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[Updated] Goliath Finally Gets Back Up, And He’s Pissed – Gillette’s Low Cost Razor Cartridges

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[Updated October, 2019] Gillette, after several years of taking a beating (and losing market share) from the likes of Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club, is fighting back.  Their new Gillette3 and Gillette5 cartridges are compatible with existing razor handles and are very aggressively priced….

Procter and Gamble’s Gillette division has been losing business for years.  According to Euromonitor, Gillette has lost market share for the last seven years, 54% in 2016, down from 59% in 2015 and as much as 70% in 2010.

In 2016 Gillette’s own shave club was introduced but the customer response did not really go anywhere.

Gillette cut prices across the board about a year ago as another response.  That seemed to gain a little more traction with consumers.

Now it appears that Gillette may have decided that maybe sacrificing a little of the margins they enjoy on cartridges could bring back some of that market share.

They’re doing it in an interesting way, too: introducing new cartridges touting Gillette quality at a much lower price and compatible with existing handles.  From Gillette’s website:

“Gillette3 and Gillette5 offer you high performance and trusted quality at an affordable price.”


“Gillette3 men’s blade refills feature 3 blades for better comfort (vs. Sensor3), as well as a Lubrication Strip that helps your Gillette3 glide across your skin with comfort. The Gillette3 has a Front Pivot that transfers pressure of your hand away from the blades for better skin comfort. Additionally, 10 Soft Microfins gently stretch the skin to create a smooth, even surface for a comfortable shave.”

It doesn’t say so on the package or Gillette’s website but the Gillette3 cartridge fits into a Mach3 handle just fine.

And eight replacement cartridges are going for about around US $1.50/cart currently on Amazon (affiliate link)–slightly higher in “brick and mortar” stores.


“Gillette5 men’s blade refills feature 5 blades for better comfort (vs. Sensor3), as well as a Lubrication Strip that helps your Gillette5 glide across your skin with comfort. The Gillette5 has a Front Pivot that transfers pressure of your hand away from the blades for better skin comfort. Additionally, 15 Soft Microfins gently stretch the skin to create a smooth, even surface for a comfortable shave.”

It doesn’t say so on the package or Gillette’s website but the Gillette5 cartridge fits into a Fusion handle just fine.

The Gillette5 eight cartridge pack is going for under US $14.00 on Amazon (affiliate link), again somewhat higher in “brick and mortar” outlets.

My Own Shaves With Gillette3 and Gillette5

I’ve testing the Gillette3 and Gillette5 in my old Mach3 and Fusion handles and…they’re pretty darn good in my opinion.  The Gilette3 in particular gives me a shave indistinguishable from the shaves I used to get a few years ago from a Mach3 (Turbo) cartridge.  The Gillette5 was, perhaps, ever-so-slightly less comfortable than a regular Fusion cartridge (but not quite as good compared to a Proglide or Proshield variant) but definitely not bad.  Cartridge life isn’t quite as good as the latest-and-greatest but I’m getting a solid two weeks of daily shaves from a typical cartridge.

My 86 year old father-in-law has been a regular Mach3 user for years and he says he likes the shave he gets with the Gillette3 cartridge better than what he gets with a standard Mach3 cartridge.

What Is Gillette’s Official Position?

I reached out to a LinkedIn contact I have at Gillette, who in-turn put me in touch with someone who could answer a few questions from me.  Here’s what they have to say:

Mantic59: The Gillette3/Gillette5 cartridges are compatible with Mach3/Fusion (respectively) handles but this fact is not promoted and are instead offered with their own handles.  Why?

Gillette: With Gillette 3 and Gillette 5 we are offering a new handle option, the Aqua Grip handle, which offers an even better grip in wet environments like the shower. If you’re unsure of what cartridges your handle is compatible with, or vice versa, we have a simple chart available in the first answer on our FAQ page on Note: this chart has not yet been updated to reflect Gillette3 and Gillette5 – coming soon.

Mantic59: What are the main differences between the Gillette3 and Mach3, and the Gillette5 and Fusion, cartridges?

Gillette: Gillette has spent decades perfecting the 3- and 5-blade razor offerings that millions of men use to start their day. The Gillette3 and Gillette5 razors deliver the elements we know are critical for high performance shaves, but at a low price guys will love.
Differences between Gillette3 and Gillette5, and the upgraded MACH3® and Fusion5™ blades include:

  • MACH3® and Fusion5™ now include Low Cutting Force blades. Gillette3 and Gillette5 feature Gillette’s exceptional legacy blade technology.
  • Fusion5™ blades include a Precision Trimmer blade on the back of all cartridges. Gillette5 will not include a trimmer.
  • The new Gillette3 and Gillette5 products feature a NEW Aqua Grip handle – not available on any other products – for strong grip and total control, even when wet.

Mantic59: The pricing for these cartridges is extremely aggressive for Gillette.  Is this a response to “shave clubs” like Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club?

No, not at all. The introduction of Gillette3 and Gillette5 – both starting at just $7.99 – is proof that Gillette can and does make what we believe are the world’s best razor blades at any price. We know that when it comes to shaving, one size does not fit all; men have different needs for their shave and their wallets. By offering guys basic versions of our 3- and 5-bladed razor models, we’re providing an option for them to enjoy the comfort of a quality Gillette blade at a really comfortable price.

Mantic59: The Gillette5 package indicates it is made in the USA.  Is it produced in the Boston factory?

Gillette: Yes, the Gillette 5 cartridges are made at our Boston manufacturing site with high quality components from all over the world.
Mantic59: Are there any plans to distribute these cartridges in markets other than the USA?

