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Gillette Vector

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The Gillette Vector is the current version of the Atra that's being manufactured for the Asian market. Most are made in China and are available online, and at a decent price. You can purchase a Vector for less than five bucks, shipped.

A bit of background on the Vector: it's a standard Atra design that was introduced in the late seventies to replace the Trac II. The basic blade design was the same as the Trac II, updated to include a lube strip and a pivoting head. Love it or hate it, I still think that this is the best pivoting head razor ever made.

The Atra was later superseded by the Sensor, and was sold worldwide as the Contour. Production halted about ten years ago. Gillette has tried (unsuccessfully) for years to penetrate the razor market in India, which is 90% DE. Attempts at marketing cartridge razors there always fall flat, due to the prohibitive costs of the cartridges themselves.

In an effort to stake out new multi-blade ground there, Gillette took the decades old Atra design and started selling it as the Vector, with the blades selling for a reasonable price compared to the other cartridge razors on the market. So far it's been a profitable venture, though only time will tell if multi-blades take the place of DE's there. The cartridges for the Vector have come under close scrutiny by consumers, as they are often shoddily manufactured.

I can personally attest to the overall cheapness of the Vector. The thing weighs about as much as a disposable Bic, a featherweight in the world of plastic razors. From the pictures I thought that maybe the head was chrome, with a rubber handle, but the whole thing is painted plastic. The grip, however, is very good at what it does- thick texturing makes this hard to slip out of your wet little hands.

When I initially opened the pack, which came supplied with one cartridge, the first thing I noticed was the pivoting head. It was all over the place; if you've ever used a Schick Protector than you know what I'm talking about. Thankfully, after the first shave the head seemed to "settle" better, like it wasn't seated properly to begin with. The overall pivot now is like a cross between the original Atra and the Sensor, it has a slight degree of movement but it's not all over the place like the Mach III. Very easy to get a precision shave with. I personally hate pivoting heads, but the angle is so slight you won't even notice.

The blade that came supplied with it is another good example of why I hate cheap lube strips. I wiped my dry finger over it and the strip fell to the floor. I ran my fingernail over the glue dots that held it in place and scraped them off, and proceeded to shave.

Well, I was surprised. The blade was reasonably sharp, and with one pass I had a DFS. I did a little touch up to a couple of spots on my beard and ended up with a BBS. The blades rinse clean well; this particular cartridge has the mash button on the top that extends the top blade out to aid in removing whiskers from the cartridge. Some people hate these mechanisms, but on this particular razor it did the trick and was greatly appreciated.

So far I've had four shaves with the same blade, and doesn't seem the least bit dull yet. Why Gillette can't manufacture a blade like this- a self cleaning, mildly pivoting, reasonably priced, sharp twin blade with no lube strip- for the US market, I'll never know. I suspect that it would eat into their MIII and Fusion profits.

I honestly don't see the razor itself holding up well over the years, though. It's designed like a cheap throwaway- honestly the disposable version of the Mach III seems better suited to longevity than the Vector. I also wish that the thing had some sort of heft to it- I guess if you've never used a nice wood or metal handled Atra you wouldn't know what you're missing.

Anyway, I'm going to use this razor with some Personna's, and possibly a genuine Gillette Atra blade, and see how it holds up. It's fun, cheap, fast and easy (insert a filthy "blonde joke" here) and will probably become my favored travel razor. I wouldn't cry if this got lost in transit, but I'd probably order another one just the same.

Latest reviews

Pros: Price, uses all Atra style blades, price, price, price.
Cons: Cheap build, no metal, not locally available.
I purchased the Vector recently for use as a travel razor when I didn’t want to deal with checking a bag, mailing blades ahead, or general TSA tomfoolery. I purchased from an Indian eBay seller along with 5 blades (4 + 1) for around $7. It took a little over two weeks to arrive, just in time for use on a trip.

The build quality of the Vector is indeed uninspiring. While it looks almost identical to the Contour Plus manufactured for the European market, it contains absolutely no metal (other than possibly the grips of the blade holder mechanism). It is very light weight but does feel balanced and grippy in your hand, much better than a disposable. I didn’t have any trouble with lively pivot mentioned by others. I think getting a proper pivot reaction is a function of having the blade seated 100% correctly which does take a bit more effort than you might think.

