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The New Crop Of Open Comb Razors

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venus flytrap
Open comb razors seem to be enjoying a modest little resurgence recently, with several new models coming onto the market.  Here is a little background on open comb razors and a look at some new models.

Open Comb Razors

Historically an open comb razor was more of a “grooming” tool than a “shaving” tool: it was designed to knock down heavy, multi-day (or week!) growth.  Just take a look at photos from the early 1900’s era and you will see what I mean.  They were “aggressive” and not really meant for that “baby’s butt smooth” shave.
These days open comb razors have been tweaked to be much safer than their vintage relatives but you still have to be a bit more careful with them vs. using a safety bar razor. Most open combs are still relatively aggressive but there are some that are quite gentle.


parker open comb razors
Parker recently introduced two open comb razors, the 24C and the 26C.  They differ only in the style of the handle (the 24C has a chrome handle and the 26C has a coated handle); the razor heads are the same.  They’re both fairly heavy, with the 24C weighing in at about 3.5 oz. and the 26C at about 3 oz, and both handles are longer than average at 4 inches.  Even though they are “heavyweights” with longer handles I think the balance is excellent (I prefer the 26C myself but YMMV)!  Manufacturing and “fit and finish” of these two razors are excellent…perhaps the best of the Parker line in my opinion.   And the grip on these razors, while different for each model, is really nice.  You should not have any problem with slippage.   The “business end” of the razors, the open comb base, is well machined and the teeth quite deeply machined:

parker comb

For me both razors give an excellent shave: more aggressive than most of the safety-bar Parker razors but far less than many other open comb razors (particularly vintage examples).  I also find that shaves with the Parker 24C and 26C razors are exceptionally “smooth” for an open comb.  With the right blade I don’t have any trouble with an against-the-grain pass, unlike most other open comb razors I have tried.


How To Grow A Moustache has also started selling an open comb razor.  Their “Symmetry” open comb razor is also a heavyweight at about 3 oz. and a handle of 3.75 inches.  It has a cool laser-etched logo on the razor’s top cap:
htgam open comb razor
The handle is also deeply knurled in an interesting design: this razor is not going to slip out of your hand without some effort on your part (note that the little purple base at the bottom of the handle is no longer available).  The razor is well-built, with the comb base closer to the more traditional design compared to the Parker:
htgam comb
I find shaving with the Symmetry razor, like many open comb razors, quite aggressive (though not insanely so).  Depending on your skin and the blade used, you may not want to try an against-the-grain pass.
Related Posts:
The Evolution of Parker Razors
What Is The Best DE Razor?


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

15 thoughts on “The New Crop Of Open Comb Razors”

  1. I’ve been using the Merkur 25c open comb razor on and off for a few years. It gives a mild yet very close shave. I’ve never experienced tugging, unlike my Edwin Jagger razor which can tug from time to time. So it may be down to the blade on the open comb razor having no gap between the base plate and top plate and being more firmly clamped between the plates, yet exposed via the comb’s teeth allowing for a close shave. Also, there is no clogging or build up of lather around the blade.

  2. So I read this article a while ago, and it was one of the reasons I bought an ATT open comb set (7 piece!) it was to be the last razor I ever bought(lol). Yesterday while cruzing the swap meet, I came across some vintage DE gillettes, one being a new deluxe ’35. long story short, the base plate works perfectly with a ATT handle and cap. Im totally floored and cant wait to shave with it. after tons of lurking B&B I cant find any posts on this. cheers

  3. Nice article and some great comments.
    I’ve been shaving less often and using my OC razors more. I bought a RazoRock Jaws, which I love. But I found I like the head better with a very heavyweight Cadet handle. Cadet also makes some very nice OC razors at very reasonable prices.

  4. Good, I’ve always appreciated open comb razors over the straight bar (makes no sense, push shaving cream away before the blade gets there?)
    Of course I’ve got thick heavy coarse beard, and a 5 oclock shadow at noon time, so I need something aggressive.
    I wish there was a modern open comb made of brass(besides fatip and their janky quality control) or hell even an open comb slant, I’d pay out the wazoo for that.

  5. Seems like the kind of razor Harley Morenstein (of Epic Meal Time fame) would use to knack down his beard to a manageable size … !

  6. I really like the Symmetry razor I put it in my rotation consisting of Straight Razors,SE’s,and DE’s.The 1912 Gems are my favorites with Gem lab blue blades I can get some of the closest shaves I’ve had.With my coarse beard and two day growth I can really get that BBS shave but I can’t use the same razor more than three times in a row no matter which one I use.When I use my straight razors and the open combs and not cut myself or get razor burn I know I’m going to have wonderful day or night when I drive my taxi.

