GEMs vs AC

Discussion in 'Single Edged Razors' started by Smooth Steve, Apr 30, 2017.

    With all the new GEMs coming to market, I want to understand the advantages of GEMs over the Artist Club format. I do not have a vintage GEM and don't understand why someone would want a GEM when there are so many fine options to chose from using AC blades - other then to just experiment. The main difference I see is the width of the blade. Some may not like the wider AC blades. I don't know the number of shaves per blade with GEMs, but with the AC's I can get 20, so I don't think cost is an issue. GEMs just seem big and bulky and less elegant. Please help me understand the attraction to GEMs. Thanks.
  1. Pepin

    Pepin Ambassador

    The GEM (and other SE) razors are different than the Artist Club.

    The Artist Club is a shavette(sort of a "clone" of a straight razor).
    The AC uses a flexible insert blade, while a GEM has a stiff blade.

    I have used a shavette (different brand) and find that the stiff blade of the GEM (and other SE razors) provide a better shave for me. I have no interest in buying the modern versions of the classic razors.
  2. pbrmhl

    pbrmhl Contributor

    I believe the OP is referring to SE razors that use AC type blades (e.g., Asylum RX, Mongoose, etc.). I find the AC blade at least as stiff as the Gem blade.

    In my experience, the Gem blade SE razors give a different type of shave from the AC blade razors. Both are very effective tools, but my Asylum gives me a closer shave than any of my many Gem blade razors.
  3. The AC is not a flexible insert blade no more than an injector or Gem blade is. It is rigid and because of that they have the same characteristics as those mentioned above, which is a completely different shave from a DE. Like the AC, the Gem blade does last longer than a DE blade. I don't know about getting 20 shaves from a Gem, but definitely more than 10 (like a DE). Yes, the Gem blade is shorter than the AC (about the same as a DE) and so it might be more maneuverable. The Gem razor has a big advantage of having a wider head (about as much as a DE head) and because of this, it does allow you to find the right angle easier and get a better shave.

    Not having tried a Gem type before, I would suggest getting a vintage one just to see if you like it. this situation is different from when the AC safety razors all came to market last year as there were no vintage AC safety razors before that and the only two older ones (Mongoose and Cobra) were expensive and hard to get. In the case of the Gem type, there are millions of vintage razors to try out. Of course the new ones are new and slightly different designs, but it might be hard to say if they are better than your favorite vintage Gems.
  4. I was using my GEM Bullet tip right before I received my Hawk and General. I don't understand the whole AC hype at all. Was not impressed with the AC blade, I used Feather pro, pro Super, and Kai Mild pink. Either GEM or AC blades provides an irritation free BBS shave, but neither are a match for a DE, they are actually less efficient. DE blades are best(smoother, more efficient), then comes Schick blades, then GEM blades, then AC blades.

    The width of the AC blade is no real bonus. It benefits some areas but hurts other areas. E-W, W-E on my neck is not flat and I benefit from a narrower blade. Real tricky with a AC blade.

    The AC blades are about as efficient as Derby or Shark DE blades, which are at the bottom of the barrel for me. GEM blades are a step up.
  5. I find gem blades to be not as sharp as ac blades and i get a better more efficient shave from my colonial general than my gem g bar with no tugging ATG.
  6. shave/brush

    shave/brush Contributor

    As we say a lot around here, YMMV. I find the AC blades to be the sharpest and smoothest of all the blades you can buy. And from all the forums and threads I have read about razors and blades, the majority of guys feel the same way. But there are plenty of vintage Gem razors around at low prices too. Pick one up like a bullet tip or G-bar and give it a try.
  7. In my experience the Artist Club type blades are quite possibly the sharpest blades on the planet. Right behind them are the Gem stainless steel blades. I can get a great shave from both types of razors (as well as injectors). The AC blade razors are perhaps a bit smoother.

    Some find the added length of the AC blade to be cumbersome. I find that it saves a few strokes in the overall shave and hey, it's a lot shorter than a straight razor. I can use both types equally well.

    As to why make a razor using the Gem blade, there is a lot of history behind this blade, with it dating back to the early 20th century. It was a replacement for the wedge type blades dating back into the 19th century. Vintage Gem style razors are still very plentiful, are excellent shavers and have a devoted following.

    As a result there is a lot of interest in a modern razor using the traditional Gem style blade. I'm certainly interested.

    I personally find single edge razors in general to be superior to DE's and have been using them exclusively for the past few years. A couple of years ago I sold off all of my DE's since I wasn't using them. The SE blades are sharper, and I could never get more than 3 or 4 shaves from a DE blade.

