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Tatara Masamune vs Feather AS-D2

TL;DR​

After shaving for nearly 8 years with my Feather AS-D2, the Tatara Masamune has finally dethroned what I once thought to be the absolute best razor on the market. While still having some design drawbacks, the Masamune is a beautifully crafted piece of machinery, delivering one of the closest shaves I've ever had. Hopefully this article will help some readers out there who are looking for a milder razor and a smoother shaving experience.

Introduction​

While I can't say I have the greatest experience in terms of safety razor brands as many folks here do, I have tried a few over the years such as the Blackland Blackbird, the Muhle R89, and the Feather AS-D2 which I've kept since it was the mildest one of the bunch. I have a very sensitive skin and I shave on a daily basis (I use Pre de Provence soap which is my all time favorite followed closely by Bull and Bell), therefore any razor showing signs of aggressiveness is a non-starter as far as I'm concerned. However over the years I became somewhat dissatisfied with the Feather, especially in the last year or two since the pandemic began. As I was not commuting to work any longer, my daily shaving routine slowly morphed into a 2nd or 3rd day shaving. The once performant Feather was now struggling against my stubble, resulting in triple passes to achieve a moderately decent shave. Not only that but my beard was regrowing half a day later, which i found very annoying. So I started researching seriously and after about a week of dallying back and forth, I decided to pull the trigger on the Tatara Masamune as it promised to be very comparable in mildness to the Feather.

Packaging​

For those living in North America and not wanting to wait weeks for a parcel from Portugal and dealing with sluggish customs, The Razor Company does a great job at shipping within a few days across the continent. I also ordered the stand for the Masamune (more on that later). The Tatara comes beautifully packaged in a cork box as we can see in the next picture.

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I've read on some other posts online that the manufacturer used to also include a few Feather blades in the box, mine didn't contain any which is OK since I happen to own plenty. While this is not the fanciest packaging, I found it very aesthetically pleasing and minimalistic, which pairs well with their Samurai/Zen branding. Cork is nowadays a rather rare and expensive wood, and its use here denotes a subdued elegance. Albeit being organicI' m not sure how easily it can be recycled, so my recommendation would be to stick to simpler materials that are more eco-friendly and less costly for the company.

The razor​

The Masamune at first glance is truly exquisite. Compared to the Feather which has this industrial and utilitarian profile, the Masamune is like a work of art, from the golf-ball textured handle to the base plate adorned with the samurai logo engraving, to the semi-spherical stand, everything exudes lavishness. The steel also exhibits a darker hue than the Feather, and although it's very personal, I did find it more pleasing to look at.

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The CNC machining of all three pieces seems very exact and detailed, I could not find any imperfections or scratches. We can see below a side-by-side comparison of the two razors. The Feather has a chromier look and both razors have a similar low profile which makes it very easy to reach those areas under the nose or around the ear lobes. The Feather is slightly longer at 90mm while the Masamune handle is 82mm and a bit narrower.

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When shaving, I found the Feather's heavily textured handle to provide a much better grip. The longer handle also gives it more heft and a better balance point, whereas the Masamune was more difficult to yield for those with larger hands (I stand 6' tall so my long fingers struggled a bit to grasp the handle). The Masamune's center of balance is closer to the head, so more care must be taken when shaving, as the slightest pressure may result in a nick (although this has only happened to me once on day 2, and never since!). Tatara offers the Nodachi handle which is a bit longer and thicker than the Feather, and on second thought I should have probably ordered that one instead, but after two months of shaving with the Masamune I've gotten quite accustomed with the shorter handle.

Razor head​

The Masamune razor is slightly more aggressive than the Feather, but the difference is just enough to give you a closer, more efficient shave while still preventing nicks and irritation. The base plate design in the Masamune along with the cap, offer the perfect amount of exposure and I think this is where this razor truly shines compared to the Feather. Although the head profiles are almost identical, the Masamune extends the blade edges a bit farther (see pic below) giving it more bite.

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On paper, the Feather has a larger blade gap (.73mm) vs Masamune (0.63mm for the closed comb pictured above and 0.73mm for the open comb which I have not tried). The Masamune cap is narrower, giving the blade a negative exposure of (-0.13mm) and this is what makes it more aggressive, as the skin will fill the gap when the razor is pressed against the face. Using the Masamune I was able to get that baby bottom shave in only 2 passes (wtg and atg) while with the Feather, i need at a minimum 3 passes (a 3rd one xtg) and sometimes even a fourth. Even so, the Masamune shave keeps my face free of hairs for at least half a day longer which is a big plus. I can even skip one day when I shave with the Masamune and it hardly shows. I used both Feather and Dorco blades (at half the price of a Feather blade on Amazon) and I find they both work very well with the Masamune.

