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The State Of The Single Edge Razor (Updated!)

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What is the best single edge razor today? Single edge (“SE”) razors have taken a back seat to double edge razors for years.  But despite the obscurity some have endured and a couple are even thriving.  I’ll offer some perspective.

(Amazon, APShaveCo, OneBlade, and Supply links are affiliate.)

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The Single Edge Blade Conundrum

Generally speaking single edge razor blades are thicker and stiffer than their double edge cousins.  Some people, particularly those with thicker stubble, believe these blades provide a more efficient shave with a lower chance of nicks compared to the design of DE razors.

But I think one major issue that single edge razors face is the physical shape of the blade.  Unlike double edge (DE) razor blades that have evolved into a “standard” shape, single edge blades come in a number of different formats: GEM, Injector, FHS/Autostrop, barber style (AKA “Artist Club,” “shaper,” “nape & body,” “Shavette”), etc.

I think the lack of blade shape standardization has held back the evolution of the single edge razor.

Related to blade shape, and perhaps more important to wider consumer acceptance, is the problem of loading a single edge blade.  GEM and FHS/Autostrop blades are large enough to be more confidently-handled.  Injector blades are much smaller but have the advantage of being housed in a magazine that provide a “hands off” method of blade changing.

Barber Blade (Top) Vs. Injector Blade (Bottom)

Barber-style blades can present some challenges to the “every-guy” consumer because their shape can make safe blade handling problematic.

Complicating the issue further is the fact that some artisan-made single edge razor designs do not take advantage of blade shape to make changing blades easier.  For example the original GEM razors (now vintage) had a pop-up head design that made blade loading easy. Modern, artisan-made GEM-style razors are generally three piece designs that can make blade changes more fussy.

I think there are only three modern single edge razors that make blade changing reasonably easy, the Supply SE, the OneBlade, and–a special case–the Penny Shaver (a single blade cartridge compatible with Gillette Fusion handles).  More on those razors later in this article.

So What Is Available Now?

There are actually more single edge razors available now since I first wrote about them in 2015. Back then most of them took either GEM or barber style blades. Now other formats have surpassed those razors. Here is what is available as I write this. I’ll update the article as other razors enter and leave the market.

Injector Razors

The Schick (and later PAL) Injector single edge razor was the perennial “number two” competitor to Gillette’s double edge razors, back in the day.  Injector razors had a unique “hands off” blade loading mechanism, where the blades were loaded in a magazine and fed through the razor. And it had a devoted following too, before Schick also switched to cartridge razors and joined the “blade wars.”

Supply SE

The Supply SE razor is a modern follow-up to the Injector style razor and a follow-on to their popular “2.0” razor.  

Perhaps just as importantly, the Supply Single Edge razor uses the same blade loading system as the original Injector razors–”click…slide…slide…click” and you’re done.

The razor is solidly-built and hefty but well-balanced. The finish of the razor is smooth but there still is enough grip for the razor to feel secure in my hand though Supply offers a silicon grip that slides over the handle.

Visually it looks like there is a lot of blade exposure but in actual use the razor/blade combo is actually fairly mild (though still quite efficient). There is essentially no “blade feel” with the SE. I simply don’t feel the blade’s cutting edge across my skin. I find the Supply SE razor to be forgiving, drama-free and very effective.

For a detailed look click/tap to read The Supply SE Single Edge Razor May Not Be What You Expect!

Supply Pro

Supply also offers the Supply Pro razor, an adjustable version of the Supply SE. Aimed at the “enthusiast” market the Supply pro has 6 broad settings (and 30 “micro-settings” that adjust how much blade edge is exposed to the skin.

I think the holding angle range on the Pro is a bit narrower than other Injector-type razors (and noticeably narrower than the Supply SE razor, which I find to be quite generous!). Nothing deal-breaking, mind you, but I do find myself having to pay a bit more attention to the way I hold the Pro.

I find the Supply Pro excels at knocking down heavy, multi-day stubble at the higher adjustment settings, and is equally adept at dealing with overnight stubble and sensitive areas of skin at lower settings. I’m a big fan of adjustable razors generally and things like this are one of the reasons why.

