Sharpologist has highlighted Rockwell Razors before, starting with their Kickstarter project, an interview with the founders, examining their prototype, and finally looking at their first production version. I think it’s safe to say that Rockwell–like many young start-up companies–has had its share of challenges, particularly with production control. Hopefully they are able to move past many of these challenges with the release of “version 2” of the 6S. The new 6S started shipping in quantity recently and I just got mine.
Version 2 Vs. Version 1
There have been several changes to the “version 2” 6S razor. The original design’s blade support bar was not in contact with the blade across the whole width of the plate, which could result in a slight warping of the blade in the razor. Version 2 has a consistent support surface so a blade is predictably held straight for every plate of the razor. A support between the safety bar and the rest of the plate has been added to avoid any warping of the safety bar in the cooling stage of manufacturing. The base plates are also a bit thinner.
The surfaces of Version 1 were left untreated so there was a different in the coloring of the handle versus head, the cap, and plates. Version 2 has been bead blasted all over for a consistent matte finish.
The blade gaps of the base plates and the dimensions of the razor have also been changed a bit:
- R1: 0.008″ (0.20 mm)
- R2: 0.014” (0.35 mm)
- R3: 0.019” (0.48 mm)
- R4: 0.024” (0.61 mm)
- R5: 0.027” (0.69 mm)
- R6: 0.031” (0.79 mm)
An assembled Rockwell 6S weighs: 3.99 oz (113 grams); the Rockwell 6S handle weighs 2.4 oz (68 grams); and the entire razor is 3.74” (9.5 cm) long from cap top to handle bottom,
The most significant difference is that cap and plate of the the new 6S razor’s cap and plate are made by metal injection moulding (MIM), while the old 6S was made through investment casting. Tolerances on MIM are much tighter than investment casting, allowing Rockwell to quickly produce large numbers of razors without compromising quality.
Well…that was the plan, anyway. Like I said, a company manufacturing with a new production method is bound to bring up some challenges.
The first production run of Version 2 of the 6s was scheduled for mid-December (2015). Unfortunately the first “in quantity” batch from the manufacturer had cosmetic flaws through a significant portion of the inventory. After taking some heat about manufacturing and quality concerns from customers of the Version 1, and pledging those customers a free Version 2, Rockwell decided to hold the entire Version 2 production run up to that point for review.
As you might imagine, re-reviewing several thousand razors individually, along with putting some additional quality control processes in place for future production, took some time.
Now it looks like those challenges have been addressed and razors are being shipped. And from first reports, Version 2 of the 6s is meeting or exceeding expectations! Here is one example. Michael “Leisureguy” Ham has also posted several updates on his blog: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4. He also posted a summary on Reddit.
What do I think? I’m in agreement with the others mentioned here. My shaves with the 6S have been excellent. And like other “adjustable” razors I have tried I can use a wider range of blade brands than nonadjustable razors.
It may take a while for Rockwell to “catch up” with all the pending orders, but I think they’re on their way to a successful business. It will be interesting to see what else Rockwell may have up it’s sleeve for the future….
FLASH: I just received this email from Gareth at Rockwell: “I have great news! After last week at the manufacturing facility, we’ve approved all the Rockwell 6S’s needed to fill the remaining pre-orders! We’ll be shipping them out as quickly as possible over the upcoming weeks (all of them will be shipped out by March 9th or 10th, based on our maximum shipping speed capabilities). We’ll be switching the Rockwell 6S and all products over from pre-order to regular order on our site…. “
Addendum–here is a video I made showing the prototype, version 1, and version 2:
Do you have a Version 2 of the 6S? Leave a comment with your impressions of it below!
I’ve been using the 6s for a couple of weeks now and it’s the best razor I’ve ever used.
I have all three of the FEATHER D/E razors and with a Feather blade I’d catch nicks and weepers with every shave……not once with the Rockwell. I’ve tried a different blade every three days and have had great shaves every time. For me,the Rockwell beats my Muhle, Feather, Razorock BBS. It’s simply the best and I’ve been wet shaving 50+ years, seven days a week.
The 2016 6S is butt ugly, I don’t like the way the top cap is threaded, the handle is too long and overall the razor is too heavy and a little ungainly. But it shaves well sometimes. I seem to hold the razor hard to stop from pressing too hard and don’t like the sensation, I had the same problem with the Above the Tie Titan R1 . I’m beginning to think that stainless steel is just a little too dense to make a great razor.
The posted blade gaps are off relative to the Rockwell site. They list plate six with a 1.12 mm blade gap.
Thanks for the great review. I only shave once per week for a meeting that requires me to be close shaved. So naturally that once a week or every other week if the meeting is skipped once in a while, causes me to have some pretty long stubble each time I shave. I typically use an electric to clip it down then a razor to finish the task. Will this work on the longer stubble without ripping hair out and torturing the user?
For a DE beginner, I think this is a perfect razor! Maybe for advanced shavers as well, but i am quite sure that my technique is not great, and I never have an issue with this razor! I have a pretty heavy beard, and use mostly R3. As some others have said, the audible feedback is fantastic. I have tried more aggressive DE’s, and hacked up my face pretty good. Not with this razor. I have also used the OneBlade, which is great also, but I feel like a get a better shave with this one.
I own quite a few Razors, but the 6S Version two is the “out of my cold dead hands” one. If I could own only one DE, this would be it. Or maybe the Futur…or the Digress…
Joking aside, it’s a sensational Razor, and if you find it above your budget, Rockwell will soon bring out a Chrome version that starts at 20$.
