What's new

Macduff’s Monthly Blade Review: Feather Hi-Stainless

So i'm back with another monthly review! As before, each blade will be reviewed based on a 2 pass (plus touch up) shave using a Van Der Hagen long handled razor, Long Rifle 1776 soap and a 3 brush rotation consisting of a Fento badger, Yaqui synthetic and an Omega boar. I use a different brush each shave so every brush sees at least 2 shaves per brand.
I run through 2 of each blade and use each 4 times; for a total of 8 shaves per brand. I'll be grading based on sharpness, smoothness, longevity and consistency. Price will be a factor but only of it's very cheap or expensive since most DE blades are pretty cheap comparatively.

This month i’m reviewing what is probably DE shaving’s most well know blade: The vaunted Feather Hi-Stainless. Alternately loved and feared in near equal parts, the Feather has been proven to be the sharpest blade available on the market today. It’s scalpel like precision and sharpness are what makes it one of the most polarizing blades in all of shaving. But more on that later. First, a little backstory...

Feather as a company was founded in 1932 under the name “Japan Safety Razor Company.” It wasn’t until 1953 that the name was changed to “The Feather Safety Razor Company.” The original production facility in Seki Japan is still the main factory producing blades today; though a second factory in Mino Japan was opened in 2003. Feather now produces a range of modern cartridge razors as well as industrial and medical blades that are used around the world.

If that sounds like an advert well, i’ll be waiting on my check from Feather. The DE blade i’m reviewing today, the New Hi-Stainless, is currently the only consumer DE blade available. Oddly they have two different packaging colors but as far as i can tell, the only difference is in the size of the tucks (10 being yellow black and red and 5 being white black and red.) The blade packaging is blue feathers on white wax paper and the blade is stamped “Trademark Hi-Stainless” and has a stamped picture of a Feather. As far as i can tell, they are one of the rare, truly “uncoated” blades. The only others i can think of are carbon blades and another Japanese blade, the Kai. But i could be wrong on this so feel free to correct me.

With such a fearsome reputation, I was intrigued as to how “different” the Feather would be from all the other blades i’ve tried. Generally speaking, i’ve noticed that it’s far easier to perceive dullness than sharpness when testing blades and was curious if the vaunted Feather would break the mold and blow me away with it’s awesome cutting prowess. So did i hack my face to pieces? Was it so sharp it was splitting atoms as it destroyed my stubble? Or was it just another DE blade? Read on to find out! Or if you’ve lost interest and gone this far, just give up and go have yourself a nice shave...

First up is the ol’ sharpness category. I can say unquestioningly that (SPOLIER ALERT!!!) yes, this blade is sharp. Is it eye wateringly (not a word,) game changingly (also not a word,) cut you if you look at it wrong sharp?! In a word...no.

My first shave was actually so smooth, irritation and weeper free that i was pretty certain i had the wrong blade. Where was the blood?! Where was the penalty for not abiding by the “use only the weight of the razor or you’ll pay” mantra?! I was honestly a little disappointed. It was expecting an epic battle between focus and steel. A true test of my DE razor skills. In practice it was just a fantastic, blood and drama free shave. Which is great! But not exactly an epic story.

Shave two was more of the same. A really great, effortless shave. I did notice the sharpness decrease a bit but it was still plenty sharp. Then...it happened. Perhaps it was laziness, a bad lather, complacency or not abiding by the bushido code, but i got cut up. Shave 3 was harsh, weeper filled and about as unpleasant as it gets. Oddly enough the blade felt substantially DULLER not sharper which is why the result was strange. Perhaps i applied too much pressure to compensate for the new lack of cutting power? I’m not sure. The 4th shave was actually so dull that i declared the blade spent on the first pass; but persevered for science. The result was ok but the blade had clearly lost its trademark edge (double entendre anyone?)

The second blade was like the first in that the first shave was fantastic and the blade gradually dulled over each shave. I was able to avoid the bloodbath on this blade but by shave 4 it was also clearly dull enough to be thrown out.

Smoothness obviously was a mixed bag. I found the early shaves on both blades to be excellent. Blood free, irritation free and BBS. But by shave 3 both blades were degrading substantially in sharpness which somehow translated to far more irritating and unpleasant shaves.

Consistency was good but not great. I felt the first blade was just a bit sharper and more efficient but also degraded more on shaves 3 and 4. Blade 2 held up better but the best shaves weren’t as good as blade 1.

Longevity was actually pretty poor. The feather was what i’d call a “two and toss” blade. Were i to shave with these regularly, i’d not even bother going past shave number two. Not many other blades dull this quickly so it’s really on the low end of blade longevity.

