Dating back more than 3,000 years, the straight razor gave men a way to shave their facial hair.
While the straight razors in ancient times were made from either bronze or bone, the modern straight razors of today feature a high level of craftsmanship that can cut through hair with absolute ease.
Here are the best straight razors.
Our Top Picks
- Best Straight Razor Overall: DOVO Inox Straight Razor
- Best Budget Straight Razor: DOVO Straight Razor
- Best for Barbers: Feather Artist Club SS Japanese Straight Razor
- Best for Collectors: Feather DX Folding Straight Razor
- Best Straight Razor Kit: A.P. Donovan Straight Razor Set
- Best for Beginners: Thiers Issard Stainless Steel Straight Razor
1. Best Straight Razor Overall: DOVO Inox Straight Razor
Founded in 1906, DOVO has become one of the most prominent brands relied upon by wet shaving experts.
Drawing out the best qualities in German precision engineering couldn’t be more pronounced than with the DOVO Inox Straight Razor.
Relying on an 80-step production system, this is a straight razor that is anything but mass-produced.
What makes this straight razor one of the best ones currently available is a combination of factors.
First, the full hollow ground blade is a moderate 5/8” and is crafted from carbon steel.
This wicked sharp blade and the unique grind found on the edge of this straight razor will provide one of the closest shaves that you have ever received.
As mentioned previously, carbon steel is susceptible to both natural rust and corrosion. Therefore, this straight razor must be dried on a hand towel after you are done using it.
On the blade itself is a 24k gold etching which says the following:
“DOVO-INOX TIEFGEKÜHLT ROSTFREI”
While we don’t speak any German, a Google Translation leads us to believe that it is a Rust-Free blade.
Opposite the blade is an olivewood handle that has been protected with a waterproof seal.
Given that each one of these straight razors has a unique level of craftsmanship, the wood grain on the handle will vary from one razor to the next – giving you a truly one-of-a-kind product.
When it comes to the shave experience, DOVO does recommend that you strop the blade every time before use for optimal performance.
If you really want to go all-in on a straight razor and want one that you can happily pass down to the next generation, then there is no better choice right now than the DOVO Inox Straight Razor.
- Super sharp blade to provide the closest shave ever
- Beautiful wood grain on handle
- Heirloom quality
- Must be taken care of properly
What You Need To Know
2. Best Budget Straight Razor: DOVO Straight Razor
Found in bathrooms and barbershops across the country, the classic DOVO Straight Razor is the perfect razor for those looking for a cheap or affordable option.
While the price of this straight razor may be much lower when compared to others featured on our list, the quality of the shave remains exceptional.
In order to deliver a predictable and close shave, this DOVO Straight Razor relies on strong and sharp carbon steel.
While carbon steel may be susceptible to corrosion when exposed to water for extended periods of time, a simple wipe of this razor across your towel should be enough to keep this razor going.
Unlike other boutique razors that require an initial honing of the blade (which is also an additional cost), this straight razor by DOVO will be ready to cut your facial hair from day one.
The grind of the blade on this straight razor is hollow (concave on either side of the blade) allowing for a lighter and beginner-friendly design.
In addition to the grind of the metal, this straight razor has a rounded blade making it less susceptible to accidental nicks or cuts.
With regular stropping between shaves, you should expect this straight razor to not only save you money for the rest of your life but also deliver a high-quality shave as well.
- Round tip is beginner-friendly
- Made in Germany
- Carbon may rust if not treated properly
What You Need To Know
3. Best for Barbers: Feather Artist Club SS Japanese Straight Razor
If you are looking for a new straight razor to use on your clients or you simply want the barbershop experience at home in your bathroom, then the Feather Artists Club SS Japanese Straight Razor will make perfect sense.
This shavette straight razor has a single slot that you can swap out blades both easily and regularly.
Swapping the blades between each customer not only creates a sanitary environment (which they will surely pick up on), but also a reliably close shave and great results to make them come back.
Unlike most straight razors or shavettes that can fold, what makes this razor unique is that its body is completely straight and rigid.
This design helps to ensure that you get a better cut on the hair when standing behind or on the side of the customer.
