Prim & Prep’s Guide to the Best Safety Razors

If you’re looking for a truly satisfying way to shave, along with a quality shaving cream or soap, a double edge safety razor is really the only way to go (unless you’re willing to go all out and use a straight razor). Simply put, the benefits of using a safety razor are so numerous that it really makes me start to wonder why so many men are still subjecting their faces to the pain and irritation that comes along with using disposable or cartridge razors. Sure they may be quick and easy, but the quality of the shave they provide doesn’t even come close to matching a safety razor. No matter how many blades they put in a cartridge, they still can’t compete with a sharp double edge safety razor. For a thorough comparison of the two check out this safety razor vs cartridge article.

Much of the reason that safety razors are so great has to do with the double edge razor blades themselves, as not only are they relatively inexpensive (even the best ones typically cost less than 50 cents apiece), but they are also generally made of much higher quality steel than the blades found in disposable razors. The higher quality steel allows the razors to be ground to a much sharper edge and also hold their sharpness for longer. Of course, this doesn’t hold true for all double edge razor blades as some brands are obviously much better than others, which is why we’d recommend investing in the best safety razor blades you can get.

While the quality of the razor blades you use will definitely be a major determining factor in the closeness and quality of your shave, choosing a decent safety razor is also important. Still, determining which is the best safety razor is somewhat of a matter of personal preference, as it comes down to how comfortable it feels in your hand and how much you’re willing to spend.

Below you’ll find information on what we consider to be some of the best safety razors currently on the market. However, before we look into the different razors themselves, it’s first important to provide a brief introduction to the various types of safety razors and the things to look for when buying one.

best safety razor

Things to Consider When Buying a Safety Razor

  • Price. Probably the first thing you should think about when buying a safety razor is how much money you’re willing to spend, as they can range anywhere from $5 to over $200. There are some excellent products in pretty much any price range, so you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get a quality razor. This is especially important for first time users who don’t want to fork over a ton of cash before they know if shaving with a safety razor is right for them. Still, for safety razor pros, you may want to invest in one of the higher end models as you’ll be more likely to notice the difference between a cheap and an expensive razor. We’ve separated out our list into price ranges to make it easier to find the right razor that fits your needs and your budget.
  • Open Comb or Safety Bar. The next thing to think about is whether you want an open comb or safety bar razor. Open comb safety razors leave the razor blade exposed and have little teeth that resemble a comb (hence the name) and help to guide the hairs onto the blade. Safety bar razors have the blade hidden behind a piece of metal, which reduces the chances of cuts. For beginners, we’d definitely recommend a safety bar razor, but more experienced men may enjoy the freedom of the open comb.
  • Length of the Handle. This is one of those areas where it’s really a matter of personal preference, as it depends on which type of handle—long or short—fits more comfortably in your hand. If you have bigger hands or feel like you need a bit more control, we’d recommend a longer handle, also known as a barber’s pole safety razor. Still, some people find the longer handle to be more awkward to use.
  • Weight. The mid to high end range of safety razors generally come in two weights, classic and heavy duty. The weight of the razor also varies from brand to brand and model to model. Some men feel that the heavier razors give them more control, but this is again a matter of what feels most comfortable.
  • Adjustable Blade vs Fixed. Nearly all the razors you’ll find have a fixed blade, meaning the amount of the razor blade that is exposed is set. However, Merkur and other companies are now producing a few adjustable blade razors, but these are only recommended for those who know exactly what they’re doing as they can be quite dangerous and unforgiving.
  • Aggressiveness. When discussing safety razors, aggressiveness can basically be taken to mean how easy (or difficult) it is to cut yourself with the razor. Factors that affect a razor’s aggressiveness include the angle of the blade, the blade gap and how much of the blade is exposed. Beginners are recommended to go with a mild to medium aggressive razor. For more information, see our post on safety razor aggressiveness.
  • Changing the Blade. While this definitely isn’t a primary factor in a razor’s quality, some men prefer a particular type of razor, such as a twist to open. Also known as a butterfly safety razor, it consists of one solid piece, where a knob is twisted that opens up the top plates and exposes the cutting head. On two piece safety razors, the top of the cutting head usually unscrews from the base and handle to allow you to change the blade. There are also three piece razors where the top of the head, base of the head and handle all come apart. These razors often last longer than the other two types, as they are easier to clean and have no moving parts. Check out this article for more information on the different types of safety razors.

Are there any downsides to using safety razors? 

