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aggressive or not?

Hi guys,

I've been shaving with a Merkur 34C HD around 5+ years. I'm using Feather blades. I'm looking for a new razor and blade.
my facial hair is pretty coarse, thick and I find it's not as smooth of a shave as it could be.

What I'm wondering is if this razor + blade combo is considered aggressive, not aggressive or something else?
I see razors on the market labeled as 'aggressive' or not but I don't really know what that means exactly. I know it's different for everyone but I want to see if there's a consensus here.

So would you say the Merkur 34C HD with a Feather blade is an aggressive shave, mild, super aggressive? The reason I'm asking is I want to know where this razor + blade combo stands in the market in terms of 'aggressiveness' to help me make a more informed purchasing decision. Maybe I just need different blades and the razor is fine, who knows. I'm going to try some different blades before I drop $100+ on a new razor.
 
I've found the 34c to be quite mild (too mild for me), even with Feathers.
I think most other reviews have considered it to be mid-mild.
There are many options available for far less than $100 which would fit your needs - I'm sure others will chime in with suggestions.
 
Fatip (Grande or Piccolo), or Muhle Rocca.

The Fatips are about a third of the price of a Rocca, if that's important, but the Rocca is one hell of a looker imo - all stainless too.
 
My next razor after my 34c was a brass Karve with B plate. It was a real step up in efficiency. Still one of my favorites.
 
A Gillette slim is a good next choice. You will likely have good luck with Astra SP, GSB, Rapira platinum lux, or some other more popular blades. I never thought feathers were very smooth.
 

Flintstone65

Imagining solutions for imaginary problems
Ambassador
Hi guys,

I've been shaving with a Merkur 34C HD around 5+ years. I'm using Feather blades. I'm looking for a new razor and blade.
my facial hair is pretty coarse, thick and I find it's not as smooth of a shave as it could be.

What I'm wondering is if this razor + blade combo is considered aggressive, not aggressive or something else?
I see razors on the market labeled as 'aggressive' or not but I don't really know what that means exactly. I know it's different for everyone but I want to see if there's a consensus here.

So would you say the Merkur 34C HD with a Feather blade is an aggressive shave, mild, super aggressive? The reason I'm asking is I want to know where this razor + blade combo stands in the market in terms of 'aggressiveness' to help me make a more informed purchasing decision. Maybe I just need different blades and the razor is fine, who knows. I'm going to try some different blades before I drop $100+ on a new razor.
So I started out with exactly your razor and blade a few years ago; but honestly, I went down a rabbit hole of vintage RAD for DE and SE, and it's been well over a year since I've shaved with my Merkur 34C. So I don't know what I'd say it is now, but then I would've called it aggressive because I rarely walked away from the shave without a weeper. It was my first DE razor and my technique was "less than great". Today, I shave with A LOT of different razors and I have a better sense of what I like and don't like, and what (for me at least) is aggressive/mild.

But let's define the terms, since "aggressive" means several things to different people. Here's the various criteria for aggressiveness that I've heard over the years:
  • Blade feel. Really feel the blade on your skin, then the razor is aggressive.

  • A biter. The design of the razor (usually blade exposure and gap) are such that if you're not VERY careful with your technique, you're going to get bitten or get weepers, or just generally get to see your blood up close.

  • Efficient. An aggressive razor removes more hair/stubble in a single pass than a "mild" razor. Therefore, it is more efficient (i.e., less passes to get smooth)
Which of those is correct? I would say all of the above, although frankly I think about it in terms of two words: comfort and efficiency. Generally speaking, a really comfortable shave -- which for many often means little to no blade feel; you're technique can be somewhat "relaxed" without fear of reprisals from the razor. Efficiency is what it means above. So a Gillette Tech is often called a "Mild" razor....and it is for me. It's a fairly comfortable shave, and it often takes an extra pass or clean-up to get as smooth as I'd like. The R41 is considered Aggressive (by many people, and certainly by me). It's not comfortable (for me) and unless I'm paying close attention, I will often have a little (not a lot) of red on my face....and frankly I can get a close shave, but I don't enjoy it.