For a closer look at this razor click/tap here for The Supply Single Edge Pro Adjustable Razor Review

Parker Adjustable Injector

parker adjustable injector razor

Another modern take on the Injector is the Parker Adjustable Injector razor.  Parker’s implementation of an adjustable Injector is quite different (and less expensive) than Supply’s but I find it works very well. The low end of the adjustment range is quite low; the high end is not insanely high but still requires some focus while shaving to avoid a nick or cut. And I think the razor holding angle range is more generous than Supply’s adjustable.

For a closer look at the evolution and use this razor click/tap here for Parker Adjustable Injector Razor (Now In Version 3!)

Bullgoose Asylum Injector

Bullgoose offers the Asylum Injector razor. The razor is gorgeous-looking razor, hefty (but not tiring), and well-balanced in my hand. This is a three piece razor that does not take advantage of the Injector blade’s magazine system.

As for the shave itself, I find the Asylum Injector, like the Asylum Rx (see below), to be rather aggressive–maybe a seven on a one-to-ten scale. 

Hype X1

hype razor, base plates, and blade magazine

The Hype X1 razor is a safety razor with some intriguing design elements: it uses Injector-style blades from a blade magazine, has an unusual (and possibly impairment-friendly) handle, and three shave setting base plates that are held in place by a magnet. I think the stylish look is for attracting someone who wants to move away from the modern cartridge razor for something that looks a little out of the ordinary. After a bit of a learning curve my shaves with the X1 have been excellent.

For more on this razor click/tap here for Hype Razor Or Razor Hype?

Autostrop/FHS Single Edge Razors

The vintage Autostrop razor is long-since out of production but Feather makes their FHS blade that fits the same form factor.  The FHS design could be considered a relative of the GEM blade, having many of the same characteristics but without the GEM blade’s “spine.”

These blades are used in the modern OneBlade razor.  It’s no secret that I love shaving with the OneBlade. To me it’s the best of both worlds: a single blade razor that uses modern pivot technology.  It’s my favorite razor–when I’m not testing some specific product but shaving just for the enjoyment of the process it is usually with my OneBlade Genesis.

Some consider OneBlade razors too mild but for me it can’t be beat for an effortless, consistently close shave.  

There are three versions of the OneBlade at different price points: the introductory-priced, resin-molded Core; the mid-priced Hybrid; and the all stainless steel Genesis.  Blade loading is reasonably easy (though helps to rinse the blade briefly to get a thin drop of adhesive off).

By the way, some have had success using modified GEM blades in the OneBlade, so there is some greater blade choice possible with it.

GEM Style Single Edge Razors

I think artisan single edge razors that take GEM style blades appeal more to the nostalgic side of the wet shaving enthusiast.

Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements (PAA) offers their Starling GEM single edge razor. I find blade loading of the Starling a bit fiddly. My own use and the other reviews generally regard the Starling as a fairly aggressive razor.  

For more info click/tap here for The Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements Starling – Versions 1 and 2

Blackland offers their Sabre GEM single edge razor.  Blackland offers it with two different base plates, “L1” for a (very) mild blade gap and “L2” for a more middle-of-the-road feel.  

Blackland has a reputation for top-notch build quality (at a commensurate price) and the Sabre is no exception. The razor feels solid and well-balanced in my hand, though it does have this quirky rectangular top cap post, threaded on two sides, that can make razor reassembly after blade insertion interesting (for me, anyway).  I think the blade angle “sweet spot” is quite narrow on the Sabre but after you get a handle on it the razor works well.

Barber Blades

Some artisan-made single edge razors these days use blades typically found in barber blade razors.  A number of have come and gone through the years but they just keep plugging away.

cobra king classic

The first artisan single edge razor was the Cobra Classic, followed by the King Cobra Classic, from Classic Shaving.  The Cobra’s inspiration came from some hardy shave nerd’s discovery back in 2005 that a modern barber blade could be cut down to fit in a vintage Injector razor.  That idea was twisted on itself and an Injector-like razor that accepted unmodified barber blades was created.  That idea begat a number of other products, with varying degrees of success.

These days there are still some razors that use barber blades:

Bullgoose offers their Asylum RX (v2) single edge razor.

Blackland has a barber blade single edge razor called the Vector.  

RazoRock takes a bit of a different tack with their Hawk single edge razor: while other artisan razors are sold at an artisan (read: expensive!) price point, the Hawk is more value-priced, being made from aluminum. It’s lighter in weight compared to others but I think it’s quite nicely balanced and it shaves me well.

