Recently we’ve seen an influx in American-made safety razors enter the traditional wet shaving market. Not long ago, one could only dream of purchasing a new razor from the west and usually had to settle for a vintage Gillette that already had a story. Even though we loved our predecessors’ stories, many of us in North America wanted to start our own.
There were once millions of North American razors produced and sold each year, from several well known producers (Gillette, Schick, American Safety Razor Company). As technology advanced, new designs became more popular and the North American Safety razor business started to slowly disappear. In 1988 Gillette decided to shut down production of the final USA made safety razor, and focus on overseas production for foreign markets.
In the late 1990’s with the help of the internet, safety razors started to gain popularity in the United States again. Several wet shaving groups formed, all with the same interests, to shave with more primitive tools of yesterday that were of higher quality ( and in my opinion better performing) than the modern forms of today. Many would purchase old American made razors from antique/thrift stores,or would ask relatives if they had any tucked in the attic. The popularity grew and soon they had wet shavers wanting to purchase their own high quality razor brand new.
In 2012, nearly 24 years after the last Gillette left the assembly line, The Weber Safety Razor Company released a double edged (DE) safety razor that was completely made in the USA. The Weber received positive reviews upon its release and provided the path for other machinists to start producing razors.
Today, there are over a dozen producers making razors in North America, with several new makers emerging each year. The demand for higher quality safety razors is at an all time high and wet shavers can’t seem to get enough of it!
Why Spend More Money On This Rather Than Other Cheaper Alternatives?
There are many wet shavers who use cheaper alternatives and report great results. So why spend more money on American made products?
Here are several reasons:
- Higher Quality Materials: Most North American made products go through stricter quality measures when being made. These razors consist of stainless steel, while many foreign razors will be produced of a cheaper material coated in a Zamak style coating that isn’t designed to last as long.
- Better Customer Service: With American razors, you can bet that if you have a problem, you will be able to contact the company and have it resolved quickly. In my 11 years of wet shaving, I can’t remember a time when the maker of an American razor didn’t do the right thing when dealing with an issue. Most of these razors are guaranteed for life.
- Accurate Tolerances: I’ve seen many posts of wet shavers receiving a razor, and posting pictures of a bent blade guard or silo doors that do not close properly when receiving an inferior razor. You don’t see it too often with American made razors. Their standards are high and the inspection period is much longer, making sure your razor is perfect.
- Environmentally Friendly: In North America, the environment takes priority when manufacturing goods. The same can’t be said for all countries’ manufacturing processes. You can bet your American made products are made with the environment in mind.
- Supporting Fair Wages and Conditions: Know that you support fair terms of employment and that the conditions of those involved are good and safe.
There are always more expensive options that get the job done. It’s true, you can shave with cheaper alternatives, I mean even the dollar store safety razor works well enough, but there’s something special using a quality tool. In relation, a $10 Casio watch, will tell time (and possibly be more accurate) than a $100,000 Patek Philippe, just like a Geo Metro will get to point A the same as a Rolls Royce.
With wet shaving however, the beauty of it is this: You can have the best of the best for much less than any other luxury out there. I say luxury because owning a high end razor is not essential when there are less expensive options out there. Although luxuries such as watches, cars, shoes, and alcoholic beverages, can cost well in the 6 figure range. With wet shaving, a few hundred dollars can get you the best of the best.
Brands Of North American-Made Razors
Safety Razors Made In USA
Above the Tie: A long time vendor that has been around for several years. Above the Tie features an “Ala Carte” ordering system so you can build a custom razor! With most parts readily available the possibilities are endless. (Note: some parts (handles) are imported from China)
Related Post: Above The Tie X1 SE Slant Razor Review
Blackland: In business for several years now, Blackland began their journey with the Black Bird, a stainless steel DE with an awesome handle. There are several models available, all very innovative.
Charcoal Goods: A one man shop, Brian over at Charcoal Goods made his first razors on an old fashioned lathe and hammered the handles by hand. Some of the most beautiful razors available.
Related Post: Charcoal Goods Torpedo Razor
Battle Bros: Made of American Military grade aluminum, the MKII razor is moderately priced and well built.
Related Post: Battle Brothers MkII Aluminum Double Edge Razor
Carbon Shaving: Joining the game in 2019, Carbon shaving takes innovation to the next level. With several limited razors made with special metals, this small company from Minneapolis continues to impress even the most experienced wet shavers.
Related Post: Carbon Shaving Company
Chiseled Face: After several years of business, Chiseled Face’s claim to fame was in the software business. After several years of R & D, they introduced their safety razors and we are glad they did.
Rex : Created by longtime razor restorer Razor Emporium, they created the Ambassador which was the first stainless steel USA made razor in over 30 years. This innovative company makes sure everything is made in the USA ( even the box and papers).
Timeless: Specializing in “a la carte” razor selection, Timeless is one of the first USA razor producers to be steadily supplied and consistent. Available in different metals and designs.
Related Post: Timeless ALSB45 Aluminum Razor
Wet Shaving Club: Priced at under $100 for a CNC machined, 316L stainless steel Safety razor is almost unheard of. Wet Shaving Club has two of them. You can even have the American flag etched on the top cap.
Related Post: Wet Shaving Club
Yates: The Yates line of razors are machined of 316L stainless steel, with pre-orders of Titanium available now. Built tough with a lifetime warranty.
Rockwell 6s: A kickstarter success, Rockwell needs no introduction. Several plates that are available with this razor make it suitable for any beard.
Related Post: Rockwell Razor 6S Version 2
Paradigm: Although production is very limited, Paradigm makes top tiered razors. Specializing in using polished titanium, these razors both look and shave great!
Related Post: Paradigm Titanium TI 2 Review
Asylum Shave Works: After a brief hiatus,these razors were briefly back in production. Known for Single and double edge designs, this company really enjoyed the Darwin handle design.