So let's talk about where you think the Merkur 34C falls (using the Feather)
  • What kind of shave are you looking for....BBS (smooth even when you run your hand against the grain of your beard after shaving, and it lasts for many, many hours), or DFS (smooth, but you may feel a little roughness --although most people think you're closely shaved, and it last about 8 hours or less)?
  • How many passes do you usually do get to the level of smoothness you like (2 and a little touch-up, 3 and a little touch-up)?
  • Do you usually come away with no blood (no weepers, no spots anywhere) and no irritation or sensitivity? Or do you usually have at least one small weeper or even the occasional nick?
  • Do you feel the blade on your face, or does it feel like your wiping off the shaving cream and you're wondering "did I put the blade in there?"
Understanding those aspects will probably help as you read and hear about the various options (modern and vintage). I get the feeling (and this is qualitative, not quantitative) that most people think on a scale of 1 to 10 scale of Mild-to-Wild (with Aggressive being 8 to 10) the Merkur 34C is somewhere between a 4 to 6. I would've given it a 7 or 8 back when I used it, but that was more me than the razor; now I suspect I would give it a 4.

This post is past TLDR-territory; but I also want to throw something else out there. I would absolutely try a different blade. I like the Nacet and Voskhod -- and I still use Feathers from time to time. I don't personally subscribe to the different blade for a different razor theory; I find Nacet works well in any one of my 50 or so DE razors (yep, I've got a RAD problem). The Feather does too, but when a razor is aggressive (as defined above), I REALLY don't enjoy using a Feather with it.

So I could recommend at least a dozen great razors to try, but I'm not sure if you're looking for a more "comfortable" (in terms of blade feel) shave or a more "efficient" shave. The grail (for me at least) has been finding razors where the shave is comfortable and the razor is efficient enough to shave me to my level of preferred closeness with the least amount of passes. The more passes, the more chance for irritation.

If you had the time and tenacity to read this, I hope it helped in some small way. If you want a straight up razor recommendation, let me know and I'll throw my 2-cents in.....although I can't promise it won't be another REALLY long post. :biggrin1:

I am relatively new here, myself, and have received lots of great (and occasionally, not so great) advice from the helpful folks here.
Hey -- I resemble that remark :letterk1:
 
Last edited:

BigJ

Ambassador
I rate the Merkur in the ‘mild/moderate’ category, which is what I like when paired with a sharp blade. Given that you are using Feathers, you can’t get much sharper!

A more aggressive razor may well be the answer. Depending on budget and what appeals, a FaTip (or Schore) or one of the modern adjustable options might work well. Another approach would be to go for something vintage, perhaps a RedTip. The main thing is to enjoy the search!! :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
 
The English Gillette Rocket HD 500 would I think, fit the bill. The English Aristocrat Jr. is a touch more efficient/aggressive. Both proved to be revelations to me when paired with a Feather blade.
 
my facial hair is pretty coarse, thick and I find it's not as smooth of a shave as it could be.
Have you used preshave moisturizer and a warm/hot flannel applied to the skin before and between passes? Once i started doing this, I went from using aggressive blades and razors to milder ones ! IMHO the importance of good exfoliation is overlooked on this Forum
 
Great posts above, so I don’t have much to add. I will say that using a different blade will not necessarily turn a mild razor into an aggressive one. As @Flintstone65 pointed out, aggressiveness comes from things like blade exposure and blade gap.

A sharper blade, like a feather, could certainly get you he shave you want and is definitely something you should explore. However, if that doesn’t get you to where you want to be, then it’s time to start shopping.
 
If you want something that shaves very similar but just a step up I'd recommend the 37C HD or/and Fatip Gentile. Neither will break the bank. As someone who used a 34C HD regularly for years I think you would enjoy either of them, or both of them.
 

never-stop-learning

Contributor
Ambassador
So I started out with exactly your razor and blade a few years ago; but honestly, I went down a rabbit hole of vintage RAD for DE and SE, and it's been well over a year since I've shaved with my Merkur 34C. So I don't know what I'd say it is now, but then I would've called it aggressive because I rarely walked away from the shave without a weeper. It was my first DE razor and my technique was "less than great". Today, I shave with A LOT of different razors and I have a better sense of what I like and don't like, and what (for me at least) is aggressive/mild.

But let's define the terms, since "aggressive" means several things to different people. Here's the various criteria for aggressiveness that I've heard over the years:
  • Blade feel. Really feel the blade on your skin, then the razor is aggressive.

  • A biter. The design of the razor (usually blade exposure and gap) are such that if you're not VERY careful with your technique, you're going to get bitten or get weepers, or just generally get to see your blood up close.

