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The Merkur 1904 Razor: Making Sense Out Of The Confusion

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merkur 1904 razor

The Merkur 1904 razor has one of those classic vintage razor designs.  But how does it perform?  Here are my comments.

Merkur 1904 Razor Background And Specifications

There is some confusion about the Merkur 1904 razor.  There are actually two variants: the Merkur catalog lists the open comb as their “model 41” while the close comb, scalloped bar is the “model 42.”  But they’re both referred to as the 1904 (and sometimes the 1906!) in various vendor listings.  ​Be sure to read descriptions closely (particularly regarding comb) before purchasing.


  • 3-piece safety razor
  • 3.3 inches long
  • Weight 2.3 ounces (65 grams)
  • Chrome-plated
  • Made in Germany

What Other Reviewers Say About The Merkur 1904 Razor

About the only consistent comments I can find from other reviews of the Merkur 1904 razor are the attractive “retro” look of the razor, and that the build quality vs. cost ratio is good.

Some mention the handle length as a “pro” while others list it as a “con.”

Some say the 1904 is not suitable for a beginner while others say the relatively mild shave is acceptable for the beginner.

I’m sure part of the inconsistency is related to the impressions of the open comb vs. closed comb variants.

merkur 1904 open comb

My Experience With The Merkur 1904 Razor

I have the closed comb version and I have used the open comb version of this razor.  I prefer the closed comb.

I find the weight of the razor a little on the light side for my personal preference but it’s acceptable and I think the razor’s balance is good.

Even though the 1904 has about the same handle length as the very popular 34C I find the razor “feels” smaller in my hand–this razor might give you trouble if you have big, beefy hands.  Perhaps it’s the diameter and shape of the handle that gives me that impression.  But I find the grip reasonably secure.

And I do like the “retro,” one-hundred-year-ago look.

It’s no secret that I prefer “mild” razors.  I think the Merkur 1904 closed comb would be considered at the top of the “mild” range–or at the bottom of the “middle of the road” range.  For the most part I get close, comfortable shaves but I find against-the-grain passes in “delicate” areas like under my nose a bit more uncomfortable than I would prefer.  Trying different blades with this razor would be an excellent idea: a high-performance blade like a Feather Hi-Stainless would probably make this razor shave quite differently for other shavers.

I find the open comb version of this razor is more aggressive but not outrageously so: closer to “middle of the road.”


[Note: Amazon, Cut Throat Club, and West Coast Shaving links are affiliate.]

The Merkur 1904 razor–or maybe I should say razors–give off a definite “vintage” vibe with its retro-looking handle,  It looks like something you might find in an antique store.  But it’s a thoroughly modern razor in terms of build quality, and it provides a generally “average” shave.

The Merkur 1904 razor is available from many sources including Amazon, Bullgoose, Cut Throat Club, Fendrihan, Maggard Razors, Razor Emporium, Shave Nation, and West Coast Shaving,

Do you have a Merkur 1904 razor?  What do you think of it?  Leave a comment below!



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

3 thoughts on “The Merkur 1904 Razor: Making Sense Out Of The Confusion”

  1. On a different subject…
    Has anybody done everything right…washed your face with a good pre-shave wash (I use Neutrogena Invigorating Face Wash), lather up good (in this case with Proraso), take your time being careful when using an aggressive razor (Rockwell 6S which I thoroughly love!) and while being careful and taking your time STILL get a nasty nick? Man, frustrating. It doesn’t happen to me all the time but when it does it’s a bleeder.
    IMHO I suspect that there are times when the environment such as temp, humidity, etc. can affect your skin such that no matter what you do, whamo you get one. This one like one before seemed to hit a bump or a part of the face that just wasn’t having it where it had before.

  2. Brian Fiori (AKA The Dean)

    The 1904/41/41c has been in my rotation for years. In the beginning I used it mostly for travel as it is very compact. But it quickly became one of my very favorite razors.

    It’s just a straightforward, easy to use razor without any particular quirks. Very easy to use, especially if you are just interested in getting a good shave without thinking too much about it. It also handles an assortment of blades pretty well. It can handle a Feather, Polsilver, Parker, Voskhod, etc. with no issues, so far.

    With respect to the Tech, Jack, I find this razor to be slightly more efficient and versatile than my Pre WW2 Fat Handle Canadian Tech. Of course, that’s just my experience.

  3. A couple of things, Mark. First, the head on the image you have doesn’t match the one from Amazon, which looks like a standard Merkur head. Is the razor in the picture your razor and it came with that head? If so, maybe Merkur changed it?

    Second, what are you thoughts on vintage Gillette Techs? I have about three (I think) and one of them has the triangle slots so it’s from the 1930’s – 1940’s. Sometimes, I get a good shave and other times, I don’t. I mostly use Feather blades (99% of the time) and it just seems to give a rough go at it, especially ATG. I can put the same blade in any other razor and it’s fine, so I’m thinking it’s the razors but I can’t be certain.

    Anyway, thanks for another great post!

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