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That's it. I finally found a vintage Gillette razor that works for me.

I’m not a big fan of the shaves I got with my adjustables but I love how they operate. If they shaved as smooth as a SS or Tech I’d use them a lot more often. I’ve only been wet shaving maybe 3 years so I still am in the early stages of testing. That said, I still think your 109 is messed up if your SS feels more aggressive but it’s possible you hold it at an odd angle and it changes things.

I also find it crazy your pre-war tech is “aggressive”. Maybe your shaving angle is different then almost everyone else’s because I’ve found the 2-3 techs I’ve tried to be very mild but efficient. Both pre and post war.

It could also be your blade as mentioned above. Feathers are OK blades but one of my least favorite acceptable blades. They have such a rough feeling on my face and don’t feel any sharper then my Nacets or Rubies. I don’t ever get weepers from any blade anymore but they still feel harsh.

Assuming you haven’t done this already give the Nacet, GSB, Rubie if you have one, and maybe PermaSharp a go and see how it fairs. I personally don’t find the Permasharp sharp enough but I’m in the minority there so it’s worth testing. If you must insist on the sharpest blade then use a Bic Platinum. It’s easily the sharpest blade I tried and not quite as harsh as a Feather but still nowhere near as smooth as the other blades I mentioned above.

A GSB is one of the smoothest blades you can buy and still sharper then 9/10 of your common blade types. So many people get aggressive feeling mixed up with sharp. But sharp doesn’t have to feel like a glass edge being scraped over your face.

P.S. - Give the red tip a go sometime. It’s my favorite so far but I haven’t tested the older SS model or an Aristocrat yet. The Aristocrats appeal to me.
 
FWIW, I've been daily shaving with a pre-Korean War SS for more years than I can remember now (and no, I am not the original owner). The best $1.25 someone ever spent. I forget how I came to possess it.

I've just never seen a reason to change, and nothing since has bettered it on my face. I tried a '54 regular at one point because I liked the handle grip a little better, but wound up giving it to my son. The early SS just shaves better for me.

A couple times a year, I drop an old Schick Platinum Plus into it, and it's shaving heaven for about 10-12 days.

I've got a lot of old vintage Gillette razors. But they all sit in a closet somewhere, as that old SS sits next to the mouthwash.
I also have a SS from that era (no date code), and it's a great razor. I find the balance in my hand to be perfect.
 
I’m not a big fan of the shaves I got with my adjustables but I love how they operate. If they shaved as smooth as a SS or Tech I’d use them a lot more often. I’ve only been wet shaving maybe 3 years so I still am in the early stages of testing. That said, I still think your 109 is messed up if your SS feels more aggressive but it’s possible you hold it at an odd angle and it changes things.

I also find it crazy your pre-war tech is “aggressive”. Maybe your shaving angle is different then almost everyone else’s because I’ve found the 2-3 techs I’ve tried to be very mild but efficient. Both pre and post war.

It could also be your blade as mentioned above. Feathers are OK blades but one of my least favorite acceptable blades. They have such a rough feeling on my face and don’t feel any sharper then my Nacets or Rubies. I don’t ever get weepers from any blade anymore but they still feel harsh.

Assuming you haven’t done this already give the Nacet, GSB, Rubie if you have one, and maybe PermaSharp a go and see how it fairs. I personally don’t find the Permasharp sharp enough but I’m in the minority there so it’s worth testing. If you must insist on the sharpest blade then use a Bic Platinum. It’s easily the sharpest blade I tried and not quite as harsh as a Feather but still nowhere near as smooth as the other blades I mentioned above.

A GSB is one of the smoothest blades you can buy and still sharper then 9/10 of your common blade types. So many people get aggressive feeling mixed up with sharp. But sharp doesn’t have to feel like a glass edge being scraped over your face.

P.S. - Give the red tip a go sometime. It’s my favorite so far but I haven’t tested the older SS model or an Aristocrat yet. The Aristocrats appeal to me.

I don't think it's an angle because the Pre-War (triangular slots) head design seems to be less demanding to the angle, and at the same time gives me a far better feedback than the later designs. It just can get a little "scratchy" if I am not carefully watching the pressure. The New LC is a fairly aggressive razor, I'd say it's at least as close shaving as Muhle R41 (post 2013) that I have.

And yes, I did try a variety of blades in each razor - Feathers, Perma-Sharps, Astra SP, Bic, and just this morning Nacet.

I get guaranteed close 3-pass shaves from the New LC, but it requires a little more care if I don't want to get bitten.

