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Comparo: Merkur 37 & RazoRock German 37

Happy SLANTember! Over in the 2020 Slantember thread it seems like better than half of the slants being plied are either some version of Merkur slant (37, 39, Pomco, Hoffritz, Coles) or else the RazoRock "German 37." I've got a vintage Merkur 37 (pre "-C" model, before 1970). I've been curious about the RR G37 but until now not curious enough to actually drop the coin to get one.

Mostly that's down to believing that if I had the razor the G37 was supposedly copying I had the "real deal" and didn't need to mess around with cheap imitations. But, as Jerry Jeff Walker reminds us, sometimes messing around with a cheap imitation can be a lotta fun. First of all, what exactly are we looking at here?

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I'm gonna start by unloading a pet peeve. I totally understand why the guys at RazoRock would name this razor the "German 37." Everybody who's interested in slants knows that Merkur 37/37C/37G is one of the grandaddies of the type. So giving this thing a name that is supposed to immediately key with the customer is good business. But it's WRONG.

The Merkur 37 is a two-piece razor, the G37 is a three-piece. Merkur used to make a three-piece slant, the 36. So technically since it's a three-piece razor this should be the "German 36." Can't get out in front of it, so might as well just accept it. [shrug]

I had a RR HD handle from an earlier purchase, so when I bought the razor I decided to get it with the UFO handle, which I did not have. After it arrived, I had the thought that putting the HD handle on the G37 would mimic the ergonomics of the Merkur 37. I was kinda right; kinda wrong. More on that in a bit.

I dug out my trusty scale and recorded the following:

Merkur 37: 74g
G37/HD: 100.5g
G37/UFO: 91.5g
G37/Bulldog: 100g

From this we see that the Merkur's two-piece design with a nice hollow handle and a drilled-out nut gives a somewhat light razor that appears to be slightly head-heavy. The Merkur's handle is the shortest in this group at around 76mm.

Putting the HD handle on the G37 turned out to be a bad idea. Where Merkur's short little handle is made of brass and is basically hollow, the RR HD handle is a solid chunk of stainless. You can see that it's the heaviest handle in the batch, and at 80mm it is only slightly longer than the Merkur's handle. The balance changes dramatically between the two razors. The G37/HD feels a lot heavier than it actually is (I've got heavier razors), the handle feels short to me and the balance is far down the handle. It just didn't feel right.

I also have a RR Bulldog handle, 85mm of heavily-knurled stainless. I thought it would probably look kinda stilty and make the razor handle-heavy and I was right.

The RR UFO handle just seems to be right for this razor, for me. You can see the all-up mass of the razor is a little lower, and because of the handle design the razor and head feel neutral in my hands. Here's a look at the HD and the UFO side by side:

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Same length, same diameter. That great heavy glob of stainless on the end of the HD really moves the centre of mass down. By contrast the somewhat reduced end on the UFO leaves the razor feeling neutrally balanced.

The other thing I checked was how the heads clamp the blade. The Merkur seems to have a little more clamping area than the G37, but in the "sensories" (to jump ahead) the shave seemed better with the G37, albeit only slightly.

IMG_0413[1].JPG

It's a little hard to tell. Might be a trick of the light.

This is not my first RazoRock razor. I have a Wunderbar which is also getting some play during SLANTember. I also have both the Hawk V3 SB and OC. I often say that in terms of the value you receive for the price you pay, RazoRock tends to punch 'way above their weight. Excellent, well-made razors (with some compromises) that shave as well as, and in some cases better than other more expensive razors.

Comparing the Merkur and the G37 on price, a brand-new 37C will tap your wallet for about $75.00 while a G37 will only touch you for about $40.00. Prices vary depending on supplier, sales, and currency exchange rates. It's reasonable to look for areas where some "strategic economic decisions" were made. I found one. It's not a deal-breaker, but I may be motivated to address it with the company.

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It's a little hard to pick out in the picture, but if you look at the upper surface of the threaded stud, toward the end, you may see that the threads aren't deeply cut in that spot. I'm assuming this was good enough to get over RazoRock's quality control bar, but I'm also assuming that since you can buy a new head for $12.50 on sale, that the bar is already set rather low. It requires a little care when threading on the handle, but once it's on the handle is solid.

As I say, not a dealbreaker but it was my money and I'd like to have a well-made product for it instead of a "Friday" piece.

As you might expect from the fidelity of the reproduction, the shave is substantially similar. Most of the similarity is in the heads, with the handles and overall design confounding the matter a little.

