Sunday, September 7, 2014

Wow! Merkur 15C Open Comb, Day One

Unlike last week, when the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) didn't deliver the Maggard MR3B on the day when their tracking system said the package was "out for delivery," yesterday the USPS came through by delivering my Merkur 15C open-comb razor not only on time, but a business day early. So if we're keeping score, the USPS had a bogey, a birdie, and we're par for the course at the third tee.
The Merkur 15C open-comb razor.

The 15C is the first open-comb razor that I've tried. I have many (too many) straight-bar razors, and I have the awesome Merkur 37C slant-bar razor, so this final addition (I hope) to my razor menagerie is to evaluate one of the third category of safety razors -- the three categories are, to recapitulate from an earlier article, straight bar, slant bar, and open comb.

There are more aggressive open-comb razors such as the Muhle R41, which has a large following. However, I shave daily, and have sensitive skin. What I'm looking for is not large capacity, but rather a blade that seats in the shaving head offering minimum vibration, high efficiency, and, most important, an optimum cutting angle that minimizes blade scraping on the skin and maximizes slicing of the hair.
Merkur siblings: 33C (left) and 15C (right).

The 15C is a sibling to the 33C Classic razor, which is also from the good folk at Dovo Solengen, the company that produces the Merkur-brand razors and many other cutting products.

The 33C was the first new razor that I bought after acquiring my father's old Gillette Slim Adjustable. Ironically, it's (that is, the 33C is) my favorite double-edge shaving head to date. It doesn't really matter whether I use the factory handle, the heavier Chinese handle, or the big boy, the Maggard MR3B handle -- this razor head gives a good, comfortable shave. The experiment with the 15C is just to see if we can improve the cutting efficiency just a bit while also incrementally increasing the comfort of the shave for my sensitive skin.
The disassembled 15C.

When the 15C is assembled using the recommended method (upside down), the blade self centers nicely, being evenly revealed on both sides of the top cap and edges nicely parallel in to the comb. Before re-assembling for the first time, I used a toothpick to put a coating of petroleum jelly on the handle threads to ensure smooth operation.

This week starting with today's shave, I'm using a Dorco ST-301 blade, which is sharp enough and coated for smoothness. Today, like most days, I've done a minimalist ritual, meaning pretty much just using cold tap water, shave soap (Arko today), brush, and razor.

I don't want to overstate, but my first shave was... wow! (Okay, maybe I'm overstating.) This razor is mild and not likely to bite, but today in its first use gave a close, comfortable shave. Two passes with some fussing in each yielded a rewarding-to-the-hand outcome in all the places that matter. And after, with no alum, no balms or lotions, my skin is remarkably calm, unbothered.


First impressions are preliminary, and it pays to take some time and get better acquainted as I will the remainder of this week, but out of the gate, this Merkur 15C razor looks not only like a keeper, but a daily shaver.

Happy shaving!

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