Best Open Comb Safety Razor
To anyone searching for the first time, it can be surprising to find out just how many types of safety razors there are, but by far one of the most popular is the open comb razor.
An open comb razor differs from a standard safety razor in that it doesn’t have a safety bar underneath the blade. This bar provides a little extra protection against nicks and cuts, but it can affect the quality of your shave, especially if you have coarse or thick hair.
Instead, an open comb safety razor has a comb under the blade, a small set of grooves, that helps to tighten up and shape your skin, and guide the hairs of your beard into the blade as you shave.
In general, an open comb safety razor tends to have a more aggressive shave than other options, but once you’re used to them, the combination of more control and the ability to hold more lather on the blade means that an open comb can help to lubricate the skin and provide a closer shave in fewer passes, making them a great choice for people with sensitive skin, as well as a good choice in general.
The Best Open Comb Safety Razors
Viking’s Blade The Chieftain ODIN
The ODIN is a proven razor based around Viking’s Blade’s popular and best selling Chieftain safety razor frame. The time tested head leans towards a shave that’s medium in aggression, which makes this a good entry point if you’ve never used a safety razor before, but also a solid choice for shaving veterans who are looking for a general purpose razor.
The handle is average in length at 3.75 inches, but it’s slightly heavier than normal. This is great, because it means you can trust the weight of the razor to do most of the work, guiding the blades down your skin. One thing we loved, especially for people newer to open blade shaving, is the anti-misalignment mechanism, which can cut down on injuries by freezing the doors if the users mis-align the blades.
Another huge plus are the looks. This is just a gorgeous razor to look at. You’ll happily buy it for yourself, and it’s also a gift anyone would love to receive. The outside plating is rose gold colored, which starts off bright but ages over time, fading down and weathering, and with careful looking after will resemble the razors of old.
Also included in the pack is a luxury carry case with an included mirror, and a pack of Swedish 13C26 blades, which can be snapped in and out in seconds. Add a high quality shaving gel and you have everything you need to get started!
Muhle Traditional Open Comb Safety Razor
Muhle are a well known German brand of razors and other men’s grooming products, and the R41 is their principal open comb razor. Does it stand up to their 80 year heritage, and is it worth buying?
Put simply, yes. The R41 is an exceptional razor through and through. It’s made from chrome plated brass, making it corrosion resistant, tough and long lasting, as well as feeling great in the hand. A second bonus is that the all metal design is completely sustainable and plastic free.
The shave is aggressive. Perhaps a little too aggressive for anyone who hasn’t shaved with an open comb before. The light handle, steep shaving angle and aggressive shave means that this will carve effortlessly through thick hair and requires almost no passes for absolute smoothness.
In the hand, it feels good. Flexible and easy to move. About the only thing we aren’t a fan of is the knurling on the handle, which is quite shallow, so make sure you have a good grip, especially if your hands get covered in shaving foam.
The pack comes with a single blade to get you started, but the three piece head takes any standard double bladed safety razor, and can also be attached to your choice of handle.
Muhle are still a family business, now in their third generation, and their products, where possible, are still handmade and sustainable. That love of the craft really does show through, and factoring in the price and heritage, it’s obvious to see why people continue to trust Muhle razors after all this time.
An old school brand with street cred, the Fatip Piccolo is one of those razors that your grandfather’s barber would know, and there’s a the design is still around today.
Still traditionally made in Italy and shipped around the world, the Piccolo is built around a large and heavy comb that takes a lot of the effort out of the shave. Also unlike a lot of options on this like, the Piccolo comes with two interchangeable heads, an open comb razor, and a more traditional safety razor with a bar.
The handle is very short, at just over 3.1 inches, but it’s relatively light, with a balanced weight that, combined with the heavy head, means this drifts across the skin.
Interestingly, Fatip still use vertical knurling on their handles, rather than the more modern hatching. This will feel a little unusual the first time you pick one of these up, but will quickly feel natural, with an old school feel that contributes to the unique handling.
Considering the twin head options, and the heavy, easy shave, the Fatip Piccolo is perfect for men who already know what they’re doing and are looking for a replacement razor. It’s weighty, with slightly odd handling, but once you’re used to it, this Italian stallion is a thing of beauty.
Parker 69CR Convertible Safety Razor
Parker make fantastic men’s grooming products, and their safety razors are no exception. Balancing features against price, the 69CR is a great mid-range razor with a lot of options.