Compared to the positives, the negatives are minor.  But worth flagging up to give you a better overview of the best safety razors.  I am a fan of them, but I’m not going to pretend they achieve absolute perfection.  They just very nearly achieve it.  Over the years we have spoke to a lot of men about their shaving habits and preferences, and discovered that the two main ‘negatives’ to safety razors are;

  • Time. Because of the shorter more careful strokes, you may feel that shaving with a safety razor takes longer than you are used to.  If you have been using a cartridge razor, you are a) a fool, and b) going to be used to shaving in double quick time.  But you are also used to shaving with a massively inferior product!  It’s something I’ve discussed at length in the past, see what I mean here. So with the upgrade in your shaving routine comes an additional bit of time needed to perform it.  But to my mind, the pros here MASSIVELY outweigh this con.
  • Air travel: because of their design, you aren’t going to be able to fly with a safety razor in your hand luggage.  Which makes perfect sense, I’m not questioning the rules.  But it does mean you can’t be taking it with you for a quick overnight stay if you’ve got to fly there.  Thankfully there are some pretty awesome beard trimmers, so you can keep yourself looking presentable!

Best Safety Razors in the $5-20 Range

Wilkinson Sword Classic

Wilkinson Sword ClassicAverage price: under $10

If you’re looking for a cheap safety razor and don’t mind one that’s mostly made of lightweight plastic, the Wilkinson Sword Classic is an ok option. While I definitely wouldn’t label it as the best safety razor, it is still a decent product considering the low price. Although it is made mostly of plastic, it actually has a weight and balance similar to a standard metal safety razor. Probably the biggest plus of this product is that it is incredibly mild in terms of aggressiveness, making it nearly impossible to cut yourself with. All in all, the Wilkinson Sword Classic is a decent choice for beginners. That being said, it’s still not the same as using a quality metal safety razor. Wilkinson’s blades also made our list of the top safety razor blades.

Lord L6

Lord L6 ReviewAverage price: $10-15

Produced in Egypt, the Lord L6 is an inexpensive three piece safety razor that features a chrome plated head and aluminum handle. It is definitely one of the cheapest metal razors you’ll find, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get the job done. We especially like that this is one of the few low end models to feature a longer handle, which is perfect for those of you with gorilla hands. Similar to the Wilkinson Sword, it is also incredibly forgiving. Check out our complete Lord L6 review here.

Feather Popular Twist To Open

Feather Popular Twist To OpenAverage price: $15

Japanese manufacturer Feather is one of the leading names in the safety razor game, at least as far as blades go (read our review on Feather blades to see just how incredible they really are). While the Feather “Popular” doesn’t quite live up to the company’s reputation for excellence, this really has more to do with how excellent their other products are than anything. Constructed partially of plastic and metal, despite the low price the Feather Popular is still one of the best butterfly safety razors we’ve come across as unfortunately most twist to open razors don’t function as well as they should. This razor uses a more old school design with a fatter head that cuts down on the steepness of the blade angle, which makes it incredibly mild and perfect for those with sensitive skin. With a 4.4 star rating from more than 800 Amazon reviews, it’s obvious that the Feather Popular offers good value for the money.

Weishi 9306

WEISHI 9306C reviewAverage price: $10-15

The Weishi 9306 line of safety razors includes a variety of models, including classic and long-handle, heavy duty versions that are available in dark silver or chrome plating. These models are all twist to open or butterfly style and are constructed of a heavy copper alloy that makes them look and feel like many more expensive models. While the Feather Popular’s butterfly opening seems more durable than the Weishi, the fact that these razors are entirely constructed from metal definitely places them a level above most others in this price range. Definitely not the best razor on the market, but a decent option for an inexpensive travel razor or for those looking to learn. Check out our complete and thorough Weishi 9306 review here.

Best Safety Razors in the $20-40 Range

Merkur 33C, aka Merkur Classic

Merkur 33C, aka Merkur ClassicAverage price: $25-35

When it comes to the all-around best safety razor, the Merkur 33C Classic definitely deserves a mention. In terms of striking a balance between performance and price, very few other razors even come close. In general, pretty much all Merkur safety razors are a cut above the competition, but the Classic is obviously a great place to start. With mild to medium aggressiveness, this razor provides a much closer shave than those in the previous category. The chrome plated steel also looks the part, thanks to its stylish, simple and, of course, classic design. This really is a great all around razor for shavers of all skill levels, with a nice balance that makes it fit perfectly in the hand. The razor gently glides over the skin, as the weight does the work so you don’t have to drag and pull like with some lighter plastic models. Still, if you’re looking for something a bit heavier, with a thicker handle, you may want to check out the Merkur 34C Heavy Classic, which is basically the same model but heavier. Alternatively, if you want a razor with a longer handle, we can recommend the Merkur 180 Barber’s Pole, which you can find more information about in our post on the best Merkur safety razors.