Price-wise the feather’s are quite expensive by DE blade standards. 100 will run you $24.68 on amazon at the moment and other than perhaps Pol-Silvers, feathers are probably the most expensive blade out there.

So what’s the final verdict out of that mixed bag? Oddly i really did like this classic Japanese standard bearer despite some obvious flaws i pointed out. The first two shaves on both blades were some of the best i’ve had with any DE blades. The problem is they’re expensive, don’t last long and the bad shaves were pretty awful. For me that puts them just out of the “elite” blade category. Were i judging them solely on their best shaves, i’d give them a 10 easily. But all factors considered, i’m awarding the feather a 7 out of 10. I DO recommend giving them a try since i think early shaves are nearly unparalleled, but i personally think there are more well rounded, affordable blades on the market.

So that’s it for the iconic feather. Next up is the Eddison. Another Personna blade to throw into the confusing mess that is the Personna brand. Until then, happy shaving!
 

Attachments

  • 801EADAC-FBAF-49FD-85F5-2826436256DB.jpeg
    801EADAC-FBAF-49FD-85F5-2826436256DB.jpeg
    963.7 KB · Views: 20

FarmerTan

FarmerStan the Man
Good review my friend! I have one that someone PIF'd me a long time ago, I've just never gotten around to trying it.

How is it's sharpness compared to GSB?
A GSB always gives me a better shave on the 2nd go round. I've got one somewhere around here that I'm trying to get 50 shaves out of.....

Seems to me that a Feather would be perfect for those folks that toss a blade after one use.
 
Again, excellent in-depth review 👏. I have also found that I get about 2 shaves, but because of my coarse beard, I rarely do a third with any blade. I use feathers on days when my stubble is short and sandpapery. You know, when you can tell you need a shave but you'd get a better one if you waited until the next day? Feathers shine in those days, especially in a mild razor. When I do get nicks, theyre so tiny that they clot really quickly. Feathers also work great on those dry winter days when the heater has been running. They cut through a dehydrated beard better than anything.
 
Good review my friend! I have one that someone PIF'd me a long time ago, I've just never gotten around to trying it.

How is it's sharpness compared to GSB?
A GSB always gives me a better shave on the 2nd go round. I've got one somewhere around here that I'm trying to get 50 shaves out of.....

Seems to me that a Feather would be perfect for those folks that toss a blade after one use.

Thanks @FarmerTan. I’ve tried a few Gillette blades but have not yet tried the vaunted GSB. I do have a couple though so they’ll be tried somewhere down the line. It’s a hard blade to make a comparison to because the sharpness isn’t actually that perceptible (which i found odd.) I was shocked at how smooth and easy the first two shaves were. But the second two were pretty awful and i can’t think of another blade that changed so much in character. And you’re spot on saying it’s the perfect blade for those that use a blade once and toss it. It’s probably the best blade i’ve used “out of the box.” Most blades tend to shave best around the 2nd to 3rd shave i’ve found.
 
I've learned to like feather blades. Just a couple of razors are borderline almost to efficient with a feather ( weepers), but it's a challenge.
I like the review!
 
Your review is spot on. The first (few!) shaves with Feathers are always a pleasure, but their sharpness fades away way too fast for my liking.

I wonder if there is anyone out there who can get more than -say- 7 pleasant shaves out of this blade?
 
Tried them, very sharp, but left my face as if the skin had been ripped off, albeit without any actual bloodshed. Had the same experience with Bics.
Kai, on the other hand.... Same sharpness, smooth, no burn.
 
Again, excellent in-depth review 👏. I have also found that I get about 2 shaves, but because of my coarse beard, I rarely do a third with any blade. I use feathers on days when my stubble is short and sandpapery. You know, when you can tell you need a shave but you'd get a better one if you waited until the next day? Feathers shine in those days, especially in a mild razor. When I do get nicks, theyre so tiny that they clot really quickly. Feathers also work great on those dry winter days when the heater has been running. They cut through a dehydrated beard better than anything.

Man this is so spot on! I’ve never heard anyone here explain it so well. The whole “sandpaper” feel is exactly how my beard feels after 48 hours. I shave every other day so it’s pretty much what i’m dealing with all the time when i shave. Back in my cart days i would shave on sundays and wednesdays. It was a routine born not of laziness but because i realized i got my best shaves after 3 days. When i started DE, i liked it so much that i bumped up shaving to every other day. But like you articulated, it’s very difficult to cut the stubble when it’s long enough to shave but still a bit too short to shave comfortably. Ironically i’ve been thinking a lot lately about only shaving every third day but the pull to whip up a lather and have a great shave is often too strong to resist. And you’re 100% right in that the Feather is great for those “sandpaper” days. I think it’s why i liked it so much despite what i considered some obvious shortcomings.
 