To start, when you buy the 69CR, you get two of Parker’s famous shaving heads. A mild and gentle open comb and a closed comb head that’s a little more aggressive. The 3 piece heads are simple to change, which gives you a lot of options for experimenting with your shave, and makes it much simpler if you need to switch out your shave, for example, if you’ve let your beard grow a little too long.
The handle is polished with chrome accents, sitting at a very average 3.75 inches and 3.3.oz. That’s about average for a razor like this, and contributes, as well as the good weight balance, to the easy handling and good feel this has in the hand.
Blades are simple to replace. Like all good open comb razors, it’s compatible with almost all double edged blades, and you also get 5 Parker Premium Platinum blades in the pack to get you started. with easy blade replacement
Parker are a 40 year company that command a lot of respect, and from this razor, it’s easy to see why. Great handling, a lot of options, and a decent price all roll into a package that’s easy to recommend for almost any man.
Detroit Grooming Co The OG Safety Razor
The OG by Detroit Grooming Co combines old school aesthetic and a modern twist to create a gorgeous, aesthetic piece that looks great in any bathroom.
First off, we have to mention the looks. The OG has a stunning wooden handle and an industry leading chrome finished open comb head. The twist top plate makes it easy to change blades, and the handle is long at 4 inches, with a weighty feel that handles well, with great grip and control.
Detroit Grooming Co are well known for their pomades, beard oils and other hand crafted men’s products. And while the OG might look and feel like a quality, vintage piece, there are a couple of things we would have liked to see changed.
First off, it doesn’t come with blades included. This isn’t a major issue, but there are a lot of blade choices out there, and for first timers to the razor, the options can be daunting. (Hint, buy two or three types at first, different blades can change the entire feel of the razor.)
Second, and more, unfortunately, some users have reported damage in transit. While you’ll be able to send this back, it’s galling to buy something so beautiful and have it come out of the box with chips or dents.
But apart from these tiny issues, the OG is a solid product. It just might be worth looking at some of our top picks first.
Viking’s Blade The Vulcan
A much more mild shave than our top pick, the Viking’s Blade Chieftain ODIN, the Vulcan is an long handled razor with a mild shave that’s easy to pick up and learn to use.
Built around an extra long handle (4.625 inches, around 20% longer than average,) the Vulcan is incredibly easy to hold, especially if you have particularly large hands. Despite this, the light weight and Vulcan head result in a surprisingly mild shave. Loaded with feather blades, which are recommended by many users, you can get an ultra close, ultra sharp shave with almost no effort.
Blade changes are near instant, and this is fully compatibly with basically everything on the market.
As with most Viking’s Blade razors, this comes with a luxury carry case that will keep your new purchase safe, and a pack of 5 blades.
West Coast Shaving Midnight Collection
Aesthetically striking, the Midnight Collection 175B looks like it costs far more than the budget price tag would suggest, and performs admirably alongside that.
Firstly, it looks fantastic, with a blackened 303 stainless steel handle and 3 piece zinc alloy head that’s compatible with all double edge blades. The handle and knurled grip are average length, but this is very heavy. Almost twice as heavy as some of the other options here, at 6oz.
Once you’re used to the weight, that’s huge, as it requires almost no work on your end, but it does mean that this is also a reasonably aggressive shave that might take a week or two to get used to.
As the heaviest razor on the list, the 175B probably isn’t suitable for beginners, hence the lower position it has. But if you’ve got some experience with heavy razors and you know what you’re looking for, the performance here is exceptional, especially considering it’s almost half the cost of some of the bigger names.
Parker 26C Premium Safety Razor
Another Parker razor, the 26C is a far more aggressive shave than the 69CR reviewed above. To us, this means that the 26C is a gentleman’s razor. It takes a little work to get used to, but once you know your way around it, the shave is superlative.
The handle is chrome plated brass, and very attractive, with mild knurling that grips the hand well. It’s an average weight, around 3.3oz, but slightly longer than average, which helps to fight against the aggressive angling and weight of the head.
Like all Parker razors, this will take any double edged blade, with a simple three piece head that comes apart in seconds. Included are 5 of Parker’s premium blades, enough to get you started and through several shaves.
For most men, the 69CR is probably the better option, because of it’s milder shave and easier handling. But for men with thicker, coarser hair, or men who simply know their way around a heavier, more aggressive razor, the 26C is an excellent alternative.
Baili Butterfly Open Comb Razor
By far the most budget friendly model on our list, this razor by Baili easily over performs its low price tag.
