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The Varlet Ranger 29mm XD review (long)

I have now used this brush for 8 straight days for both head and face shaves, along with several hand lathers. Sorry for the weird formatting, I was taking notes on my phone and copied them over.

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The first couple of uses, I did not load enough soap. The tips are gelled, and the knot is very dense, so it was tough to gauge how much soap was actually being picked up. I had to play with load times on various soaps. That was the biggest learning curve for me with this brush.

Cons:
  • Price, no two ways about it, this is an expensive brush. New from the maker this is 500 smackers. I bought used and saved some, but still very expensive. I am not wealthy. I socked away cash here and there, along with selling some things in order to get just one expensive brush (and one expensive razor) I had comfort in knowing I could always sell it and make my money back if I didn't like it.
  • Knot density. This is not a fault on the brush as it was ordered with the XD (Extra Dense) knot by the original owner. If I were to order this brush new, I would select standard density, which also has a slightly higher (by 3mm) loft. A little less density, with more loft and slightly less backbone would be a bit better for me. I like a little more splay.
  • Playing hard to get. In my research into brushmakers who offer hand tied knots, I found that they were all expensive, and seem extremely difficult to get direct from the maker. I do not know what magic people are using to get new Black Eagles, Declarations, Varlets, Mozingos etc..

  • Pros:
  • Handle shape and comfort is absolutely perfect for me. The height, diameter and weight of the Ranger handle work very well for the different grips I use to lather both face and head. I have never used a brush that had an uncomfortable handle really, but some are better fits than others, and this is Goldilocks ‘just right’ for me.
  • Knot comfort/softness is, not to be hyperbolic, heavenly. It is completely soft and cloud like with no scritch or prickliness. The backbone is about medium/high, with decent splay, especially for how dense this knot is. Soft, fluffy and cloud like are not exaggerations here. I could lather for hours and not get any brush burn.
  • Prestige/exclusivity. I can admit it, part of the reason I wanted one of these is that they are fairly limited out in the wild. Declaration has made how many hundreds, or maybe even thousands of brushes, but they still seem rare. Varlets are even more rare still. I thought that was kind of cool, and makes the experience of using it feel even more unique.
In conclusion, I really like this brush. It is everything that I was hoping for in a high end badger brush. It does not perform its basic function any better than my favorite sub $20 synthetics, and in no way is it rational to spend this much on a brush, however the quality and luxury it provides are noticeable. Where my synthetics do the job, they are just tools. The Varlet provides some extra joy in use. I should also mention that it has not shed a single hair during my use. The original owner said he lost maybe 20 hairs during the first couple uses, then it stopped.

Handle compared to my beloved Trafalgar T3 with SynBad knot 'Franken-brush'
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Slightly damp XD 29mm knot on the left, dry AP Shave Co 30mm SynBad on the right
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Nice brush.
I have a question. An extra dense brush every day for 8 straight days? Is it dry when you go to use it?
Yes it is completely dry and crunchy by the next morning. It doesn't hurt that here in the 'burbs of Los Angeles, it has been in the high 90's and low 100's constantly (I am so ready for summer to be over)
I wanted to get to 10 straight uses in, which I now have, and then will go back to rotating brushes.
 
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