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DE89 vs 34C vs SLOC vs R41 (Warning: Long Post)

Intro

I'm still new to wet shaving, with around 35 shaves under my belt, and like many others I started with a mild razor and a mild blade. The experience has already been miles better than the 35 years of cartridges and electrics I endured before it, and the rabbit hole I've fallen into has proven to be both cozy and fun, if not increasingly costly.

In the past month I've added several razors, most of the Proraso soaps and creams, a few nostalgic after shaves, and enough sample blades to keep me going for months. More new stuff is currently en route, and my wish list is growing daily. It's enough to make anyone's head spin.

It's been a blast, but all the equipment swapping started me wondering which products were really working best for me, so this week I decided to revisit my razors in an orderly fashion. I gave each razor its own day while keeping everything else the same for every shave, and figured I'd share my thoughts here.


My Beard

It's pointless to go any further without first describing my face. My beard is stiff and grows quickly, and my skin is sensitive and a bit on the oily side. My facial hair grows pretty much North to South, while my neck hair grows in several directions across three separate areas. On the upside, the speedy growth gives me enough wiry bristles to shave each morning, so I get to enjoy this new hobby every single day. On the downside, my tender skin forces me to minimize passes and skip shaving against the grain to avoid ingrown hairs (yep, even with DE razors). I mention all of this because your mileage may vary, as your skin, stubble, and growth pattern may not match mine, and no two of us are likely to have the same experience with the same equipment. Just keep trying new things until you find what you like, and enjoy yourself along the way!


The Razors (and why I bought them)

DE89.jpeg

Edwin Jagger DE89
It was a toss-up between the DE89 and the Merkur 34C, as both are equally recommended for beginners. I eventually erred on the side of caution and chose the DE89 because it has a reputation for being slightly milder than the 34C, and I was new and scared.


SLOC.jpeg

RazoRock SLOC
I got it in my head that I really needed an open comb razor, and I liked that this model is usually described as mild. It looks super cool, isn't scary to shave with, and is surprisingly well made for its low asking price. What's not to like?


34C.jpeg

Merkur Travel Razor
I bought this one because I thought the travel format was cool. Plus, it has the same head as the 34C so I could finally compare it to my DE89 and decide for myself which was better.


R41.jpeg

Mühle R41 Twist
I really struggled with this one. I was enjoying my daily shaves with my other razors, but kept wondering if the legendary aggression of the R41 would get the job done quicker. All the forum comments and bloody review videos nearly scared me away, but I finally threw caution to the wind and went for it.


Daily Shave Gear

gear.jpeg


This is what I used for every shave this week:
  • Brand new Feather NEW Hi-STAINLESS blade for each razor (first time in every razor but the R41)
  • Proraso White Pre-Shave Cream (also applied between passes)
  • Proraso White Shaving Cream
  • Haircut & Shave 24mm synthetic brush
  • Aqua Velva Ice Sport Cooling After Shave
  • Proraso White After Shave Balm (for added skin protection throughout this experiment)
I used each razor in its pictured configuration. Each shave got ONLY two passes (riding the bar), one with the grain then one across the grain, and no touch-up pass. I followed the same shave pattern with each razor, and each shave was 24 hours after the previous shave (I cleared the initial slate on Sunday with the Mühle R41 and a Feather blade on its fourth use). I used hot water throughout, followed by a cold water rinse before aftershave products were applied.


Shaving Impressions

Here are my thoughts on each shave, in categories that I thought would matter to most people. There's no real science here, only unbridled subjectivity with a hint of objectivity.

Monday - Edwin Jagger DE89

Blade feel: None
Blade feedback: Fairly quiet, but present throughout the shave
Closeness: Not even close to DFS
Trauma: None anywhere
Aftershave feedback: None anywhere
Skin irritation: None anywhere
My rating: 3 out of 10
Thoughts: This was my first shave with the DE89 after weeks of using other razors, and I was honestly surprised at how much stubble it left behind. Earlier shaves with it were much better because I used liberal buffing plus a touch-up pass, but this week was about seeing how all the razors perform with equal strokes. In the mirror after, I looked like I still needed a shave.