I find the shave with the Merkur 37 to be, as I've said elsewhere, "calm, cool and collected." With an Astra SP it gives a good shave. Not, for me, as close as the Wunderbar or the S2 but a shave that goes well and is good enough for a day in the office or classroom and still in good shape if I want to go out to the pub and pick up a case of Covid. [grin] I notice that the Merkur is a bit finicky about shave angle, but finding and keeping the angle is simple. Unlike some other razors, if the Merkur isn't cutting it isn't making noise.

The downside of the Merkur, for me, is that short light handle. The razor being slightly head-heavy keeps me from absent-mindedly starting to press in, but the shortness of the handle is not a good fit to my hands and the light weight (although heavier than a bakelite razor) is JUST light enough to annoy me. The problem is that I prefer a razor that does the work rather than one I have to pull WTG. It's not a huge deal but it's one of those things that I have to explicitly acknowledge and negotiate before I can let it go and enjoy the shave.

The fidelity of the reproduction is evident in the G37/UFO also being a little finicky about shave angle. Not quite as much, though, which is serendipitously encouraging. I had thought that the blade clamping might not be as good as the Merkur, but it wasn't a problem. The shave I got was qualitatively dramatically different than the Merkur. I think that's mainly because of the difference in handles. The UFO handle, as I've said, makes the G37 feel neutrally balanced in my hand. The shave was wonderful. Even better than the Merkur.

One more thing, of a more philosophical nature. I play with blades: knives, swords, axes, scythes, razors. I still have all my fingers (though I have a couple of impressive scars). When you're starting out you have to accommodate yourself to the tool. You have to learn how to hold it, how to move it, how to reflexively put it where it will do what you want. You have to build muscle memory and hand-eye coordination, strength and flexibility, and ingrain the moves until they're automatic.

Once you've hit that level, though, then it's time to start making the tool fit the user. Once you know what you're doing you can start to fine-tune the tool. They say a master can do fine work with any tool. This is true. But if you look at a master's tools, you will see that they only fit that master's hands. There is a two-way, symbiotic relationship between user and tool.

I'm not claiming to be a master. But I can look at this experience and say that this particular tool lets me do pretty good work.

O.H.
 
Thanks for the write up. Nice review. Unlike you, I like the handle of the Merkur, and I like the handle of the Merkur 36 even more: as it's slimmer than the 37, Merkur or RR, it's even lighter. For me, that adds to balance. If the M37C is too light for you, maybe the Merkur 39 would be a better match?
My main problem with the RR G37 is that I have a kind of dislike cloning the product of your competitor and naming it the same. Even though technically it is not a 37.
 
If the M37C is too light for you, maybe the Merkur 39 would be a better match?

Excellent question. Quite by accident, I have an answer! [grin] My first DE was a Merkur 38C because the store was out of the 34C. Same handle as the 39C "Sledgehammer." I learned that I do not get on well with barberpole handles. Or at least with that one -- a little soap on my fingers and the razor would start to screw itself down in my grip.

I passed the 38C on to my son when he realized that starting right out with a straight was a steeper learning curve than he wanted. If I had held onto it, I would probably have looked at doing some "wanton destruction" (heh) to take the handle off the plate and make a different handle for it.

Aside from the spigot at the top of the handle being riveted into the centre hole of the plate, it looks like the handle is only a tension element to allow the nut at the bottom to pull the whole works together. I won't cut up a vintage Merkur to play with that, and I'm not interested enough in the idea (yet) to buy a new 37C and see what I can do with it. I'll keep one eye on the BST and see if anyone's unloading a recent 37C.

My main problem with the RR G37 is that I have a kind of dislike cloning the product of your competitor and naming it the same. Even though technically it is not a 37.

I hear you. I struggle with that, too. It's not like they're reproducing a razor that is no longer made. However, they're also bringing more shavers into slants. People DO tend to buy familiar things; only after they've got comfortable with that will they branch out looking for something new and different.

O.H.
 
Brother Hippie,

Thanx for the excellent evaluation. To save me the effort of re-reading the long article, what is your personal #1 preference for a slant razor, all things considered?
 
Handle makes all the difference for me and the RR barber pole is perfection - hence why I love both the G37 and the Wunderbar. Two of my favorite razors.
 
Yet another thoughtful review! My decades with an Old Type and Merkur 36 undoubtedly prejudiced me in favor of short, light handles and three piece designs. So I think the 36 got it right, and now that mine has disappeared, I just keep my G37 head on a dinky Merkur handle.

The shave I got was qualitatively dramatically different than the Merkur. I think that's mainly because of the difference in handles.

So I'm in total agreement here. With my predispositions, almost all my DE heads are used on short light handles. My first tools molded me, and now I mold my tools to match 'me'. Given current designs and all the solid stainless available, I'm now an outlier. Of the RR stainless handles, the UFO is my favorite.