At first glance, the overly long handle stands out. It’s an impressive 4.8 inches, but still only weighs around 3.2 oz. This lends the razor a comfortable feel in the hand, and gives you a lot of play to work with, but does put the weight a little further back than we’d prefer.
However, the micro comb is well made, and it shaves close and smooth, with a mild to medium profile depending on the mounted blade.
Included are 5 platinum Swedish blades, as well as a smart little stand that makes storage a whole lot simpler. Surprisingly, there’s also a 30 day money back guarantee, no questions asked, which, when paired with the price, might just make this a good choice for anyone new to wet shaving.
Realistically, open comb razors aren’t that expensive, and given the choice we’d lean towards known brands, but anyone looking for a solid, budget priced open comb razor could do a lot worse than this.
Muhle Silvertip Badger Shaving Set
First things first, this is a complete shaving set, coming with a quality badger hair brush and a stand, as well as a Muhle R41 open comb safety razor.
We’ve already reviewed the R41 above, so we’re not going to dig deep into it a second time. But we will point out that it’s one of our top rated open comb razors for a reason, with gorgeous looks, a classic feel and easy usage.
Everything else is also exceptional quality. The brushes and stands, like everything Muhle, are assembled in Germany, with as much still hand made as possible. Badger hair is prized for its softness and the way it holds a crème, and if you’ve never used one, it’s something that really has to be experienced.
If you know someone who’s looking for a shaving set, or if you’re in the market, we really do recommend taking a close look at this. Muhle make great razors, and any man would be happy to have this in their bathroom.
Buying your Open Comb Safety Razor: A Buyer’s Guide
Safety razors might seem simple at first glance, but there’s a surprising amount that goes into how to choose, and use, one. Here’s what you should be looking for when you’re buying a safety razor.
Is it adjustable?
Some safety razors have an adjustable dial in the handle that allows you to change the gap between the blade and the handle.
An adjustable dial gives you a lot more control over the shaving experience, and in general is much more suitable for experienced shavers who have experience with open bladed razors.
In general, a larger gap exposes more skin to the blade, and results in a much closer and more aggressive shave. A smaller gap leads to a much more mild shave, which is better for sensitive skin.
The term razor aggressiveness encompasses a few things, but mostly refers to the feel and performance of the shave, which is affected by a few factors.
- Cutting angle
- Size of the blade
- Blade gap
A more aggressive blade will produce a far closer shave, but is more likely to end in cuts or razor burn from inexperienced shavers.
Newer users of safety razors should look for a mild or intermediate shave, working up to a more aggressive shave over time.
Most safety razors will have a shorter handle than the modern style cartridge razor. These can be more difficult to hold for for men with larger hands or longer fingers. If so, look for safety razors with long handles (also sometimes called barbershop handles.)
Two piece or three piece head
The difference between a two piece and three piece heads is how many pieces the razor can be taken apart into.
A simple two piece razor only lets you remove the top of the cutting head. A three piece instead comes apart and lets you remove the top and bottom of the cutting head from the base.
This makes it much simpler to clean the razor and increases its lifespan, but tends to be more expensive overall.
Why should someone choose an open comb safety razor?
An open comb safety razor can be a little harder to use than a standard safety razor, but once mastered, will result in an incredibly smooth and precise shave.
The nature of an open comb razor, with a more exposed blade that allows more shaving foam through, is much better for people with sensitive skin. Open comb razors are also excellent for men who only shave every few days, as the more open face of the razor is less likely to get clogged with hair.
Should I use a shaving crème with my safety razor?
Absolutely. Safety razors are designed to be used with a good shaving crème or gel.
It’s not advised to shave using a razor without using a good shaving crème.
How to prepare your face to shave with a safety razor
The most important part of a good shave is preparation. Here’s how to best prepare your face for a wet shave:
- The best time to shave is when your skin is soft and supple. After a shave is ideal, but you can also steam your face over a hot sink, or use hot towels.
- If you have one, use a pre-shave oil on your face to help smooth and lubricate your beard and skin.
- Lather up your shaving crème or gel, looking for a smooth and even finish with no bubbles or runs. A correctly mixed lather should be thick and creamy. A lather that is too thick can have water added to it a couple of drops at a time. You can add more crème to a thin lather to thicken it up.
- Work the lather into your face and beard using a shaving brush. Apply your shaving crème as if you were painting your face, with either a circular or up and down motion, making sure that it is evenly applied and penetrates into your beard.