Another cool thing about Tatara is that their razors (Masamune and Nodachi) have interchangeable parts, which means you can swap handles, base plates and caps to give you the exact control and aggressiveness you require. This picture, taken from their website, shows all the possible combinations:


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Note that the traditional stock Masamune with closed comb, is the mildest combo. One small drawback is the cost; just like the razor itself, these are quite pricey, therefore anyone wishing to acquire 3 or 4 individual parts will look at a ballpark 350-400$ investment. This is pretty steep for most people, so I feel the flexibility of swapping parts is negated by the cost. But...for a life-long investment and for the quality of the manufacturing, one may argue that it's absolutely worth every penny! Another thing to consider is that for whatever reason, the Nodachi handle, while being longer and heavier is also thicker (12.5mm vs 11mm for the Masamune), which means the Nodachi base is not compatible with the Masamune one. So if you are looking to swap handles (or own both), you will also need to buy two bases (or get the Nodachi one and have the Masamune wobble in it). Ideally these handles would be fully compatible in width with a single base and I'm sure it would also reduce Tatara's manufacturing costs.

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We can see in the above picture the blade sticking out a tad more in the Masamune. The longer edge makes it more flexible and there's this faint "singing" when it slices your hairs, akin to the sound a straight razor makes (those that have used one know what I'm talking about). I found this to be a quite soothing and satisfying experience, instead of the regular dull scraping the Feather makes.
Another difference that can be observed in the Masamune (which the Feather does not have) is the end of the blade sticking out on each side. This is not a mistake from the designers by all means, and is intended to allow you to better grip the blade in between your fingers when you screw/unscrew the handle and while positioning the base plate. I do appreciate such small details which make your life easier and Tatara has definitely gone that extra mile.
One small pet peeve for me was the inordinate number of threads on the handle. It takes about 14 rotations to screw in the Masamune handle into the cap while the Feather has about half the amount. While I realize this is very personal to me, I just don't think it's necessary to fasten the handle so deeply. Half the threads provide the same security and stability.

Conclusion​

The Masamune has been a true awakening for me after years of mundane shaving with the Feather. I now realize that although the Feather is well praised and has its merits, the company has not been keeping pace with the recent revival in high-end artisan razors, and small companies like Tatara have proven they can deliver a much higher quality of shaving through an exquisitely well handcrafted device. I will no doubt look to sell my Feather in the upcoming months as I have no longer a need for it.
The Masamune is as close to perfection as a razor can get, and it can close that remaining gap in the future by tweaking a few things which are easily remedied; such as improving the grip (perhaps raised golf-ball dimples on a section of the handle), a better balance (shift the weight of the handle towards the tip and away from the razor - or simply come up with a single handle design that would represent a middle ground between the Masamune and the Nodachi) and implicitly, better compatibility in width for the Nodachi/Masamune handles/bases (this ties-in with my previous point). I really like their logo and I think it would be cool to see it featured more prominently on the cap. Right now it's underneath the base and it's hard to see. This detracts nothing from the quality of the shave, it's just my own stylistic preference.
I would also like to see some kind of price incentives for those wishing to purchase various parts (close comb, open comb, different caps, etc) or perhaps discount codes to attract return buyers. I'm also hoping to see a bigger Tatara presence across shops in North America so we can easily order new parts or replacements if needed.
Finally I would recommend the Masamune to any wet-shaving enthusiast, especially those that have been stuck with the Feather for so long and are afraid of taking the leap into new shaving territory. My only regret is not having done this sooner. You cannot go wrong with this razor!

Disclaimer: I have not been influenced by Tatara not been given any incentives whatsoever to write this review. This is purely a matter of personal opinion.
 

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Good review!

I've owned my Feather AS-D2 for a total of like 2-weeks now, and I've already decided to abandon it. Which is a shame if you think about it, cause I paid a lot of money for it. But I don't like the inefficiency of the Feather, it just takes all day, cause it forces me to make multiple passes on the same exact swath to get it all. If I had a lawn mower that made me have to do that on my lawn, I'd be getting a new mower too.

Also, while this is more at fault of the Feather blades themselves, it gets compounded worse by the razors inefficiency, after 2-shaves, the razor gets dull enough, that by the 3rd shave, the razor does a terrible job. Trying to get all the hair, I just end up knicking myself, especially in the moostash area going ATG. I've dealt with this situation for 2-weeks and I am already through, much less pushing on for 8-years!

