Several years ago, as the pandemic raged on there was a flurry of excitement within the wet shaving community. It was announced that Gillette was going to release a new safety razor as part of a new men’s care line named after the company’s founder King C. Gillette.
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The line consisted of various beard oils, transparent shave oil, a cordless beard trimmer, the three piece razor (To remove beard stubble) with specially branded DE blades and a cartridge razor (For your neck). All beautifully packaged in a blue and gold retro design. This new razor came upon the heels of another Gillette DE razor called “The Heritage razor”. While the Heritage was only available for purchase on Amazon it still sold out as quickly as it went on sale. [Ed. Note: the Gillette Heritage is now reliably available on Amazon]
Once the King C. Gillette razor was announced wet shavers flocked to their local Walgreens stores who, at the time, were the only retailer to carry the razor. Much like the Heritage, the King razor sold out quickly. Everyone thought Gillette would be overjoyed and the DE drought here in America would finally be over. Alas, our dreams of a 21st century updated Fatboy from Gillette was never meant to be. (Although Sheldon from the Wet Shaving Club did come out with a Fatboy tribute razor about the same time as this razor was making its debut.). Since Gillette hasn’t introduced any more DE razors my guess is that these were part of a test market campaign that didn’t go as well as they expected, or they decided they could generate more revenue by selling their cartridge razors. Only those who occupy Proctor and Gambles lofty boardroom level of executives know the answer for sure.
At the time I had trouble finding one of these razors for myself. I tried ordering one through Walgreens website only to have the order canceled two weeks later by the company because they couldn’t get enough of a stock to fulfill all the orders. I searched at lots of Walgreen’s stores in both Dallas and Oklahoma City and not one was available for purchase. After several weeks I got lucky and found one in my little town in rural Oklahoma.
To be completely honest, this razor was not a razor I enjoyed using. The KCG blades that were sold with the razor were horrible! (Insert the line “Your mileage may vary” line here.) From the first pass with a brand new blade, it felt to me like it was already dull. It pulled at my whiskers making for an uncomfortable experience. I believe I completed one shave with this blade and resigned it to the blade bank.
The razor itself was made from good quality materials. The head and handle, which really feels solid, is produced in China and has a nice balance for good handling. The only thing that comes to my memory that I didn’t like about the combination was the knurling (or lack of it) on the mostly smooth, shiny handle.
I decided that two years later it was time for me to reevaluate this razor and see if my opinions have changed about it one way or the other. So, I went to my razor archives (Which my lady refers to as “THAT cardboard box full of junk on the floor of our closet.”) and brought King C. Gillette out of retirement.
Once the King was placed back into his throne, I gave it a closer look. I still admire the blue and gold packaging. I am a sucker for that retro look that this box has. I opened the box, removed the razor and I put in a fresh KCG blade, and I reassembled the three piece razor.
First thing that struck me was how thin this Russian made blade was. It felt extremely thin and flimsy, even for a DE blade. It actually made me wonder if this blade would break in two while I was loading it. Apparently, it must have been fine because I never encountered any issues.
The balance of the razor while shaving was much like I remember from before. It was easy to maneuver. The girth of the heavy handle was perfect for my hands. My only gripe would be when around water (which I am guessing would be around most of the time while wet shaving) felt very slippery in my wet hands. The knurling helped me hold on to it, but I nearly dropped it into the sink several times while holding it upside down going against the grain on my third pass. Gillette really needs to extend the knurling all the way down to the bottom of the chrome plated handle.
I am not sure if it is because I now have more wet shaving experience or the last time with the blade, I used to be substandard but this time the shave was much better. The razor still felt mild, much like a Lord or Voskhod blade, but the shave was more comfortable. After three passes and a bunch of cleanup passes, I was able to achieve a DFS or a dang fine shave.
I decided next to ascertain whether the mildness of this set up was due to the KCG blade, the razor or both. The next shave, using all the same software as before but this time replacing the included blades with my daily driver, a Gillette Silver Blue. The results this time were much different. The razor itself will never be categorized as an aggressive razor by any means but by adding the silver blue did give the KCG much more blade feel and did a much better job at clearing away the stubble (Once again throw in YMMV just for good measure). I will admit although it will never be my favorite razor changing the blade did raise my opinion of the razor.
I remember once seeing a video where the YouTube shaver (For the life of me I cannot remember who it was) Said you might not like a particular razor or shaving cream/soap. But if you come back six months later and try it again your opinion might have changed. I believe now he may have been on to something. Maybe it was your attitude at the time or the conditions you were shaving in or even how you were feeling that day that caused the bad impression. If there was a razor or cream that you tried in the past but wasn’t in love with, pull it out of your archives and give it another try. Who knows? You may have found your newest daily driver!
The King C. Gillette double edge razor is available from a wide variety of sources, both “brick and mortar” stores in the U.S., and online.
By Bill Hosler