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