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Challenge PIF - Astra Superior Stainless Blades - Then And Now


Shave #4 amd 5 with Vintage Astra

Saturday loaded up a new Vintage Astra in to a Gillette Slim and used the Chiseled Face Sherlock line of soap, aftershave and cologne. Much like the shaves before with the vintage, a tad rough, but very close with a BBS finish that lasted nearly all day. It did not prepare me for my Monday morning shave. I usually do not shave on Sundays and Monday is 48 hours of whisker growth. I enjoyed the results of the Saturday shave so I figured I'd keep the set up, just changing the soap and aftershave to Razorock For Chicago (a very light floral blend). Lathered up nicely, let it set and started shaving. Tugging, rough shave all the way through. I did the same progressive shave I did Saturday starting the Slim on 3 for the first pass, then 5 for the second. I even kicked it to 7 for another back of the head pass since it felt so stubbly. I have a socially acceptable shave yes, but it was not comfortable getting there.
Today was MdC Monday. Used an Astra vintage for a 2nd shave with my 3$ Gilette tech paired with MDC Fougère. The blade was super smooth. Id like to buy these blades. Could have stopped after 1st pass but did 3 passes.(WTG, XTG, XTG) Outstanding shave!
Astra Superior Stainless Blades - Then And Now
Czech Blade 1 Shave 1

I decided to go with the vintage blade first. Coming off my 26th shave with a Kai blade I have high hopes for these blades.

Pre Shave: Hot shower and Neutrogena face wash
Razor: Gillette Slim Adjustable
Blade: Astra SS (Vintage Czech)
Brush: Maggard Synthetic
Soap: Stirling Gentleman
AS Balm: Nivea
AS: Pinaud Citrus Musk

I loaded the Czech Astra in my Slim and set it to 5, which is usually where I start with new blades and adjust accordingly if needed. The first shave with this blade was very nice. It was very smooth and other than a tiny bit of tugging at the center of my neck, (which was probably due to not using this razor in quite a while) there was no discomfort. I used my alum block after to try an learn a little more about the shave but there was no report. I actually had more report from the Citrus Musk AS than that alum block but it really wasn't anything out of the ordinary.

I plan to use this razor/blade combo once more then switch to the modern blade for two shaves. After that I am thinking of pulling out two Gillette Old Types and do a head to head Razor/blade show down and go shave for shave.


Yesterday got away from me (again, sigh), so two shaves, #6 & #7, to report today.

Associated gear:

Maggard 22mm 2-band badgers, one original, one in a Whipped Dog handle.
PDP 63
Thayer's WH Toner
Nivea Men Sensitive PSB


Round 1: Edge to CZE
Shave #1 (NDC Tech) Astra CZE 8.5/10
Shave #2 ( I1 Tech) Astra RUS 8.0/10

Round 2: Edge to RUS
Shave #3 (I1 Tech) Astra CZE 8.0/10
Shave #4 (NDC Tech) Astra RUS 8.5/10

Round 3: Tie
Shave #5 (Stirling Aggressive head) Astra CZE 9.0/10
Best shave so far. Almost a BBS, but there were a couple of spots on my neck where running my fingertips ATG, I could feel a minuscule difference in texture rather than feeling actual stubble.

Shave #6 (Maggard V3A head) Astra RUS 9.0/10
Virtual replay of shave #5. Just seemed a little rougher during the shave, but the results were the same.

Round 4:
Shave #7 (Maggard V3A head) Astra CZE 9.0/10
Same as the last 2 days. The V3A head and Astra SS seem to have been designed for each other.
Shave #6 (Stirling Aggressive head) Astra RUS
Shave 3 with the modern. Overall the shave was good, but the blade was a little tuggy, but the result was good. After the shave with each blade I can say I like the modern SS better than the SP, but the vintage beats out the SS for me.

I’m going to try using the same blade several days in a row now to see how it holds up as a daily blade.
Tonight's shave was with the vintage Astra loaded in my Feather AS-D2. this is a very mild shaving razor and usually does not like medium performing blades or blades ready to be trashed. The WTG pass felt very comfortable and I dialed in my usual angle. When done, I found that a lot of stubble was left on my face. ATG pass I slowed down and was more deliberate in my stroke and not only was the left over stubble completely cleared, but it was to the point where I needed only a touch up. Like all other nights, I did an XTG pass along the jaw line and under the chin and achieved another BBS. I was surprised that the vintage Astra performed so well considering that it is about 4-5 shaves in on this blade.

