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Cheapie Oriental Razor Shootout!

So whats the plan? you are going to fix the geometry and rescale to keep everything baselined?
I would suggest that he keep it baseline for the first 5 to 10 shaved each. It takes a while to get use to something that is different to your norm.
 
So whats the plan? you are going to fix the geometry and rescale to keep everything baselined?
No. The idea is to see how they compare, not to see how well they COULD compare after extraordinary intervention. And to evaluate them as something to fill the gap between the humble GD an "proper" razors. The only thing I will do is knock down the heel if necessary. Otherwise, just hone, strop, and shave.
 
No. The idea is to see how they compare, not to see how well they COULD compare after extraordinary intervention. And to evaluate them as something to fill the gap between the humble GD an "proper" razors. The only thing I will do is knock down the heel if necessary. Otherwise, just hone, strop, and shave.
got it. That clarifies what i was asking.
 
All three razors arrived a couple of hours ago. Here are my initial impressions, subject to change as I repair, hone, and test shave with them. First, pics. Sorry pics suck, trying to cook at the same time and the lighting is not too good on the honing table (Mrs. Slash calls it the "dining table") after dark. Camera is a Samsung Note III.

AllThree.jpg

1c.jpg

1b.jpg

1a.jpg

Packaging. Overpacked and including three useless looking SSO's, which we all know are Strop Shaped Objects. Also includes "strop wax" LOL! Very fancy and intricate zippered case. Normally that would fill me with dread, opening the box and seeing all the useless excess frippery. That is how you sell something that the customer doesn't need... include it with something he does need, and bake it into the price. Well, TBH I already knew that was coming so no biggie. The idea is to evaluate the razors.

First pic, all three. Notice anything? I will give you a hint. Picture yourself honing them. In your mind, lay them flat on your bevel setter. Yup, horrible horrible grinding, mostly on the bottom two. Look how the blade tapers. The middle one even has a hint of a frown in there. I can't compare these to a GD, in this respect. There is absolutely no contest. Well, I have repaired a lot worse than that. The top razor is the more expensive of the three. The lower is the cheaper.

The top one has internal washers, one of my pet peeves. If a razor needs them, something is wrong. And they interfere with the scales' ability to grip and hold the razor. Only the center one has metal scale liners which I hate. All three use a flat spacer instead of a wedge. I knew all this when I ordered them so no surprise. Just pointing out some glaring faults, and Gold Dollar, ZY, etc do the same stuff. Of the three, the cheapest one has the best scales, from a functional stand.

Hopefully sometime this weekend I will get a chance to set these razors up properly. I am confident that they will shave just fine, after I put a couple hours work into each one. I may end up rescaling the top one in some proper razor scales.

So far, the Titans aren't looking so good, even compared to the Gold Dollars which cost about 1/4 as much. But that's just part 1. It's not over until it's over, and it ain't over yet. Titan might still prove itself to be a decent brand, yet. Stay tuned!
 
@Slash McCoy, a good and accurate initial report. Don't knock the SSO (the calf-hide ones and reviewed here) until you have tried them for a while. Sure, they may not be as good as strops that cost three or much more times the price but they make a very good beginner's strop for under USD 20 (individually). I have been using them for over a year now and am getting great edges. I am still waiting on my @Tony Miller Heirloom strop to arrive so that I can compare against a "quality" strop. The SSO also makes a good travel strop. As for the wax, like you, I am not a stropping-wax sort of man. I guess they include it so that those who are can give it a try.

As for the scales, I agree with your observations. The ACRM-2 T.H.60 straight razor has the better scales out of your three and they are also my preferred scales. I am also not overly happy with the aluminium used in the scales for the VG10-HZ straight razors.

As for the grind and your future honing. I hope that you approach it with an open mind. All of my Titan SR's have needed some (or even a lot of) work to get them to my shave-ready quality. Once there is what really counts - not what must be done to get there. I judge my straight razor blades (inter alia) on the edges that I can give them and how long the edges last. I have found that most Titans (except for the ACRO T.H. 70) will at least have a double bevel on their factory edge.

In order of edge quality (from best to worst) I have found:

ACRO
ACRM-2
VG10-HZ

For edge longevity I have found:

ACRO & VG10-HZ about the same
ACRM-2

For ease of honing I have found:

ACRM-2
VG10-HZ & ACRO about the same

You of course may find different. Anyway continue on with your assessment - with an open mind.
 