There are other single edge razors: I’ve left many that are listed as “out of stock” on artisan websites off this list.  I’ll add/edit to this article as needed.

A Single Blade Cartridge

APShaveCo’s Penny Shaver razor is a cartridge razor with a single blade mounted on a head that is compatible with Gillette Fusion cartridges. This makes it one razor that should make going through airport security much less of a problem.

The Penny Shaver head/cartridge reminds me a little of the Supply SE, with a guide comb and a fairly large (but not unwieldy) head.  One interesting aspect of the comparatively large cartridge size is that lather flow through is very generous–possibly the best I’ve seen.

Beyond the single blade and the cartridge comb the Penny Shaver does not offer any of the other bells and whistles of the typical razor cartridge: no pretensioner, no lubrication strip, no trimmer blade, etc.

The size of the cartridge was not a problem for me when shaving detail areas like under my nose.

As mentioned on the Penny Shaver webpage, I found the first shave with a new cartridge definitely more aggressive than I expected.  Shaves two and three were transitional and the shaves beyond that were quite nice for me: a smooth shave finish was readily achievable.  On a ten point scale I would consider the shave’s aggressiveness as a 7 for shave one; dropping to a solid middle-of-the-road 5 for shaves 4-10; and falling off gracefully beyond that.

Razors that use a double edge blade snapped in half?

There are a few “single edge” razors that are actually a kind of a hybrid: they use double edge blades that have been snapped in half. So these razors may not have the same characteristics of those that use a thicker, “true” single edge blade. Some of these razors include:

Conclusion

Single edge safety razors continue to capture the curiosity of shave enthusiasts, with both artisans and small businesses vying for their attention.  Most are well-made and offer alternatives to the classic razor formats. However I believe some single edge razor designs will be relegated to a niche’ within a niche’ until problems with blade loading are solved.

What do you think of single blade razors?  Leave a message below.

Author

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

36 thoughts on “The State Of The Single Edge Razor (Updated!)”

  1. I’m still searching/looking/waiting for a really good, moderately priced SE razor that uses any split DE blade so that I can use any & all my wonderful lifetime collection of DE blades. Please let me know if/when one comes to market. Thanks for the excellent, in depth article.

    1. I’m planning a separate article on that very subject. Several of them (High Proof, Broman, Focus R48) even have pivots like the OneBlade.

  2. Thank you for a good summation of the currently available SE razors.

    The RazoRock Hawk is also available in stainless steel at less than artisan prices. I prefer it to the aluminum Razorock Hawk. I am more comfortable with the weight, balance and aggression level of the stainless steel version. I find that I use it more often than my ATT SE razors.

    Also, Stando is making some very nice razors. I have both the Jaga and the Prowe half blade razors. I use both of them regularly.

  3. My favorite single edge is the Occam’s with a Feather Pro-Guard blade. However, I have a Supply injector ordered, so my opinion may change.

  4. After decades using a three blade cartridge, I ordered a FOCUS R-48. For the past two weeks I’ve been using it for my light beard and there are other things I like; delicate light balance, blade angle seems very protective (against mistakes), has a good grip on a wet handle, and an essential and cost effective feature is selecting any DE blade in the world. For my (old and tender) face and beard using half of a DE blade is a great match because of the narrower width blade and small head. However, what I don’t like about the FOCUS is the pivoting head. It feels like I don’t have the blade edge under control. Is this pivoting head the reason there’s so little about the FOCUS R-48 or R-50?

    1. I think the R-48/50 suffers from a couple things that don’t bring it into wider acceptance. One is the blade swapping mechanism: most find it finicky to change a blade and you have to use a snapped-in-half DE blade (no pre-cut halves). The other problem is that there just hasn’t been much advertising or publicity about it and it’s difficult to find in the US (to my knowledge only one US vendor carries it).

  5. So far I can’t seem to stop using my Leaf shaver. I have a nice Edwin Jager with imitation horn handle to does a very good job for a mild razor, however I find that I can ged a more consistent bbs with the Leaf. Maybe one of these days I’ll try a Core One Blade. Side note; Shanon shave soap gives a very good cushion and lubrication. Use a good lather bowl and really bloom that brush. Shanon shave soap is very thirsty.