I get very close BBS shaves from the pre-war Tech, but it can also get a little scratchy at times. ( That is, I have no weepers or cuts of any sort, but some parts of my face feel more tender after the shave than I am used to.) I think I may be subconsciously applying too much pressure when not paying enough attention, because the razor is so light compared to my other razors. But it's a great shaver.

But the post-War Tech and Super 109 are just too mild. I can get a great shave with both if I don't chase BBS. If I do, I end up scrubbing my face too much and getting irritation. I tried paying careful attention to the shave angle, still not much difference. If I open up the 109 all the way, it is acceptable but still needs a little more cleanup.

So, I did some thinking and some research.

I seem to be getting the best shaves from razors with fairly large blade exposure. My two top modern razors are Parker Variant (both OC and SB, I use them at 2.5-3.5 out of 5) and Maggard V3A. I get very easy, carefree, close yet forgiving shaves with both. The Variant is my ultimate easy shave razor, it's very hard to get a bad shave with it. It uses the same head as Merkur Progress. The V3A is a bit less "refined" but still very comfortable, roughly comparable to Variant set at 3-3.5.

Both razors have large blade exposure, more so than older Gillettes. And looking at the blade gap chart (as measured) the Super Adjustable goes from .018 at 1 to .045" at 9. (Can't post it here as it's from another site).

The Parker Variant gaps are listed in this thread.

These gaps are for the original (Safety Bar) version. I also have the latter OC version, which is my primary shaver now, and I'd say it has a .5 to 1 setting advantage over the SB (that is, OC at 2.5-3 is as efficient as SB at 3.5)


1 - .029"
2 - .036"
3 - .043"
4 - .050"
5 - .057"

So, it seems, the Super 109 opened all the way to 9 has roughly the same blade gap as the Variant at 3, but with quite a bit less blade exposure and more shaving angle sensitivity, which would explain my difficulty getting an irritation-free BBS shave with it when I was mainly using it at 7 or so. I use the OC Variant at 2.5 to 3.5 (depending on the blade and how many times it was used) and this would be pushing outside of Super 109 top gap range.

The 1960 Tech that I have is essentially the Super set at a low setting. It's practically impossible for me to get hurt using it, but it's also pretty hard to get a full BBS. I end up scrubbing my face & getting irritation.

So, this leaves the Pre-War Tech and that 1953 Superspeed as the two Gillettes that I want to concentrate on.

I also noticed that I seem to get far more comfortable shaves from the razors with a scalloped safety bar design, which both the Variant SB and Maggard V3A have. Perhaps it has something to do with the residual slickness after the first pass.

Anyway, sorry for the long post... I'll get there. Eventually.
 
I don't think it's an angle because the Pre-War (triangular slots) head design seems to be less demanding to the angle, and at the same time gives me a far better feedback than the later designs. It just can get a little "scratchy" if I am not carefully watching the pressure. The New LC is a fairly aggressive razor, I'd say it's at least as close shaving as Muhle R41 (post 2013) that I have.

And yes, I did try a variety of blades in each razor - Feathers, Perma-Sharps, Astra SP, Bic, and just this morning Nacet.

I get guaranteed close 3-pass shaves from the New LC, but it requires a little more care if I don't want to get bitten.

I get very close BBS shaves from the pre-war Tech, but it can also get a little scratchy at times. ( That is, I have no weepers or cuts of any sort, but some parts of my face feel more tender after the shave than I am used to.) I think I may be subconsciously applying too much pressure when not paying enough attention, because the razor is so light compared to my other razors. But it's a great shaver.

But the post-War Tech and Super 109 are just too mild. I can get a great shave with both if I don't chase BBS. If I do, I end up scrubbing my face too much and getting irritation. I tried paying careful attention to the shave angle, still not much difference. If I open up the 109 all the way, it is acceptable but still needs a little more cleanup.

So, I did some thinking and some research.

I seem to be getting the best shaves from razors with fairly large blade exposure. My two top modern razors are Parker Variant (both OC and SB, I use them at 2.5-3.5 out of 5) and Maggard V3A. I get very easy, carefree, close yet forgiving shaves with both. The Variant is my ultimate easy shave razor, it's very hard to get a bad shave with it. It uses the same head as Merkur Progress. The V3A is a bit less "refined" but still very comfortable, roughly comparable to Variant set at 3-3.5.

Both razors have large blade exposure, more so than older Gillettes. And looking at the blade gap chart (as measured) the Super Adjustable goes from .018 at 1 to .045" at 9. (Can't post it here as it's from another site).

The Parker Variant gaps are listed in this thread.

