Giving people shaving advice should be a fairly simple matter, or at least you would think so.
You read up to see what’s good and tell people about it.
But in the world of double edge safety razors, this straightforward task turns out to be difficult.Who knew there was this much competition for the best DE razor? Who knew there were this many categories, this many options, this many styles?
We had some idea after writing the Safety Razor Primer we published recently.
This article is the sequel, where we go from familiarization to making concrete recommendations based on the general type of razor you’re looking for.
We know these razors are good.
Many we have firsthand experience with, some we know about from secondhand sources.
Thousands of men have confirmed their value and happily preach their gospel to the uninitiated. But, at the end of the day, every man’s face is different, and a razor is a subjective choice, so don’t take this as gospel.
Your mileage may, and certainly will, vary considerably.
Best Double Edge (DE) Safety Razors Reviews
Our first pick revolves around travelers, who need a razor that is durable and portable. In this area, one of the best safety razors out on the market today is the Parker A1R Travel Safety Razor.
It has some great features that the mobile man will love.This is a three piece design made extra-portable by breaking down into four pieces.
The handle screws apart from the head base which also comes apart from the cutting head, as in a three piece, plus the handle screws apart in the middle as well, allowing everything to fit in a tiny travel case that comes included.
This is great for portability and versatility. This model also has a textured handle that provides a great grip, so you don’t slip when shaving.Another reason we like the A1R is that it is made of solid brass so you know that it will last for a long time.
Plus, it uses a straight bar guard and is very reasonably priced.
The Parker has a longer handle than some other portable razors, due to its four-piece design, and that makes handling it relatively easy.
It provides a very close, aggressive shave and is fantastic for the novice and the veteran. That aggressiveness also makes it a natural choice for men with very thick or wiry hair.
The handle may take a little getting used to because it’s not as long as the handle of a normal razor, but after a couple of shaves, everything feels right.
- Small and light weight.
- Very easy to assemble, disassemble, and clean.
- Provides for a close and clean shave.
- Ideal for coarse and thick beard hairs.
- Solid brass design adds to durability and strength.
- Comes with a neat leather carrying pouch.
- Features a medium head size that is ideal for all sizes of people.
We Don't Like
- More parts than other razors.
- Although rare, the four piece design means more opportunities for threads to strip.
Alternatives to the Parker A1R
Some other choices if you are looking for a great travel safety razor are ones such as the Parker Travel Shave Kit, the MERKUR 4-Piece Travel Safety Razor with Case, or the Weishi Safety Razor and Travel Case with 5 Dorco Blades.
Also, check out eBay and you may come across a Gillette Travel Tech at a very reasonable price, which has an even shorter handle but still manages to be totally controllable.
The Merkur HD 34C is a classic, a great all around razor that’s ideal for beginners who are new to wet shaving with a safety razor.
It has a heavyweight design and is made out of chrome plated brass for extra strength, durability, and resistance to damage and rusting. The straight bar head design provides for a close but easy shave that gets everything cut away the first time around.
It’s a two-piece design with excellent craftsmanship that isn’t overly stylized or fancy. The straight bar makes this model easy to clean.
The fairly short 4-inch long textured handle makes it easy to use without tempting you to use more pressure than necessary and pronounced knurling keeps things under control when your hands are wet.
This razor provides for a close, but forgiving shave and is easy to use for all beginners of wet shaving.
Many users believe it reduces irritation for people who suffer from sensitive skin issues, as many DE razors do.
Its beginner-friendly nature means this razor can be recommended to new users with confidence.
- Small and portable.
- Being a two piece means few parts to lose.Simple release mechanism.
- Replacing blades is extremely simple.
- High quality materials and durable design.
- Ideal for smaller people and close shaves.
- Comes with 5 good quality blades.
We Don't Like
- Quite heavy.
- Shorter handle is not ideal for bigger hands.
- Requires care when replacing blades to avoid wearing out the screws
Alternatives to the Merkur HD 34C
Many, many great beginner’s DE razors can be found.
Slant razors are growing in popularity due to the ease with which they can dispatch a beard. Whereas some razors require two or three passes, a similar slant can do the job in one or two, reducing irritation while still being very comfortable.
The only difference between them in the handle, the 37C having a shorter one, which we recommend to help you avoid excess pressure.
Both razors are simple, well-made, and easy to master.
The 37C head, unlike some other slants, actually twists the razor inside, resulting in a stiffer surface that some shavers prefer.
It needs only a light touch to give you a wonderfully close shave with minimal irritation, but more pressure may result in a nick or two.
The handle provides a lot of grip, and the razor is well-balanced.
- Slant design gives an efficient shave.
- Well made, good quality.
- The twisting head gives more blade stiffness.
- Grippy handle.
- Good price, particularly for a slant.
We Dont Like
- There are people who don’t like the twisting head and resulting blade stiffness.
- Not great for beginners, highly sensitive.
Alternatives to the Merkur 37C
Aside from the obvious 39C, there are many new slants on the market or coming to the market. The RazoRock Wunderbar and its predecessor, the Stealth, get great marks for gentleness and innovation, but they don’t come easily or cheaply.
The Wunderbar is over $100 and requires a wait, while either razor on the used market is going for more than $300 in good condition. More realistically, Weber and iKon make good slant razors, but the iKon is somewhat expensive, and Weber looks to be out of production.
