(NOTE: "Old" Dorco ST-300 at left in photo; New ST-300 at right.)
I'd written a fairly glowing, and lengthy, review of the ST-300 blades here quite a few years back, when, after trying a a few from a sampler pack, I literally went all-in and bought two 100-pack boxes - for me, about a four-year supply. Between then and not, I'd also played with other blades (most notably Personna Lab Blues and Astra Superior Stainless, both of which I liked), but the Dorco has remained my go-to blade, working quite well in quite a few different razors, from a vintage Gillette Aristocrat to a Merkur Vision.
Recently, I needed to score more blades, and I ordered a 100-pack of Dorcos. This time, however there were a few changes with the new blades: the box came with a little "NEW!" banner printed along the top-right edge. Curious about this, I checked the fine print on the edge of the box: manufacture of these particular blades had changed from South Korea to Vietnam - not necessarily a matter for concern, since the big deal these days is how tight a rein is kept on QC, since lots of companies have factories scattered all over the world. Another change was in the packaging of the individual blades: whereas Dorco previously packaged its blades simply in a single neat fold of printed paper, they now include an inner wrapping as well, with the imprint "DORCO STAINLESS" and "Since 1955", in both English and Korean. (They seem to be stepping up their official presence in the States - guess they really want in on the wetshaving market now?) I tries these initially in my American (1947) Gillette Aristocrat and my early-70s Gillette Super Adjustable, where it worked as well as the Korean-made Dorcos; They worked less well in my British (1953) Aristocrat, but very few blades seem to work well in that razor for some reason.
However, the big change came when I pulled the trigger on a Parker Variant adjustable razor. Here's where I pitted the Dorco against the Astra SS (note: this is NOT the Astra Platinum). I had two shaves with the Astra, which were crazy-close but left me with a few small nicks - I partly chalk the weepers up to getting used to the new razor (which I'll review separately, but for now I'll simply say it's a winner). The Dorco, however, was the big surprise: everything I've really liked about the blade - its combination of just-sharp-enough and super-smoothness - was enhanced. Short, furtive strokes were replaced by long, smooth, gliding strokes, both WTG and ATG. The shaves were now truly BBS, and, more to the point, repeatedly, reliably so: I've found in the past that various combinations of razor and blade could give me that close a shave once, but then give me problems the next time around. The Variant-Plus-Dorco combo just works, where I reliably get four excellent shaves per blade. Doing the math, that's roughly 2 cents per shave. If all this had to offer was economy, I'd call it darned impressive, but since this is about quality, I'd say this simply knocks it out of the park.
Again, this is a "YMMV" thing: there are reviewers here who hate this blade with what a certain three-letter agency would call extreme prejudice. This doesn't mean they're wrong: the blade just didn't do it for them, period. I can tell you about my repeated attempts to get Feather blades to work for me without doing a Sweeney Todd on myself: "epic fail" wouldn't begin to describe it. There are three variables here: razor, blade, and your face. Add in differences in prep, preferred poultices, and you start to understand that there's no magic bullet here, just experimenting until you find your personal shaving Kismet. I'm just here saying that I think I've found mine. Again.