Henson and Merkur make great products, but they have some clear differences. This review will take a closer look at the Henson AL13 and the Merkur 34C safety razors. Specifically, we will review the weight, length, build quality, shave performance, and much more.
In short, if you want a milder shave and a lighter razor, then the Henson AL13 would be the better choice. However, if you’re looking for a more aggressive shave and a sturdier razor, then the Merkur 34C could be the better option.
Let’s take a more detailed look at each razor to see what sets them apart.
|Feature||Henson AL13||Merkur 34C|
|Composition||Aluminum||Brass, Zinc Alloy|
|Country of Origin||Canada||Germany|
|Number of Pieces||3||2|
|Shave Performance||Mild||Mild to Moderate|
|Blade Compatibility||All double-edge safety razor blades||All double-edge safety razor blades|
The Henson AL13 is a much lighter razor than the Merkur 34C, the AL13 weighs only 1.30 ounces (37 grams). It is one of the lightest razors that we have tested. When using the AL13, you’ll find it much easier to maneuver when shaving around tricky areas like the jawline or under the nose.
However, the downside of this weight is that some pressure is required to get a close shave.
The Merkur 34C, on the other hand, weighs in at 2.72 ounces (77 grams). While compared to the AL13, it is significantly heavier. However, compared to other safety razors on the market, it is below average. The extra weight gives the razor more stability and makes it easier to get a close shave without applying too much pressure.
Simply put, when you use the 34C, let the razor’s weight do the work for you. It will also have an easier time cutting medium to thick facial hair.
Here’s a comparison of the weight of the two razors:
|Razor Name||Weight (oz)||Weight (g)|
Just about .5″ separates these two safety razors.
The Henson AL13 measures 3.78 inches (9.6 centimeters), while the Merkur is a modest 3.19 inches (8.1 centimeters) in length. When shaving with the AL13, you’ll enjoy the advantage of easily shaving your neck and jawline with plenty of leverage on the handle. However, the 34C shorter length makes it a fair bit easier to make precise edging and lines around your mustache and goatee.
Ultimately, we think you should decide based on hand size. If you have larger hands, you’ll probably prefer the AL13. However, if your hands are on the smaller side, the 34C will probably prove to be a better fit.
Here’s a comparison of the length of the two razors:
|Razor Name||Length (in)||Length (cm)|
The Henson AL13 and the Merkur 34C are both metal razors, but the Henson is made of aluminum, while the Merkur has a brass handle and zinc alloy head. Comparatively speaking, the AL13 is much more likely to last you for several years without any issues.
On the other hand, the Merkur will start to show wear and tear much sooner. While it’s not necessarily a bad razor, it just doesn’t have the same durability as the Henson.
Go Deeper: Merkur 34C Review
Grips on both safety razors are important to consider. A good grip will give you more control over the razor as you shave and help you avoid nicks and cuts. The Henson has an etched grip, while the Merkur has a knurled grip.
While somewhat subjective, we think the diamond knurling on the 34C is slightly easier to hold onto when your hands are wet. However, the etched grip on the AL13 is by no means bad, and it provides plenty of traction.
With the AL13, you have an aluminum frame that hasn’t been treated with any extra plating. The 34C, on the other hand, has chrome plating. While this can look much better, it is susceptible to flaking, cracking, or peeling over time. This happens to many 34C razors after only a few years of use.
Unfortunately, as soon as this happens, you should dispose of the razor as it may rust.
Furthermore, cracks to the plating on the razor are not covered by Merkur’s limited warranty.
Country of Origin
The Merkur 34C razor is made in Germany and is renowned for its precision engineering. The Henson AL13 razor is made in Ontario, Canada.
Number of Pieces
The Henson AL13 has three pieces – baseplate, cap, and handle – while the Merkur 34C has two pieces – baseplate and cap. Generally speaking, the more pieces to the razor, the easier it is to get a thorough cleaning. So if you like cleaning your shaving supplies, the AL13 is probably the better choice.
The current retail price of the AL13 is $70, whereas the 34C costs a modest $36 – a significant difference. However, whether or not the AL13 is worth the extra money. It depends on how often you plan on using the razor and how long you want it to last.
If you’re the type who only shaves a few times a week, the 34C is probably a perfectly adequate razor that will last you for many years. However, if you’re someone who shaves daily, the AL13 will probably be a better investment as it will last you significantly longer.
Both the 34C and Henson AL13 come with starter blades. In the package of the 34C, you’ll find one Merkur Stainless Steel blade, and in AL13, you’ll find 5 RK blades.
Fortunately, the blade compatibility for both products is the same in that they can use all double-edge safety razor blades. This gives you a lot of flexibility and a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to blades. Therefore, we recommend testing out popular brands like Feather, Derby, and Gillette to see which one gives you the best shave.
As we shared in our review of the Henson AL13, this razor is incredibly mild. This makes it a great choice for someone with sensitive skin or just starting with safety razors. When using the AL13, expect to take a few passes over the same area to get a close and smooth shave. However, because the razor is so light, it is very easy to avoid nicks and cuts. The AL13 achieves this mildness thanks to the blade gap of only 0.027″.
The Merkur 34C, on the other hand, is slightly more aggressive. We found that it gave a closer shave with fewer passes, but it was also more likely to cause nicks and cuts. However, these are usually easy to avoid if you take your time and go slowly.
Both razors will virtually remove the risk of razor bumps as they cut the hair at the skin level. So if you currently use a cartridge razor, we think you’ll love either of these razors.
We found that the AL13 and 34C perform significantly better when used with traditional shaving cream or soap than just canned gel or foam. Both razors will give a much smoother shave and help to prevent nicks and cuts. If you want to go the extra mile, consider a shaving brush to help lather up your shaving cream.
To no surprise, both razors are fairly well received. When researching online forums, specialty shave shops, and other websites, we found that most people had good things to say about both razors. Here’s a quick sampling of what we found:
What People Like: The build quality of the AL13 was a shining point for many people. Additionally, we found that the AL13 was often shared between significant others as it is a very mild razor good for legs, bikini lines, and other sensitive areas.
What People Complained About: The ability to cut through thick, dense hair was a common complaint regarding the AL13.
What People Like: The 34C was often lauded for its balance of aggression and closeness. Additionally, many people enjoyed the weight and balance of the razor.
What People Complained About: Long-term users of the 34C were disappointed with the build quality. The screw thread often broke due to the reliance on poor materials.
There is no doubt that both the Henson AL13 and the Merkur 34C are great razors. The AL13 works exceptionally well for thinner facial hair and sensitive skin, while the 34C is a more traditional offering good for all beard types.
We hope that this review has helped you better understand the key differences between the Henson AL13 and Merkur 34C so that you can make an informed decision about which razor is right for you.