My recent article on the most popular double edge razors by sales included the Merkur 34C. Here is my take on that razor, probably the most popular “modern” double edge razor on the market now.
The Merkur 34C Background And Specs
Merkur as a company dates back to 1896, when Emil Hermes registered the brand in Germany. His preferred name for the company (Hermes) was already taken, so he used the German word of the Roman messenger god equivalent, Mercury.
One hundred years later Merkur was acquired by the Dovo company (itself established in 1906).
The Merkur 34C has a number of aliases. You may see it listed as “HD,” “Heavy Duty,” “Heavy Classic,” or even “Model 178.” The “C” in the model number denotes a chrome finish. A gold-tone finish version, the 34G, is also available. The Merkur 34C was the closest thing to a “bog standard” safety razor for a long time, though over the past few years other razors, such as the Edwin Jagger DE89 series of razors, have made it more of a horse race.
Merkur’s time in the market and this razor’s general reputation and reliability have made it a major name in the industry. However even that reputation has not insulated the company from economics: Dovo/Merkur declared bankruptcy (German language link) on 21 April 2020. However it appears that due to the way the company is structured the Merkur brand is not affected by the bankruptcy.
The razor head has a 0.71mm blade gap (however keep in mind blade gap is only one factor in determining how a razor shaves) and features a “scalloped” skin guard, a design that is supposed to improve the flow of shave lubricant through the razor to reduce clogging.
The razor’s weight is 77 grams (about 2.7 oz.) and the handle is 3 inches long.
Most Commonly Mentioned Positives
- “Middle of the road” shave, suitable for most shavers.
- Good handle texturing and grip.
- Good engineering design, build quality, and durability.
- Simple, two piece design.
Most Commonly Mentioned Negatives
- Short handle compared to other razors.
- Some non-visible parts are not polished (but does not affect the performance of the razor).
My Experience With The Merkur 34C
[Note: Amazon, Grooming Lounge, OneBlade, and West Coast Shaving links are affiliate.]
My experience with the Merkur 34C goes back almost as far as my experience with the Merkur Progress adjustable razor (in other words, about 15 years). I decided to get a 34C even though I had a Progress because I was doing shaving reviews and tutorials and I wanted to make sure my experience took into account the performance of a very common razor.
Eventually I discovered the setting on my Progress that replicated the 34C for me (about 3.5 on my Progress’ dial), and later the equivalent settings for other razors I use. Though I still do pull out my 34C occasionally to verify my perceptions.
Most users consider the 34C’s shave “middle of the road” but I think it’s nearer the high end of the average range. Unless I’m careful I may get a few “weepers” by the end of my shave.
Some reviewers gripe about the comparatively short handle. That has never been a problem with me, as I use my “pinky” finger underneath the handle to support it better.
While I haven’t seen a 34C fresh from the latest production run, all the examples I have seen have had rock-solid build quality.
The Merkur 38C has the 34 head on a longer, heavier “barberpole” handle.
While Merkur/Dovo as a company has declared bankruptcy, the Merkur 34C razor is widely available from numerous sources online including West Coast Shaving, Maggard Razors, Amazon, Fendrihan, Grooming Lounge, Royal Shave, Shave Shack Of TX, plus the usual sources for used razors.
The Merkur 34C “Heavy Duty” double edge safety razor has been around for a long time and continues to dominate the “old school” wet shaving landscape. It’s engineering design and build quality have become a baseline on which other razors are compared. And its shave is suitable for a wide variety of people.