These gaps are for the original (Safety Bar) version. I also have the latter OC version, which is my primary shaver now, and I'd say it has a .5 to 1 setting advantage over the SB (that is, OC at 2.5-3 is as efficient as SB at 3.5)


1 - .029"
2 - .036"
3 - .043"
4 - .050"
5 - .057"

So, it seems, the Super 109 opened all the way to 9 has roughly the same blade gap as the Variant at 3, but with quite a bit less blade exposure and more shaving angle sensitivity, which would explain my difficulty getting an irritation-free BBS shave with it when I was mainly using it at 7 or so. I use the OC Variant at 2.5 to 3.5 (depending on the blade and how many times it was used) and this would be pushing outside of Super 109 top gap range.

The 1960 Tech that I have is essentially the Super set at a low setting. It's practically impossible for me to get hurt using it, but it's also pretty hard to get a full BBS. I end up scrubbing my face & getting irritation.

So, this leaves the Pre-War Tech and that 1953 Superspeed as the two Gillettes that I want to concentrate on.

I also noticed that I seem to get far more comfortable shaves from the razors with a scalloped safety bar design, which both the Variant SB and Maggard V3A have. Perhaps it has something to do with the residual slickness after the first pass.

Anyway, sorry for the long post... I'll get there. Eventually.
It takes awhile to find what works for you. Please don’t forget to try out the red tip SS on your vintage journey. I prefer mine with a Nacet.

Something you said about applying too much pressure caught my attention and yes that may be where a lot of the issues come from. It’s best to apply NO pressure.

When I first started DE I applied light pressure because it felt natural. Later on after reading many wise words on these forums I tried using no pressure at all and let the weight of the razor cut. What a difference that makes! You can use much more aggressive razors then before and you don’t get the irritation but the razor still does it’s job.

I still have a hard time not applying slight pressure on a light razor like the Tech or my Feather Popular but my fix for most of this is to always use a Razorock BarberPole or RadioKnob handle since they are heavy and feel great. I hold the razor at the very end of the handle furthest from the head and let the heads weight glide across my skin.

It amazes me why people want light razors unless they are applying pressure as they shave as I find a heavier razor much easier to use with no pressure since the weight does the shaving. I don’t foresee any Titanium razors in my future. And I absolutely love the cheap $15-20 Razorock handles but many hate heavier razors for some reason.

Anyways give the no pressure thing a try sometime. Throw on a heavier handle if you have one. It’s worth testing anyways.
 
I've been complaining in the past about not being able to get an enjoyable shave with my vintage Gillettes, which for me fall into two categories:

A) Too mild. That's 1960 Tech and 1971 Super 109 Adjustable. Can't get a close BBS quality shave from them without ending up scrubbing my face too many times and getting irritation. These two razors were my biggest source of frustration with regards to vintage Gillettes.

B) Too aggressive. That's my Pre-War Tech and New LC. The pre-war is almost there - I can get a decent close and comfortable shave with it, but I do have to pay close attention or it will get scratchy. Still not on the level of Maggard V3A or Parker Variant which provide guaranteed easy BBS with minimal attention. The New LC is just too aggressive for a daily driver. Perhaps I need more time to tame it.

Well, I just bought a dirty old superspeed. Didn't even know the date, it looked like an earlier version and the price was good so I decided, why not. Ended up being Y-4, so the last quarter of 1953. I did my best to clean it up, loaded it with the new Feather, and used it for the first time just now.

Well, that's it ! This razor is just what I was looking for. It's a little less aggressive than the pre-war Tech - just enough to be an easy shaver - but significantly more efficient than that Super 109. Looking at them side by side, it appears that the blade gap on that superspeed is just a tiny tad bigger than the highest setting on the adjustable. I also really like the balance on that razor, even though I typically prefer thicker / longer handles.

Is it the best shaver I have ? No, but it's up there with the best of them. I guess I got lucky that I bought an early version, as from what I understand, the newer years were less aggressive.

View attachment 1823728

Warning:

If you try to find a better razor,
what will happen in between now and when you finally decide to admit defeat,
is that you will have become much more of a collector than you are now.
 
About a decade ago the general consensus here was that the 40’s Superspeed was the smoothest vintage Gillette ever made. I agree and would’ve saved a lot of money if I stopped buying more razors unnecessarily.

Same story here.

My Super Speed is in the shower for those occasions when I shave there.

Now look what's happened to me !

DSCN1691b.jpg


I use the 41 Ranger Tech after three passes with a straight,
to get anything I can feel when I apply aftershave.