Tuesday - Merkur Travel Razor (34C)

Blade feel: Minimal
Blade feedback: Still quiet, but louder than the DE89
Closeness: Definitely closer than the DE89, but still not DFS
Trauma: None anywhere
Aftershave feedback: None anywhere
Skin irritation: None anywhere
My rating: 4 out of 10
Thoughts: This shave passed the mirror test, but didn't actually feel much closer. As with the DE89, I’m sure buffing and another pass would have yielded a DFS. My face was ready for another shave by evening. Overall, I could tell it was more aggressive than the DE89 and would probably have been a better first DE for me, but Edwin Jagger's fit and finish soundly trounces it.

Wednesday - RazoRock SLOC

Blade feel: I can feel it, and it feels good
Blade feedback: Much louder than the DE89 and 34C
Closeness: Definitely DFS in two passes for me
Trauma: None anywhere
Aftershave feedback: Mild everywhere
Skin irritation: None anywhere
My rating: 7 out of 10
Thoughts: This was my first good shave this week, and my skin felt great all day. I like this razor, and the open comb cap really was keeping my skin wet while shaving. Now I'm wondering if I should try the RazoRock JAWS for a little more aggression. One more razor never hurt anyone, right?

Thursday - Mühle R41 Twist

Blade feel: This thing feels like it's all blade!
Blade feedback: It sounds like heavy duty Velcro being pulled apart
Closeness: Parts of my face were DFS after the first pass. XTG finished the job nicely.
Trauma: None anywhere
Aftershave feedback: Medium everywhere
Skin irritation: None anywhere
My rating: 9 out of 10
Thoughts: The only reason it doesn't score a 10 is there may be other razors out there that are better. As I sit here typing this my skin feels airy and light, almost like it's breathing all on its own. There's no burning or irritation, just a really nice DFS shave.


Final Thoughts

Before beginning this experiment I believed each of these razors were keepers for different reasons, and that I'd start rotating between them once the R41 honeymoon was over. Now I'm thinking the DE89 and 34C just aren't efficient enough for me to use again. I'm pleasantly surprised with the SLOC, though, especially paired with a Feather blade. That one is definitely a keeper, and is durable and inexpensive enough to knock around in my travel bag without worry. It's got me thinking about other RR models, especially their open combs.

The top dog for the week was clearly the Mühle R41. I already knew it was my favorite going in, but now I can clearly see how much better it performs on my beard than the others. I'm still new to DE shaving, but I'm not as scared as I was a month ago, and I'm excited about the possibilities that opens up for me. It’s time to see if anything can dethrone the R41!

I hope this has been informative, especially to newcomers with beards similar to mine. Maybe you’ll be able to save some time and money if you start a tick or two above the mildest offerings.

Thanks for reading!
 

brandaves

With a great avatar comes great misidentification
How's the view from that rabbit hole? Seems like you are fully exploring it from here. It seems like you definitely have a preference for more aggressive razors. You might try out an Ikon Tech. A nice razor, but on the aggressive side. If you haven't tried any SE razors yet I would highly recommend you try some of them as well...
 
How's the view from that rabbit hole?

Looking up from inside, all I see is a tiny bright dot where the sky used to be.

It seems like you definitely have a preference for more aggressive razors. You might try out an Ikon Tech. A nice razor, but on the aggressive side. If you haven't tried any SE razors yet I would highly recommend you try some of them as well...

I've watched Kevy's and Ken's videos on the Supply SE, and I've recently started nosing around Ikon's lineup. Very nice stuff. Thanks for the nudging. Just don't start filling up this hole behind me!
 

brandaves

With a great avatar comes great misidentification
I've watched Kevy's and Ken's videos on the Supply SE, and I've recently started nosing around Ikon's lineup. Very nice stuff. Thanks for the nudging. Just don't start filling up this hole behind me!
Also, are you opposed to vintage?
 
Also, are you opposed to vintage?

Not opposed at all, just haven't started down that tunnel in the hole yet. I like the looks of the Gillette New Long Comb, and I like the refinished ones that Razor Emporium sells, but I still feel like I'm drinking from a fire hose. What would you recommend for someone who likes the R41?
 

brandaves

With a great avatar comes great misidentification
Your hunch on the Gillette New LC is a good one for you I think. I wouldn't describe Gillette Techs as particularly aggressive, but they are efficient and tend to serve virtually all growth types well. I'd recommend giving them a go to anyone. As for vintage SE's the Gem/Ever-Ready/ASR 1912 is my absolute favorite, but honestly it's difficult to go wrong with vintage Gems (Micromatic, . The added bonus on them as that you can usually get one in great shave for around $10 (cheaper if you don't mind a user grade model). There are some really great vintage options out there.
 