Merkur 34C, aka Merkur Heavy Classic

Mekur 34CAverage price: $40

While the Merkur Classic is definitely a good choice, we find that the added weight and thickness of the Merkur 34C Heavy Classic more than justifies spending the extra few bucks. With lighter weight razors, you typically need to apply more pressure, which then leads to more cuts. There is no doubt that the extra weight makes this razor glide effortlessly over the face, which reduces the amount of pressure you have to apply to get a close shave. In turn, this leads to less irritation post shave and minimizes the chances of cuts and nicks. Other than the added weight, there really isn’t much to separate the 33C and 34C, so it will come down to whichever one feels better in your hand. This is one of the best razors for shaving your head as well. Be sure to check out the complete 34C review here.

Parker 99R

Parker 99r reviewAverage price: $30-35

The majority of major razor manufacturer’s like Merkur and Edwin Jagger mostly produce two and three piece designs, as they offer a more classic feel and are generally slightly easier to clean and maintain. Still, nothing beats the convenience of changing the blade on a butterfly safety razor. When it comes butterfly safety razors, Parker has virtually cornered the market with the newly designed head it unveiled in 2010. While Parker produces a number of good safety razors, for my money, the 99R is the best of the bunch.

Featuring a 4 inch long textured handle, it offers plenty of control and ensures your hands won’t slip. The razor is also a heavy duty model, weighing in at 3.4 ounces of solid chrome plated brass. Although butterfly safety razors are notorious for not lasting as long as two or three piece razors, the Parker 99R still seems quite durable and should last for at least a few years—making it well worth the price. If you’re looking for something slightly lighter or prefer a rubberized grip, the long handle Parker 96R is also an excellent choice. Be sure to check out the complete 99R review here.

Edwin Jagger DE89lbl

Edwin Jagger de89lbl reviewAverage price: $30-40

Based in Sheffield, England, Edwin Jagger is one of the most trusted names in shaving tools, creams and accessories. Unlike specialist safety razor companies like Merkur, which produce a wide range of razors, the Edwin Jagger line of razors is relatively small, but that doesn’t mean it’s not excellent. The company has chosen to focus on one simple design, which is has perfected with the DE89lbl.

Unlike most razors, you can choose a DE89lbl that suits your own personal style, as you have the choice of many different handles, including smooth chrome, lined chrome for extra grip, faux ebony, faux ivory—heck, some retailers even sell a 24 carat gold plated version (for about double the price). The DE89lbl has excellent balance and the weight seems about perfect. It is also one of the most well reviewed safety razors we’ve come across, with all the various versions having received over 4.6 star ratings from thousands of Amazon reviews. While I hate to pick favorites, I would have to say that the Edwin Jagger DE89lbl is definitely the pick of the litter for this price range, although I’m sure not every man will agree. Be sure to check out the complete DE89lbl review here.

Best Safety Razors in the $40-70 Range

Merkur 37C Heavy Duty Slant Bar

merkur 37c reviewAverage price: $45-50

If you’ve got extra thick or coarse facial hair, or you’re looking for a razor that’s a bit more aggressive, we can definitely suggest the Merkur 37C. This heavy duty razor has all the weight you need for an effortless, controlled shave, but where it really stands out is the unique slant bar design that fixes the blade at an angle with one side raised slightly higher than the other. This thing requires almost zero pressure on the face to achieve what has to be considered one of the closest shaves out there. The thing is, if you do try to apply too much pressure, you’re likely to end up bleeding massively. Definitely not recommended for beginners, but any experienced shaver who knows the proper technique and is willing to invest the time should definitely enjoy the quality of the shave that the 37C provides. There really is nothing else quite like it on the market, making it more than deserving of a place on this list. Be sure to check out the complete 37C review here.

Muhle R89

Muhle R89 ReviewAverage price: $55-65

Muhle is another well respected name in razors and their R89 is another favorite amongst shavers in the know. The sleek, durable design is definitely built to last, while the textured handle looks good and prevents it from slipping. Still, as you should be able to tell by this point, there is much to choose between most quality safety razors. For this reason, I’d be more apt to recommend something slightly cheaper like the Edwin Jagger or a Merkur. Nonetheless, the sheer number of men who swear by this razor means the Muhle R89 deserves a spot on any list of the top safety razors. Be sure to check out the complete R89 review here.

