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Rockwell 6S and Karve CB (Brass) Comparison

After using a EJ DE89 for 8 years I recently decided to upgrade. Not knowing what would feel best for me I wanted to go the adjustable route and ended up buying both a Rockwell 6S and a Karve CB (with plates OC-B, SB-B, SB-C, and SB-D). Here is a comparison after a couple months of shaving with both razors and trying most the plates using a rating system across several categories.


Maggards sells the Karve with 1 plate of your choice for $83 shipped however to get additional plates it's another $24 per plate so everything I bought set me back $155 while the Rockwell 6S with 6 plates goes for $120. The Rockwell is better out the gate if you don't know what you need and want to experiment but I prefer the flexibility the Karve gives in deciding what plates you pay for. To me they're a draw in this category.

Build Quality & Durability:

Both are top notch and BIFL razors. I found no QC issues with either razor. I suppose the stainless steel of the 6S is technically a bit more durable than the brass of the Karve so I'll give the Rockwell the edge in this category but they're both durable enough to satisfy my requirements.

Aesthetic Appeal:

The Rockwell 6S is widely reviewed to be very utilitarian in design and my experience confirms that. It would fit in better in a garage tool box than on a shelf next to other high end razors. The Karve brass might not be for everyone, especially once it patinas, but I love the look and it looks very high end especially next to the Rockwell. For me this is the least important category and would only be considered if all other categories were tied but the Karve is vastly superior in this category.

Head Design:

A lot of people complain about the Rockwell head being bulky and making it difficult to shave under the nose. I noticed the head was basically the same size as my old EJ DE89 so it didn't stand out as large to me until I compared it to the Karve. The Karve head is very slim and makes it both easy to shave under the nose and easier to shave my beard line with since I can more precisely see where the blade is landing. A negative consequence of the design of the Karve head is I found it more difficult to mindlessly find the ideal shave angle. I could find it but I had to pay closer attention and occasionally correct my angle. With the Rockwell I never had to give it a thought. I score these at a draw.

Plate Options, Plate Comparison, and Shave Quality:

I tested the Rockwell plates 3 through 6 and all the Karve plates I bought (OC-B, SB-B, SB-C, and SB-D).

The Rockwell plates provide a narrower range in aggressiveness than Karve does but they also provide more precision within that range. To expand on that statement; here is the order I would rank the plates I tested in from least to most aggressive and my feedback for each plate using a 2 pass shave (WTG and XTG):

  1. Karve SB-B - Due to the neutral blade exposure of this plate and the design of the Karve head I had trouble finding the right blade angle because I couldn't feel the blade at all. Poor shave overall with lots of rough feeling stubble leftover.
  2. Rockwell 3 - Adequate, mindless, low effort shave, some stubble left over. This plate felt the most similar to my EJ DE89.
  3. Rockwell 4 - Pretty good, mindless, low blade feel, low effort shave with improved efficiency. My favorite Rockwell plate.
  4. Karve SB-C - Very good shave, smoother feeling than the Rockwell 4. Slight blade feel and I do have to pay a little closer attention to get the right blade angle and not use too much pressure or I can nick myself but if I'm paying attention this gave me the best shave of the whole list. My favorite Karve plate.
  5. Rockwell 5 - Harsher than plate 4 without a worthwhile improvement in efficiency. Pretty similar to the Karve CB-C but I think the Karve provided a better shave.
  6. Karve OC-B - This was a lot harsher than I expected it to be and I nicked myself in a couple places but I've never used an open comb plate before. Probably need to improve my technique and practice this one more.
  7. Rockwell 6 - Harsher than plate 4/5 without a worthwhile improvement in efficiency
  8. Karve SB-D - Got a very smooth shave from this but despite being extremely careful I walked away with some bad razor burn.
I preferred the Karve with the SB-C plate over any of the Rockwell plates but it does require slightly better technique and I'm not sure I would recommend it to someone brand new to the hobby. The Rockwell would be better for a DE newbie. I would also note that you can get Karve plates in E, F, G in both open and closed comb whereas the Rockwell only goes up to 6 so if you like an aggressive razor go with the Karve. Karve wins this one for me.


They're tied in price, the Rockwell wins in durability, the Karve wins in aesthetic appeal, I tied them in head design (Rockwell head is bulky by Karve head is more difficult to find the blade angle with), and in the most important category of shave quality and plate options I preferred the Karve however this category is very subjective and I could see many people preferring the Rockwell.

I kept the Karve and sold the Rockwell but they're both great razors and I would have been happy keeping the Rockwell if the Karve didn't exist.
Does the Karve head fit on the Rockwell handle, curious...I believe they both use 10 - 32 but concerned that the karve head thread is much longer...anyone know??
I just checked and the head on my Karve CB screws right in on the Rockwell S handle. I didn't like the look of a brass head on a stainless handle though.
Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I also have both. Both are great razors. I've only ever used 5 and 6 on the 6S. My CB has OC - D, SB - E and SB - F. All are very efficient and smooth, but I like OC - D best. Probably my current favourite razor in that configuration.
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