Tomorrow I will shave with the modern Astra loaded in my Oristo.
The Modern Astra, blade 1 -- the clear winner over Vintage blade 1

Reminder from last week (post #160): The Vintage Astra was very good for early head shaves but dulled rather quickly. However, the Vintage was terrible for face shaves using aggressive razors. Milder razor produced barely acceptable results.

The modern Astra gave much more consistent results in various razors and aggression levels.

First Use modern Astra: Muhle R41
8/10 Head shave.
Performed much better on head than face. R41 on head usually requires 1 full WTG pass plus ATG pickups. This blade required 3 passes to get BBS. Not an uncomfortable shave, but more passes than usual with this razor.
7.5/10 Face shave. Much better experience than vintage blade, but I had a hard time getting neck smooth. 1 weeper, good adequate sharpness, average comfort. Almost BBS after 3 passes and pickup.

Second Use modern Astra: Karve brass, E Plate
9.5/10 Face shave
. Excellent smooth, comfortable 3 pass shave. No tugging, no need for touch ups. BBS.
10/10 Head shave. 2 pass and very light touch up. BBS.

Third Use: Gillette Tech
7/10 Face shave
. 3 passes with much buffing to get BBS. Much stinging on chin and jaw with alum. Blade at end of life after 5 shaves, same as vintage.

For blades 2 I will compare in adjustable razors.

Third shave with the Astra Superior Stainless (Vintage) blade #1

: Fatip Lo Storto Originale (aka FOCS)
Brush: Yaqi Sagrada Familia 24mm Fan-shaped Tuxedo
Soap: RazoRock Green Label

The Yaqi Sagrada Familia Tuxedo Fan/RR Green Label pairing performed superbly. No other comment needed.

Meanwhile, the FOCS/vintage Astra SS duo was very smooth again. All three passes were quick and trouble-free. However, I think that it might already be on the downhill side because I got the sense that the sharpness is slightly reduced compared to the previous shave. There was no tugging, but it felt like I needed to exert more effort to get a close shave. Also, a bit more buffing was needed to tidy up than yesterday's shave.

Maybe this isn't a surprise from a 30-year old blade. I suspect that the technology from that era is somewhat less advanced than that of modern blades.

Despite all that, it was still an excellent performance. No post-shave irritation, so no ASB was required.
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Shave #7

I used two very similar Fat Techs today. Vintage blade right side in the refinished Tech; Modern blade left side in the Tech with the original finish.
It is about 22 hours after this shave. The side of my face where I used the vintage blade has a more noticeable amount of stubble than the side with the modern blade. I feel quite lopsided now. I usually shave every other day, as I have a slow growing beard. But both sides exhibit more stubble than I should have at this point. I am going to have to shave again today to even things out. But my prior observation has held true. The modern SS has outperformed the vintage SS consistently throughout this challenge.


Shave #4 with Modern Astra
Well, after my disastrously uncomfortable shave yesterday with the vintage Astra, I swapped with a brand new modern Astra in my Gillette Slim. Using my new Rudy Vey Bog Oak brush and tallow formula AOS Sandalwood soap I had a delightfully comfortable and decently close shave. I must concede that the modern Astra is the winner. I still have two vintage blades left if any CONUS members would like them, I'd be happy to ship them off. They are not for me and will go the way of the Graham-Fields and Hammer blades in my collection.


ThunderDome Challenge, ‘Two Blades Enter, One Blade Leaves!’

To pick a winner, no ties allowed!

Methods: No blinding. Wolfman WR1 (my ‘daily driver’) will be loaded with the test blade. Then I use my (whatever looks good this AM) rotation of (mostly) ‘tallow’ soaps, badger brushes and assorted splashes.

Each shave will be judged using my ‘10 point’ scale during a week of shaves. Then on to the next blade.

Not exactly ‘scientific’ but this is the best I can do these days!