  8. Based on what I think the OP was asking all comes down to numbers. The AC may be fine blades, but they only work with a very small sub-set of equipment. In comparison, there's probably a metric butt-load of Gem/Ever-ready razors available that utilize the standard Gem blade. People are comfortable with that standard, cheaper blade. In addition, those old Gem razors are still capable of delivering excellent shaves, in addition to their unique looks.
  9. shave/brush

    shave/brush Contributor

    The OP asked this: "I want to understand the advantages of GEMs over the Artist Club format. I do not have a vintage GEM and don't understand why someone would want a GEM when there are so many fine options to chose from using AC blades."
    There are no real advantages with the GEMs. Just more to choose from.
  10. Yes, sorry if I was not clear. I was referring to SE razors like the Hawk & ATT that use AC blades. I have a Hawk and see the appeal of SE razors. I also have a vintage Schick E2 injector. The blades are thicker and the AC blades, although a little pricier then DE's, last measurably longer for me. Injector blades are pricier as well, and I get fewer shaves then an AC. I get that injectors add the loading feature to the table, and reduce blade handling. Trying injectors vs AC, I prefer the longer blade life, rigidness, and smaller yet wider head of the AC vs the reduced blade handling of the injector.

    My question is why use a GEM SE over an AC SE razor. The blade is narrower which could be see as a plus for maneuverability, but is it also bigger and adds to the overall size of the razor head. I can't imagine the GEM blades lasting longer then an AC, so I am having trouble understanding the benefits of the GEM form factor.

    I know many people with more experience are excited about the new GEM offerings coming to market, and want to better understand the excitement. Is it just because it is something new, or are there clear advantages to the GEM over the AC.

    Thanks for all the feedback.
  11. I think you are exactly right. I have been looking at the vintage GEMs just to try one. They are relatively cheap, and a good way to try out the form factor. Is there a model that is considered one of the better ones to try? I see many Micromatics for sale at low prices.
  12. pbrmhl

    pbrmhl Contributor

    Steve, I've got many Gem blade razors, including the 1907 Lather Catcher, British 1912, 1914 Little Lather Catcher, 1924 Shovelhead, and MicroMatic Open Comb, among others. The MMOC is my favorite, although I like all of the ones I mentioned. Given the cost of entry, I heartily recommend trying an MMOC, just for sport.

    P.S. If you decide to take the plunge, let me know and I'll send you a few Gem PTFE blades from Ted Pella...
  13. shave/brush

    shave/brush Contributor

    If you want to try a GEM razor you have to first decide if you want a mild one such as the G-bar and bullet tip, or in the mid range such as an Eveready 1912 or aggressive such as an Eveready 1914 or 1924 or MMOC.
  14. Here is another thing to consider: While AC blades are readily available from multiple sources online, Gem blades may be found at just about any CVS or Rite-Aid drugstore, as well as some Walgreen's and mom & pop drugstores.

    I carry a Gem style razor in my carry-on bag when flying (I don't check a bag), secure in the knowledge that I can find some blades between the airport and my hotel.

  15. In my short wet shaving experience (since Oct. 2016) I've tried the AC blades (Hawk, El Jefe, Shavette) and Injector blades (Schick J1). Not really impressed, I still prefer good old DE blades.
    Then I've tried a Gem Jr. with Gem blades and I had an epiphany! Now I want a 1914, a 1924, a MMOC, a Damaskeene...give me them all!
    By the way it's all a matter of preferences and the usual YMMV. Drop a tenner on the bay and give them a try. Mind the rabbit hole though!
  16. "Here is another thing to consider: While AC blades are readily available from multiple sources online, Gem blades may be found at just about any CVS or Rite-Aid drugstore, as well as some Walgreen's and mom & pop drugstores."

    . . . . and AC blade can be found at most any of your local, beauty, barber supply shops. No need to ship.
  17. I didn't realise that that Sally's carrys AC blades.
  18. Many do, but you won't find them as cheap.
  19. Hey guys, thanks for the pointers and advice. I have been on the edge of buying a GEM style since I like to try and experience all kinds of razors. After many of you convinced me about how good they are and responding that I agreed a vintage is the ticket to try GEM blade razors, I wound up shopping around and bought a 1912 Ever Ready! I should get it by Friday and will now need to look for the blades. I can't wait to try a piece of history. It seems many recommend this as a good razor, and I dig the vintage factor. There really is just something cool about getting a great shave from something so old and a bit scary. Hopefully it is good and I don't cut myself.

    BTW, gvw755, thanks for the heads up on your sale. Unfortunately I started shopping right after my last post and did the deed before I saw your razors. I must have missed the posting because I checked earlier in the day.

    Here is a pic of the razor I bought:

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