Long Play says
I was wondering if it’s a good safety razor for a beginner like myself. I have only used cartridge razors in my 30 some years. I’ve had a beard for over a decade but I’m ready for a change. Is this the right safety razor to start with?
The Rockwell 6s is the best thing going in DE razors right now dollar for dollar. Hands down. Overall it is on the milder/forgiving side of things the 5/6 plate gets fairly aggressive with a really sharp blade so as OJ said… look out! I used the Rockwell blade the first 8 shaves and it got the job done, with extra pressure. The blades aren’t the sharpest, but they don’t give you an iota of discomfort or burning afterwards, and I squeezed 8 rounds out of the first one. Next I tried my trusty Astra sp, now we’re getting really good… 3/4 plate shines with this. Finally tried my Gillette Nacet Stainless on 5 which was probably a little too much as I got just a little discomfort (but nothing bad) afterwads and should have stuck with 3/4 plate with this sharp of a blade. Anyways.. Gentlemen, this is the single closest shave I have had in my life. My usual trouble areas, the turkey waddle(throat), my chin, and the area just under the bottom lip (soul patch) have never been this smooth, not once and not even close to this. The razor is very hefty, will last generations, and just feels like a quality heirloom piece that you’d be happy to pass to your kid when your days are up… Get one!
I purchased the new Rockwell Razor, version 3 and it shaves as good or better than any of my other razors except for the Feather AS-D2. But it shaves as good, just different. And, one can decide which plate provides the best shave for the individual. The Rockwell is heavy and big as compared to the delicate size of the Feather AS-D2 razor. Very nice IMHO!
Got my Version 2 delivered yesterday (March 8). The all-over bead blasting gives everything a premium feel. I tried a Rockwell blade in the 2 gap this morning. I shave every day generally, and this Rockwell gives a ton of feedback compared to my stainless Feather. It gives you positive notice of every whisker it takes off, and immediately lets you know when you’ve lost the angle. Kind of like buttering dark toast when you’re on. But that doesn’t mean my shave wasn’t comfortable. It was. Low irritation, no nicks or scrapes. Both sides felt the same, an indicator of good manufacturing quality.
My only slight gripe is a common one: between the holes in the blade and the studs on the cap there is a tiny bit of play. I had to loosen the blade upon installation and nudge it exactly straight using my thumb and forefinger on the ends of the blade. This is not uncommon in DE razors with a 1-piece cap, and it will vary from blade to blade. It is something I automatically check before every shave. I had gotten used to the tight tolerances of the Feather Stainless, which locates Feather blades exactly and locks them down perfectly every time without futzing around. So a niggle, not a complaint. You should learn and practice correct blade installation on every shaver you use. This one just takes an extra ten seconds to install perfectly.
My buddy has been shaving (including his head) with a butterfly long handle Parker for years. I snapped a quick pic of all the pieces laid out on the table and shot it to him. He will be ordering Rockwell when the soapy water kills the mechanism in his Parker.
Props to the guys behind Rockwell Razors for a really great design.
I received the second version of the Rockwell S6 in late February and it’s an amazing razor. I’ve moved to the #4 plate and it gives me great shaves. I normally use Polsilver Super Iridiums but I’ve been using the Rockwell blades and I’m very impressed by them. They’re the first Swedish blades I’ve used so I wouldn’t be able to tell if they were rebranded but they are a good value at 100/$10.
The Dean says
Out of curiosity, have you (or has anyone here) tried Rockwell’s razor blades? The claimed to have “developed” these blades–suggesting they aren’t simply re-branded. Anyone have the straight scoop and/or a review? Thanks
Matt Englund says
Once I receive my order of the new Rockwell, I can report back on the qualify of the blade. I have a package of them coming with the razor. But as of now, I haven’t personally used them.
I’ve tried the blades. They were pretty good for me and I do not believe they are rebranded (though of course a lot of blade brands come from the same manufacturing facilities) but I still have my favorites (esp. Polsiver Iridium)!
The Dean says
Thanks, guys. For a small price, I may order a few, just to check them out. My next big order (which is down the line, as I already have so many blades) will probably be the Super Iridiums, as I love them. But since I’ve taken to only using a blade for two shaves, I find a few less expensive brands to do a great job, for those two shaves. Feather, Voshkod and one of the smoothest blades for me (albeit with a short life span) are the basic, pink label, Rapira blades.
Matt Englund says
I do own and really like the original Rockwell Razor. Sure the cap wasn’t smooth and the blade exposure isn’t exactly accurate on both sides but it still gives me the best shave of the DE razors I own. I only use the R1 plate and it gives me a shave similar to my straight razor or shavette I typically use. I’m excited to receive the new Rockwell and I think it will stay as my go-to DE option. Thanks for the update and analysis as always.
As you note, I’ve tried it and I’m very impressed. It’s extremely comfortable and well-behaved, and I was astonished to find that a Feather blade, which normally I can use only in mild razors, gave a perfectly comfortable and nick-free (and very smooth) shave even with the R6. I’ve now shaved with every baseplate, and they are all good. The R1 with a Feather blade felt and performed a lot like the Feather AS-D2. The R3 seems to be my “natural” baseplate, but the R4, 5, and 6 are all very good: more efficient but equally comfortable, and none inclined to nick.