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34C Vs. Gillette

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I am a newbie (1 week into DE wets shaving).  I purchased a Merkur 34C HD; but after reading some threads and blogs, it looks like the vintage Gillettes are the way to go.  My question is, do I really need a Gillette or will the Merkur be fine?  I am looking at the Gillette adjustable slim.  I am happy with my Merkur, but it feels like the Gillette would give me a better shave.

I think if you’re happy with your 34C you should stick with it; no need to go with a vintage Gillette. The 34C’s are enormously popular for a reason. Plus the fact that you’ve only been into traditional shaving a week means you shouldn’t be changing too many variables for a while.
(FWIW I’ve used both the 34C and vintage Gillette Superspeed razors and I definitely prefer the 34C.)


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

7 thoughts on “34C Vs. Gillette”

  1. Calling Them As I See Them

    I have been shaving for over 30 years. I have the unfortunate combination of sensitive skin and a tough beard. I have been searching for the perfect shave for over 30 years. I started with a Norelco rotary electric my dad bought for me as he liked using them. It worked great for about a year until my beard came in full. Now my beard eats electric razors for lunch and laughs. I switched to the Schick Injector as it was my first safety razor and my dad thought it would be the safest way to go. I liked the closeness of the wet shave but experienced razor burn and nicks from the fixed head and my inexperience in using it. Soon I switched again to the Schick Tract 2 twin blade cartridges with lube strip and pivot head. LOVED IT! It gave a great and safe shave. The closest and most comfortable I had ever had. I was hooked. Then Schick became hard to find (pre-internet), so I switched to Atra II, same format. Still the best shave I could get. Then the 3’s, 4’s and 5’s came out. It is REDICULOUS overkill and completely unnecessary. In an effort to force consumers to become dependent on the newer and more expensive formats that caused more razor burn and less maneuverability, they began making the twin cartages I loved, more expensive and hard to find in stores. I woke up one day asking myself, why I was paying so much and working so hard to do something as simple as shaving every morning? So I started my search for a better, more cost effective, way. I saw a show on GMA with Lester Holt, singing the praises of old school DE Safety razors. They turned me on to a web site with good info and products. I was saddened to learn that no USA Manufactures were making a safety razor anymore. So I bought a 34C Merkur. It was touted as THE classic equivalent to the Gillette Fat boy and German craftsmanship made the price seem worth it. Man was I disappointed. It was too aggressive for me and could not shave me closer than a twin cartridge without causing way more razor burn. For all the hype I was left wanting. So I tried the Adjustable Merkur, “Progress” at $72.00. It gave me a better shave but not much for the quantum leap in price. Whisky Tango Foxtrot! I know German engineering is highly respected but in the end it’s JUST A RAZOR! For $72.00 I would expect it to shave my face automatically. The first Gillette safety razor became available in 1901. The handle was 79 cents, almost $23 bucks in today’s dollars. Each packet of 10 blades cost 5 cents or $1.50 today, (and that’s when it was a new product and still a novelty). I just bought and old Gillette SS from the 40’s on eBay for $12. I plan on reverbing it and then trying it out. I can’t imagine it could do a worse job than the Mekur 34C. Skill, blades, soft water, shave cream and after shave all play their part but let’s face it, it gets to a point when the price for some of these razors is just obscene for what you get. Making a razor is not rocket science. Eventually you have to say “The Emperor Has No Cloths!” and I’ve been taken to the cleaners. The idea that I need to continue to try different razors at an ave outlay of $50 a pop in search of “the right one for me” is unacceptable. I’m going to try and stick with the DE’s just because the other formats are so cost prohibitive (minus the initial cost of the safety razor itself). I’m doing it for cost, not the illusion that it will give me the best shave I ever had, because I now know better.

  2. I recently purchased a Merkur 34C as well, and I would have to say it gives the best shave of any razor I've ever owned. The handle length is perfect, the weight of the razor is great, and it's nicely balanced. I could see myself using this as my sole razor, if I wasn't planning on expanding my collection that is. In fact, I am certain that this will remain my razor of choice.

  3. The general advise of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" surely applies here. Every face is different and it's great that you found a razor that works well for you right off the bat.

    There could be something that works better for you out there, but stick with the 34C for skills development.

    Personally, the Merkurs don't do it for me. Nor did any of the 3 fatboys I've owned. I need to revisit the Fatboy one last time as well as my Merkur slant as they've been in storage for well over a year now.

    The phrase "your millage may vary" is very popular in the DE world. Take it to heart and learn it well.

  4. I started off with a 34C too. I liked it, but ended up preferring the vintage Gillettes (an Aristocrat which I lost, now a SuperSpeed). The 34C was just a touch too harsh for me to use everyday, while the SuperSpeed is more in-line with what I've been looking for.

  5. I would to say I like my Gillette's the best. However, I can't really say they give me a better shave. I think I just like the size and the history behind them. My best shave comes from my Merkur slant.

  6. I started with the Merkur 34C and used it exclusively for over 3 months before getting any other razors. I have all the commonly discussed Gillette's, but I keep going back to the Merkur whenever I want a really good shave. It's just a fantastic razor.

  7. I'd definitely agree here. The Merkur razors are rock solid. Once you're further along, adding some variables in is FUN but not really a good idea for the newbie.

    I'd personally suggest, as far as vintage razors go, starting with a gillette "fat boy" adjustable. They're very user friendly and solid. Leave it at 3, and enjoy it. Move on to the superspeeds after that – they're very good razors, and almost always give very nice shaves with minimal effort. Above all, enjoy. 🙂

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