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Yup, looks familiar!

The one I have has the tapered blade of the second pic, and as a bonus the stabilisers of the bottom pic. The tapered blade was not an issue, the stabiliser was. Nice to see they clearly addressed my biggest beef on the second one, and maybe took it down just enough on the first one, like I did with a Dremel.

Mine has plastic scales. Chunky, but not too heavy.
 

Ice-Man

Moderator Emeritus
@Slash McCoy, a good and accurate initial report. Don't knock the SSO (the calf-hide ones and reviewed here) until you have tried them for a while. Sure, they may not be as good as strops that cost three or much more times the price but they make a very good beginner's strop for under USD 20 (individually). I have been using them for over a year now and am getting great edges. I am still waiting on my @Tony Miller Heirloom strop to arrive so that I can compare against a "quality" strop. The SSO also makes a good travel strop. As for the wax, like you, I am not a stropping-wax sort of man. I guess they include it so that those who are can give it a try.

As for the scales, I agree with your observations. The ACRM-2 T.H.60 straight razor has the better scales out of your three and they are also my preferred scales. I am also not overly happy with the aluminium used in the scales for the VG10-HZ straight razors.

As for the grind and your future honing. I hope that you approach it with an open mind. All of my Titan SR's have needed some (or even a lot of) work to get them to my shave-ready quality. Once there is what really counts - not what must be done to get there. I judge my straight razor blades (inter alia) on the edges that I can give them and how long the edges last. I have found that most Titans (except for the ACRO T.H. 70) will at least have a double bevel on their factory edge.

In order of edge quality (from best to worst) I have found:

ACRO
ACRM-2
VG10-HZ

For edge longevity I have found:

ACRO & VG10-HZ about the same
ACRM-2

For ease of honing I have found:

ACRM-2
VG10-HZ & ACRO about the same

You of course may find different. Anyway continue on with your assessment - with an open mind.
I don't know if I would buy or not at this point until Slash does his review, but at the moment to me, they are going to be the same as the GD to get shave ready but at a cost whereas the GD's are cheap as chips but once modded make fantastic razors...

Hence why the Gold Dollar Mod contest came about a cheap razor to modify to a working razor.
 
@Ice-Man I tend to agree with you. Based on steel quality, dollar for dollar I find that the Titans are better but probably not better enough to warrant the extra cost. The reason that I prefer some of the Titans against most of the Gold Dollars is because of the timber scales, except for the Titans with the aluminium. My preferred Titans are the ACRM-2 T.H.60 (the bottom one in Mr McCoy's pics) and the ACRO T.H.70 (not in Mr McCoys sample).

The ACRO T.H.70 is Titan's top-of-the-range SR. At USD 80 to 185 each, I can understand why they are not in this comparison.
 

Ice-Man

Moderator Emeritus
@rbscebu
That's for sure what I see is the timber scales with brass they would make the scales way to heavy, so your paying for that to take off and bin why do they not put plastic scales or a good hardwood without the liner and make them lighter and cheaper.

I think they went too far with looks too much bling for me, yes they could have made resin scales that look way better and lighter.
I'm not knocking the razor far from it but the aesthetic's could be better and more pleasing to the eye and that's what the public wants not something that's way too heavy that you need to be a bodybuilder to use.

I wonder if they use them themself's then they would see the one error that's putting people off from buying them, they need to make them pleasing and practical in use.
 
Hopefully sometime this weekend I will get a chance to set these razors up properly. I am confident that they will shave just fine, after I put a couple hours work into each one. I may end up rescaling the top one in some proper razor scales.
thanks for the review so far. Is this ^ still in line with what you were planning to do from before?
 
thanks for the review so far. Is this ^ still in line with what you were planning to do from before?
The ACRO razor, the most expensive one, I will just hone it as a smiling razor. The two cheapies have a pretty whack edge and I am going to have to take a LOT of steel off to have a decent bevel that will sit on the hone anyway, so I will hone them straight. That may require significant thinning to the spine. All three will get the heels bobbed similar to this:

I am afraid that once I fix the edge of the two cheaper ones, the bevel angle which is already wider than most of the Gold Dollars I mess with, will be unsatisfactory, and no contest vs the GDs which are thick but not AS thick. I already know the grinding of the Titan brand is dismal. So let's see how the steel is. The only way to really judge the steel quality is to give the razor some decent geometry so it can be honed to it's fullest potential. I have already done this in the past with my modified Gold Dollars, including the infamous passaround razors I released into the wild a couple of years ago.