Yes, my first G37 had some thread issues. RazoRock/IB resolved that promptly. The full German 37 on Italian Barber is US$20 today, for CONUS types reading this thread.
 
Brother Hippie, Thanx for the excellent evaluation. To save me the effort of re-reading the long article, what is your personal #1 preference for a slant razor, all things considered?

Brother Steve, that's a great question!

My personal preference -- "all things considered" -- is the Above the Tie S2 Kronos. It hits all the right notes for me. I get effortless, close, comfortable shaves with it.

Of the slants I've used, and although I've used a few it's not a big sample, that's the razor I'll grab when I want a good shave. It's also my favourite "bailout" razor; the one I will grab and load up when any other razor isn't doing what I want.

I can get good shaves with other razors, as this thread shows. But there's always some little thing that sticks out to me. I like the Wunderbar, for instance. It may actually shave closer than the S2, but it needs more attention to technique so I can't be thinking about other things, or P.O.'ed, when I'm using it.

O.H.
 
My personal preference -- "all things considered" -- is the Above the Tie S2 Kronos. It hits all the right notes for me. I get effortless, close, comfortable shaves with it.

O.H. has convinced me to give my S2 a good run. Slantember is the right time. Once I get some high-priority SR testing done, my S2 will get at least six days of use without big breaks between uses.
 
O.H. has convinced me to give my S2 a good run. Slantember is the right time.

For sure! You can try any slant and it's all good. I know some people like it and some don't. Stan @KQY61 didn't like his so much. I mention him because he's a Fasan guy, and I've got one coming so I can see if I'm one, too.

Good luck with it! I'm interested to hear.

O.H.
 
Hi,

Unfortunately, I didn't like my ATT S2 so much. I really wanted to. I mean a modern-design slant and made of 303 Stainless and not Bakelite and Zamak. I think it just doesn't have enough slant.

I would have found the S2 to be an improvement over a conventional DE just as I did the generic Solingen differential I had prior to the first Fasan. If only I hadn't already been using the Fasans.

I have my own machine shop and one winter a few years back tried making my own Fasan DoubleSlant out of 304 SS. I messed it up, though, and haven't tried again. Maybe this winter.

That's what I want: a SS Fasan DS clone. :)

But, I will return to the S2 next month as it can be part of my Open Comb October, OCtober as it were. :)

Stan
 
Hi,

Well, it's really a fun project on my part and to make only the one. I am pretty much unable to ever become an ATT. My equipment is really here to make unobtainium parts for antique farm equipment (used to be for race cars, but I hung my helmet up) I am restoring. All manual, no CNC.

Stan
 
Great review !
I had a G37 with a bulldog handle , i sold it because i found it unbalanced, heavy handle, light head.
The 37C has been my favourite since i purchased.
 
I had a G37 with a bulldog handle , i sold it because i found it unbalanced, heavy handle, light head. The 37C has been my favourite since i purchased.

Yep! That was my observation with the Bulldog, too. Tried it on, hefted it, took it off. It seems to work OK with the V3 Hawk so I'll hang onto it. The UFO seems to be about perfect.

O.H.
 
I almost never use a slant, but when I do, it is a vintage Merkur travel slant head, usually on a UFO (the real deal) Titan Fine L titanium handle. This travel slant, probably from the 70's, is a pretty cool little razor in a tiny shiny box.
 
Great review Old Hippie!

I have a 37c and really like the efficient, irritation free 2 pass shave with it. It doesn't produce the closest shave in the world, but it seems a consistent hassle free good acceptable shave.

I have been thinking about getting the German 37 with HD handle, as it looks similar to the 37C. However after reading your review it has made me think about the balance and weight.

I really wanted a back up/travel razor for my 37c. As the German 37 is cheaper than the 37c, I thought it would suit this requirement. Or do you think I would be better looking for a second hand 37c?
 
I really wanted a back up/travel razor for my 37c. As the German 37 is cheaper than the 37c, I thought it would suit this requirement. Or do you think I would be better looking for a second hand 37c?

I tend to pack fairly light when I travel, but a few grams one way or another doesn't matter much to me for a razor. I prefer to take a nice stainless razor that gives me good shaves rather than pack something featherweight that doesn't please me with the shave.

My 37 is actually in a travel set. My personal preference, considering these two razors, would be to take the RazoRock. First, if I lose it I'm not losing a vintage razor. Secondly I like the ergonomics just slightly better -- and shaving while traveling usually means conditions aren't as nice as in my Shave Cave. Having a known good razor in my hands is a help, even if I have to use whatever random DE blades and a tube of Proraso that I can pick up at a drugstore wherever I land.

O.H.
 
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