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Personna 74 (NOS)

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First of all, I am a bit apprehensive about doing a review of a blade that is no longer in production, but I believe this blade deserves special consideration.

I enjoy shaving exclusively with new old stock (NOS) blades, finding them in most cases to be better than what is currently in production. Many a NOS user will echo my sentiments. And while it is fairly easy to toss up a review of a blade, it is in my opinion best reserved for current production blades.

I will make an exception for the Personna 74. The 74 derives its name from the element tungsten, which conveniently is numbered 74 on the periodic table of elements. Ergo, Personna 74. This blade has several things going for it. One, it is simply the longest lasting DE blade ever made, if user experience is to be believed. Shavers regularly report achieving 20 to 30 excellent shaves from this blade. Much of it has to do with the Tungsten steel and Platinum coatings, to be sure. Some of it was determined by the particular steel stock used, as well as the machines the blades were made on. In my opinion, ASR achieved the perfect storm when they manufactured this blade—all conditions and materials were perfectly aligned. They come in two flavors, the 74 and 74 plus. I have not been able to determine the differences yet.

This is one of the finest blades ever made. And not only does it yield a smooth, comfortable shave, results are extremely consistent from shave to shave. The only issue I experienced is that the first few shaves were a little rough. After that, the blade really came in to it’s own. There are a few blades that I feel are touch smoother, so smoothness is the one category (other than price) that I deducted points on.

Speaking of cost, the one negative of the 74 is price. Supplies of these are very rare, and as a result of increasing interest on the forums have trended upward. So for most this blade will become their special occasion blade and not an everyday shaver. Having said that, if you have an opportunity to pick a few up, it would be well worth your while.

If any blade deserved the title “King of Blades” it would be the Personna 74.

Latest reviews

Pros: 25+ shaves
Cons: no longer available
I begin with cost/shave. And the convenience of not have having to go through the cycle of 'Be careful it's the first day blade and then the drag of the 'is there one more left in this?'
25+ shaves. The first few are requiring you best iteration of attention. After that it is smooth sailing to the end. Again, COST/SHAVE is equivalent to most other blades but for the cheapest and they are not in the running here.
Price
2.00 star(s)
Quality
5.00 star(s)
Longevity
5.00 star(s)
Packaging
2.00 star(s)
Sharpness
5.00 star(s)
Smoothness of Shave
5.00 star(s)
The titanium coating on this blade was unique. Personna continued to use tungsten steel for about 5 years after this blade. They did not use the titanium coating on their store brands or other blades (some of which were also at least very good to excellent in the 70's)......Phillip Morris, who owned ASR at the time, thought that by applying marketing and research techniques similar to that used at Marlboro and Miller Beer, they could gain market share and profits. Although this blade was promoted and Consumer Reports noted its quality and longevity, the Gillette, Schick, and Wilkinson brands carried the day. At its peak, Personna tied for third in market share at about 6% of the market. A generation of Gillette and Schick shavers as well as the hoopla over new systems/blades mostly drowned out the extraordinary story of this blade........When Phillip Morris did not see profits materializing, it tried to sell out to BIC, an up and comer with its disposables. When that failed, it sold it out to managment. From 1975-1983, according to the New York Times, there was no advertising money spent directed to men by Personna. As quality dropped, so did sales and brand image.
Price
1.00 star(s)
Quality
5.00 star(s)
Longevity
5.00 star(s)
Packaging
2.00 star(s)
Sharpness
4.00 star(s)
Smoothness of Shave
5.00 star(s)
Dex pretty much said it all. The 74 is a premium blade. None better in my opinion. I got thirty shaves from one blade. While I don't have the heaviest beard in town it ain't peach fuzz either. And thirty shaves is right around thirty I think.

The 74 contains metals that have not been used before or since (to my knowledge) in the production of razor blades. Besides the tungsten that Stubblefield mentioned, which is added to the actual steel of the blade, titanium is used in the blade's coating. Titanium is characterized by its toughness, durability and corrosion resistance.

The 74 was a short lived blade, only in production for a few years. My theory on the reason for its downfall is that it lasted too long. How often did a guy need to buy blades when a 10-pack dispenser gave up to 300 shaves? ASR had created a blade that was just too good and unable to sustain itself in the marketplace. Just a theory.

My only grumble is about the packaging. It is nearly impossible to coerce a blade out of the dispenser due to the "frozen" oil that has slowly locked the blades together over the years of their confinement. A solution to this problem (which is sometimes a problem with NOS Gillette dispensers as well) is to soak the entire dispenser of blades in isopropyl alcohol for a few days. The alcohol loosens up the frozen oil and the blades are much easier to push out.
Price
1.00 star(s)
Quality
5.00 star(s)
Longevity
5.00 star(s)
Packaging
0.00 star(s)
Sharpness
4.00 star(s)
Smoothness of Shave
5.00 star(s)

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Stubblefield
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