performing your shave.
When it comes to cleaning the 23C, its incredibly easy, especially when compared to the butterfly versions of double edge safety razors. The three piece design of this razor allows you to easily unscrew the head of the razor from the handle and furthermore separate the head from the outer blade guard and the metal of which the razor blade rests.
Therefore if you ever want to deep clean your 23C, you can easily do so in order to make it look like it just came from the factory.
Regarding the longevity of the 23C, it is chrome plated and therefore isn’t susceptible to rust. Should there every be a chip in the chrome (very unlikely), you may want to look at getting it re-plated or simply buying a new one.
The raw beauty of all quality double edge safety razors, including the 23C, is that they will last a lifetime. There are many grandfathers and fathers that pass these excellent grooming tools down generations.