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What Is The Best Open Comb Safety Razor?

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best open comb razors

What is the best open comb safety razor? 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.


Top Open Comb Razors For Different Circumstances

Why Trust Sharpologist

Shaving–particularly wet shaving or manual shaving–is Sharpologist’s Raison d’être. Unlike a lot of other “best” lists from large consumer or fashion websites that concentrate on sponsorships or just what is available on Amazon, Sharpologist specializes in getting the best, most enjoyable shave possible.

This list is based on the personal experience of Sharpologist‘s editor (me!), contributors, and readers who have actually purchased and used the products–plus more than ten years of research from review sites and specialty discussion forums. “Your mileage may vary.” Generally-speaking, shaving facial hair is the primary objective.

Best For Open Comb Aficionados – Muhle R41

muhle r41 open comb razor

I have previously said that “sometimes I think that using the Muhle R41 open comb razor is only good for manhood-measuring contests.”  Most examples of the R41 are just ridiculously aggressive–though a design tweak in 2011 did tone it down slightly.

It is a well-built razor and if you genuinely need a really aggressive razor this is it.  But if you want to explore a generally more aggressive razor look at adjustable or slant razors.

Best Premium Open Comb Razor- Blackland Blackbird Open Comb

blackbird open comb safety razor

There are two baseplates available for the Blackland Blackbird, open comb and safety bar. Both plates have the same gap (.58mm), but the open comb is a bit more aggressive. At 98 grams (~3.5 oz) the Blackbird is heavy but well balanced. The handle texturing provides a very good grip and feels comfortable in the hand.

The open comb Blackbird Shaving is fairly aggressive so a light touch and some patience are required for success here.  Some shavers counterintuitively find that a higher “angle of attack” on the blade angle seems to work better, particularly later in the shave. 

Click/tap here to read Sharpologist’s full review of the Blackland Blackbird.

Best All-Around Open Comb Razor Parker 24c/26c

parker open comb razors

Parker offers two open comb razors, the 24C and the 26C, differing 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)!  Manufacturing and “fit and finish” of these two razors are excellent…perhaps among 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.

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.

Parker also sells the 69CR, a “convertible” razor which has both an open comb plate and a closed comb plate.

Best Specialty Open Comb Razor- Italian Barber SLOC

razorock sloc razor

The open comb razor concept took a variation that has been recently re-discovered: the self lubricating open comb (SLOC), sometimes called a double open comb (DOC) razor.  These razors are characterized by having a slotted top cap with an open comb base plate (the slots may or may not line up with the teeth of the base plate). The purpose of the slots was to serve as a sort of reservoir for water and lather.  From the original patent by Joseph Mellon:

“It is another object of the invention to provide a safety razor so constructed and arranged that it may moisten the lather immediately preceding the cutting blade as it is drawn over the face….”

Click/tap here to read more about self lubricating razors.

I think the Razorock SLOC from Italian Barber is milder than the typical open comb razor and has a slightly wider “sweet spot.” When I pair the head with a lighter handle so the center-of-gravity is closer to the top it gives me an excellent shave–mild but not too mild.

The PAA Ascension Twist DOC, currently out of stock, is another excellent example of the SLOC/DOC concept.  I’ll post an update here when it is once again available.

The Background Of The Open Comb Razor Design

The open comb safety razor is a classic design known for its unique head structure, which features teeth-like open channels or combs instead of a solid safety bar. These open combs provide several design features and benefits:

Hair Clearance

The most prominent feature of an open comb safety razor is its ability to offer excellent hair clearance. The open channels allow cut hairs to easily pass through, reducing the chances of clogging. This makes open comb razors particularly suitable for individuals with thicker or more coarse facial hair.


Open comb razors are often considered to be more aggressive than closed comb razors. The open design exposes more of the blade, which can result in a closer shave. However, this also means that they may be less forgiving for beginners and require more skill and technique to use effectively.


Despite their reputation for aggressiveness, open comb razors can provide a high level of control when shaving. Experienced wet shavers can manipulate the angle and pressure to achieve a smooth and precise shave.

Vintage Aesthetic

vintage open comb razor

Many open comb safety razors have a classic or vintage aesthetic. They often feature ornate or art deco-style handles, which can be appealing to those who appreciate traditional shaving tools.


Open comb razors are typically built to be durable and long-lasting. They often consist of fewer parts, making them less prone to mechanical failure.


There is a variety of open comb safety razors available, ranging from mild to aggressive models. This allows users to choose a razor that suits their specific shaving preferences and needs.


Open comb razors are relatively easy to clean since there are fewer areas for shaving cream and hair to accumulate. Regular rinsing and cleaning after each shave can help maintain the razor’s performance.