I've never tried a Kai or a Feather.

Question: is the Kai plated with anything?

To my knowledge neither is coated with anything. I believe most blades on the market today are coated with teflon (PTFE for you trademark lawyers) even if they don’t advertise it. But the Kai and Feather from what i know are uncoated. This is one of those topics that i’ve never fully understood though. Some companies prominently advertise their coatings while other have coatings but don’t say anything about them. So it’s hard to tell. Maybe someone more knowledgable than me will chime in.
 

FarmerTan

FarmerStan the Man
To my knowledge neither is coated with anything. I believe most blades on the market today are coated with teflon (PTFE for you trademark lawyers) even if they don’t advertise it. But the Kai and Feather from what i know are uncoated. This is one of those topics that i’ve never fully understood though. Some companies prominently advertise their coatings while other have coatings but don’t say anything about them. So it’s hard to tell. Maybe someone more knowledgable than me will chime in.
Thanks for the timely response!
 
Great review and very timely. I'm about to try (tomorrow) a Feather New Hi-Stainless that I got in a sampler.

When I loaded it into the razor (1957 Gillette Red Tip), I couldn't help but notice how much thinner the blade felt relative to the blades I use regularly, Personna (US surgical) and Gillette 7 O'Clock (Russian). Based on this, I'm not surprised at your findings Macduff. I'll be interested to see how this one comes out on my shaves. I have a middle-of-the-road beard when it comes to coarseness, but my skin tends to be fairly sensitive. It's not unusual for me to have weepers that stop without the need for a stick.

Question: In this sampler, there was a 10-blade tuck of the New Hi-Stainless (yellow label) and two 5-blade tucks of the Feather "Hi-Stainless" (no sign of the word "new") with black labels. Are these the same blades, or is the black a prior generation of the product?
 
Great review and very timely. I'm about to try (tomorrow) a Feather New Hi-Stainless that I got in a sampler.

When I loaded it into the razor (1957 Gillette Red Tip), I couldn't help but notice how much thinner the blade felt relative to the blades I use regularly, Personna (US surgical) and Gillette 7 O'Clock (Russian). Based on this, I'm not surprised at your findings Macduff. I'll be interested to see how this one comes out on my shaves. I have a middle-of-the-road beard when it comes to coarseness, but my skin tends to be fairly sensitive. It's not unusual for me to have weepers that stop without the need for a stick.

Question: In this sampler, there was a 10-blade tuck of the New Hi-Stainless (yellow label) and two 5-blade tucks of the Feather "Hi-Stainless" (no sign of the word "new") with black labels. Are these the same blades, or is the black a prior generation of the product?


It's the same blade in different packaging, as stated by Feather.
 
Great review and very timely. I'm about to try (tomorrow) a Feather New Hi-Stainless that I got in a sampler.

When I loaded it into the razor (1957 Gillette Red Tip), I couldn't help but notice how much thinner the blade felt relative to the blades I use regularly, Personna (US surgical) and Gillette 7 O'Clock (Russian). Based on this, I'm not surprised at your findings Macduff. I'll be interested to see how this one comes out on my shaves. I have a middle-of-the-road beard when it comes to coarseness, but my skin tends to be fairly sensitive. It's not unusual for me to have weepers that stop without the need for a stick.

Question: In this sampler, there was a 10-blade tuck of the New Hi-Stainless (yellow label) and two 5-blade tucks of the Feather "Hi-Stainless" (no sign of the word "new") with black labels. Are these the same blades, or is the black a prior generation of the product?

Same blades. I did a little reseasearch prior to my review and in one of these threads someone got feather to confirm via email that it’s just different packaging for the different size tucks. Also thanks for the kind words and let us know how the shave goes!
 
That's about right with those Feathers. Good review! Oh, that epic battle of self holding the razor to your throat, I can easily see such a thing with a much more aggressive razor.
 
“...A really great, effortless shave....Then...it happened. Perhaps it was laziness, a bad lather, complacency or not abiding by the bushido code, but i got cut up. Shave 3 was harsh, weeper filled and about as unpleasant as it gets...”

Great review!! My experience is similar: Feathers require constant attention! :thumbup: :thumbup:
 
Top Bottom