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Challenge PIF - Astra Superior Stainless Blades - Then And Now

Just finished 4 shaves in my muhle r41 with both. I changed the blades for each side of my face which proved to be slightly annoying but decided it was the fairest way since I don’t have any duplicate razors, and I’m most familiar with the r41. After 4 shaves the current Astra SS probably has one more shave left, while I could see the vintage going another couple shaves. The vintage is slightly smoother but both blades are a good combination of sharp and smooth. Would use either one but wouldn’t go out of my way to find the vintage ones or pay a higher price with them being vintage.
 
Tonight's shave was with the modern Astra loaded in my Oristo razor. This was part 2 of using a mild razor with the Astra blade. WTG pass was very comfortable, however, like last night , it did leave more stubble than I expected (though not as much as with the AS-D2 from the night before). As like the night before, the ATG pass was slower and more deliberate and again I ended up with a near BBS. I did an XTG pass along my jaw line and under my chin just to keep things consistent, and I ended up with a BBS.

Tomorrow will be the end of my Astra Challenge. I will return to fairly aggressive razors to finish off. The vintage Astra is loaded in my RR Lupo 90, and the modern Astra is loaded in my newly acquired Ikon Tek for it's first shave. :scared:
 


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

Razor
: Fatip Lo Storto Originale (aka FOCS)
Brush: Yaqi Blue Marble 26mm Timber Wolf
Soap: RazoRock Blue Label

Very good performances from all aspects of today's shave.

The Yaqi Blue Marble 26mm Timber Wolf/RR Blue Label combination is automatic; mounds of rich, slick lather, every time.

The FOCS/modern Astra SS pairing was much better than previously. There was no tugging or roughness, this time, and the acute sense of sharpness (almost jaggedness) is gone. The result was a smooth, comfortable shave with no post-shave irritation. Some extra buffing was needed on the ATG pass, but otherwise a quick, effortless outing.

Now, we'll see if it can maintain this kind of performance over the long run.
 
Modern Astra Blade #1 Shave #7
Tools used: Lupo Razor, PdP 63 soap & Plissoft Brush
Made it to shave X7 & it was a little rough going but I did get a close 4 pass shave with multiple touch ups.! Going to retire the blade & use the Vintage Czech blade tomorrow.
As usual with the Lupo Razor no nicks or Irritation noted. :thumbup1:
 
Vintage Astra Superior Stainless Blade #2 - Shave #2

TL;DR -
slightly rougher than shave#1, some irritation, a weeper, and a DFS shave

Equipment: Gillette Heritage, vintage Astra SS blade (2), PdP 63 shave soap, GrayDog GreyWolf brush

Results: this morning's shave was a bit rougher, with some skin irritations, but not much tugging. I did manage a DFS shave.

A Consistent Pattern Appears: for me, and YMMV, shave#1 with both vintage blades were very good shaves, with performance beginning to fall off with shave#2. This blade is tracking along the same path as blade#1, meaning that I'll get one more shave out of it before binning the blade.
 
Modern Astra #5. Single pass plus a bit of a touch up under jawline. Perfectly fine shave for any public appearance. I completely understand how past generations shaved like this. My only gripe would be that I waste more soap than I would like.
 
RR GC .84 SB, Astra Modern SS (1), Proraso Red Pre-Shave, MWF with a little Proraso Red Cream, Stirling Splash, Stirling unscented balm. Much better blade feel, very comfortable shave, closer shave than the vintage, no tugging, sharp blade without worry, no weepers, alcohol and alum no reaction, almost BBS with little effort, 9/10. For me the modern SS Astra is the clear winner after one shave.
 

BigJ

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

Purpose:
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!

Results:

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
Shave #4: 9

Discussion: Wonder if this blade is getting ‘tired?’
 

Messygoon

Abandoned By Gypsies.
E80CB63F-4B98-46B4-A18D-275EFA2FE2E6.jpeg

Finally broke into the vintage Czech blade this morning. The 50-year-old wrapper didn’t want to give it up! The shave was smooth, comfortable, efficient, with no weepers. Compared to the modern day Astra SS, the vintage blade tugged a bit more, but also provided greater feedback. Kind of like the difference between driving a Miata or a Lexus LS. The Lexus delivers a hushed, buttery smooth ride. The Miata less isolation, but great road feel. Both amazing in their own right.