  6. I’ve made it a point to have at least one of each blade type in my den, DE being the most well represented. I have both the vector and the Sabre L2, as well a 1933 Ever Ready 1912. I found the vector to be the smoothest and most flowing A/C head; blades are expensive and not well distributed, the wide track is also something that demands tweaks on technique to manage. My DE experience has only gotten more aggressive as my technique and head angle discipline has improved. The windrose slant is my favorite DE head, followed by charcoal goods L3 OC and Karve’s F plate Of. For fast and smootb the Razorock wunderbar is fantastic, and the Game Changer .84 open comb is right behind it. Looking forward to trying the paradigm SS DE and the upcoming Blackland Slant bit the Sabre L2 remains mu favorite. The gem has rigid edge that while has feel gets it done consistently without being intolerant of a little head angle carelessness. I’d love to see more modern GEM attempts, and growth in popularity on par with DE’s, and the resulting variety of blade offerings.

    1. Spoton, congrats. To summarize, Karve F in OC at 1.23 gap is it. The stubbleeater on R41 level, even more, but still amazing comfortable. How they do it? Nevermind the brass smell, few complain abt. Cheers, Achim, the Lion City of Singapore+

  7. Hi Mantic-
    I recently tryed out the Supply Single edge product and found the following issues :
    1 Blade injection orientation is critical; if the new blade is a all angled in the cartridge it drags on the support tab giving dull spots and uneven shave
    2 The head design allows the blade to clog and doesn’t allow for easy flushing.
    3 With heavy constuction and weight, the smooth slippery surface makes holding and
    manipulation dicey.

    Nice company and excellent customer relations but the above deterred me.

  8. Mark-
    Have you looked at the Amazon review comments regarding the One Blade Core model ?
    Check it out- because of the resin susceptibility to being cut the blade is not held in position by the tabs with some disastrous facial cuts and injuries-hardly a safety razor ! Has it been revised ?
    Enjoyed the article and am prompted to give SE a try.

    1. Hi Mallory– I did look at Amazon but I think its difficult to make any conclusions from only 9 reviews. None of the concerns raised mentioned the blade cutting resin–that issue was resolved several revisions ago–so there are other things coming into play here. OneBlade razors are generally mild so if a customer is looking for a razor to turn their shave up to “11” it may not be the best razor for them.

      1. Joined the wet shavers about 3 years ago. First DE, and the Parker Adj is good. Then I switched to the Supply Single Edge. It is the best shave ever for my fairly heavy beard. When OneBlade offered the Core, I tried it out of curiosity. It does not work at all for me. Perhaps the more aggressive Genesis would be better, but too high-priced. The Supply SE is perfect for me – the last razor I will ever need to buy.

  9. I keep saying I will not buy another razor. My experience with the different DE razors (vintage and new) I use offer only a barely perceptible difference in the quality of a shave.
    I am now using my first SE with my Jet Black Supply razor with stand. The industrial design and quality are superior. It also gives an outstanding shave and rinses shaved beard and cream with excellent ease.
    Different razors do provide slightly better or lesser shaves. Still, I think I do not experience a great difference from one razor to the other.
    The price for the Supply with stand is a lot for me to spend to get a shave.
    SO TELL ME WHY YOUR POST HAS ME THINKING THOSE COBRAS LOOK SO GREAT THAT I SHOULD HAVE THE “KING COBRA CLASSIC”! I cannot afford it nor the Genesis. ?
    Dartan

  10. I have been using a One Blade Core and find it hard to nick myself with it. The shave is generally good, with a little difficulty in the neck area. I would love the opportunity to try the Genesis ( or even the hybrid) and somehow, I think it would be really good but both are out of my price range. I would even be willing to borrow a Genesis if I could somehow borrow one.

    1. Warren– I’m working on a deal with OneBlade that may bring the Genesis or Hybrid to your price range. Stay tuned! 😉

    2. For the past few years, OneBlade has had some really good discounts on their Hybrid and Genesis razors for their Black Friday sale. I got my Hybrid this way and made it pretty affordable. Don’t know if this will continue, but if you’re signed up to their newsletter, they should send an update out around that time.