Another feature about this design that professional barbers love is that the handle and head can detach for a deeper cleaning.
Lastly, like many straight razors featured on our list, the rounded shaving head helps to even out the pressure on the tip of the blade to give the client a much more comfortable feeling shave.
- Made with professional barbers in mind
- Injectable blade allows for a sanitary and sharp shave
- Made in Japan
- Storage requires that the blade be removed (unable to store safely in a pocket)
What You Need To Know
4. Best for Collectors: Feather DX Folding Straight Razor
Wet shaving is unlike any other grooming process that a man goes through daily.
It is serious business for some, so much so that very active forums like Badger & Blade, The Shave Den, and countless others are popular hangout spots for men (and some women) to geek over their lineup of shaving tools and supplies.
Whether you want to make others green with envy by building on your shaving tool lineup, or you simply want an heirloom piece to add to your collection, the Feather Artist Club DX will make an excellent addition.
While the DOVO Inox is a formidable alternative, the Feather Artist Club DX is a starkly different straight razor in many ways.
First, the blade head.
It is crafted from SUS316 stainless steel which is a higher and heavier grade of steel particularly resistant to pitting and crevice corrosion in chloride environments (source). Furthermore, this steel has better welding and forming characteristics – allowing it to exhibit more consistent results when being made.
While the blade head is absent of any 24k gold etching, towards the joint of the blade where it meets the handle is the simple engraving of ‘Artist Club SUS316’.
Furthermore, the blade head can be unscrewed from the handle in order to be fully cleaned and disinfected.
Unlike some straight razors that may feel a bit dainty in the hand, the SUS316 stainless steel coupled with the solid wood handle gives this straight razor a hefty amount of weight.
While likely not best for beginners, the weight of this straight razor has been perfectly balanced for better control.
One noticeable difference between this straight razor and many of the others on our list is that it is categorically classified as a shavette (has injectable blades).
While some purists may scoff at this design choice, when it comes to shaving with this straight razor, you won’t need to worry about honing or stropping the razor.
Feather does recommend that you use their lineup of straight razor blades with the Artist Club DX. You can typically find these blades at boutique shave shops like West Coast Shaving.
- High-grade stainless steel is among the best out there
- Heirloom straight razor
- Balanced weight to provide great control
- Some men may not like that it is an injectable straight razor
What You Need To Know
5. Best Straight Razor Kit: A.P. Donovan Straight Razor Set
Whether you are a beginner or are looking for a gift for that special someone in your life, a full-straight razor kit will be a great way to start on the right foot when shaving.
Straight razor kits not only provide you with all the essentials to get that classic barbershop shave, but they also save you quite a bit of both time and money in the process.
One kit that stood out during our research was this offering by A.P. Donovan.
Included in the kit you will receive the following:
- A nice presentation box (important if you are giving as a gift)
- A wooden box to store your razor
- The straight razor itself
- Shave brush
- Shave soap
While we won’t cover each product included in the kit, we do want to call out a few of the more important ones:
A.P. Donovan Straight Razor
Like many of the other quality straight razors reviewed, the included A.P. Donovan straight razor features a carbon steel blade that is both strong and hard. With a 63 rating on the Rockwell Scale, it will have no problem cutting through even the thickest of hairs.
While not a heritage brand like Feather or DOVO, A.P. Donovan is a much more modern brand that is quickly gaining popularity among wet shaving experts.
Like the DOVO Inox, this straight razor also features a beautiful gold etching on the blade head.
With a rounded tip and a hollow cut, this blade will evenly distribute pressure along your skin in order to deliver a much more comfortable shave.
Opposite the blade, you will have a sandalwood handle that has been sourced from India.
Overall, it’s a well-balanced straight razor that has garnered a lot of positive reviews from other men as well.
A shaving brush is a key supplementary shaving tool that not only provides a gentle exfoliation pre-shave but allows for the shaving cream to generate a thicker and richer lather that is well-lubricated.
Unlike most shave brushes that are sourced from badger in China, where quality concerns often run rampant, the included badger brush here has been sourced from a high-quality American badger.
This relates simply to a nicer and more predictable performance when you go to lather your face with shave cream before making the passes with the razor blade.
