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The 2015 Badger & Blade Awards – Best Straight Razor

2015 Winner – Straight Razor

Feather Artist Club $60-$230

2015 Badger & Blade Awards - Best Straight Razor

I can already hear the cries of heresy! Last year the Zowada duo took the prize and this year a disposable bladed straight razor? Well, sorry to disappoint the purists, but the Japanese style Kamisori Feather is this years much deserved winner.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve always maintained at least one feather straight razor in my collection, sometimes as many as four as they always provide a consistently superb, hassle free shave. I liken the feather razor to a .22 caliber rifle – incredibly efficient, practical, easy to learn with and tons of fun. Merely pop a blade in, and you’ve got at least a dozen perfect shaves on tap.

On the subject of blades, it’s worth noting that no less than four materially different razor blades are made for these handles, which offer an unmatched variety of options. If you’re new to straight razor shaving, start with a pack of ProGuard blades, which have small wires around the blade to help prevent nicks and cuts as you learn how to delicately glide the shockingly sharp blades across your face. Once you’ve gone through a pack of ProGuards, jump to the light blades and enter the world training-wheel free straight razors shaving. Next, move to Professional blades, which exposes more of the blade, for a more aggressive shave. For most, this is where the journey reaches its peak, without the need to venture into the realm of rarefied air that is the Feather Super Professional blade, with the greatest available blade exposure for the Feather system. I’ll spare you folks from the horrifying pictures that was my first experience with the Super Professional blades (although you can dig them up on the forum) but suffice to say, if you don’t use a feather light touch and have a steady hand, your face will look like a heap of bloody hamburger… seriously. Don’t believe me? Find those old pics and you’ll soon be a believer. On the other hand, treat them with immense respect, and you’ll be rewarded with the most effortless, close shave known to man.

The quality, convenience and unrivaled sharpness of the blades are a key selling point of the Feather system, but it doesn’t stop there. The ergonomics of the Japanese Feathers, especially the SS model are superb and the sticky rubberized grip offers a firm purchase, even with wet, soapy hands. While the folding feather straight razors are superb, they don’t have the balance, ergonomics or maneuverability of the fixed Japanese style razors, making them a second choice. Between the Feather Japanese razors – the Feather Artist Club DX model has a superior finish to the SS model, at $230 – unless you’re really attached to the baby blue handle, or you simply HAVE to have the best, I’d pass and pickup the equally superb SS model for a mere $60 on Amazon. At a mere $60, every serious wetshaver should own one.

Pro’s:

  1. Convenience. While honing a traditional straight razor is only required every few months, stropping is a daily task. Stropping every day for 3-4 minutes might not seem like much, it can get annoying over time. Three minutes daily over 10 years equates to nearly EIGHT full days of your life spent stropping! While I’m not proposing retiring your trusty straight razor, taking a week or two off from time to time and enjoying the superb feather is a real luxury. If you’re ever in a hurry the Feather is always ready, no stropping required.
  2. Efficacy. Unrivaled by a double edge safety razor, and only matched by the finest of straight razors perfectly stropped and honed – the ability to get a ridiculously close shave, the Feather Straight Razor platform is seldom matched or exceeded. I’ve never heard of complaints of a poor shave from the feather system, provided they’re performed with a reasonably skilled hand.
  3. Blades. While a few rare brands of traditional straight razors, perfectly honed and stropped can as sharp as a feather blade, even fewer can exceed it. Frankly, a blade sharper and more aggressive than a Feather Super Pro enters the realm of diminishing marginal utility. Humbling sharpness, with complete ease.
  4. Cost. You can enter the world of straight razors for merely $60 when armed with a Feather SS. A new traditional straight razor, stop and hone will set you back at least $300. For the same cost, you can purchase a Feather Artist Club SS Japanese Style Straight and 480 Feather Professional blades, which equates to a 20 year supply.
  5. Evangelism. Give it a bath in Barbicide and lend it to a friend with a few Pro Guard blades, and become a straight razor ambassador.

Con’s:

  1. Proprietary blades. Feather is the only large company that makes blades for this platform. Should something ever happen to the company, finding blades would obviously become a problem. While the company has been in business for quite some time, time is a fickle thing and you never know what the future holds.
  2. Proprietary technique. Artist Club razors require a technique that is unique to the platform. The weight, balance and angles used with a feather do not translate to a traditional straight razor and visa versa. If you use one, like you’d use the other, your face will not be a happy camper. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hard to use or difficult to learn, but it is different.  
  3. Boring. There, I said it. They’re boring. They look boring, they feel boring, and there’s nothing special about the materials they’re made of. There aren’t many styles and customizations available for feather razors and there are only a few options, which are largely vanilla.

All in all – with the ability to deliver incredible shaves, with zero hassle, the feather takes this year’s crown as king of the straight razor hill. Welcome to the club Feather, you deserve it.

You can purchase this for $60 on Amazon

 

Joel

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