So for the two cheaper ones, yeah it looks like I will be doing a little more than just a simple honing. The high end one will basically just be honed normally, since these days the heel fix is something I do more and more.

I think it will be the VG-10 razor that will go out in the passaround. Very likely I will give dibs to the U.S. guys who participated in the GD passaround first. Then other experienced CONUS shavers/honers. It probably won't go overseas. Seems like international passarounds get bogged down pretty quickly.

This much is clear. The high grade packaging including a rather nice box, chrome trimmed zippered leather case, SSO, and "strop wax" (ROTFLMAO!) add at least $10 to the price, vs a simple cellophane anti rust sleeve and flimsy GD style box. And probably $5 for the goofy scales. If you could get just the blades, preferably without the horrible final grinding and polishing, for a decent price, they might be a very good buy. They try to do the value added thing and only add price and not value. I would honestly rather see these razors in cheap ABS scales like the ordinary Gold Dollars. Much more practical.
 
I just finished cutting back the heels of all three Titans as well as a handful of Gold Dollars. The ACRM-2 and VG-10 steels were similar in hardness, both a bit harder than the Gold Dollar steel, as measured by how slowly a worn 1k belt cuts. For the ACRO, I ended up changing to a fresh 400 grit belt, and also did the final GD on the same belt. That one was quite a bit harder, so hardness claims by the maker seem to be in line with reality, FWIW. Hardness of course is good, though it is not the only quality of a good razor steel. Today or tomorrow I will put the two cheaper Titans to some coarse stones and fix those crazy edge profiles.

I have estimated the common Gold Dollars to be somewhere around HRC59 or slightly below. The ACRM-2 and VG-10 Titans I would call HRC60 and the ACRO is quite hard, harder than the average "good" razor, probably about HRC62 or 63. Just estimating. I don't have testing files or access to a proper tester, which would of course destroy the razors anyway. Definitely the ACRO is right up there with good Swedish razor steel, in hardness.
 
@rbscebu
That's for sure what I see is the timber scales with brass they would make the scales way to heavy, so your paying for that to take off and bin why do they not put plastic scales or a good hardwood without the liner and make them lighter and cheaper.

I think they went too far with looks too much bling for me, yes they could have made resin scales that look way better and lighter.
I'm not knocking the razor far from it but the aesthetic's could be better and more pleasing to the eye and that's what the public wants not something that's way too heavy that you need to be a bodybuilder to use.

I wonder if they use them themself's then they would see the one error that's putting people off from buying them, they need to make them pleasing and practical in use.
For me, the mass of a straight razor is not as much of a concern as the balance point is. I found that I needed to get use to a Gold Dollar 208 with its ABS plastic scales and balance point almost at the shoulder rather than near the pivot pin like most of my SR's - measured when open 180°.

I believe that a lot of "problems" people have with their SR's has a lot to do with just what they are use too. Some are use to lighter SR's and some prefer heavier. Some have difficulty in honing blades with a rather pronounced stabiliser. I don't as that is what I learnt on and developed my technique accordingly.

The heel on Mr. McCoy's ACRO blade would probably have given me honing problems. I have never honed a blade with a stabiliser and such a square heel. That is one blade where I probably would round the heel out more before trying to hone. Again, that is what I am use too.
 
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Sounds like a lot of work and equipment required to save a few bucks on a razor. I don’t know about you but I have enough SR equipment without adding a belt sander and Dremel to the mix. These would have to be the best shavers on the planet to go this much trouble. Not for beginners that’s for sure.

Interested to see how they shave.
 
