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After a year and half of dedicated DE shaving I was getting better shaves from cartridge razors. I found myself favoring the various twin blade cartridge razors that are commonly available so I set out to find myself a swanky razor handle to use with twin blade cartridges. After finding a really mint Atra handle on the 'bay I still wanted one that I could use for TracII style fixed head cartridges and Sensor cartridges. The Merkur MII fills that bill perfectly so I took the plunge and ordered an MII. I ordered the polished chrome finish but it's also available in gold, satin chrome, and titan which is sort of a smokey chrome color.

This gorgeous razor is very well engineered and accepts all TracII style cartridges as well as Atra, Sensor, and the Schick Protector. The razor comes packaged in a handsome presentation case and includes three adapters for attaching your favorite twin blade pivoting head cartridge. It also includes a sample cartridge of each type. The TracII style cartridge is a Merkur brand cartridge which is fashioned after the TracII/Atra style replacements available on the market but has the added feature of having a little tab that allows you to clear built up debris if your razor gets clogged. This cartridge can be used either as a fixed head or a pivoting head by using the Atra adapter.

The weight and balance of the razor warrants mention. The MII weighs in at 2.4 ounces and has a very organic balance with most of the weight in the bulbous end of the handle. I call the balance "organic" as it almost feels like an extension of your hand as you shave with it. If you hold the razor with a balance point grip this razor seems to plant itself in your hand and is very easy to maneuver about your visage. When changing to a back hand grip for shaving across the grain on the off-hand side of your face the razor's balance keeps the handle firmly in your grasp. I use a couple of different grips when I shave depending on the direction of my stroke and I never felt like the razor would drop out of my hand as I switched grips.

This razor truly shines as a fixed head shaver. My first shave with the MII was with the Merkur cartridge used in the TracII fixed head style. I was able to get a very smooth excellent shave in just two passes. If you like TracII style razors then you should find the MII to perform admirably. The rails on the head placement feature little bumps which help to hold any of the various replacement cartridges available on the market securely. I test fitted the Wilkinson Sword cartridges and the Gillette TracII cartridges and found them to fit snugly and securely.

My next shave was with the Sensor adapter. Before I ordered this razor I was very fearful that the adapters would be flimsy and cheap seeing that they are made from plastic. Well, plastic they are but flimsy and cheap they are not. The adapter snaps onto the head very securely. After attaching it I was very confident that it would not flex or shift about as I shaved. I was even more impressed when I snapped in the Sensor cartridge. It actually holds the cartridge more securely than the actual Gillette Sensor handle. The Sensor handle leaves a fair amount of play between the cartridge and the placement head but the Merkur adapter fits the cartridge very precisely. There is nothing flimsy feeling about the adapter when it's loaded with a cartridge and it felt very solid and secure during the shave.

There are two drawbacks to the adapters. The first is that they are not mechanical. Releasing the cartridge from the adapter is a little tricky. Because it's not mechanical like the Sensor handle you need to push the cartridge to one side in order to pop it off the adapter. The Atra and Protector adapters allow for a more easy cartridge release than the Sensor.

The second is the adapters don't allow for the same pivoting action that the original manufacturer handles provide. The pivot is only very minor and while it does help to keep the razor head on your face as you navigate the jaw line and chin it actually causes the cartridge to act more like a fixed head rather than a pivot. This didn't bother me at all but some may prefer the easier pivoting action of the original handles by Gillette or Schick.

If you really love the pivoting action of Atra, Sensor, or Protector razors then this razor may leave you a little disappointed in terms of pivoting action. If you prefer less pivot or the fixed head TracII style cartridge like I do then you should really enjoy using this razor.

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