Best High End Safety Razors

Feather All Stainless Steel

Feather All Stainless Steel ReviewAverage price: $180-200

If you’re fine with paying $200 for a razor, then you could do a heck of a lot worse than this one. Carved out of solid stainless steel, this razor will never rust or tarnish and is built to last a lifetime. In truth, there is nothing especially flashy about this particular razor, but don’t let that fool you. Like many things from Japan, it was built with functionality first in mind. This razor provides an incredibly mild shave, as very little of the blade is exposed and there’s only a small blade gap. Although this means you’ll have to apply a bit more pressure, if you’re just learning or don’t want a super aggressive razor then this one is right up your alley. Some people complain about it being too mild, but it was designed to be used with Feather blades, which are by far some of the sharpest and best blades on the market (check out our review to see why). So if you think it’s a bit too mild, try upgrading your blades.

Merkur Vision

Merkur VisionAverage price: $220-280

For experienced shavers only! The Merkur Vision is the only adjustable safety razor on the list, but that’s not the reason it made it. The real reason is the way this thing looks—it really is a piece of artistic design and a marvel of precision engineering. Ok, it actually does look cool, but the real reason it made the list is, of course, the way it shaves. The adjustable blade gives pro shavers the freedom to customize their shave, starting off with the blade adjusted close and then slowly opening it up to tackle the tougher spots. Still, if it’s only an adjustable blade razor you’re looking for, you could just pick up the Merkur Futur for only $80-90 instead of over $200.

The real special thing about the Vision and what makes it really stand apart from the crowd is that not only is the blade adjustable, but it is also at a slight slant like in the Merkur 37C. This combination of a slant bar and adjustable blade promises to give what has to be the closest shave you can get outside of heading to your local barbershop. The unique rounded design also makes this thing perfectly balanced and fit excellently in the hand, which is great since this razor can be incredibly unforgiving if you’re not careful or don’t know what you’re doing.

It’s available in either as either a two piece or a butterfly design, both of which cost about the same. For my money, I’d choose the two piece as there are fewer things that can go wrong with it, meaning it will probably last longer. Still, I’d say either one of them could easily last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance.

Jack Black Double Edge

Jack Black Double EdgeAverage price: $125

We’re huge fans of many of Jack Black’s products—such as Jack Black Double Duty Face Moisturizer, which made our list of the best face lotions for men—so when we heard they designed a safety razor, we just had to give it a shot. After reading the reviews, we expected a lot and were definitely not disappointed. While the price may put some people off, the fatter tapered handle makes this thing a dream to shave with—that is, as long as you don’t have wet, soapy hands. The only real problem this razor has is that the handle is not textured like so many others. This can make it a bit slippery, which is definitely not a good thing! Still, as long as you wipe your hands off on a towel before picking it up, you should be fine.

Best Open Comb Safety Razors

The majority of men nowadays prefer using a safety bar razor over an open comb for one obvious reason—they’re much safer! That being said, nothing beats the closeness and old school feel you get from an open comb razor. It wasn’t all that long ago that the safety razor was invented (by King Gillette in 1904), and for many years, the open comb design was the only one on the market. However, with the advent of the safety bar, open comb designs kind of fell by the wayside and nearly disappeared by the time multiple blade cartridge razors came around.

There seems to be something of a revival going on now, as more and more manufacturers have started introducing open comb models to meet the ever growing demand. For men who demand an ultra-close shave, an open comb could be the right way to go as long as you already know exactly what you’re doing. While I’m not a fan of open comb razors myself as I think they’re just way too aggressive, our team has done the research and chosen a few of what we think are the best open comb razors around.

Parker 26C Open Comb Safety Razor

Parker 26C Open Comb Safety RazorAverage price: $25-30

The Parker 26C is fairly heavy and has a longer handle, meaning it can provide an extremely close shave, but is neither forgiving nor super easy to maneuver. Still, if you have big hands or just like a longer handle, then this is a great choice. We really liked the textured black handle that both looks cool and makes it easy to hold on to.

Merkur 1904 Classic

Merkur 1904 ClassicAverage price: $30

Designed to the exact specifications and virtually a replica of Gillette’s original 1904 safety razor design, the Merkur 1904 Classic is a great looking, fun to use razor with a cool retro appeal. It gives a nice close shave and offers great value for the money, as it also seems quite durable and built to last. The thing I like most about this one is that it shows that we don’t always need all these fancy new designs and so-called improvements, as sometimes, nothing beats the original.

 The Final Word on Safety Razors

As you can see, the selection of quality safety razors is so huge that it can be tough to decide on one. With so many options, you could go on forever comparing all of the various brands and models, but really it’s not worth that much effort. All of the products on our list can do a decent job, and I would say all of the medium to higher end razors we’ve listed are outstanding for one reason or another. However, the only way you’re going to know whether a particular razor is right for you is to try it out. So don’t spend too much time stressing over which one to buy, just pick one and give it a shot. After all, you can always buy another new or even a vintage razor down the road if you’re not completely satisfied. Plus, no matter what you end up buying, it will definitely be way better than using a disposable.

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