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A Popular Razor – Merkur 39C

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merkur 39c barberpole slant

Sharpologist’s recent article on the most popular double edge razors included the Merkur 39C. Here are my impressions of that razor.

Merkur 39C

From the Dovo Online website:

The Merkur – Heavy Duty “Barber Pole” Safety Razor, Slant Guard (39C) is the classic razor design with heft that is suitable for heavy beards and tough skin. The angled slant guard slices through tough whiskers with ease. This razor is more aggressive than straight guard razors and may irritate sensitive skin or the more novice user (if you are new to safety razors try the straight first). Long “Barber Pole” handle for better grip and larger hands.

  • Two-piece design.
  • Slant guard for heavy beards and tough skin.
  • Weight: 4 oz, handle length: 3.75 inches.
  • “Barber Pole” long handle.
What is a slant bar razor? A slant-bar razor (“slant” for short) is a double-edged (DE) safety razor whose blade is mounted to strike the stubble at a an angle instead of a straight-on cut—like the slanted blade of the guillotine and of many kitchen mandolines.

My Experience with the Merkur 39C Razor

[Ed. note: Amazon,, and West Coast Shaving links are Sharpologist affiliate.]

The Merkur 39C is the long handle version of the Merkur 37C and some reviewers have nicknamed the 39C, “The Sledgehammer,” which is hardly a nickname to inspire confidence among prospective buyers!

I became interested in the razor because in another Sharpologist article, Brad Maggard of Maggard Razors suggested that shavers with coarse beards and sensitive skin consider slant head razors. I have that beard/skin combination and my good experiences with other Merkur razors led me to the 39C, which received mostly high ratings from buyers on Amazon and other sites.

The 39C surprised me twice. First, it shaved much milder than I anticipated on both one- and two-day stubble. While I was certainly aware of the blade exposure on my skin and shaved cautiously, I experienced no cuts, nicks or irritation from two-pass shaves. My neck is sensitive and aggressive razors tend to injure the skin, but that didn’t happen with the 39C. I tried multiple blades, most of which were rated as sharp to very sharp, and experienced no problems. It wasn’t until I used a Feather blade that I experienced post-shave tenderness, but even then, there was no obvious skin irritation.

Admittedly, none of these were one-pass BBS shaves and my experience did not match some of the “OMG best razor ever” reviews I’ve read, but overall the shaves were good and free from irritation. I definitely plan to continue using the 39C regularly on two-day stubble and maybe even as a daily razor if I can find the right blade.

The second surprise was not good. When I inspected the screw thread that attaches the cap to the handle, I was surprised to see very poor workmanship. One side of the screw was cut rough and the other side was mangled (see photo.  I have two other Merkur razors that also have flat, but smoothly machined, surfaces on the thread, so I’m familiar with the design.). I was concerned that over time the deformed screw would damage the thread inside the handle and contacted West Coast Shaving (WCS) about an exchange, which they promptly sent. Unfortunately, the cap screw thread on the second razor was shoddy, too.

IMG 2241

WCS refunded my purchase and contacted Merkur’s North American distributor about the problem. I wondered if my experience was unique, but a review of the one- and two-star reviews on Amazon indicates that poor quality control could be a problem with this razor (though the over-all satisfaction ratings on Amazon are quite high).


I think careful shavers with coarse beards or longer stubble will like the Merkur 39C. It shaved as comfortably as my Merkur Progress, which I’d been using previously for multiday stubble. The slanted head made for a smooth shave but I’m not convinced the razor cut much better than a straight blade of comparable aggressiveness. Also, the 39C sells in the mid- to upper-$50 range and for that price I believe Merkur should be more careful with the razor’s finished quality.

The 39C comes with one Merkur blade and is widely available at online outlets like Amazon, Maggard, and West Coast Shaving.

Do you have a Merkur 39C razor? What do you think of it? Leave a comment below!