It’s important to note that while open comb safety razors can provide an excellent shaving experience for some, they may not be the best choice for everyone. Beginners may find them less forgiving and may want to start with a milder closed comb razor before transitioning to an open comb design once they’ve gained more shaving experience and confidence. Ultimately, the choice of razor depends on individual preferences and shaving needs.

Considerations When Choosing an Open Comb Safety Razor

When choosing an open comb safety razor, it is important to consider factors such as weight, length, composition, grip, and the country of origin.


When choosing an open comb safety razor, considering the weight is important for a comfortable and easy shave. Safety razors come in different weights, and this affects how the razor feels in your hand and while shaving.

Generally, safety razors are heavier than plastic disposable razors, which can help with shaving ease. Open comb safety razors tend to be more aggressive and are ideal for men with bigger beards.

So, when selecting the best safety razor for you, don’t forget to take into account its weight as it can greatly impact your shaving experience.


The length of a safety razor handle is a personal preference and can vary from 65mm to 125mm. It depends on your hand size and shaving technique. If you have bigger hands or want more control, longer handles might be better for you.

They also give you a longer reach. On the other hand, shorter handles are more maneuverable and suitable for smaller hands or if you prefer a closer shave. Remember, the handle length doesn’t affect how aggressive or effective the razor head is in shaving.

Choose what feels right for you based on these factors.


vintage open comb razor
Goodfella Open Comb Razor

The composition of an open comb safety razor is important to consider when choosing the right one for your shaving needs. Safety razors, whether open or closed comb, are made up of three simple parts: the handle, the razor head, and the blade.

The comb along the edge of the safety razor head determines whether it is open or closed. Open combs have dented or exposed areas along the edge while closed combs resemble small grooves.

The composition and design of the safety razor greatly influence its quality and comfort during shaving, so it’s essential to choose one that suits your preferences and provides a smooth shave.


The grip of a safety razor is really important when it comes to wet shaving. It affects how much control and comfort you have while using the razor. Some open comb safety razors have handles that are textured or knurled, which means they have little bumps or ridges on them to give you a better grip.

This can help prevent the razor from slipping out of your hand while you’re shaving. A comfortable and secure grip is essential for a smooth and safe shave. So when choosing an open comb safety razor, make sure to consider the grip so you can have a great shaving experience.

Country of Origin

The country of origin is an important factor to consider when choosing an open comb safety razor. Different countries have different manufacturing standards and reputations for producing high-quality razors.

For example, Germany is known for its precision engineering and craftsmanship, making German-made razors like the Merkur 25C Open-Comb Long-Handle Double-Edge Safety Razor a popular choice among wet shavers.

On the other hand, Italy is renowned for its luxury shaving products, such as the Fendrihan Mk Full Stainless Steel Open Closed Comb Double Edge Safety Razor. Each country brings its own unique style and expertise to the production of open comb safety razors, so it’s worth considering where your razor comes from when making your purchase decision.

Shaving Tips for Open Comb Safety Razors

man shaving

To get the best shave with an open comb safety razor, remember to use light pressure and find the right shaving angle for your face.

Use Light Pressure

When using an open comb safety razor, it is important to use light pressure. Applying gentle pressure on the razor helps prevent bites and allows for a comfortable shave. Instead of pressing too hard, focus on steady and short strokes with the razor.

Using light pressure can also help reduce irritation and prevent cuts. It’s worth noting that open comb razors may require less skin stretching compared to closed comb razors. So remember, when shaving with an open comb safety razor, use light pressure for a smooth and safe shave.

Find The Right Angle

When using an open comb safety razor, finding the right angle is crucial for a superior shave. The blade angle, not the design of the comb, determines the optimal shaving angle. To achieve this, it’s recommended to experiment with different blade angles using a sampler pack of double edge blades.

Remember to maintain zero pressure while shaving, regardless of the comb design. By using the correct blade angle and avoiding pressure, you can ensure an ideal shave every time. So take some time to find that perfect angle for optimal results!

Keep The Razor Clean

Regularly cleaning your safety razor is essential for maintaining its performance and hygiene. By keeping the razor clean, you can prevent bacterial growth and ensure a smooth shave every time.

After each use, make sure to rinse the razor thoroughly under running water to remove any hair, shaving cream, or soap residue. Gently pat dry the razor with a towel or tissue to prevent water spots and rust formation.

Additionally, consider using an alcohol-free disinfectant spray or wipe to sanitize the razor head after cleaning. This will help kill any remaining bacteria on the blade and keep your razor in top condition for future shaves.

Use A Good Shaving Cream Or Soap

To achieve a smooth and comfortable shave with an open comb safety razor, it is important to use a good shaving cream or soap. These grooming products play a crucial role in protecting the skin and ensuring a close shave.

