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Cheapie Oriental Razor Shootout!

I have decided to put my money where my mouth is. Or isn't. Most of us here are familiar with the Gold Dollar's pros and cons from actually using them. To me, the worst characteristic of the brand is that the bevel angle is too wide. Then ZY430+ came out, with an even fatter bevel angle. Not too many guys who bought them, still have them in their rotation. Why? Steel was okay, maybe better than the GD steel. But it was like shaving with a cold chisel. No matter how much you put into honing, it's still a 20deg or 21deg bevel. May as well shave with your pocketknife. Now we have new kid on the block but actually not so new at all Titan, with bevel angles not quite as obtuse as the ZY but still more obtuse than the GD razors, but made from three different grades of Japanese steel, two being pretty good and one being darn good. I am on record as badmouthing the Titans for their geometry and pocketknife scales. After being disappointed in wasting a few bucks on a pair of ZY430+ razors, I was reluctant to actually throw good money after bad, and spring for a Titan. So I have been assuming I would not like them, based on their known characteristics and not actual hands-on time with them.

Until now.

My contention is it doesn't matter how good the steel is, if the geometry is outside the performance envelope, and heavy, metal lined scales make shaving and maintaining the razor a major PITA. Today, I decided it was time to try to put my prejudices aside and have a good old fashioned razor shootout. I looked on fleabay and the cheapest Titan I saw was in the upper $30's with two month shipping from China. Went to Ali Express, to the Titan store, and prices are much lower and shipping times much more realistic. I pulled the trigger on the following three razors:

US $19.75 21% OFF|Titan wood handle striaght razor blade sharp already free shipping|Razor| - AliExpress - https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32900122962.html ACRM-2 steel, 59-61 hRC $20
US $29.45 28% OFF|free shipping titan brand wood handle straight shaving razor blade shaving ready|razor blade shaving|shave readystraight shaving razor - AliExpress - https://www.aliexpress.com/item/892056650.html VG-10HZ steel, 59-61 hRC $29.86
US $43.13 28% OFF|Titan free shipping barber shaving wood striaght razor|straight razor|old straight razortitan razor - AliExpress - https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1261419640.html ACRO steel, 61-65 HRC $43.73

I will put them through their paces and directly compare them to a Gold Dollar 208 and a Gold Dollar P-81, and then select one of the Titans, probably either the first or the second, and one of the two GDs, and do a passaround. I will probably repeat it over on "that other" forum, too. This passaround will be open only to experienced straight shavers and honers, because credible opinions are what I am after. I will probably PIF both razors when all is said and done, with the razors going to newbies.

Don't say "I'm IN!" yet cause I haven't even seen the razors yet LOL! Haven't decided what criteria to use, probably minimum one year honing razors, two years shaving, and 30 razors honed, minimum 1000 posts, something like that. The purpose is not to let guys decide if they like them or not, but to let everyone else know if they are any good or not, and if so, how good. So I think the opinions of those whose experience and opinions carry more weight are important to the purpose of the passaround.

Comments welcome!
 
This will be be very interesting. At that price point, it could be a great value, depending on what you discover.

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@Slash McCoy you have ordered a:
  • Titan ACRM-2 T.H.60 (reviewed here)
  • Titan VG10-HZ T.H.63 (reviewed here)
  • Titan ACRO T.H.64 (a similar one is reviewed here)
I am familiar with the first two but not so much with the third. Most Titans come with a bevel angle of about 18deg. Each blade will vary between another as they are handmade. I have had some around 17.5deg. and a few even are around 18.5deg.

The ACRM-2 and ACRO that you have ordered do not have scales of aluminium alloy sheathed in Madagascan Mahogany, only the VG10-HZ. The ACRM-2 and ACRO are timber only.

As for their mass, the ACRM-2 should weigh in at about 65g (2.3oz) and the VG10-HZ at about 90g (3.2oz). I don't know the mass of the ACRO that you have ordered however, Titan claim that it is about 90g (3.2oz) although without the aluminium alloy scales, I expect its mass to be much less.

I understand that you are not concerned about the steels used in the blade manufacture. You will find that the ACRM-2 is the easiest to hone out of your three with a hardness a little higher than the GD 208. The other two you will find require more time on the hones as they are noticeably harder.

Once you get your Titan SR's, honed them up and shaved a few times with them, it would be good if you could add your reviews to the ones linked above.
 
Wow VG10 and Arco Steel at that price? Not doubting but how is it possible?
Titan is actually a Japanese company, first incorporated in 1918 in Korea (when Japan governed). Titan later moved to Taiwan in about 1940 (when Taiwan was also governed by Japan). Japanese tend to look after their own kind and Titan order their steel blanks in bulk.
 