Before the straight razor touches your face, stropping your blade is an essential step in order to get both a comfortable and close shave.
A sharp blade allows for less tugging on the root of your hair follicle and ultimately translates to a much cleaner cut.
This leather strop that has been sourced from a Kazakh cow will deliver a reliably sharp edge to the carbon steel blade for years.
Another standout detail about this strop that we (and so many other men) really liked was the included hook.
Able to be fastened onto a fixture, the hook will allow you to pull the strop straight in order to make the sharpening process much easier.
- Includes everything you need to get started
- All quality products that should last for years
- Expect to get a comfortable and close shave
- Carbon steel blade must be cared for properly
What You Need To Know
6. Best for Beginners: Thiers Issard Stainless Steel Straight Razor
For those who want to bring that classic barbershop shaving experience home to their own bathroom or budding shave den, then the 5/8 blade straight razor by Thiers Issard (which is sold by Art of Shaving) is a sound pick.
Founded over 135 (est. 1884) years ago in France, Thiers Issard brings expertise to the cutlery and shaving world.
It’s one of the few vintage brands that still make straight razors today.
What makes this razor special is that it relies on a hallow ground and carbon steel blade. This will not only deliver a sharp edge that will effortlessly cut through your whiskers but it’ll also deliver a shave experience that is comfortable.
But there is more to like about this blade than just the shave experience.
The narrower size makes it great for beginners who are getting comfortable with navigating the tight contours of their face (particularly around the nose and mustache area) while also having a rounded blade tip to lessen the pressure.
Given that this is a traditional straight razor, honing and stropping of the blade will be necessary before shaving – giving you that classic barbershop feel.
Lastly, the weight.
While lighter straight razors are often preferred by beginners, it is worth noting that this handle is made also from stainless steel, increasing the weight significantly.
According to the Art of Shaving, the weight on this straight razor is 107g (about the equivalent of holding 40 pennies).
But to make up for the increased weight, the razor has been expertly balanced which makes for greater control.
- Quality stainless steel that won’t rust
- Expertly balanced
- Great for navigating tight contours
- Perfect for beginners
- Heavier than most
What You Need To Know
How to Buy a Straight Razor
1. Blade Material
Here’s a brief look at the popular metals found in straight razors:
- Stainless Steel – One of the most common metals used in straight razors, stainless steel is both strong and sharp. But one of the biggest advantages of this alloy is that it naturally resists corrosion (source). Therefore, when this alloy is used for extended periods of time in a naturally humid or wet environment, you don’t have to worry about rust or any pronounced spread of bacteria.
- Carbon Steel – A more modern steel variety when compared to stainless steel, this alloy is a mixture of steel and up to 2.1% carbon composition (source). This results in a blade that will be even stronger and sharper than other pure metals and alloy (including stainless steel). However, a compromise is made in the durability of the carbon steel itself. Unlike stainless steel, carbon steel is susceptible to corrosion, requiring it to be hand-dried once it is exposed to water or moisture along with being stored in a dry environment (outside the bathroom).
- Surgical Steel – Unfortunately, there is no formal definition of what surgical steel is. However, this subset category of stainless steel is designed for medical settings. Surgical steel will often carry an SAE steel grade of either SAE 316, SAE 440, SAE 420, and 17-4 (source). This type of steel will often feature anti-corrosion properties like stainless steel. Often, surgical steel is used as a marketing term in order to bolster a brand’s claims of purity or safety.
2. Blade Type & Width
Here’s an overview of the common blade types:
- Round Point: While the blade point is more difficult to cut around a precise edge, the round point offers more forgiving properties when it touches the skin. This results in fewer nicks or cuts making it a recommended pick for beginners.
- Square Point: Opposite of the round point, you will find the square point. Square point straight razors can make clean and straight cuts on the face. Whether you are detailing your beard, mustache or sideburns, the square point will give you great results. However, this blade type requires a careful hand as accidental nicks and cuts may occur.
- French Point: With a quarter-circle curve in the blade that ends on a square point, this blade type is more decorative and closely resembles the same performance found in a square point blade variety. Expect this blade to carry the same risks of accidental cuts when using.