  • Efficient. An aggressive razor removes more hair/stubble in a single pass than a "mild" razor. Therefore, it is more efficient (i.e., less passes to get smooth)
Which of those is correct? I would say all of the above, although frankly I think about it in terms of two words: comfort and efficiency. Generally speaking, a really comfortable shave -- which for many often means little to no blade feel; you're technique can be somewhat "relaxed" without fear of reprisals from the razor. Efficiency is what it means above. So a Gillette Tech is often called a "Mild" razor....and it is for me. It's a fairly comfortable shave, and it often takes an extra pass or clean-up to get as smooth as I'd like. The R41 is considered Aggressive (by many people, and certainly by me). It's not comfortable (for me) and unless I'm paying close attention, I will often have a little (not a lot) of red on my face....and frankly I can get a close shave, but I don't enjoy it.

So let's talk about where you think the Merkur 34C falls (using the Feather)
  • What kind of shave are you looking for....BBS (smooth even when you run your hand against the grain of your beard after shaving, and it lasts for many, many hours), or DFS (smooth, but you may feel a little roughness --although most people think you're closely shaved, and it last about 8 hours or less)?
  • How many passes do you usually do get to the level of smoothness you like (2 and a little touch-up, 3 and a little touch-up)?
  • Do you usually come away with no blood (no weepers, no spots anywhere) and no irritation or sensitivity? Or do you usually have at least one small weeper or even the occasional nick?
  • Do you feel the blade on your face, or does it feel like your wiping off the shaving cream and you're wondering "did I put the blade in there?"
Understanding those aspects will probably help as you read and hear about the various options (modern and vintage). I get the feeling (and this is qualitative, not quantitative) that most people think on a scale of 1 to 10 scale of Mild-to-Wild (with Aggressive being 8 to 10) the Merkur 34C is somewhere between a 4 to 6. I would've given it a 7 or 8 back when I used it, but that was more me than the razor; now I suspect I would give it a 4.

This post is past TLDR-territory; but I also want to throw something else out there. I would absolutely try a different blade. I like the Nacet and Voskhod -- and I still use Feathers from time to time. I don't personally subscribe to the different blade for a different razor theory; I find Nacet works well in any one of my 50 or so DE razors (yep, I've got a RAD problem). The Feather does too, but when a razor is aggressive (as defined above), I REALLY don't enjoy using a Feather with it.

So I could recommend at least a dozen great razors to try, but I'm not sure if you're looking for a more "comfortable" (in terms of blade feel) shave or a more "efficient" shave. The grail (for me at least) has been finding razors where the shave is comfortable and the razor is efficient enough to shave me to my level of preferred closeness with the least amount of passes. The more passes, the more chance for irritation.

If you had the time and tenacity to read this, I hope it helped in some small way. If you want a straight up razor recommendation, let me know and I'll throw my 2-cents in.....although I can't promise it won't be another REALLY long post. :biggrin1:
Not much to add to this - very thorough. :)
 
I never used the 34 with a Feather but other blades that were pretty sharp. That razor was nowhere near aggressive enough for me. But I am sure there is someone out there who loves this combo because it works for them.
 
Hi guys,

I've been shaving with a Merkur 34C HD around 5+ years. I'm using Feather blades. I'm looking for a new razor and blade.
my facial hair is pretty coarse, thick and I find it's not as smooth of a shave as it could be.

What I'm wondering is if this razor + blade combo is considered aggressive, not aggressive or something else?
I see razors on the market labeled as 'aggressive' or not but I don't really know what that means exactly. I know it's different for everyone but I want to see if there's a consensus here.

So would you say the Merkur 34C HD with a Feather blade is an aggressive shave, mild, super aggressive? The reason I'm asking is I want to know where this razor + blade combo stands in the market in terms of 'aggressiveness' to help me make a more informed purchasing decision. Maybe I just need different blades and the razor is fine, who knows. I'm going to try some different blades before I drop $100+ on a new razor.


I tend to favor highly efficient razors (some of these razors need to be aggressive in order to reach a high level of efficiency). The two I use the most often lately are the ATT Aluminum Calypso H2 and the Muhle R41.

I rarely use my 34C anymore (let alone my 15C), they are just too mild for my tastes. I while back I tough I could bring these back into my rotation by using the two sharpest blades I know: the Feather and the Kai (I had high hopes for this one, being a bit wider than the rest of DE blades). I failed to achieve the results I was looking for, so the razors went back to the bench.

So, in a nutshell and IMHO, if you are looking for a more efficient setup, you’ll need to find a more efficient razor than your 34C. Different blades are not going to make that much of a difference, once again IMHO.

And you don’t’ need to spend $100+ on a new razor to get there, that is unless you want to! And nothing wrong about that in my book. Good luck!
 
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