How to Choose the Best Merkur Safety Razors
For men who want a close, painless shave, but aren’t yet willing to go all out with a straight razor, a double-edge safety razor is probably about as good as it gets. These razors can provide an incredibly close shave with little to no irritation and are usually the go-to shaver for those looking for a traditional wet shave. Not only that, but as one of the original razors that man invented, safety razors also provide a real old-school effect that many men love.
While there are a huge number of different brands that produce DE razors, German manufacturer Merkur remains probably the best and most popular. In fact, the company is so well-known that Merkur has basically become synonymous with safety razors, which is why you often see these shavers referred to as Merkur safety razors.
In truth, there are now a number of other manufacturers, such as Parker or Edwin Jagger, which produce models that can definitely compete with Merkur. Be sure how check out how they stack up against each other in this article of the top safety razors. However, in our opinion, Merkur DE razors are so outstanding that they really deserve their own dedicated article. Below you’ll find information on the best Merkur safety razors on the market today, all of which come highly recommended and are an excellent choice for most any situation.
Nonetheless, before we get into which models rank amongst the best Merkur safety razors, its first necessary to look at a few DE razor basics to help you make a more informed decision (for those that are new to safety razors, you may want to check out our article on how to use them as well as this sweet infographic). While there are definitely similarities shared by all safety razors, there are also a number of differences that can have a fairly major impact on the comfort and quality of your shave. So, to help you out in your search for the best Merkur safety razors, we’ll first look at what these differences are and what effect they have.
Choosing the Best Merkur Safety Razors: What to Look For?
When trying to decide among the best Merkur safety razors, there are a few items that you’ll need to pay attention to, including the length of the handle, the way it’s constructed and the design or style of the head.
- Safety Bar vs. Open Comb. The first and probably most important thing to consider when purchasing a safety razor is whether you’d prefer a model with a safety bar or one with an open comb head. An open comb razor typically has visible teeth that help to guide the hairs into the blade. This was basically the only type of safety razor available for many years, until finally companies starting answering the call for a less aggressive razor that provided a bit more protection from the blade—resulting in the safety bar razors. Generally speaking, safety bar razors are a much better option for beginners, as the added protection of the safety bar makes them much more forgiving and lessens the chances of you bleeding like a stuck pig. Still, more experienced wet shavers may find that an open comb razor gives them a bit more freedom, albeit also with a much greater risk of slicing your face open.
- Length of the Handle. Safety razors generally come in either a classic or a long-handled version. In truth, the length of the handle really doesn’t matter where the quality of the shave is concerned, as it’s really mostly about how the razor feels in your hand. Many men find longer handled versions to be a bit easier to use and provide more control, but this is really a matter of personal preference. That being said, if you have overly large hands, you should probably go with a longer handle as it will be much easier for you to grip comfortably.
- Weight of the Razor. This is another area where it’s really up to your personal preference, as it again depends on what feels the most comfortable for you to hold. Many men find the heavier handled razors to again offer a bit more control, but there is also a large percentage that prefer the ultra-lightweight models, so you may need to try them out to see which feels better to you. In general, virtually all safety razors will likely feel quite a bit heavier than a disposable or other plastic version, so it may take some time to get used to the extra weight.
- Fixed vs. Adjustable Blade. Far and away most of the best Merkur safety razors on the market have a fixed blade, where the distance between the blade and safety bar is set. However, there are now a few Merkur safety bar models that have an adjustable blade, which allows you to set how much of the blade is exposed. These tend to be a bit more expensive than the fixed versions, but the added convenience of being able to adjust the gap between the blade and the safety bar basically makes them like a hybrid between a safety bar and open comb razor. However, be aware that like open comb razors, adjustable blade models can be extremely unforgiving when too much of the blade is left exposed.