By using high-quality shaving cream or soap, men who wet shave can enjoy a superior shave experience with less discomfort and better results. So don’t forget to invest in good shaving products for your next grooming session!


In conclusion, open comb safety razors are a great choice for men who want a close and efficient shave. With top brands offering high-quality options, there is something for beginners and experts alike.

Whether you prefer a heavy or lightweight razor, there’s an open comb design that will suit your needs. 


1. What is an open comb safety razor?

An open comb safety razor is a shaving tool with teeth-like grooves on the razor head, allowing for more direct contact between the blade and the skin.

2. Why should I choose an open comb safety razor?

Open comb safety razors are known for their efficiency in cutting thick or coarse hair, making them ideal for people with heavy beard growth or sensitive skin.

3. Are open comb safety razors suitable for beginners?

Open comb safety razors can be used by beginners, but they require more careful technique as they provide a closer shave compared to other types of razors.

4. How often do I need to replace the blades on an open comb safety razor?

The frequency of blade replacement depends on factors such as your hair thickness and how often you shave, but typically blades are replaced every 5-7 shaves or once they start feeling dull.

5. Can I use any type of shaving cream or soap with an open comb safety razor?

Yes, you can use any type of shaving cream or soap that works well with your skin and provides enough lubrication for a smooth shave when using an open comb safety 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


11 thoughts on “What Is The Best Open Comb Safety Razor?”

  1. I was expecting to see the Merkur 25C or 15C here. Curious to hear the thought process behind the omission, if you’d be willing to share it.

    The only mention of those blades I found was in your full Merkur list (below), and those were snippets of the opinions of others. Curious to hear your own.

    I did a lot of experimenting between mild and aggressive, open and closed, and am about to pull the trigger on a 25C to replace my 15C.

      1. The side of the razor head seems different than that of the Variant and the finish appears shinier than the matte finish I see on their website. This picture shows an OC that doesn’t appear to be an adjustable. Perhaps it’s just the way I’m looking at it.

  2. I prefer a mild razor, the milder, the better, to a point I’m almost completely off DE razors and now onto SE’s almost exclusively, or straight, where I can vary the shave better. However, I’ve only ever had two open combs I’ve liked. One is the PAA DOC razor. Mild, but shave isn’t as close as I’d prefer. The other is the Goodfellas razor, a variant of which you showed a pic of. Mine is black and has a “proudly made in New Zealand” stamp. I was unsure if they were still around. I haven’t seen anything from them in several years. Glad to know someone is still thinking of them. The handle was so bad I sacrificed a Gillette Tech for it, but the head was really nice.

      1. I have the same goodfella pictured. Love it!
        Very nimble and easy to see exactly where the blade is.
        I don’t mind the grip but it may help some to add small rubber
        o-rings within the handles grooves.

  3. Parker makes a much greater variety of open comb razors than the two you list. For example, the 68s stainless steel handled version; the 63C; or the one I bought recently: the 70C. It’s possible that some of these are discontinued, but they are all for sale on
    As far as I know, they all use the same head; the difference is in the handles.
    I have only had a couple of shaves with my 70C. I had read elsewhere that they are milder than Parker’s 3-piece closed comb razors, but – at least as far as blade feel goes – I’m inclined to agree with you that they are more aggressive. Got a nice BBS from mine today.

  4. I have 3 OC razors. One being a PAA DOC Ascension Stainless that I bought 2 or 3 years ago. I absolutely love it. it’s my main shaver. Earlier this year I got 2 vintage Gillettes from the 1920s. Those have noticably even more blade feel than my Ascension. But with a light touch the shave is incredibly close and smooth. The handles on the vintage ones are in good condition. But do have very small hairline cracks. Which is common for these. Razor Emporium makes solid replacement handles for the vintage OC razors. And I want to get a couple for daily use and keep the originals in the storage case.

  5. Thanks for another fantastic article by Mantic59!!! At the moment, the RazoRock SLOC is my fav open comb… I like it better than my vintage, Gillette New. However, the Blackland Blackbird is on my bucket list and (with all the great reveiws) I expect it to move to the number one position.

  6. The Original DOC Phoenix Safety razor appears to be in-stock now at Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements.

    You recommended it as a great mild razor, despite being open-comb. I like it.

    Further, I find the open-comb Tatara Masamune to be an excellent open-comb razor.

    I also tried the Karve Christopher Bradley open-comb AA plate, but found that it “bit” me more than the above two options.

    I sometimes use those two open-comb razors (PAA and Tatara) with Shaving Oil or Glycerin (i.e., with no soap). They don’t get clogged up like closed-comb razors do in similar circumstances (though they still require some attention post-shave to clean them up).

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