  11. I like DE best but I also really like some SE. I have injectors old and new, the Supply, the RazoRock ,the General and older GEM type also. I like using different types. I quit looking for one perfect shave. For one thing, my skin and whiskers have changed and will change again.

  12. Love my RazoRock, it’s my 3rd favorite razor after my Feather AS-D2 and my Parker 24C. It shaves my face better than my RazoRock Slant.

    I get at least 10 shaves per blade.

  13. Got hooked on single edges with the original Cobra, but once the King Cobra arrived – the original was sold.

    I have two KC now, my daily driver and one in the dopp kit. The Feather Artist Club Professional blades are epic with this razor

  14. I know you’ve got a tie-in with OneBlade which is an ingeniously designed razor, but it’s got two flaws. One, it’s a very mild razor, which leaves out about half the shaving public, and two, it uses a Feather blade that I’ve not seen used in any other razor that I’ve been able to find, so it’s practically a proprietary blade.

    Joe Borelli’s blog on the Mongoose family mirrors my experience with those razors. I still use the Alumagoose to shave my head because it’s so foolproof.

    IMHO two other SE razors are far superior to any mentioned in your article. They are the Asylum RX and the Paradigm (both available from Bullgoose Shaving). Both are expensive, but not as expensive as the OneBlade. The Asylum RX with a Feather Pro blade is about as aggressive as one could want, but when paired with a Kai Captain Titan Mild Protouch MC or a Feather ProGuard blade, it’s as benign as a Mongoose or One Blade, yet is quite a bit more efficient than either. The 2nd of my favorite SE razors is the Paradigm which is a wonderfully engineered razor which tames the fearsome Feather Pro blade. I much prefer shaving with the Artist Club width blades and have never gone back to using DE blades after my first SE shave.

    As far as difficulty in handling SE blades, I’ve been using them exclusively for 3 years now and never had an issue with cutting myself when loading or unloading a blade in any of the razors I’ve mentioned.

    1. Mike, both the Asylum and Paradigm razors have been sold out for some time, which is why I did not included them here. If they ever return to inventory I’ll add them into this article.

  15. I have Colonial Razor’s Brass General, which takes Feather AC blades. Currently, it is out of production, so I’m glad I snagged it when I did (under $70 on clearance at the time). Great SE razor that is gentler than the aluminum Mongoose that I tried previously – I like it with the Kai Mild blades with Guard.
    Had a bad QC experience with a core Oneblade, so I’m a little leery of them although I see lots of good reviews about the Genesis.

    1. I agree. I own an Ever Ready 1912, a GEM Micromatic Open Comb & a GEM Clog Pruf. These were inexpensive to acquire, good shavers & the GEM blades (as well as other brands) are plentiful on Amazon.

  16. I’ve sought to have at least one of each blade style shaver, DE SB, DE OC, DE Slant SB, A/C SB, GEM SB, with collection being most populated in DE SB’s. For SE’s I have a Blackland Vector and the Sabre L2. I previously used ATT’s SE 1 & 2 A/C in SS and found it weighty and too long in the cap for practical maneuverability, the Vector saw to its retirement. While I’m still getting comfortable/proficient with the GEM/Sabre I find it’s long top cap dictates stroke directions and as stated above, it has a rather narrow head angle tolerance, I feel like this would be the case with all GEM head due to how long the blades. The Vector on the other hand is a dream to shave with, minimalist head profile, that despite the A/C blades width, the cap angle in very natural/intuitive, easily maintained, A/C blade being wider than a D/E, it is very maneuverable. It is one of my favorite razors and I’d considered it the best were A/C blades readily available commercially at destinations when traveling by air. I’ve found D/E and usually GEM blades at most chain drug stores in cities I fly to.

    1. I use Feather artist club DX razor

      It is super easy to load and unload. It’s not necessary to use the spring mechanism to ‘pinch’ and insert or remove a blade, just slide the plate off / on to unload or load it.

      Besides, this gives a chance to clean the insides after a shave. I always take it apart and rinse and dry it all anyway. Takes only a few seconds.

      The dispenser for the razors even has a storage compartment for used blades.

      I’ve had it for several years with no issues. It’s a joy to use.

  17. Good post. Thank you. I have been tempted to try a single edge but never did because of the limited blade options. It took me a while to find the de blades that work best for me. With so few se options, i have been concerned about never finding one that gives me the shave I like.

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