- Price. The final thing to pay attention to is the price, as safety razors can range in price from less than $15 to well over $200. In truth, we probably wouldn’t advocate going for the high end range unless you’re already fully familiar and comfortable with using a safety razor, as there are many lower priced models that will provide you with basically the same quality shave. That being said, we probably also wouldn’t advocate the cheapest models either, as you definitely get what you pay for. While safety razors may seem expensive at first, a high quality model could easily last you the rest of your life if properly taken care of, so there’s no reason for price to be the ultimate deciding factor.
Best Merkur Safety Razors
#1 Merkur 180 Long Handled
While it’s hard to say this is the absolute best, we can still confidently say that this is one of the best Merkur safety razors for those who are still not fully familiar or comfortable with this type of shaving. While most safety razors can feel a bit heavy at first, this model is actually quite light, which makes it not as much of a shock to those switching over from disposable or cartridge razors. The long handle makes this model extremely easy to use and makes it much less likely that your fingers will slip, thus reducing the chances for cuts and nicks. Not only that, but it’s also much better suited for shaving areas other than your face, as it makes it easier to get to those harder to reach places.
Like most quality safety razors, the Merkur 180 features an all-metal construction that is coated with chrome to help prevent rusting. However, there are numerous reviews that mention rusting inside the head as a possible issue if the razor isn’t taken apart and fully cleaned and dried after each use. All in all, this is a great all-around product, and with a price between $30-45, it’s also one of the more affordable high quality models you’re likely to come across.
- Check out our complete review here
- Check the current price here on Amazon
- See the consensus of thousands of other user reviews here
#2 Merkur 34C HD Classic Short Handle
This is hands down one of the most popular and best Merkur safety razors on the market today. A big part of that has to be due to the fact that it features a much thicker handle and more heavy duty construction than most others, which makes it perfect for those men who feel that they have more control when using a heavier razor. The extra weight means that this razor glides gently and smoothly over the face, without the need for added pressure. This in turn tends to reduce the chances of cutting yourself, as the razor really does all the work. Not only that, but many also find the thicker handle to be easier to grip and hold on to. This model typically sells for between $30-40 and is another excellent option for both beginners and safety razor veterans alike. The Merkur 34C is actually one of the best razors for shaving your head as well as rated as one of the best overall safety razors. Be sure to check out the complete Merkur 34C review here.
#3 Merkur 38C HD Classic Long Handle
The Merkur 38C is basically the exact same model as the 34C, except that this one features a much longer handle. This model is often called the Merkur “Barber’s Pole” due to the long handle, which is 3.75 inches long compared to only 3 inches on the 34C. In truth, there really is nothing to choose between the two models, save how it feels in your hand (and the fact that the longer handle typically costs around $10 more than the shorter version). Still, we’ve found that a large percentage of men seem to prefer the added comfort and convenience of the longer handled version, but your mileage may vary. Be sure to check out the complete Merkur 38C review here.
#4 Merkur Futur
If you’re looking for the best Merkur safety razor, but prefer a model with an adjustable head, the Futur is definitely a decent bet. As we said previously, the adjustable head makes it much easier to cut yourself, but it also gives you many more options. By adjusting the gap, this razor can be used by men who shave in any particular way or angle (including against the grain). Still, like many other adjustable models, we found that this doesn’t give quite as close of a shave as the fixed models. The only other issue we have with this model is in the satin finished handle, which may look incredibly beautiful and stylish, but also makes it much harder to hold on to. This is also one of the slightly more expensive models, as you should expect to pay around $90 for it. Be sure to check out the complete Merkur Futur review here.
Best Non-Merkur Safety Razors
There are a decent number of other excellent options out there that are not produced by Merkur, including those produced by Edwin Jagger and Parker. While we limited ourselves to Merkur for this particular article, we’ve also produced a list of all of the all around best safety razors for those of you who want to try something different.
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Ben Rose is the founder and senior editor at Prim&Prep, the definitive guide to male grooming. He is a wet shaving expert, body grooming aficionado, and skincare guru. His work has been featured on many other prominent men’s publications including AskMen, Men’s Health, and GQ.