The Vector blades have a green Aloe lube strip that absorbs quite a bit of water and is very “snotty” (for lack of a better word) during the first couple of uses. The strip gets gooey to the point that you can see a string of material sticking as you pull the blade away from your face. This is similar to the Fusion strips and Schick Hydro gel, but calms down to normal cartridge lube strip with minimal “snottiness” after a couple of shaves.

Shave quality from the Vector blades was on par with what I’ve got from most other cartridge blades and disposables including the Sensor3, Mach3, Schick ST2, and Bic Metal. A single WTG pass gives nearly DFS, though it’s fading by mid-day. A 2-pass WTG/ATG gives true DFS that lasts into the early evening. That said, as is the case with all other carts, going 2-pass is taxing on the skin and can lead to notable burn by the third consecutive day. As such, this will likely only be my travel razor of choice for short trips and/or work trips where I will be visiting customers less frequently than 3 days in a row. As long as I take a day off after two consecutive 2-pass shave days, even if you still go 1-pass WTG, the burn can be minimized or eliminated.

Results were similar with bowl-lathered Proraso and Barbasol Yellow. After nearly 6 months of DE with only occasional cart use (traveling or in a hurry) I found myself quickly reverting to old bad habits like taking long sweeping strokes and not rinsing often enough. Focusing on decent technique similar to DE, specifically short repetitive strokes and frequent rinsing, yielded a much more acceptable result both in terms of closeness and comfort.

While the Vector will be a perfectly acceptable travel razor, one I won’t fret over losing if I leave it behind in a hotel bathroom, I’m not convinced it will last longer than a year or two given the fairly flimsy build quality. If/when it does break I’ll likely try to replace it with a European Contour Plus or one of the Schick Atra clones. I can’t see myself paying vintage metal Atra prices for a travel razor, however, and I do prefer the pivot over a fixed head like the Trac II (based on my experience with the Schick ST2).

Overall, I would recommend the Vector to anyone who wants to try an Atra style razor at a minimal cost, but don’t expect it to be the end-all of Atra razors if you end up using it frequently. The Vector blades are also quite acceptable AFTER you work through snottiness of the lube strip during the first couple of shaves. I’ll be trying more generic Atra blades in the coming months, specifically the DG Dorcos, Fred’s Personnas, and Wal-Mart Wilkinsons.
Grip
4.00 star(s)
Price
4.00 star(s)
Balance
3.00 star(s)
Quality
2.00 star(s)
Adjustability
2.00 star(s)
User Friendly
4.00 star(s)
Aggressiveness
2.00 star(s)
Ease of Blade Replacement
3.00 star(s)
Got this razor last week and did a couple test shaves. Curiosity got the best of me and I was thinking about trying carts again for a while. An atra handle like the vector seemed like a good option.

Comind from a DE, this shaving system feels really cheap. It's very light and feels like you have to really press hard. The lube strip becomes very sticky, I decided to use a new US Atra cart instead of the indian one that came with it. When romoving the razor from your face you can see a rope of sticky stuff connecting the razor to your face. Plus, there isnt any feedback so you dont know if you're cutting anything, which comes with the territory of using a cart.

I would say this would be a fine travel razor, but daily use is out of the question for me. I will probably try a cart without the strip next.
Grip
5.00 star(s)
Price
5.00 star(s)
Balance
5.00 star(s)
Quality
2.00 star(s)
Adjustability
1.00 star(s)
User Friendly
5.00 star(s)
Aggressiveness
1.00 star(s)
Ease of Blade Replacement
4.00 star(s)
I purchased this razor throught ebay via an indian vendor, considering the price, 5 $ with 5 cartridges i had nothing to lose.
I can say it shaves pretty well, doesn't give any irritation and it's cheap, comparing to the newer Fusion.
The lube strip works quite well also.
Grip
5.00 star(s)
Price
5.00 star(s)
Balance
5.00 star(s)
Quality
4.00 star(s)
Adjustability
1.00 star(s)
User Friendly
5.00 star(s)
Aggressiveness
4.00 star(s)
Ease of Blade Replacement
5.00 star(s)

Item information

Added by
ClubmanRob
Views
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Reviews
13
Last update
Rating
0.23 star(s) 13 ratings

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