Above the Tie makes a wonderful slant but it’s also priced out of reach for many people.
Keep your eyes open as more slant razors come on the market, and we will do the same.
The Parker 99R gets the nod as the best silo type razor.
The butterfly mechanism works smoothly and reliably, and this razor is a bargain, coming in under $30 American from many online retailers. And it’s quite heavy, weighing in just over 4 ounces.
The razor is unaware of the concept of plastic and will outlast you, me, and possibly all civilization.
This is an aggressive razor, so if you’re looking for something a bit more on the gentle side, take a look at its 96R sibling.
But we like aggressiveness. It gets you through the toughest beard without multiple passes and thus with less skin irritation. Beginners may see a weeper or two, but they will adapt quickly.
The handle is both long and heavy, and novice shavers in particular will appreciate the control it gives.
- Great for thick beards.
- Substantial weight to the handle.
- One piece design makes it very easy to use and does not require assembly.
- Blades are very easy to change with a twist of the knob.
- Usually comes with 10 separate blades at a good price.
- Aggressive design provides for an extra close shave.
- Chrome ensures that it’s rust proof.
We Don't Like
- Aggressive and not ideal for beginners.
- Needs to be cleaned usually after every use.
- Accumulates soap suds easily.
- Moving head puts it at risk of having warped screws if mishandled.
Alternatives To The Parker 99R
If you aren’t a big fan of this particular butterfly style safety razor, you can always try other models such as the Van Der Hagen Safety Razor, the Mehaz Solingen Germany Double Edge Safety Razor, or the Parker 22R - Long Handle Butterfly Open Double Edge Safety Razor.
The Muhle R41 is a 3 piece razor that comes with a semi open razor head. This razor is not ideal for beginners because it provides for an extremely aggressive shave.
This safety razor does have an ergonomically friendly handle that provides great balance, plus it has a great grip, so it doesn’t slip when your hands are wet.
It’s lightweight but sturdy, and simple.
The main point to note about the Muhle is that it provides for an extremely aggressive shave which means that you don’t need to make many passes to get the clean cut that you want.
But if you don’t know what you’re doing, it will cut you, no hesitation, and then likely make fun of you for bleeding so much.
Look at it like an SAS sergeant major: very effective, as long as you have the experience and the stones to deal with the attitude.It doesn’t have too much weight to it, and if you like to let the weight of it do the work, it isn’t the best choice.
This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work well – in the right hands, that light weight gives superb control - but you need to know how to use the right amount of pressure to make up for lack of weight of the Muhle.
- Provides a very aggressive shave.
- Ideal for coarse and thick beards.
- Gets the job done with very few passes.
We Don't Like
- Lightweight handle.
- Aggressive, not ideal for beginners.
Alternatives To The Muhle
This is a great safety razor and our number one pick. It is a 2 piece, fully adjustable design, and thus lets you choose your level of aggressiveness, changing it as time goes on to match your experience level or your mood.
This Progress has a 3-inch long handle with a great grip to make sure that you don’t slip up. The chrome is well made and you can expect it to last forever.
Cleaning, as adjustables go, is quite easy, and they continue to work for years even if not cleaned religiously. There are no real downsides: this razor works for everyone.
The reason that we like the Merkur Progress so much is the flexibility.
We love adjustable safety razors, and this is the best adjustable you can buy new, and possibly used as well. Different parts of your face and neck may require different levels of aggressiveness and thus being able to adjust it is key.
The quality of the Progress sets it apart from other adjustables, not just the quality of the build but the quality of the design.
Aggressiveness: the Futur’s least aggressive settings are as aggressive as the Progress’ most aggressive settings. The Futur, in fact, is more aggressive than the Muhle when set at any but the lowest level, and while we usually like that, the Futur is a little too much of a good thing.
- Easily adjustable.
- Blades are easily replaced.
- Has a great grip.
- Great build quality.
- Easy to care for.
We Don't Like
- Sometimes the chrome finish flakes off a little bit, but that’s rare.
Alternatives To The Merkur Progress
Our favorite types of safety razors are definitely these adjustable ones and they are the type that we would most highly recommend. If you like the adjustable safety razors but aren’t a huge fan of this particular model, you can always try the Merkur Futur, the Merkur Vision, or the Wisper Long Handled Double Edge Safety Razor. Or you can always look at several classic models, like the Gillette Fatboy.
Conclusion – Our Top Pick
When it comes to safety razors, all of the options we have listed above make for really great choices, but when it comes to comfort, ease of use, and durability, we would place the Merkur Progress in first.
Great adjustable safety razor
Our Second Favorite Safety Razor
- Great build quality
- easily adjustable
Best adjustable safety razor
Our Favorite Safety Razor
- Easily adjustable
- Great build quality
Merkur HD 34c
Best for beginners of wet shaving
A fantastic all rounder safety razor
- Small and portable.
- High quality materials and durable design
Notice that most every razor on this list is priced at the lower end of the market spectrum.
We did that for a reason: the first razor you choose, while you will probably like it, likely won’t be the best razor you ever use. Everyone who is really interested in getting an excellent shave should try more than one razor, and this list is the starting point many of you can use to find the best one for you.
Got a razor you think should have been here?
We want to know what you think, so let us know in the comments.
As time goes on, you can expect revisions to this list, because wet shaving is growing in popularity and more razors are coming.
It’s a great time to go for some new old school gear!