Wednesday - RazoRock SLOC

Blade feel: I can feel it, and it feels good
Blade feedback: Much louder than the DE89 and 34C
Closeness: Definitely DFS in two passes for me
Trauma: None anywhere
Aftershave feedback: Mild everywhere
Skin irritation: None anywhere
My rating: 7 out of 10
Thoughts: This was my first good shave this week, and my skin felt great all day. I like this razor, and the open comb cap really was keeping my skin wet while shaving. Now I'm wondering if I should try the RazoRock JAWS for a little more aggression. One more razor never hurt anyone, right?
You chose wisely IMO and have to agree with your analysis of the SLOC razor. My favorite travel razor now.
If you are into Vintage razors, Gem or Everready SE 1912 models are excellent mid range. Schick razors are fairly new to me and they are some of the best razors and a Schick adjustable injector will but a smile on most people faces when you dial in your sweet spot. Gillette adjustable s are excellent also for a double edge to dial in your shave.
I have over 40 razors and enjoy most and a few you have to careful or you will be bleeding with a poor technique.
Have some great shaves!
 
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It's great that you found a razor that you enjoy using so early. I would keep the milder razors. They require a certain discipline in maintaining the correct angle (not necessarily riding the bar) to be effective. Once you develop your technique, you might be surprised with the shaves you can achieve with a milder razor after a couple of passes.

Happy shaves! :)
 
I would keep the milder razors. They require a certain discipline in maintaining the correct angle (not necessarily riding the bar) to be effective.

I'm glad you mentioned this. I did notice I had to pay close attention to the angle when using the DE89 (more so than the 34C), so I slowed down and listened closely for feedback during the shave. The R41 seems to allow more leeway with angle and still shave.
 
You chose wisely IMO and have to agree with your analysis of the SLOC razor.

Thanks! I was enjoying the post shave so much yesterday I ordered one for my dad for Xmas. He'll be getting the SLOC, two brushes, soap, blades, and a stand from Italian Barber next week. He's 75 and I've never seen him use a DE in my life. I'll get a nurse to stop by and check on him.
 
Nice report!

You might try the SLOC cap on your R41. Those that have, have been impressed.

Thanks. I tried the SLOC cap on the R41 and reported on it in another thread. It did a great job, but I ever so slightly preferred the stock R41. That got me looking, though, and I discovered all of my caps are interchangeable. Some combinations look pretty promising, but I haven't tried anything else yet.
 
Nice post @NicksDad .

I'm currently enjoying a vintage Gillette Tech, smoother and more efficient then the Merkur/DE89 design.

Given your experience with the R41 you may well like anything labelled 'aggressive' but I imagine you've already worked that out by now. Efficient is a better term, in my opinion.

RR are well known for build quality. I just picked up a Lupo in solid aluminium. It's fantastically well made. Another member alerted me to Karve razors. Like RR, they're built very well and the manufacturer understands what makes a razor work. They come with a range of options on the same design so you can tailor the gap and blade exposure to suit. OC, CC, Brass, SS or aluminium at the same price. They ship direct from Canada.
 
Sounds like you are making tremendous progress. Congrats!

You might want to experiment with some different blades. I am finding that when you take the combination razor + blade, you can cover the entire spectrum from mild to aggressive. For example, you can tone down an aggressive razor with a less sharp blade and vice versa.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Sounds like you are making tremendous progress. Congrats!

You might want to experiment with some different blades. I am finding that when you take the combination razor + blade, you can cover the entire spectrum from mild to aggressive. For example, you can tone down an aggressive razor with a less sharp blade and vice versa.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I've tried Astra SP and Feather so far in the R41, and Derby Extra, Derby Premium, Wilkinson Sword, and Personna Red at various times in the other razors. I've still got Astra Steel, Gillette Platinum, Shark Super Steel, Shark Super Chrome, and Kai to try. So far I'm leaning toward the sharper blades.
 
RR GC OC is smooth and Jaws maybe a bit more blade feel. Karve maybe better, gives you the chance to change gaps. Start w "C" smooth and efficient for 2 passes....
BTW I also fell for the Merkur and 89 which I don't use.
Or you can try a Mingshi 2000
 
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