Cutthroat: The 6 Best Straight Razors
Razors have somehow become complicated. A tool that was once no more difficult than a saw is now replete with attachments and high-technology that allows it to interface with Skynet and tell the world exactly when you trim the hair on your face (or wherever else). There is certainly nothing wrong with using the best modern science has to offer when it comes to shaving – we love electric razors – but there is also something to be said for doing things the old fashioned way and going with a straight razor.
Also known as open razors (and even true razors), these blades have a number of advantages. They have the least overall cost since once you’ve bought one and a good strop for sharpening, all you need to shave is a little soap or foam. They’re environmentally sound in that there is little to nothing to throw away. They also work under any conditions, so when the machines take over and you have to live off the grid, your straight razor will keep your skin baby smooth. Whatever your reason for kicking it old school, one of our 6 best straight razors will help you out.
Utopia Care Stainless Steel Barber Razor
Pro: No sharpening needed
Con: Disposable blades
Beginner’s Luck: A truly smashing straight razor can run you hundreds of dollars, which is a bold investment for something you may only use once. If you’re on the fence about trying to join the manly club of straight razor shavers, then you’d do well to try this simple system from Utopia. Rather than giving you a traditional razor that you must sharpen, this is a shavette, meaning it uses disposable single-edged blades that are similar to those used in safety razors, only with one side rather than two. You can either buy them like this snap a double-edged blade in half. When your cutting edge dulls you can simply throw it away rather than learning the fine art of sharpening. Using the Utopia you’ll glean all the basics of open shaving and decide whether or not it is something you wish to continue doing. If you discover that it simply isn’t for you, you’re not even out the cost of a haircut or a really cheap prostitute. [Purchase: $11]
Dovo Silver Shavette Satin Finish
Pro: Easy to carry
Con: Extremely light
Travel Companion: Another in the shavette style that employs disposable blades, this is made by one of the most trusted names in straight razor shaving: Dovo. They’ve been making razors for more than 100 years, specializing in the true razor style. The most attractive feature of the Satin Finish is the textured grip just below the blade that molds to your finger. While many straight razors just give you a span of metal to rest your finger against while you guide the blade, this has a pocket that enhances your control. The frame is made in Germany so it’s certainly built to last. You can use either long blades or standards to decide what appeals to you. The stainless steel body is very light and the aluminum blade holder feels a little chintzy – as great-grandad would say. It won’t become an heirloom like most of Dovo’s line, but it works well as a travel or backpacking razor since it won’t add much weight. It’s ok for beginners, but surprisingly unforgiving. [Purchase: $30]
Pro: Easy blade replacement
Con: Doesn’t fold
Grip It and Rip It: Standard straight razors and cut throat razors all fold up, both to protect you from the blade and so they can easily be stashed away in a boot as combat backup when your folding knife has been kicked away. This Feather SS doesn’t do that and instead offers a stationary handle that gives you an incomparable grip which won’t require as much time to learn as those that flip open, though if you already use a standard open razor you’ll have to unlearn some habits. The last of the shavette style on our list, this also employs disposable blades set securely into a stainless steel body which resists corrosion and impurities. The resin handle is very easy to keep a hold on and feels damn good in your fist with an ergonomic swooping design that puts the razor’s head front and center while keeping your hand out of the way. The head has the easiest changing system with a simple pinch mechanism that allows the blade to drop out quickly. The product is good though the price is a little inflated being more than double other shavette-style open razors. [Purchase: $72]
Pro: Scales need minimal maintenance
Con: Rounded head doesn’t trim well
Long-Lasting: Here’s where Dovo proves why it is one of the Big Three when it comes to straight razors (the other two being Böker and Thiers-Issard). Dovo has earned the distinction of placing the stamp of Solingen on their blades, a mark of superior quality among Germans who know unparalleled design. Each blade is made of Swedish carbon-steel that can hold a much finer edge than almost any other metal composite. In this case the blade is also plated with nickel to give it a more refined, classical appearance. The scales (known to the uninitiated as the handle) are very minimalistic and don’t need much in the way of maintenance even with rough use over time. This employs a rounded head which will not give as many nicks and cuts as a square head, but also isn’t ideal for exact trimming work around a goatee or a moustache. [Purchase: $104]
Boker King Cutter
Pro: Very sharp blade requires minimal sharpening
Con: Minimalist style
Most for the Money: Another German company that seems to have sewn up the market is Böker whose entire line is nothing but #1 hits. The King Cutter is one of their least expensive models, but they certainly didn’t scrimp on quality. Every high-end razor they make is created by the loving hands of dedicated craftsmen and women who have been studying the works that Böker has made since 1869. The blade is a slightly shorter 5/8 inch, though you can find 6/8 and 7/8 inch models if you look.
The standard scales are made from synthetic material that doesn’t hold bacteria or other adulterants easily. This will help protect you from getting an infection if you receive a nick or a cut. You can also get it with tortoiseshell, bone, or several other scales made to order if you so desire. The blade begins with carbon-steel for high grade cutting, but it is a proprietary alloy that includes silver and other refined metals to help add quality and durability to the product. If you wish to find something more impressive, anything the company produces is amazing, up to and including their $900 Damascus. Although that might be a bit more than you’re looking to spend at the moment. [Purchase: $110]
Pro: Entirely individualized
Personal Touch: A boy may use a straight shavette razor to learn their skills. A man might select a mid-range shaver to perfect their style, but it is only a Gentleman who will pay hundreds of dollars for a sharp piece of metal used to remove hair. Thiers-Issard is the Rolls of straight razors. They have no idea what a bargain razor is and they have no desire to try to produce one. During the honing process they actually throw away fully 1/4 of their blades to ensure that the highest standards are maintained. The founder of the company began learning to make shavers when he was just 10 years old and he spent his life studying blade making to create products that offer the closest shave imaginable. This offering uses horn scales, but you can find it in nearly any material that strikes your fancy. It comes with a buttery soft calfskin pouch for travelling in style while the very hard carbon-steel blade is reinforced by dipping it in lead heated to nearly 1,500 degrees to make it as tough as it is glorious. No two Thiers-Issard razors are alike, so you can be assured of total individualism. [Purchase: $428]