Shaving Sharp

Thanks To The Internet, Straight Razors Are Back In Style. These Trio Of Blades Can Keep You Looking Sharp And Feeling Smooth.

Mastering shaving with a sho-nuff handheld straight razor is a lost art that has recently become more popular thanks to social media shaving gurus and those who like a good challenge. 

Straight razors never went away, the internet just has a knack for making old things new and cool again. Let’s look at a trio of current offerings and shave them through their paces.

Boker King Cutter

Boker King Cutter

Boker has been producing straight razors since 1869 and the company offers many models today. The King Cutter, the company’s most popular razor, features a carbon steel blade with a deep hollow grind. The handle is a black polymer with a brass Boker Tree Brand logo escutcheon. The King Cutter was the lightest of the three review pieces, tipping the scales at a svelte 1.47 ounces. It features a monkey tail tang for quick blade access.

Being the most expensive of the test lot by a long shot and from a company that has been making straight razors for over 150 years, you’d expect the King Cutter to perform well. Simply put, it did. The blade was, ahem, razor-sharp right out of the box and glided through my two-day stubble clean as a whistle. I never had to back up and go over an area to get it smoother.

 The thinnest of the review blades, it got into tight spots a bit easier. However, a word of warning is in order. An extremely sharp blade like this will cut you faster, too, so take your time! The King Cutter’s high price tag may scare some away, though there are other straight razors out there that cost much more.

MSRP: $189.95

Rough Ryder Cinnamon Bone Stag Razor

Rough Ryder Cinnamon Bone Stag Razor

Rough Ryder’s Cinnamon Bone Stag Razor has all the trappings at a budget price, including the good looks of a traditional straight razor. The cinnamon bone stag handle, replete with an acorn escutcheon, is downright handsome—and Rough Ryder does bone stag well. 

The cutting portion of the blade has a light yet distinctive damascus pattern running across its face, and a barber’s notch at the point aids in safely opening and deploying the blade. A monkey tail tang completes the package.

Right out of the box, the Rough Ryder entry shaved the stubble straight from my face. The blade was plenty sharp and I was able to get into tight spots with good results. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, there are differences between this razor and an expensive one like the Boker.

There is a tad more drag on the blade and I had to back up a few times to get the area I was shaving totally smooth. To be honest, I expect this from a razor at this price point, and you should, too. That said, the Rough Ryder Cinnamon Bone got the job done and was no slouch. I recommend this razor to those who want to get their feet wet before taking the plunge on a high-dollar cutter. And, by golly, it was the most attractive of the bunch!

MSRP: $29.99

TOPS Knives Tac-Raze 2

TOPS Knives Tac-Raze 2

The TOPS Knives Tac-Raze 2 is designed as an EDC and not billed as a straight razor. Nonetheless, we threw it into the fray to see if we could shave with it, letting the chips fall where they may. 

A full 2.625 inches of the blunt-tipped blade has a slightly bowed edge. There’s a rat-tail tang reminiscent of the old friction folders, though not forged. The Tac-Raze 2 has a deep choil below the blade edge that splits time with the handle. TOPS includes a dark brown leather slip and a small bottle of protectant.

Would an EDC with a razor-style blade shave? Given how many YouTube videos there are of guys shaving with everything from bowies to kitchen fare, I figured why the heck not? A cursory check right out of the box with the blade warmed up and a light coat of shaving cream on a cheek gave me surprising results. Not only did the Tac-Raze 2 shave my stubbled skin with ease, it was darn smooth! Next, I cleaned the blade up and stropped it, and the shave was as smooth as I could get with a standard straight razor.

As I worked around my face I found some gremlins with the TOPS EDC. The handle is not nearly as nimble as a standard straight razor, which is to be expected since it’s not a standard straight razor. I found getting into tight areas like the crack between my upper lip and cheek particularly dicey. Bottom line? What you lose in dexterity with the Tac-Raze 2 you gain in versatility since, after all, this is an EDC knife with all the benefits—and it comes with a slick leather slip.

MSRP: $139

Scoring The Straight Razors

All three in our razor trio had their strengths and weaknesses, but all got the job done. The Boker King Cutter is the pro razor of the bunch. The Rough Ryder Cinnamon Bone is a nice entry-level shaver, and the TOPS Tac-Raze 2 is certainly the most versatile.

One final note: don’t be afraid to try a straight razor. As a knife enthusiast, chances are you’ve already developed a healthy respect for sharp blades. Wade in slowly and carefully—once you get a feel for the straight razor, it will feel right at home in your hand.  Happy shaving!

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