HairCut and Shave: Offering razors in a range of metals , this small artisan has made an impact in the higher-end razor market. These razors have tight tolerances, great packaging and have received rave reviews!
Western Razor Co.: New guy on the block with only one model, the High- Noon Safety razor. Simple and effective, this razor is 100% made in the USA and even comes with USA made blades.
Safety Razors Made In Canada
Henson: Relatively new to the game, Henson has been receiving favorable reviews and has some of the best customer service out there.
Related Post: Henson AL13 Aluminum Razor
Karve: The choices are unlimited with Karve as there are multiple metals, and blade guards available for any wet shaver’s preference. Priced well too.
Related Post: The Karve Christopher Bradley Razor
Razorock: Several years ago Razorock debuted a CNC machined razor from 316L stainless steel for under $50. Demand was so high, these razors sold out in seconds. Today there are several models made in Canada including: The Mamba, Game Changer, Wunderbar, BBS, & Lupo.
Related Post: It’s Not Mambo No. 5 It’s My RazoRock Mamba 53 Review
Wolfman: Possibly the best razor I have personally ever handled, Wolfman razors continue to be highly sought after and possibly one of the best razors on the market. Ordering one is like ordering a custom car.
Honorable Mentions Discontinued From Production:
Tradere (Original): This was the first CNC machined safety razor made in the USA. The Tradere opened the door for others to join the market.
Weber: The first American Made safety razor since Gillette ceased production in 1988.
LASSC BBS-1: Collaboration between Wolfman razors and Los Angeles Soap Company. This is one of the most collectable “modern” razors to date and was the first to come out of Canada.
Mongoose: What started as a hobby turned into a 5000 razor run. The Mongoose put single edge (artist style) razors on the map and was one of the most desirable pieces from 2014-2017.
PAA: The Evolution razor was made a few years back, as an American made Double Open Comb razor. Made of stainless steel and very limited, no list could be complete with mention of this razor.
Are Gillette Razors Made In America?
This is a common question asked and the answer is yes and no.
Gillette produced razors that were made in the USA from 1903 until 1988 when they discontinued their American line of safety razors to focus on new technology. (Gillette did have factories in Europe and South America, the majority came from the USA.) Although Gillette still produced Double Edge Safety razors for other markets, these razors were made overseas and not sold in the USA.
It wasn’t until 2019 that we saw a new Gillette Double Edge (Heritage) safety razor emerge on US soil and although the razor was not completely produced in the USA the handle was and still is. Although Gillette is keeping quiet about who makes the handle for them, it is produced of stainless steel.
My Personal Recommendations:
Out of the brands listed, I have used examples from most of them. Although I haven’t tried all of them I have a decent insight on what I like. * Based on the opinion of the writer.
Best High End (Over $300): Wolfman WR2
Wolfman Razors have been around since 2014 when James Dufour, a journeyman machinist answered John from Lassco’s request to have a machinist create a double edged safety razor. From there the pair created what is now known as one of the most collectable DE safety razors, the BBS-1.
James then created his own line of razors and the rest is history. A lot of wet shavers will agree that the BBS-1 is a top performer and although only 421 of them were made, hard to come by. The WR2 is based on that design and is currently in production.
One thing to mention about Wolfman razors is when you get one it’s spot on perfect. The tolerances are as advertised and I have yet to handle one that had any imperfections.
Best Budget ( Under $150): Razorock Game Changer
Built in Canada of CNC machined 316L stainless steel,the Game Changer will set you back around $60. When it debuted several years ago, they would sell out in a matter of minutes, but now they are readily available.
To get a razor of this quality for under $100 is not that common. There are numerous handles available from Razorock and you have a choice between a milder (.68 gap) or more aggressive (.86) baseplate when ordering.
It’s important to note that while the Game Changer is a great bargain, it’s not highly polished and is a utilitarian tool. While it may not look as good as its more expensive counterparts, it performs well and is a great way to get into Artisan razors.
Best Mid-Range ($150-$300) Tied Timeless and Blackland
The Timeless Razor company is based out of Ohio and has been in the razor making game for several years now. They offer a “build your own razor” service which allows the buyer to choose what type of metal, handle, top cap and base plate for their very own custom piece. You can even choose what gap on the base plate so you can have a milder or more aggressive shave.
No waiting lists for these razors, so you can order one up whenever you’re ready, and the customer service at Timeless is always great!
Blackland razors debuted the “Black Bird” several years ago and there has been no turning back since. What was once a one razor company, now has several well acclaimed models that have stood the test of time in terms of artisan safety razors.
All Blackland razors are made in the USA of quality materials. The handle design on the original Black bird is completely original and one of the most creative I’ve seen in my wet shaving travels.
Blackland took on a major project several years ago, bringing back the Tradere, out of retirement and making it available again. The Tradere was the first CNC machined stainless steel razor made in the USA and has been sought after by collectors since the company shut down in 2014.
Best Adjustable: Rex Ambassador
The Rex Ambassador is built entirely in the USA down to the packaging. The attention to detail on everything from the grip on the handle (knurling) to blade guards themselves is incredible. Many know the development for this razor took several years, and today there are several versions of the Ambassador. All parts down to the packaging are made in the USA.
The Ambassador is readily available from multiple retailers so you don’t have to worry about in-stock status here. Priced at around $250, it could very well be the last razor you’ll ever need.
While it is true, you can get great shaves from budget razors, there’s always something special about holding a quality piece that was engineered to last a lifetime. With Wet Shaving, all of the top tier products can be within reach for anyone’s budget, unlike many other hobbies where many items are not.
You can have peace of mind when purchasing razors made in North America, and can guarantee these razors and supporting small and local companies will only help the industry grow.