The rest are just for show!
 
It takes awhile to find what works for you. Please don’t forget to try out the red tip SS on your vintage journey. I prefer mine with a Nacet.

Something you said about applying too much pressure caught my attention and yes that may be where a lot of the issues come from. It’s best to apply NO pressure.

When I first started DE I applied light pressure because it felt natural. Later on after reading many wise words on these forums I tried using no pressure at all and let the weight of the razor cut. What a difference that makes! You can use much more aggressive razors then before and you don’t get the irritation but the razor still does it’s job.

I still have a hard time not applying slight pressure on a light razor like the Tech or my Feather Popular but my fix for most of this is to always use a Razorock BarberPole or RadioKnob handle since they are heavy and feel great. I hold the razor at the very end of the handle furthest from the head and let the heads weight glide across my skin.

It amazes me why people want light razors unless they are applying pressure as they shave as I find a heavier razor much easier to use with no pressure since the weight does the shaving. I don’t foresee any Titanium razors in my future. And I absolutely love the cheap $15-20 Razorock handles but many hate heavier razors for some reason.

Anyways give the no pressure thing a try sometime. Throw on a heavier handle if you have one. It’s worth testing anyways.

I am aware that it's best to apply no pressure. I mainly shave with heavier razors, and some relatively light modern razors that have a very noticeable blade presence and a great audible feedback. I think it's the muted response I am getting from Gillette razors that makes me want to apply more pressure even though I know better. I did try to pair the pre-war with a heavier handle.

I think the pre-war tech is a mid-aggressive razor. I am comparing it with Maggard V3A or Baili BT131 and it's every bit as effective and close shaving as both of them, but a little less forgiving than the V3A. I saw some people saying that their pre-war Techs are mild shavers. I don't know if there's a lot of variance in them. Mine is definitely mid-aggressive. I know because most of my preferred razors fall into that category, I can tell the difference between mild and aggressive. The pre-war is mid-aggressive and the new LC is pretty aggressive.

I had a very good shave with it this morning. Had a little tenderness under the chin but it went away pretty soon, and the shave lasted a long time. I was watching the blade pressure like a hawk though. I will try the Superspeed tomorrow and see how that compares.
 

nemo

Lunatic Fringe
Staff member
Where did this designation “Forties Style” Super Speed come from? When referring to a 1947-1953 Super Speed they are all the same. I get if you are referring to a 1954 Super Speed you could denote it as “Forties Style” (as opposed to the 1954 Flare Tip) but to use that to refer to the earlier models seems redundant.
Just use it! I think it most likely came from this thread by @AsylumGuido --> Super Speed Identification - https://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/threads/super-speed-identification.56974/
 
I've been complaining in the past about not being able to get an enjoyable shave with my vintage Gillettes, which for me fall into two categories:

A) Too mild. That's 1960 Tech and 1971 Super 109 Adjustable. Can't get a close BBS quality shave from them without ending up scrubbing my face too many times and getting irritation. These two razors were my biggest source of frustration with regards to vintage Gillettes.

B) Too aggressive. That's my Pre-War Tech and New LC. The pre-war is almost there - I can get a decent close and comfortable shave with it, but I do have to pay close attention or it will get scratchy. Still not on the level of Maggard V3A or Parker Variant which provide guaranteed easy BBS with minimal attention. The New LC is just too aggressive for a daily driver. Perhaps I need more time to tame it.

Well, I just bought a dirty old superspeed. Didn't even know the date, it looked like an earlier version and the price was good so I decided, why not. Ended up being Y-4, so the last quarter of 1953. I did my best to clean it up, loaded it with the new Feather, and used it for the first time just now.

Well, that's it ! This razor is just what I was looking for. It's a little less aggressive than the pre-war Tech - just enough to be an easy shaver - but significantly more efficient than that Super 109. Looking at them side by side, it appears that the blade gap on that superspeed is just a tiny tad bigger than the highest setting on the adjustable. I also really like the balance on that razor, even though I typically prefer thicker / longer handles.

Is it the best shaver I have ? No, but it's up there with the best of them. I guess I got lucky that I bought an early version, as from what I understand, the newer years were less aggressive.

View attachment 1823728
I've had a Y-2, 1953 2nd quarter for about two months now, and I like it more and more all the time to the point that is is sharing everyday duties with my EJ89. It's been a bit of a learning curve, but I love the way it gets into tight places on my neck, and it does a terrific job. The weight feels just about right as well.
 