In an effort to try and achieve a better shave, I chose to replace my Feather with the Rex Ambassador, which is supposed to come on the 1rst of April. So, will see how that handles 2-days stubble. I chose adjustable so I could just dial the thing in and be done with it. I am not going to keep buying expensive non-adjustable razors that just don't work for me.

Your review pretty much echoed everything I felt about the Feather. The only part that never concerned me however, was interchangeable parts. I don't really care about all that. But I understand for those who like to customize or repair their own razors, that does matter, so I do understand.
 
Thanks for you review. I recently bought one with both SB and OC plates. Great razor, very comfortable and effective. See this topic for my experiences with it so far. Very nice razor and I am just as impressed. Unlike you, I like the original Masamune handle. Doesn't differ too much from my RR super knurl or Muhle R89 handle in length, which is fine for me.

Still experimenting with blades, but the razor doesn't seem too fussy about them, which I like. And by the way, the OC plate still is very comfortable and not aggressive, so you might give it a try as well ;-)
 
Thanks for your very thorough review. I’ve been using the Masamune for several months now and I really like it. I highly recommend anyone using this razor try it with nacet blades. All blades work pretty well in it but nacet is best in my experience.
I’ve never used an ASD2 but to me this is definitely a mild shaver. Very comfortable and forgiving, but if you prefer a more blade forward razor you may find it slightly too mild for your liking.
 
Very well done review!

You mentioned the R89. Have you ever used the Merkur 34HD? From looking at your photos and reading your comparison to the Feather it seems like the Masamune may perform like an artisan SS version of the 34.
 
Good review!

I've owned my Feather AS-D2 for a total of like 2-weeks now, and I've already decided to abandon it.
This whole sport is very much YMMV and some razors just don't work for some people, but, are you sure that you have maximized your "Feather technique?" I found the ASD2 an OK shaver but once I got the angle just right (so far towards the cap that it feels like it isn't even shaving -- but it is) and the touch just right (absolutely no pressure, like scraping lather off of a balloon) I experienced a big leap in performance.
 
This whole sport is very much YMMV and some razors just don't work for some people, but, are you sure that you have maximized your "Feather technique?" I found the ASD2 an OK shaver but once I got the angle just right (so far towards the cap that it feels like it isn't even shaving -- but it is) and the touch just right (absolutely no pressure, like scraping lather off of a balloon) I experienced a big leap in performance.

Yes, I nailed my technique, took 4 shaves to get there, but I mastered it after that. Plus, I get a solid education from GeoFatBoy, who also shows how to ride the cap on the ATG for the BBS shave. Its a combination of too mild of a shaver, and the blade is already too dull on the 3rd shave, common issue for those of us with course hair.

The AS-D2 does a better job with a brand new Feather blade, but even still, you got to do more passes then you'd think. But on the 3rd shave of the blade, its totally missing hairs, and having great difficulty getting me to BBS. And as far as the argument of DFS, well, I say again, with a brand new blade, not much a problem for DFS.

But once that blade starts getting dull, there goes the shave. Yes, the Feather AS-D2 is a fine razor and all, but it just doesn't like that 2-day stubble very much. I've already seen people shaving with the Rex Ambassador, and with course hair too, and I've seen with my own eyes, it going through hair like butter. So ya.
 
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Very well done review!

You mentioned the R89. Have you ever used the Merkur 34HD? From looking at your photos and reading your comparison to the Feather it seems like the Masamune may perform like an artisan SS version of the 34.
I used a 34C exclusively for many years and now have the Masamune. It is MUCH milder.
 
I used a 34C exclusively for many years and now have the Masamune. It is MUCH milder.
I used a 34c, a R89 (still have that) and now the Masamune. The 34c shaved the roughest, the Muhle is more comfortable. Results are roughly the same. But the Masamune in my case shaves the most comfortable, while doing a better job at the same time in removing stubble. Very smooth face afterwards. For me, the Masamune is best of those 3.

PS: I also owned a Karve CB with SB-C and OC-B plate. I rate the Masamune as efficient, but even smoother and more comfortable during the shave. This goes for both the SB and OC plate of the Masamune
 
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I've owned my Feather AS-D2 for a total of like 2-weeks now, and I've already decided to abandon it. Which is a shame if you think about it, cause I paid a lot of money for it. But I don't like the inefficiency of the Feather, it just takes all day, cause it forces me to make multiple passes on the same exact swath to get it all. If I had a lawn mower that made me have to do that on my lawn, I'd be getting a new mower too.
I can understand your frustration with the Feather. The reason why I kept it so many years is because I am a consistent daily shaver (or at least was before working remotely), so the Feather is OK for this very narrow use-case. But as soon as you delay your shave, it just becomes a frustrating experience. I think Feather created a decent razor years ago, probably by accident, and they just sat on their laurels ever since, not really updating or improving on their design. I tried to purchase a base from them and they don't even sell one separately. Let alone spare parts if something were to happen to your razor. So yeah...the Masamune is the way to go.
 
