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2014 Badger & Blade Awards – Straight Razors Under $500

Return to the Badger & Blade Awards Announcement page.

At Badger & Blade, we’re fascinated with and inspired by exceptional quality. We expend tireless efforts to find, review and share items that stand out from the pack. The Badger & Blade Awards are designed to recognize products of special significance – those which rise above the rest. The finest products are not mere inanimate objects; rather, they are works of art, tirelessly crafted by artisans and truly distinctive. In that spirit, we are proud to announce the award winner for best in class straight razors (under $500):

Nate Zowada – Nate’s Straights ($335)

Let’s get a few things out of the way right quick, Nate’s last name is Zowada. He’s Tim Zowada’s son and just like his father, Nate makes exceptional straight razors. I imagine with a father like Tim Zowada, you’ve got an incredible teacher, but some incredible pressure along with it. He’s got to know that his work will be judged against that of his father’s and I can only imagine the intimidation factor of having to create a product as good as Tim Zowada’s. I don’t envy him. I do however admire him – both for having the gumption to take on such a feat, and more so for succeeding.

Nate builds an incredible, and this bears repeating, incredible shaving straight razor. I actually stumbled on Nate’s Straights on accident. After trying more than a half dozen straight razors under $500, including Hart Steel, Grimm Blades, Dovo and others, I just couldn’t find one worthy of a Badger & Blade award. Whether it was the shave or the build quality, nothing was memorable. Out of options, I started hunting for alternatives and eventually I stumbled on Nate’s Straights. Nate was able to quickly make a razor and send it my way, and despite the ho-hum jewelry box, the experience has been nothing but a pleasant surprise.

NS5Right out of the box, this razor is shave ready. Save for razors from Joe Chandler or Tim Zowada, Nate is the only razor maker I’ve received a blade from that didn’t require a good five to ten minutes of further polishing to get it where I wanted it. In fact, this razor didn’t need stropping, but I couldn’t help myself from stropping it anyways. Touch it to your face and it acts like a squeegee, cleanly wiping your whiskers off in one effortless pass. Nate’s razors are a solid 10 out of 10 in the shaving department and deliver every bit as fine a shave as his father’s Damascus blades at more than three times the cost. In fact, they’re such good shaving razors, they simply leave everything in their price range in the dust, dazed and confused. If you’re planning on spending a dollar over $150 for a razor, the conversation begins and ends here, Nate’s razors are truly that dominant over the competition in the sub $500 price range.

Further adding to the appeal of Nate Zowada’s razors is the overwhelming quality. Finish and tolerances are so high, that only a simple and clean design could do it justice, anything more complex would look overdone and boastful. Nate’s razors project a simplistic perfection that oozes elegance with a healthy dose of honesty in a manner only the Zowada’s seem to have mastered. Even the balance and comfort when gripping this razor is inspiring. Compare Nate’s Straight to a Hart Steel razor of similar design in hand and there’s simply no competition. Shave with them, and the gap widens further. It’s for this reason I feel Nate does an injustice to his family name by not proudly stamping his razors with the Zowada name or initial. It’s a Zowada in every way, and a greater compliment than that in the world of straight razors, cannot be had.

I’ve been using this razor daily since its arrival, and look forward to reporting back on its long-term use, but I believe I’ve found my new daily shaver. If I could have only one razor, and my budget was under $1,000 – it would be a straight from Nate, without hesitation.

Click the images below to enlarge.

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Nate’s Straights can be purchased from Nate Zowada here, but he’s already sold out. I’d shoot him an email and get in line. It’s not just worth the cost of entry, his razors are also worth a wait.

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Joel

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