- Blade Width: Beyond the blade tip types, you also have a variety of widths available. Typically found in 1/8” increments (3.175mm), the blade width can have an impact on both weight (more on this in the next section) and performance.
Here are some general takeaways of blade width:
- Narrow: A narrow blade width can get around the tight contours of your face, especially when detailing the areas around your nose and mustache. Secondly, they rely on less metal, making the honing and sharpening process much easier.
- Wide: Will take more effort to strop but generally have a stiffer feeling backbone. While limited in mobility, wet shaving experts prefer this variety as it provides greater weight to the blade making the shaving process require less effort.
3. Grind & Weight
One of the most notable factors on the straight razor’s weight will have to do with the grind of the blade itself.
Sharp metal edges will typically follow any one of the following grinds:
- Hollow Grind
- Flat Grind
- Sabre Grind
- Chisel Grind
- Double/Compound Bevel
- Convex Grind
Depending on the type of grind used by the company will result in varying amounts of metal remaining (or have been cut away) from the blade resulting in a different shave performance and weight.
4. Country of Origin
Japan and Germany are well-known for their fine metallurgy. Here’s how they differ:
- Japan: Japanese razor companies, such as Feather, are built on their expert craftsmanship. Feather blades are among the thinnest and sharpest blades available.
- Germany: Known for their attention to detail and precision. The quality of the grind on the blade along with a beautiful handle showcase German craftsmanship at its finest. German blades are regarded as being both timeless and classic.
Current companies that make quality straight razors today include the following:
- P. Donovan
- DOVO Solingen
- Feather (Shavettes Only)
- Parker (Shavettes Only)
- West Coast Shaving
Most quality straight razors will typically range anywhere between $100 and $250.
Straight Razor FAQs
Here are a few answers to some of the more common questions men had when it came to straight razors:
Is it better to shave with a straight razor?
When it comes to both straight razors and double-edge safety razors, men with sensitive skin have benefited from the single blade design.
When compared to multi-blade cartridge razors, single blade razors, like a straight razor, lessen the amount of contact that the blade has with the skin and results in significantly less skin irritation.
However, this can vary greatly depending on the sharpness of the razor blade, technique, shave cream, and more.
Are straight razors illegal to own?
No, straight razors are not illegal to own.
If there was any validity to this myth, it would revolve around the spread of bacteria at barbershops.
Given that straight razors rely on a single and fixed blade, they are unable to be cleaned between clients when used at a barbershop.
However, modern solutions such as blade cleaners are anti-septic and will remove most surface bacteria.
Furthermore, nearly all barbershops now use shavettes rather than straight razors. Shavettes rely on a swappable single blade that is changed between each client.
This not only provides a much better shave for the client but also a much more efficient tool for the barber as they don’t have to worry about honing or stropping their blade regularly.
What makes straight razors so expensive?
Straight razors require a certain level of craftsmanship in order to perform well. A quality straight razor blade requires a perfect grind on the blade to cut through hairs effortlessly along with a carefully made handle to counterbalance its weight.
When you double that with the smaller market that they cater to, the costs will inevitably rise.
Just like when buying a knife for your kitchen, the difference between buying a budget straight razor blade and one of quality is like night and day.
Are straight razors allowed on planes?
Since 9/11, straight razors are no longer allowed as a carry-on item.
Instead, straight razors must be checked with the rest of your larger luggage.
Can barbers still use straight razors?
Legally, yes, barbers can still use straight razors. However, shavettes are the razor of choice for barbers as they provide a sharp edge and can be swapped out between clients in order to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Does a straight razor shave last longer?
Shaving with a straight razor does not impact the rate at which your hair grows.
Whether you use a cartridge, safety, or straight razor, you can expect your facial hair to continue its growth of about .33mm per day (or about ½” per month).
It’s worth mentioning that straight razors don’t experience the hysteresis effect found in cartridge razors.
Also known as the lift-and-cut technique, the hysteresis effect of cartridge razors allows the hair to be cut just a fraction below the surface of the skin.
This equates to a slightly longer time before the hair will grow out from the surface.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.