Very well done review!

You mentioned the R89. Have you ever used the Merkur 34HD? From looking at your photos and reading your comparison to the Feather it seems like the Masamune may perform like an artisan SS version of the 34.
Never tried the Merkur. I did have a stint with a straight razor once but that's another story :). I think for now I will try the OC base on the Masamune just for those weeks where I get lazy about shaving and skip a few days.
 
Thanks for you review. I recently bought one with both SB and OC plates. Great razor, very comfortable and effective. See this topic for my experiences with it so far. Very nice razor and I am just as impressed. Unlike you, I like the original Masamune handle. Doesn't differ too much from my RR super knurl or Muhle R89 handle in length, which is fine for me.

Still experimenting with blades, but the razor doesn't seem too fussy about them, which I like. And by the way, the OC plate still is very comfortable and not aggressive, so you might give it a try as well ;-)
Hi @bartje-p I was tempted by the Nodachi handle, but I think the price points (including swapping the base) will prevent me from getting one any time soon. I am however curious about the OC (based on your experience) so I think I will buy that next. There are days when I don't shave and I'd rather make a first pass with the OC, than struggle with a SB. So you convinced me there!
As far as the handle length goes, i think YMMV depending on your hand morphology and how thick your fingers are. I can understand why Tatara came up with two handles, simply because it's almost impossible to find that sweet spot. Feather comes close IMO to achieving it. But everything else set aside, I got used to the shorter handle so it's not a problem anymore. I'll save my cash for when they come up with their next iteration of the product (IF they do so) and get that one instead! Happy shaving!
 
All blades work pretty well in it but nacet is best in my experience.
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll buy them when my Feather and Dorco stash runs out. One thing I noticed which I forgot to mention in my review is that the Feather blades on the Masamune last longer than on the Feather razor itself, and my guess is it's because you do less passes over your face per shave...that's at least 33% more mileage in my case.
 
Masamune is a great razor. I would also agree that it performs better then the AS-D2. I prefer the Nodachi base and cap on my Masamune handle, but the full Masamune provides excellent shaves. Glad you like yours.
 
Yes, I nailed my technique, took 4 shaves to get there, but I mastered it after that. Plus, I get a solid education from GeoFatBoy, who also shows how to ride the cap on the ATG for the BBS shave. Its a combination of too mild of a shaver, and the blade is already too dull on the 3rd shave, common issue for those of us with course hair.
Sounds good, and I hope the Rex works well for you. There is a lot to be said for an adjustable.
 
Huge fan of the Masamune here. It is amazing how it combines efficiency with gentle. I had a Popular and nearly gave up. It barely seemed to cut anything.

For the best of both worlds, I prefer to combine the Masamune with a Feather blade as nature (and the designers) intended.
 
Never tried the Merkur. I did have a stint with a straight razor once but that's another story :). I think for now I will try the OC base on the Masamune just for those weeks where I get lazy about shaving and skip a few days.
Thanks for posting all the great photos of the Feather and Tatara! I love the Masamune and consider it my best (certainly one of my best) razors. There was a time I wanted the Feather but opted to skip it because of reports of being too mild. I have the open comb base plate for the Masamune and use it when I have not shaved for days. Open combs just seem to slice thru more difficult whiskers IMO. Based on what you‘ve written (if you were considering other razors to buy) I’d recommend the Razorock Game Changer 68 OC and Lupo 72. These two shave similarly to the Tatara Masamune but feel a bit different during use. I like switching handles and the Tatara only has the dimpled options (which I think is great - but I like the variety the others offer, too). I enjoy switching between all three.
 
Based on what you‘ve written (if you were considering other razors to buy) I’d recommend the Razorock Game Changer 68 OC and Lupo 72. These two shave similarly to the Tatara Masamune but feel a bit different during use. I like switching handles and the Tatara only has the dimpled options (which I think is great - but I like the variety the others offer, too). I enjoy switching between all three.
Thanks @jefffeith I'll keep these 2 in mind. However you're the second person who mentiones the OC for Masamune so that tells me I should not hesitate to get it. For now ordering from Tatara seems the only option as The Razor Company is out of stock.
 
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