The Merkur 42C, commonly known as the 1904, is a great entry-level safety razor for those looking to get into traditional wet shaving.
We’ll look at the design and performance of the 42C. To determine whether or not this razor is right for you, we’ll also compare it to other popular safety razors on the market.
Let’s dive in:
What We Think:
The 42C is a fantastic razor for those just starting to wet shave. While reviewers have pointed out some of its notable faults (which should be taken seriously), there is no denying that the 42C is efficient and easy to use. The hexagon handle provides an adequate grip, and the chrome plating gives it a bit of style. The shave is mild yet enough to get smooth results.
Lightweight and easy to maneuver
Hexagon handle provides a good grip
Chrome plating gives it a bit of style
Some reviewers found the razor to be poorly made, with an uneven blade gap
Can be difficult to find in stock at local retailers
Key Stats & Score
|Country of Origin||Germany|
|Blade Compatibility||All double-edge safety razor blades|
|Number of Pieces||3|
The Merkur 42C is a relatively lightweight razor at 2.39 ounces. However, while it makes it easy to handle, it can also make it difficult to get a close shave, as a fair amount of pressure is required to get the razor to cut facial hair effectively, which can lead to accidental nicks and cuts of the skin.
As with any safety razor, the optimal weight of a razor depends on many factors, including the thickness of your hair, the length, the sharpness of the blade, and the cutting angle at which you hold the razor. While there is no true ‘ideal weight’ for a razor, we recommend a weight that is comfortable for you to hold and maneuver.
The Merkur 42C is lighter but still sufficient.
For comparison, here is a chart showing how the 42C compares to other safety razors:
The modest length of the 42C lends itself to better control and maneuverability, which is excellent for beginners. When buying a safety razor, it’s a good idea to consider your hand size in relation to the length of the razor. If you have small to medium-sized hands, the 42C is a great option. If you have large hands, you may want to consider a longer razor such as the Bevel, Merkur 23C, or Edwin Jagger DE89.
Here’s a chart comparing the 42C to other safety razors:
Like all Merkur razors, the 42C is made from zinc alloy. In addition, a chrome plating is applied to the razor to give it a bit of style.
The downside to this is that the chrome plating is susceptible to cracking or chipping if the razor is dropped or banged against a hard surface. So be sure to take care of your razor and store it in a protective case when not in use.
Note: Previous versions of the 42C feature nickel plating. Nickel plating is more durable than chrome plating, but it can cause allergic reactions in some people.
The most distinctive feature of the 42C is its hexagon-shaped handle. A beautiful diagonal knurling pattern along the handle provides a good grip. While still not nearly as grippy as the Merkur 23C, 34C, and others that contain a diamond knurling pattern, the 42C’s hexagon-shaped handle is still a step up from the Merkur 39C’s swirling (barber pole) pattern.
Country of Origin
The Merkur 42C is made in Germany by DOVO Solingen, a company that has been making razors since 1906. DOVO is known for its high-quality razors and is one of the world’s most popular safety razor manufacturers.
Number of Pieces
The Merkur 42C is a three-piece safety razor. It is made up of a handle, a baseplate, and a cap. Most wet shaving experts prefer the three-piece design (as opposed to a two or one-piece design) as it makes it much easier to clean thoroughly and less likely to break with extended use.
Of course, changing the razor blade once every week or so may not be as convenient as, say, a butterfly safety razor, but it still is relatively effortless.
The Merkur 42C is a mild to medium aggressive razor that provides a great shave. There is little to no razor burn or irritation with this razor due in part to the small blade gap and close comb design. The included Merkur razor blade is a great blade to start with. It is sharp and provides a close shave.
For the ergonomics of the 42C, the handle is comfortable to hold, and the razor is well-balanced, which leads to reliable control.
We found that the 42C works well on all types of facial hair. The 42C will provide a close shave whether you have coarse, thick, or fine, thin facial hair. Even when slicing through a several-day-long stubble, the 42C can provide a close shave. You should get a fairly smooth result in as little as two passes (with and against the grain).
The 42C also works well for those with sensitive skin.
The Merkur 42C uses double-edge safety razor blades. While Merkur does make its razor blades, we strongly recommend checking out blades from other manufacturers. There are many great blades on the market, including Feather, Astra, and Personna. This way, you can find the one that works well for your skin and facial hair.
Related: Best Safety Razor Blades
Generally speaking, the Merkur 42C received positive reviews from wet shaving experts. However, we wanted to share a few key points that stood out to us:
Some people love the 42C and found it a reliable and great razor that quickly became their go-to shaving tool. Many particularly liked the mild aggressiveness that provided a close shave without causing razor burn or irritation.
The biggest complaint, surprisingly, was around the quality of the razor. Some reviewers found that the razor was poorly made and had an uneven blade gap, leading to a poor shave.
Our recommendation here is that if you aren’t satisfied with the quality of the razor, you can always return it and try another one.
Of course, the 42C isn’t the only safety razor that Merkur makes. Here are a few other options that you may want to consider:
- Merkur 34C This is perhaps its closest alternative and one of the most popular Merkur models. The 34C is shorter than the 42C yet delivers the same mild shave. Unlike the 42C, the 34C has a diamond knurling pattern on the handle, which provides a better grip. The 34C is also a bit cheaper than the 42C.
- Merkur 23C This is one of the longest razors in the Merkur lineup. Consider this one if you want the design and aggressiveness of the 42C, but have large hands.
- Merkur Progress If you are familiar with wet shaving and want a razor that you can grow into, the Progress is a great option. With a simple twist of the handle, you can adjust the aggressiveness of the razor. Great for those who want to experiment with different blade angles.
Related: Best Merkur Razors
Aside from the safety razors that Merkur makes, here are a few other options that you may want to consider:
- Gillette Safety Razors The brand that started it all recently introduced the King C. Gillette Safety Razor. This is a great option for those who want a classic design and a mild shave. Unlike Merkur razors, Gillette razors are widely available at most drugstores and supermarkets.
- Bevel Safety Razor: With a much longer handle than other safety razors (4.41″), the Bevel Safety Razor is available at Target. The matte handle can be slippery, but the razor is well-balanced and provides a close shave.
- Muhle R89: Another German-made alternative with a close comb head and a unique knurling pattern along the handle. It is virtually the same weight as the 42C at 2.4 oz. However, the R89 is a bit more expensive than the 42C, ringing up at $44.
- Muhle R41 With an open comb design, the R41 is significantly more aggressive than the 42C. Great if you want an unyielding shave. The R41 is also a bit more expensive than the 42C.
Related: Best Safety Razors
Other Notes About the 42C
There were a few other things that we wanted to mention about the 42C:
Merkur provides a 2-year limited warranty on the 42C. If you have any issues with the razor, you can contact Merkur directly, and they will work with you to resolve the issue. Their warranty excludes chips or cracks to the chrome plating, a common issue with this razor.
The Merkur 42C is fairly cheap at $31. Making it a great, beginner-friendly razor and among the cheapest safety razor that Merkur makes.