Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Size Matters: A Tale of Four Handles

Lately I have used a variety of handles for my three-piece razors. The more interesting choices are the four that follow:
  • Maggard MR3B ('big boy"), weighing in at 63 grams
  • Rimei RM2003 handle, weighing in at 36 grams
  • Merkur 33C/15C "Classic" handle, weighing in at 29 grams
  • Gillette Travel Tech handle, weighing in at 20 grams
Left to right: Rimei RM2003 handle, Merkur Classic (33C/15C) handle,
Maggard MR3B handle, and the 1965 Gillette Travel Tech handle.

The Maggard and the Merkur handles are chrome plated, and the Maggard has an additional wide, black band in the center of the shaft. The Merkur handle, though classic in diameter and length, has very good knurling and provides a secure grip even when wet and soapy. The Maggard has nice knurling as well, and though the stylish black band looks nice (it's the reason I bought this particular model), the black coating takes some of the grip away from the handle's knurling. This drawback is negated by the large diameter of the handle, which compensates, making this handle one that is also secure in one's hand.

The Rimei handle is a bit longer than the classic length, which some will appreciate. (I, personally, don't care either way.) Its diameter is slightly larger than classic, which I think is a good thing in terms of aiding traction on the handle.. Its knurling is not classic, but instead is rather large square plateaus incised into the handle surface. These then have what appears to be a rather generous layer of chrome plate, which has the effect of perhaps diminishing one's confidence in the grippiness of the handle to a small degree, but I've actually never had a problem with it; I find it completely fine when wet and soapy.

By far the most interesting and unusual handle is that of the 1965 Gillette Travel Tech. Slightly smaller in diameter than a classic handle, it is nickel plated; its substrate is advertised as being steel, but I'm actually not sure what it is -- likely either steel or brass. It's knurling is classic, well-done, and therefore adequately grippy -- despite the small diameter as well as the stubby length. It took a moment to get used to this small handle, but after that, the shaving experience was fairly normal. I will definitely use this handle when traveling -- just for the novelty if nothing else. Of course, those who prefer to grip a razor with more of their hand as though they are scraping paint off of house clapboards would hate this handle; but those who use a finger-tip grip will find its use comfortable after just a few moments.

So does handle size matter? As long as the texture of the handle offers adequate friction when wet, I don't give a hoot about handle size -- or weight, for that matter. I get a fine shaving experience with any of these handles, and perhaps an enhanced experience when I vary my handle choices by rotating through these options.

Just for the record (though I've written this before), razors I avoid are those with smooth cylindrical handle shafts, smooth fluting, or even rather smooth six-sided antique designs from such manufacturers as Edwind Jagger, some Merkur models, and some other, less venerable names in razor production. After all, I have absolutely no interest in either dropping a slippery razor (I'm clumsy enough without help from a poorly-designed handle) or having a razor twist in my fingers while stroking aginst my face.

Your thoughts?

Happy shaving!


  1. I have two heavy weight handles that I use with the three piece tech, though I've found heavier doesn't always mean better. I like the slightly lighter of the two. The two I have are the Above the Tie Atlas and the Weber Bulldog. The Atlas is just a bit better, go figure.

    Lately though I'm using my 1954 Super Speed TTO Z2 razor. :)

  2. Maybe personal preference, but when it comes to my Tech I found the original alu handle way too light and thin. Using it with the handle from the Merkur 1904 is more comfortable and allows me to have the weight do most of the work. With the lighter handle I feel like I need to add a bit of pressure otherwise the blade seems to tug and skip a bit. This could probably be overcome by technique or sharper blades.