Ed McCarthy

Ed McCarthy

9 thoughts on “A Popular Razor – Merkur 39C”

  1. I bought the 39c to use on the days when i didn’t feel like using my straight razor and i have never had a smòother shave but i end up with 5 or 6 pretty good nicks every time i use it. I always hot towel my face and then the praroso preshave and then the shaving gel then the alum bar and still bleed a lot,much worse than with my straight razors,any recommendations or advice would be appreciated

    1. Thanks for posting, Terry. Couple of follow up questions and a few suggestions:
      *What blade are you using in the 39C? I first used Feathers but that combo was too much for my skin so I dialed back a notch to Gillette Nacets and it eliminated the hot spots I experienced with the Feathers.
      *You mention a shaving gel. What brand are you using?
      *Are you using the alum bar before, during or after you shave?
      *How is your technique for maintaining skin surface tension under the blade?

      A suggestion: My skin is really, really pale and any shave irritation shows up immediately as pink areas. But I’ve found that shaving with cold water–shave and post-shave rinse–helps reduce the irritation a lot. It’s a great way to perk up, too.

  2. Ed, fortunately for me all my Merkur razors have been excellent in terms of finish quality. I agree for the price point, those flaws are not acceptable.

    I was also afraid of this razor with all the talk of the “aggressiveness”. I tried it first with the Gillette Nacet blade, which are my go to blades. Now I am using a PolSilver blade. Never a nick or cut with either blade.

    I also find the 39C is best for my mustache area which no matter what I do pre-shave, I tend to feel tugging when I shave there with other razors. Not with the 39C. It really shaves smoothly and effortlessly, I don’t even feel like I’m dragging anything across my face when I use it. It is in my top 3 favorite razors to shave with right now.

  3. Hello Ed, good article on the 39 charlie. I’ve often wanted to try a slant but could never get there. I may have to give it a go. I, like yourself, have the quite sensitive skin type and thot a slant would be suicide. Thanks for the read. I’ve checked out some of your other articles on Sharpologist and enjoyed them all. A tid-bit I’ve used, on the slippery-type handles, rub my fingers on a alum block. It really helps to keep the handle “locked” to the fingers…even when soapy. Take care. Semper-fi & This We’ll Defend, Mike

    1. Good point on the alum, Mike. I had forgotten about that technique and thanks for mentioning it.
      I had the same concern about trying a slant before seeing Brad Maggard’s list. But the logic makes sense–if you can use a more aggressive razor without problems and get by with two passes instead of three, that’s a better approach with sensitive skin.
      Right now I’m testing the Gillette Nacet blades with the 39C and it’s an excellent combo for me. It’s really a smooth shave and I still haven’t had a single nick or cut from it on multiple shaves. Of course, now that I’ve said that I can plan on bleeding out in the bathroom next time!

    1. I agree on the performance–it gives a good, surprisingly comfortable shave. Were there any quality problems with your 37C?

  4. Good report!
    I have the 37c, it’s little brother with the short handle. I dont think the handle lenth adds or takes away from the shave, on any razor I’ve used. That being said, I grow one of those tough and rough beards. I like slant razors, they seem to make a blade preform better. I use a Feather blade in all my DE razors, once, then bin the blade. I also am a head shaver, using the same set up for the head I used for my face.
    I shave every day. The 37 is on the heavy side as DE’s go, so using it on the head takes some practice, but it does a good job onced mastered. On the face, I get a close shave using a Feather blade. I use high performance soap, read slick, and either shower or wash my face and head well before the job. “Riding the cap” is a term you should learn and be able to perform as a reflex.
    If you are riding the cap correctly, using a sharp blade, this razor feels like its not cutting at all. It feels like your just wiping the lather off, THAT is when it’s working at peak performance. My slant razors, I have about 10 different types, work this way. If you have “blade feel” ride the cap more, I think you’ll be surprised.
    In My Opinion
    Like any DE or SE razor I have, made since 1900, practice is prime, feeling the blade is not a necessity to a good shave, although some razors aren’t designed for that, this one works well for me with that “ride the cap” style of shaving.
    It’s a winner in my book.
    Thanks for the info on the QC, mine has no issues.

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