Safety Bar vs. Open Comb

Discussion in 'General Shaving Discussion' started by gasdoc, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. Ok, I tried the search and found lots of posts about open combs but nothing in the couple pages of search results that I read through really defined the difference between the two. I currently have a Parker short handle 3 piece with a safety bar (it is my first razor and I wanted something decent for not a lot of dough). What the heck is the difference between bar/comb and I understand the PHYSICAL difference, I want to know the difference when it comes to shaving and why I would want to check out one vs. the other.

    I am still early in my dabblings in DE shaving but am eager to learn and probably pick up a few more razors along the way but not sure what to look for or how to evaluate them once I get them.

    Also, any tips on why some blades are different than others would be helpful. They all look about the same to me ;)


  2. Open combs allow more blade exposure.
  3. I don't think my beard is all that "tough" and I'm new to this so maybe I should just stick to a closed bar type for now? Not sure that a more "aggressive" razor would be a good idea since I kinda like to keep all my blood on the inside...
  4. I'm not a super experienced razor guy, but from what I've seen and tried, the exposure of the blade, the gap between the blade and comb, and the angle of the blade to the handle seem to be more important than the bar/comb.

    Like the was a super aggressive razor, then they made a new cap that covered up the blade exposure, now it's less aggressive. Or the Cadet, which I find super aggressive normally, I swapped the cap for a wider one, now it's less aggressive.
  5. I agree, I've used an open comb that was very, very mild (the Goodfella razor) - it's blade sat very close/parallal to the baseplate/comb. It was milder than a vintage tech.

    With regards to the other question about blades - on the surface they all look similar, but under magnification you can really see some differences, it comes down to the quality of the steel, the grind, how many facets and the overall quality control plus coatings can also make a difference.
  6. Open combs are not necessarily more aggressive, the aforementioned Goodfella is well known as a mild razor, and the ATT Titan H1 is a safety bar razor that is very aggressive.

    For me open combs seem to be more efficient, maybe because the comb lets the lather through so it's the blade taking it off rather than the bar, or perhaps the gaps let the stubble stand up better before it's cut. Either way, particularly if I've missed a day or two I find that an open comb needs less work to get a good shave. If you're curious look out for a Gillette New, they're excellent and if you don't like it it'll be easy to sell on. I have a British one that looks the same as the #77 but it's a three-piece, I like it so much that I've ordered a UFO handle for it.
  7. First experience with a OC today. A Gillette old and was very mild indeed !
  8. I agree. The open-comb does seem to leave more lather for the blade to catch, at least for me. A really mild OC is the Merkur 15c OC. Mildest razor I have - even more mild than the Gillette SS (at least for me). Its the one I use in the shower for those "Hell, I'm running late..." instances <G>.:w00t:
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2013
  9. My understanding is that open vs closed comb is mostly a case of "your mileage may vary" - it depends on you and your face. Large numbers of people swear by each. I am very much an open comb fan, for the record.

    The only other difference is that in theory the gaps between the teeth of an open comb may be a better design for leaving lather for the blade and for cutting longer hairs. I have no clue if this is really true or not.

    I used to consider myself a "why would I ever even consider a vintage razor?!" person until I tried the Gillettte New. Now I am simply refining which slightly different Gillette New open comb is the one for me.
  10. Personally, I prefer the classic look of open-comb razors. They remind me of the early days of DE shaving -- the Gillette Old Type, which got the DE ball rolling.

    But it should be repeated that "OC" does not necessarily translate into "more aggressive". Aggressiveness depends on blade exposure, blade gap, weight of razor, etc. -- see the wiki entry.
  11. mswofford

    mswofford Steward

    Right on, Chris! Especially the part about missing a day or two. I've gone 5 days and an open comb solves that problem. It allows you to play "catch up" comfortably because it doesn't clog. Just keep the hot water running and stick your razor under it between strokes.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  12. I enjoy using an open comb if I haven't shaved in a while and my beard is a bit longer. If it is just a normal every day shave I like a safety bar to keep things a little less aggressive. Maybe try an adjustable
  13. The difference for me is not in the aggressiveness. The open comb's blade gaps can be the same as a straight bar equivalent plate for the same razor and you would not perceive much difference.

    The real difference is that the open comb does a better job when you long stubs. So, if you have grown that, say, it's a few days long, you will notice the open bar razor will do a better job combing and cutting the long stubs.

    So, I would use a straight bar for short stub growth and the open comb razor for long stub growth.

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