Gillette: Currently, Gillette3 is available in Europe and is called Mach3 Start. We do not comment on future plans for the brand.

So What Does That Mean?

I think the real key statement here is the comment about Mach3 and Fusion including Low Cutting Force blades. A Gillette fact sheet (PDF) states Low Cutting Force blades are “thinner, finer blades and our advanced low‐resistance coating enabling the blades to cut effortlessly through hair with less tug and pull*” (interestingly, the asterisk at the end modifies the comment by adding “First 4 Blades vs. Fusion”).
“Gillette3 and Gillette5 feature Gillette’s exceptional legacy blade technology.”

What kind of conclusions do you make based on this new information?  Have you tried these cartridges?  Leave a comment below!


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

15 thoughts on “[Updated] Goliath Finally Gets Back Up, And He’s Pissed – Gillette’s Low Cost Razor Cartridges”

  1. I have been shaving with Gillette products since I was 17 yr’s old and I am now 82 and still using. I always felt Gillette made the best blades , but Schick made the best handles for handling.

  2. ROTFL obviously the blades are identical to mach3/fusion blades! It’s just the same old marketing FUD tactics by P&G. Pivoting heads…vibrating razors (ROTFL) …etc are just useless gimmicks to make consumers spend more money. I have used mach 3 and fusion for 20 years together with 2 blade-disposable bics and i can assure you on one thing: As long as you use a good preparation (good quality cream….hot water…good technique on mastering how to move the blades on your face etc etc..)you can get your absolute best shave with literally EVERY kind of razor. The rest is just marketing. Believe me.

  3. They spend to much money on packaging and advertising.
    They would have to cut prices. I don’t see it happening.
    I like the Shavette and my safety razor. Going to buy a straight razor. I take my old blades to get recycled.
    I don’t think the cartridges can be recycled.
    I am not going back. Better for my wallet and the environment.

  4. Did you introduce these blades as a response to the low priced shaving clubs? No, not at all.
    That is a lie.
    All Gillette has to do is re-introduce their line of DE safety razors and blades. They would have a lot of business.

    1. I absolutely agree regarding the lie.
      Another reason for their move might be that the IP of their technology is about to run out, opening a huge door for competitors to supply compatible cartridges. And its always better for a company to produce the “generic” product on their own.

  5. Gillette lost me years ago with their excessive pricing. I re-discovered DE and now SE
    shaving and will never return to P&G Gillette products again. Gone forever.

  6. Thanks for the informative column, Mark. I have used these two razors exclusively since they appeared a few months ago. Basically, I have used the Mach 3, since it became available since 1999 (approx). I like these two razors, and don’t find much difference in the Mach3 Turbo blade and the G3 blade. I change blades every week (seven shaves).
    I never found the Mach3 blades astronomical in price, and for me it is a good, no-frills razor. However the five-bladed ones are a different story. I won’t use a blade with a trimmer blade feature. I find the only thing that gets trimmed is my wallet. I don’t use a brush too often, but when I do, I find that five blades +brush is more aggressiveness than a man, at least me, needs who has been shaving for five decades.
    Interesting, that Gillette’s blades by mail originally offered the Turbo, now it offers the standard Mach 3. Wonder if Gillette will discontinue one of its 3-blade razors? They are very similar in quality; how many 3-bladed options do we need?
    Also, so-so on the aqua handles. I find they are more slippery than the traditional Mach3 handle, especially when trying to navigate shaving with a brush and a slick cream. I did breakdown and buy the G5, which I use twice a week. Its best feature is not having to paying two bucks extra/blade for a blade that cuts skin and for me is unnecessary. I do believe these two razors, like you say, are in response to Harry’s and DSC. I find the Gillette offerings better than these two.

  7. I’m done with them , I have gone Classic DE Shaving with a arsenal of Old School Razors.
    The only thing they got I like is their Barbershop scented Canned Shaving Cream.

  8. Is that surprising.
    When Mach 3 came out. I bought one. Blades where expensive. They where usually out of stock. I could not go to work if I was not clean shaved. Think it was around $21 for a pack of 3 blades. I looked at rack they had Atra blades and the generic version. Think generic was maybe $5 for 5 or 6 cartridges. I think the generic blades are made by the same Co that makes the name brand cartridges.
    I pulled out Atra handle from the drawer. Did not buy Mach 3 blades anymore.
    Actualy surprised they have gotten away with it this long.
    I remember the Mach 3 got clogged more often than the 2 blades of the Atra. If I had a weekends stubble the Mach 3 had a harder time getting the job done.
    I did not notice that much of a difference or better a shave.
    Think good preparation may help more than the more blades.

  9. Re. the stated difference between the Mach3/Fusion and the less expensive 3 and 5, an interesting find on your part. Gillette claimed, when they brought out the Fusion ProGlide (the version that came after the original Fusion and before the current ProShield), that the first four blades of the ProGlide were thinner/more flexible and had a better coating than the blades on the original Fusion–I guess they felt the fifth blade could stay the same. I didn’t know that they incorporated a version of the new blade into the Mach3 (is that the difference between the original Mach3 and the newer Mach3 Turbo?). In any case, saying that the Gillette3 and 5 use “legacy blade technology” is just a way of implying that they don’t use what Gillette considers it’s top of the line blades, but they’re still just dandy 😉
    Thanks for the research! I saw these new offerings on the shelf and was curious. It was also interesting to see how bland their packaging is compared to Mach3 and Fusion.

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