I have an ACRM-2 with plastic scales. Ordered it to see if it is a viable budget razor that I can recommend to someone starting out.
I was really annoyed when I got it and the shoulder caused the familiar GD wobble on the stone, but 10 minutes later with the Dremel and it was fine. If it wasn't for that I would have highly recommended it.
Honed up without any further fuss, blade geometry was fine, and after the balsa progression shaved like a dream. Better than a GD with a standard spine. I don't mind the chunky scales, it feels fine in the hand, the plastic is not metal lined, so not too heavy.
It's still in my rotation and gives me consistently good shaves.
 
Wow VG10 and Arco Steel at that price? Not doubting but how is it possible?
Keep in mind that there are only a couple of ounces of steel in a razor. With die forging there is very little waste and less skilled/semiskilled labor required than hand forging or stock removal. Material costs are not an overwhelming factor in the final cost of a mass produced razor.
 
I have an ACRM-2 with plastic scales. Ordered it to see if it is a viable budget razor that I can recommend to someone starting out.
I was really annoyed when I got it and the shoulder caused the familiar GD wobble on the stone, but 10 minutes later with the Dremel and it was fine. If it wasn't for that I would have highly recommended it.
Honed up without any further fuss, blade geometry was fine, and after the balsa progression shaved like a dream. Better than a GD with a standard spine. I don't mind the chunky scales, it feels fine in the hand, the plastic is not metal lined, so not too heavy.
It's still in my rotation and gives me consistently good shaves.
All Titans have a stabiliser at the shoulder and the VG10-HZ has a double stabiliser. I learnt my honing on SR's with stabilisers so they present no problems for me. It wasn't until reading in B&B that I realised it was a problem for some. I can appreciate that those who learnt to hone without a stabiliser could experience difficulty.
 
I will be watching as well. I only have 3 straights, 2 of them being Japanese, and I have considered the Titan as well. Lets see how this plays out.
 
Two of the more noticeable differences between the Gold Dollar 208 and the Titan ACRM-2 TH60 is the mass and balance point. The 208 is about 15% lighter and its balance point (when opened 180°) is almost at the shoulder whereas the Titans have their balance point much closer to the pivot pin, like most European SR's.

These differences don't necessarily mean a bad shave, just something that you have to get use to. I do not have any P-81's so cannot compare.
 
Two of the more noticeable differences between the Gold Dollar 208 and the Titan ACRM-2 TH60 is the mass and balance point. The 208 is about 15% lighter and its balance point (when opened 180°) is almost at the shoulder whereas the Titans have their balance point much closer to the pivot pin, like most European SR's.

These differences don't necessarily mean a bad shave, just something that you have to get use to. I do not have any P-81's so cannot compare.
One reason I selected the one that I did for the ACRM-2 selection is it looked like that one had the most normal scales. I HATE those big clunky massive steel lined pocketknife scales and their big thick flat spacer. They are such a PITA to hone, strop, or shave with. That one should handle just fine. I actually think it will be okay apart from the hefty price tag. Depends on how the bevel angle measures up.
 
Titan is actually a Japanese company, first incorporated in 1918 in Korea (when Japan governed). Titan later moved to Taiwan in about 1940 (when Taiwan was also governed by Japan). Japanese tend to look after their own kind and Titan order their steel blanks in bulk.
Interesting. My incorrect assumption was that it was an Indian company, the one that makes watches and other goods.
 
I have a lot of different Japanese razors. None of them resembles a Titan razor, not even closely. Take a razor like Hoshitombo, I was actually able to find a contact for them and emailed them with a question. They answered. Titan? Until someone can show me some concrete info, at least to me this is a Chinese razor with the name Japan added because it sounds better.
 
According to the company, they were founded in Korea in 1912. Japan occupied Korea at the time. Company later moved to Taiwan, also occupied at the time of the move by the Empire of Japan. So the company was apparently Japanese owned but not staffed. Titans do NOT resemble Japanese razors, and no particular reason why they would. Then again, I have no dog in this fight. Anybody who wants to say the company is not and has never been Japanese owned, whether there is any doubt or evidence or first hand accounts or not, is fine by me.
 
I have a lot of different Japanese razors. None of them resembles a Titan razor, not even closely. Take a razor like Hoshitombo, I was actually able to find a contact for them and emailed them with a question. They answered. Titan? Until someone can show me some concrete info, at least to me this is a Chinese razor with the name Japan added because it sounds better.
Titan (the razor company) do not manufacture any part of their SR's in China (PRC). Their blade steel is manufactured and heat treated in Japan. The grinding and all further manufacturing is done in Taiwan. Most of their scales material is sourced from Africa.

Their biggest market is China (PRC) so their finished products are shipped to Hong Kong for distribution, including to other countries. For logistic reasons their products are shipped worldwide from China (PRC).

If that makes them Chinese razors for you, so be it.
 
I often forget that there is a difference between Chinese and Japanese. Knowing little about razors they both seem the same "overseas". But it just dawned on me the comparison of a Chinese dirt bike to a Japanese dirt bike. There really is no comparison. Not only are they not on the same field,they are barely in the same game . So razors must be like dirt bikes, I guess? Sorry. Just had a revelation and wanted to share.
 
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