I've had a Y-2, 1953 2nd quarter for about two months now, and I like it more and more all the time to the point that is is sharing everyday duties with my EJ89. It's been a bit of a learning curve, but I love the way it gets into tight places on my neck, and it does a terrific job. The weight feels just about right as well.

It's been an ups and downs ride... one day a decent shave, the next day somewhat rough.

While I have other razors that feel much more aggressive with lots more blade presence and larger gaps (Parker Variant opened up to 3.5, Maggard V3A) they are somehow a lot more smooth and forgiving. It may be the angle thing... although the right angle isn't that hard to find. At any rate, I can load up a fresh Feather into V3A or Variant, shave almost as fast and care-free as with a cartridge, and get a smooth BBS quality shave with no nicks or irritation, and yet I really need to watch what I am doing with this superspeed or pre-war Tech, or it will get itchy... Will try again tomorrow, with a fresh Astra SP.
 
With any DE razor, if you are removing the lather cleanly, you are shaving, whether it has blade feel or whether it makes a lot of noise, or not.

One of the things i learned from straights and shavettes is that I get a better shave lf I imagine the goal of shaving to be to squeegee the lather, rather than to cut hairs.

If you want, you could use this thought process and see what happens. Forget about the blade or the noise or whether you think it is working and just think about gently squeegee-ing the lather off your face. I suspect you will find that thls will lead to better and more comfortable shaves regardless of what razor you are using.
 
Well, it's all in pressure... I am used to heavier razors and heavier handles, so I think I still apply too much pressure even when I try not to...

Also it may be the overall head design. My two favorite razor heads, Parker Variant (which is the clone of Merkur Progress) and Maggard V3A (same as Razorock Mentor and Yintal Bronze) both tend to be extremely forgiving and smooth. With Gillette razors (except the super mild ones) I get a "scratchy" feeling sometimes. One thing in common between my preferred razors is the scalloped safety bar design, which may have something to do with comfort level. Although this doesn't make sense.

At any rate, I just shaved with Superspeed and a fresh Astra blade, making sure to not apply any pressure whatsoever. The initial feeling is great, but in the past I'd develop itchiness later on, so will see how this one goes...

Here's how I'd classify my vintage Gillettes. The "aggressiveness" is the propensity to bite or cause irritation, the efficiency is how close they shave. This is of course very subjective. By comparison, I'd classify Variant on 3.5 as 2 in aggressiveness and high in efficiency.

Razor
Aggressiveness
Efficiency
Angle sensitivity
Notes
1960 "Post-War" Tech
2​
Low​
High​
Not well suited for my skin and hair type. Getting BBS requires too much cleanup and leads to irritation.
1971 Super 109 Adjustable
2​
Average at settings 8-9
Somewhat high​
At lower settings, similar to the '60 Tech. Even at high settings, very mild with relatively small gap and low blade exposure.
1953 "40's style" Superspeed
4​
High​
Moderate​
Can bite / cause irritation if careless, but a good shaver when paying attention.
"Pre-War" Tech (triangular slots)
5​
High​
Low​
Similar to the 40's Superspeed, just a bit more aggressive and efficient, both are in the same league.
1929 to early 1932 New Long Comb (no patent data)
7-8​
Very high​
Low​
My copy is only a tad less aggressive than my 2013 Muhle R41. Extremely efficient.
 
Well, I can finally confirm that this shave was a perfect one. Three and a half hours later, perfectly smooth skin and no irritation. Just need to figure out what variables were right this time.
I figured it was the pressure when you mentioned it before. I do my best to apply no pressure with every razor I use and tend to shy away from light razors for that reason.

I imagine the Astra SP was also a smoother improvement over your normal Feathers. Feathers don’t bite me but they sure do feel rough on my face compared to many other blades.

I just shaved with a slim for the first time in a couple years and it was better then in my early days. I’ve tried the FatBoys a couple times last year and just couldn’t get a very smooth shave from them but the Slim felt a lot smoother to me. Maybe something’s changed since then or the Slim head design is a smoother shaver then the FatBoys or maybe it was just this particular razor. Either way I still prefer the Red Tip. Most of my shave was on setting 9 so maybe that’s why it felt smoother to me - In the past I used 5-6. Setting 9 didn’t feel very aggressive to me but wasn’t bad.

Shaving with the slim reminded me of why I like modern razors…. The exposed blade tabs cut my nose. I’ve had that happen a few times in the past with other razors since the hair grows into my nose I have to get the head in an awkward spot which sometimes cuts my nose if the tabs are exposed. If I used it daily I’m sure I’d get used to it but I really like the enclosed tabs on new razors.
 
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