  7. I’ve had a 30’s Gillette New OC in my rotation for a while now- however, I did not care for it in comparison to my EJ DE89…until very recently. I realized that my problem with the vintage Gillette was that my angle was much too shallow. Once I made the adjustment and came in at a steeper angle, my shaves have been the best yet. I have used this razor for 8 days in a row, and not a single bit of irritation has ensued. I cannot say that about my other razors. Historically, I thought the “milder” razors worked better for me; but now that seems to have changed.

  8. I have a Gillette New (I believe around 1946) OC and I love it. It’s hands down my favorite razor. The only draw back is that I can’t use it two days in a row and do an ATG pass because of its aggressiveness. The absolute best shaves though are when I can’t shave for a few days and then use my OC. Perfect, smooth and absolutely no irritation with 3 passes.

  9. Slant and Open Comb razors interest me, but my daily BBS or DFS with a safety bar DE razor, does not make we want to try them. Besides requiring a change in technique, can anyone explain their advantages over safety bar DE’s?

    1. For me the advantage of open comb vs solid bar is the lather not being squeegeed off before the blade reaches stubble. They can also leave tracks/traces of lather behind, making for quick touch up in areas easier since I’m able to rub that spot gently to lube or cut right through with the trace, where a solid I’d need those areas relathered first. Another is dependant on the type/brand/model of open comb. I’ve found that extra lather-before-blade can actually make the shave milder, even though cutting is more aggressive with some. Having spent weeks dialing in the differences between the ATT [Above The Tie] razor System solid bar and open comb baseplates I’ve literally found I prefer the OC plates to the solid, been using them daily with excellent results and less irritation than I’d get with their solid bar counterparts! Tried going back to the solid bar only to find them more aggressive, especially if hitting the same spot more than once. Without those lather traces the solid bar can pull skin and skip, stop suddenly and bite. A lot has to do with prep and technique but for me the OCs just ‘feel right’ with fewer nicks, less irritation, outstanding results every time! ATT also offers baseplates with different blade gaps so if I’m shaving daily I’ll use an R or plate for regular growth/aggression and if days of stubble in need of removal I’ll go with an H or heavy aggression plate that has more blade gap. Can’t use wide gapped heads daily as they’re so aggressive it shaves almost too close, shaves the outermost layer of skin along with heavy stubble. Gotten shaves so close from an H2 open comb I didn’t have to shave for two days after which is great if you’re a night shaver like me. Shave at night, good the next morning and throughout the day with an aggressive open comb but again not all open combs are aggressive just as Mark states, some are very mild and at least one I’ve tried actually too mild for me to shave with. I use OCs daily now and don’t see that changing, unless the day comes I finally try my first slant I get better results. When I came back to DE shaving I knew I had old razors packed away, going unused for decades, when the cart razors came out and that’s all I used for decades. After some digging the first old DE used was a 1940 German open comb 4-piece which could almost be seen as a blade on a stick other than the teeth acting as guards. I lathered up with cheap canned foam and old nylon brush [all I had at that time] and plowed through a weeks growth with ease, just a few rinses of the head every few swipes. OCs also don’t clog as quickly as carts (obviously) and even less so than many safety bar razors, another ‘benefit’ if you regard less rinsing as a benefit. That old razor was then used to shave my face daily until getting a modern DE. With a good blade, soap and brush I watched as the cart-razor irritation began to fade, especially on my neck, my shaves became closer and cleaner than even my electric Braun microfoil could provide. Before WWII many daily use DEs were open comb, not solid bar, and I’m thinking probably with good reason. Back then it was those or straight razors because people understood blade angle and technique. As I watched time go by the safety bar came about more and more as fewer barbers gave straight shaves and fewer people understood this ‘angle & technique’ needed. I’m thinking a safer alternative was needed for those too rushed to take the time to learn proper angle and technique and the safety bar offered that to a degree. For the closest shaves many today will still tell you there’s nothing better than a good straight shave done properly. For me the next best thing to a straight razor shave are my open comb DEs, vintage or new, for me they give the best DE shaves ‘bar-none’!

  10. I enjoyed this article very much. I had always thought that all open combs were pretty equal in their “aggressiveness” so it’s nice to see that the more modern ones can be tamed a little. I have a Black Red Gillette short comb in my rotation and I have found some blades make the shave quite uncomfortable but I enjoy using it, especially when I was learning the technique, as the comb gives you a clear view of whether or not your angle is correct. I have always thought that the old Gillette’s would be a good beginner because of that, but due to the aggressiveness I have never recommended it. With these new razors I would feel much more comfortable doing so.

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