But the greatest impression was the joy of shaving with a half-century-old Astra in the lineage of my current go-to blade. I continue to be amazed at the kindness of our B&B fraternity of gentlemen. Thanks @Grundi, @Space_Cadet, and anyone else responsible for making this challenge possible. What a wonderful experience.
 
ThunderDome Challenge, ‘Two Blades Enter, One Blade Leaves!’

Purpose:
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!

Results:

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
Shave #4: 9

Discussion: Wonder if this blade is getting ‘tired?’
One can easily spot "the science man", I think. ;) Thank You for the info!
 


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

Razor
: Fatip Lo Storto Originale (aka FOCS)
Brush: Fine Stout 24mm Angel Hair
Soap: Pré de Provence No. 63

Top-notch performances from both the soap/brush and razor/blade pairings.

The Fine Stout/Pré de Provence combination is fantastic! Just a few swirls is all it takes to make enough rich, slick lather for five passes.

This lovely lather invariably helped the FOCS/vintage Astra SS duo to glide easily over my skin. All three of my usual passes were smooth and comfortable. The ATG pass was particularly quick and trouble-free.

However, like last time, I needed to expend more effort to get a close shave. This seems to confirm my suspicion that the blade has dulled somewhat. On the other hand, the FOCS is so forgiving that a bit of extra buffing doesn't necessarily lead to post-shave irritation. In fact, my face feels quite refreshed.

So far, I'm leaning towards the vintage blade as my favourite among the two flavours of Astra SS. It has been smoother than the modern SS, but a little less efficient (and probably lower longevity). The modern SS is definitely sharper and my shaves have been much more efficient, but the comfort isn't there. (Interesting that @ivan_101 and I differ on which blade feels sharper. "YMMV" rears its ugly head again! :laugh: )

In conclusion, a 30-year advance in technology might allow the modern SS to stay sharper and last longer than the vintage SS, but it can't make it a better blade (subjectively speaking).
 

lancre

Contributor
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

Results:
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
Shave #8 (Stirling Aggressive head) Astra RUS 9.0/10

Round 5:
Shave #9 (Fatboy on 6) Astra CZE 9.0/10
So 5 shaves on the first edge of my first Astra CZE and it's still giving me the next best thing to a BBS. I may have set the Fatboy too high, though. During the shave, it felt a bit harsh, maybe 5 would be better. No post shave drama, though.
Shave #10 (Fatboy) Astra RUS xx/10
 

emwolf

Contributor
Shave #5 with Modern Astra
Very pleasant morning with Modern Astra on shave number two in a Gillette Slim using Wild West Aces & Eights shaving soap. The soap lathered up remarkably well and was incredibly slick. This was probably the best shave I've ever had with an Astra blade, very, very comfortable with a DFS result. Finished with modern Mennen Skin Bracer. Modern Astra is the winner!!!!
 
I put the second vintage in an EJ DE89 this morning and got another great shave. The vintage blade has done an excellent job in three different razors now. The next test is to see how many shave I can get keeping the same setup every day.
 
36A9F814-9D12-473B-979F-55ED8775E735.jpeg

Third shave:
Wolfman WR2 1.25 SB
Astra Stainless Vintage (3)
Simpson Duke 3 Best
Grooming Dept Preshave
Grooming Dept Tentazione soap
Skin Bracer aftershave

Nice shave, but not quite as close as the last two days.

Vintage
Day 1: 9.5
Day 2: 10
Day 3: 9
 
Tonight I decided to move up my first shave with my Ikon Tek loaded with a modern Asta. I did a couple of things different tonight. first I used a razor I never shaved with before. Second, I used a soap I have never used before (it came with the razor). For the Astra challenge, I been using an unscented soap base that I been testing for a friend just to keep the shaves consistent. Third, I am including a pic.

DSC03682.JPG

WTG pass went very well. I started off riding the cap more than I usually do and got past the WTG and ATG passes very well. For my XTG pass along my jaw line and under my chin, I changed angle to ride the base. Things worked out well and I ended up with another BBS. The one thing I noticed was that the modern Astra is a couple of shaves away from being tossed. No tugging, but it is beginning to leave more stubble than the previous nights.

Tomorrow I have the vintage Astra loaded in my RR Lupo 90 for the final shave of this challenge. After that I will write up my impressions of both blades.
 
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