Astra SS (Modern Russian) Blade 1
Shave #1: 9.5
Shave #2: 10
Shave #3: 9
Shave #4: 9.5
Shave #5: 9.5
Shave #6: 9
Shave #7: 9
Average: 9.4

Vintage Astra SS (Czech) Blade 1
Shave #1: 9
Shave #2: 9
Shave #3: 9.5

Discussion: This is getting close!
First shave today:
Wolfman WR2 1.25 SB
Astra Stainless Vintage (2)
Simpson Chubby 1 Super
Grooming Dept Preshave
Tallow and Steel Madagascar soap
Brut aftershave

Even better than day 1–shave was smoother and closer. Really liking the vintage so far.

Day 1: 9.5
Day 2: 10
Vintage Astra Superior Stainless Blade #2 - Shave #1

went a bit aggressive, decent smoothness, 2 weepers, DFS shave

Equipment: Gillette Heritage, vintage Astra SS blade (1), Tabac shave stick, GrayDog GreyWolf brush

Woah! Don't touch That: unwrapped vintage Astra SS blade #2 and part of the wrapper ripped and stuck to the blade. These are very impressive glue dots after 30 +/- years. I gingerly and nervously scraped off the bit of wrapper. {Exhales} crisis averted.

Results: using the vintage Astra SS Blade in a slightly more aggressive razor, at least to me, than the Gillette Slim or the Merkur 20C, I get plenty of feedback and a very nice shave. I did have a couple of weepers and some irritation; however, I walked away with a DFS shave.
Vintage shave #1

I'm sorry for the delay in joining in. I got sunburn and a minor cut that prevented me from shaving for a little while. I had to remove the beard and give the face a rest before the challenge. The beard was starting to look good though. The only problem was these white hairs that snuck in here and there. I don't know where they came from. I'm still 28 and have been for years!

Since a few others started with the vintage in a Slim I did as well.

Blade: Vintage Astra SS
Pre: Warm shower with Kirk's unscented Castile soap
Razor: Gillette Slim Adjustable on 6
Soap: Stirling Sharp Dressed Man
Brush: Stirling Pro Handle Synthetic
After: Stirling Sharp Dressed Man splash

Nice and smooth. Better than a current production SP in my opinion. 2 1/2 passes resulted in mostly BBS. This tub of SDM refuses to die. The soap is falling apart, but it loads quickly and lathers nicely. No blood, no weepers, no nothing. Smooth sailing just like it's supposed to be.
Final post from me on this subject. In the good tradition of this PIF, I gave 2 others a set of classic and modern blade to try out.
Overall, I liked the modern SS a bit better, and it performed a bit better on the same original level as the classic blade. I ditched it today after the 5th use.

Thanks again for being part of this PIF!


Associated gear:
Maggard 22mm 2-band badgers, one original, one in a Whipped Dog handle; PDP 63
Alum, Thayer's WH Toner, Nivea Men Sensitive PSB

Round 1: Edge to CZE
Shave #1 (NDC Tech) Astra CZE 8.5/10
Shave #2 ( I1 Tech) Astra RUS 8.0/10

Round 2: Edge to RUS
Shave #3 (I1 Tech) Astra CZE 8.0/10
Shave #4 (NDC Tech) Astra RUS 8.5/10

Round 3: Tie
Shave #5 (Stirling Aggressive head) Astra CZE 9.0/10
Shave #6 (Maggard V3A head) Astra RUS 9.0/10

Round 4: Tie
Shave #7 (Maggard V3A head) Astra CZE 9.0/10
Same as the last 2 days. The V3A head and Astra SS seem to have been designed for each other.

Shave #8 (Stirling Aggressive head) Astra RUS 9.0/10
Another near-BBS shave. Since the Stirling Aggressive and the Maggard V3A appear to be the same head, this is no surprise.
The highest drama today came from my alum, lately a stick of Crystal Deodorant. The alum fell out of its holder into the sink.
The shave itself was effortless, and I'm still on the first edge of each blade.

Back to vintage tomorrow, breaking out a Fatboy.
Second shave today with the modern Astra SS with the same setup (with a brief delay in lathering when the knot popped out of the handle of my beautiful restored brush...we'll epoxy it in this time). After a quick brush swap, we were back to business.

This shave was even better than the first. After the second pass, I could have stopped with a very acceptable DFS. After a third ATG pass, I had a BBS face, including at my jawline and and chin where it wasn't quite smooth enough after the first shave. This shave was very comfortable without a single issue. While I have only tried a handful of blades thus far in my month-long wet shaving adventure, this one is at the top thus far.
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