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@Slash McCoy's VG10-HZ T.H.63 looks a bit different than mine in the heel/stabiliser/shoulder area. Mine (the first image) shows a well defined double stabiliser as received.
IMG20210308080317.jpg
Mr McCoy's appears to show only a single stabiliser, although that could be due to the quality of his photograph.
VG10 SMcC.jpg
 
More pictures tomorrow. I set a preliminary coarse bevel on all three. I have not proceeded from there because I want to measure the bevel angle now that the bulk of the steel coming off has come off, but before I get up into the progression, because measuring H places a hard object against the apex. My micrometer, my dial caliper, and my vernier scale are all on the boat and I didn't go to the boat today. So I can only take very coarse measurements, and since this is for posterity I want to be pretty accurate, even though normal variation between razors would be much greater than my margin of error.

As I predicted, the two cheaper ones required a lot more work than the more expensive one. I was 250 laps on my 120 grit Shapton for one, and 300 for the other razors, to get the edge profiles reasonably true and two good bevel faces intersecting in a decent apex. The ACRO, in spite of being noticeably harder, only required about 50 laps to achieve the same state. Whether I will thin the spine or not depends on how the bevel angles come out. As long as each razor is 18deg or tighter, I won't bother. However while working on the 120 grit, I did emphasize spine contact to a degree, so some slight reduction has already occurred.
 
Sounds like a lot of work and equipment required to save a few bucks on a razor. I don’t know about you but I have enough SR equipment without adding a belt sander and Dremel to the mix. These would have to be the best shavers on the planet to go this much trouble. Not for beginners that’s for sure.

Interested to see how they shave.
Don't be put off by the work that Mr. McCoy wants to do to his cheap(er) SR's. It is just his way of doing things. I achieve perfectly satisfactory edges without altering the heel or stabiliser on any of my SR's, including my Gold Dollars and Titans.

All my blade work is done by hand. Power tools never even come near to my blades.
 
The ACRO razor, the most expensive one, I will just hone it as a smiling razor. The two cheapies have a pretty whack edge and I am going to have to take a LOT of steel off to have a decent bevel that will sit on the hone anyway, so I will hone them straight. That may require significant thinning to the spine. All three will get the heels bobbed similar to this:

I am afraid that once I fix the edge of the two cheaper ones, the bevel angle which is already wider than most of the Gold Dollars I mess with, will be unsatisfactory, and no contest vs the GDs which are thick but not AS thick. I already know the grinding of the Titan brand is dismal. So let's see how the steel is. The only way to really judge the steel quality is to give the razor some decent geometry so it can be honed to it's fullest potential. I have already done this in the past with my modified Gold Dollars, including the infamous passaround razors I released into the wild a couple of years ago.

So for the two cheaper ones, yeah it looks like I will be doing a little more than just a simple honing. The high end one will basically just be honed normally, since these days the heel fix is something I do more and more.

I think it will be the VG-10 razor that will go out in the passaround. Very likely I will give dibs to the U.S. guys who participated in the GD passaround first. Then other experienced CONUS shavers/honers. It probably won't go overseas. Seems like international passarounds get bogged down pretty quickly.

This much is clear. The high grade packaging including a rather nice box, chrome trimmed zippered leather case, SSO, and "strop wax" (ROTFLMAO!) add at least $10 to the price, vs a simple cellophane anti rust sleeve and flimsy GD style box. And probably $5 for the goofy scales. If you could get just the blades, preferably without the horrible final grinding and polishing, for a decent price, they might be a very good buy. They try to do the value added thing and only add price and not value. I would honestly rather see these razors in cheap ABS scales like the ordinary Gold Dollars. Much more practical.
"goofy scales" 😂😂😂. I'm dying over here. LOL!!
 
Sounds like a lot of work and equipment required to save a few bucks on a razor. I don’t know about you but I have enough SR equipment without adding a belt sander and Dremel to the mix. These would have to be the best shavers on the planet to go this much trouble. Not for beginners that’s for sure.

Interested to see how they shave.
I didn't buy the Titans to save a few bucks on a razor. If I want a cheap razor, I have plenty, and they require less work than this, generally. And so far I haven't recommended buying or not buying the Titans. This is all about seeing if overall they are or are not worthy of consideration, and if so, for what kind of shaver. Certainly you won't find a new razor with steel as hard as the ACRO for under $150. So the Titans aren't exactly batting zero. Yet. I was putting them down for the geometry, the pocketknife scales, and the high price relative to their nearest competition, got called out on not actually trying one, and now that's what I am doing. My thoughts on this razor will have a little more weight after I have actually put them through their paces.
 
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