Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Re-thinking My Favorite Razor: Variant Vs. Ming Shi 2000S

"Would you like a waffle with your choice of favorite DE razor, dear?"

After writing yesterday that the Parker Variant would be the one razor I'd choose if I only had to choose one.... well, today I'm reconsidering.

Oh, the Variant is a really good razor and may still be my first choice. However, there's a reason that the Ming Shi 2000S razor still has a parking spot in my razor drawer in the bathroom. After my shave this morning with the 2000S, it was such a smooth, comfortable shave that I'm reminded that I can't in good conscience abandon it as a candidate for the top dog in my small stable of regular-use double-edge razors. It's like the difficulty some have in choosing a favorite child.

Maybe I should call my choice of favorite razor a tie, and leave it at that.

Each razor has its relative strengths. Let me walk you through them:

  • Physical characteristics:
    The Variant has to get the nod here due to its smaller head and excellent handle knurling. The smaller head makes it easier to shave the whiskers highest up under the nose, and the handle texture gives one a secure grip even with wet and soapy hands. However, the 2000S head design does have a benefit in that it covers the end tabs of the blade, which eliminates that occasional tab nick from a careless stroke. Also, since I've been shaving with straight razors, I've developed the habit of keeping my hands dry. This has carried over to my use of my DE razors, so I no longer find the smooth-handled Futur imitator 2000S to be a grip challenge. The weights are about the same, with the Variant being slightly heavier. Both have good heft.
  • Ease of blade changing:
    The 2000S gets the nod here, but it's really a non issue. Both are easy to use. The Variant top cap has the threaded center post, while the top cap of the 2000S has the twin posts that snap easily into the handle-baseplate assembly. (I recommend that both are assembled and disassembled inverted over a wash cloth or small towel.)
  • Adjustability:
    I guess the Variant has a small advantage in that its one-to-five-plus adjustability is really a one-to-eleven option, but I never use that second-rotation adjustment range, which strikes me as crazily aggressive. Usually a setting of four is about as aggressive as I get on both the Variant and the 2000S.
  • Smoothness of shave:
    Smoothness is largely about the angle of the blade edge in relation to the shave plane determined by the top cap and safety bar. I think that both of these razors are pretty damned smooth shavers. However, after this morning's 2000S shave with a fifth-use Personna blue blade as compared to yesterday's Variant shave with the same blade in its fourth use, I'm tempted to say the 2000S is just a hair smoother. This is hardly a conclusive opinion, and may vary according to blade wear, blade model, and even razor adjustment setting. It's just that every time I declare the Variant to be my favorite razor, the 2000S' smoothness of shave seems to whisper its reminder in my ear.
  • Price:
    The 2000S is the clear winner here. The Variant is currently (and has been) $57. The 2000S can be had for less than $20.

My conclusion is that if you are on a tight budget and can keep your hands dry during a shave, the 2000S is the razor to buy. If you're not on a budget and price is no object, either or both are the way to go.

The Variant is available on Amazon as is (was?) the Ming Shi 2000S, though the 2000S required a bit more searching to find it. (I couldn't find it on Amazon today. It may or may not be the same razor as the look-alike Q-Shave razor, which is much easier to find on Amazon. For a sure thing, Maggard razors had an inventory of 2000S razors.)

Happy shaving!


  1. I have both, really enjoyed each of them but the Variant nudges the MS2k due to handle and smaller head size. Your conclusion is correct though, if you didn't have the money the MS2k is not a bad buy at all.


  2. I picked up my 2000S from Maggard's when they first offered them. It is a nicely built razor, but I had two issues with it. First the weight, I tend to like smaller and lighter razors. I found that I had to struggle to keep this one on the shaving plane when shaving horizontal and maneuvering it while shaving did not seem natural. The second problem I had was the cap and blade seemed to float on the center spring. I could detect the blade slightly leaning one direction or the other if I wasn't careful and paid attention to this. All in all it is a nice razor and one I would recommend. It's just not one that works for me.

  3. How does the 2000s compare to the Murkur Futur?

  4. First of all, the Futur copies such as the Ming Shi 2000S or the Qshave are not clones. A clone is an identical copy of an original.

    I've never used a Futur, but here's what I know about the differences between the original and the 2000S:

    o The 2000S is slightly lighter, though not significantly so.
    o The Futur has some parts made of brass -- likely just the handle -- though its smaller components are Zamak just like in the 2000S.
    o The 2000S handle has a slightly smaller diameter in the lower, fatter segment.
    o The 2000S has lather slots, which may allow used lather to more easily move away from the blade during a shave, thus (in principle) making the razor less likely to clog.
    o The 2000S can be had for less than $20, the Futur for less than $60.
    o The shave is similar from what I have read. I can personally attest that the 2000S provides a great shave.