Best Quality Straight Razors For Traditional Shaving: Top 5 New Straight Razors & Vintage Razor Buying Guide

Best Quality Straight Razors For Traditional Shaving: Top 5 New Straight Razors & Vintage Razor Buying Guide 2018-04-25T13:29:06+00:00

pile-of-vintage-razorsFinding the Best Straight Razor to buy can be very hard with so many options available. If you’re looking for a new straight razor or even your very first, it can be an overwhelming search.

Furthermore, every straight razor is different and it can be hard to find the right one for you. We talk about this in our guide to different types of straight razors if you want to learn more about them.

The straight razor market is vast. With hundreds of years of history, there are many variants including artisan custom razors as well as renovated antiques.

However, in this guide we will present to you our top 5 best straight razors that we’ve reviewed. You will discover the best quality new razors currently available on the market. Furthermore, we offer a word of advice on buying vintage razors at the end.

What Are The Best Straight Razors?

As mentioned above, there are many types of straight razors. However, the list below caters to every budget and only presents what’s easily available online from trusted retailers.

Additionally, most of the razors listed below are shave-ready meaning that they require no honing before their first use. This is important for newcomers to straight razor shaving. Honing is not easy and might be best handled by professionals before trying yourself.

Here’s a list of our top recommendations for the best straight razor to buy:

  1. Gold Dollar W59 Straight Razor
  2. Dovo Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor
  3. Thiers Issard Red Stamina Bison Straight Razor
  4. Dovo Bismarck Straight Razor
  5. Ozami Mizuike Japanese “Kamisori” Straight Razor

Simply click on the one above that interests you the most and jump straight to it or keep on scrolling!

Before you go on, you might want to familiarise yourself with the different blade terminology. One of our straight razor guides will explain terms like “grind”, “points” and how blade sizes are measured. If you’re already aware of these, read on!

1. Best For Beginners: Gold Dollar W59 Straight Razor

  • Country Of Origin: China
  • Blade Material: Hardened Steel
  • Scale Material: Wood
  • Point Type: Spanish Notch
  • Blade Grind: Half-Hollow
  • Blade Size (Fraction): 6/8
  • Shave Ready: Yes
  • Price: $30 [Buy Now On Amazon]

Gold Dollar W59 Straight RazorIf you’re looking to try out straight razor shaving but want to stick to a very reasonable budget, Gold Dollar offer a variety of options. Machine made in China from steel plates, their straights offer great quality for an unbeatable price.

However, it’s hard to find Gold Dollars from reputable sellers that are shave-ready. Many retailers often sell them without honing first and newcomers are put off by the tugging on their beards. In this case, the W59 is ready to shave immediately but may need a quick strop beforehand.

Furthermore, many Gold Dollars are often void of any design or details, which can make them relatively plain. Yet this particular model has a unique touch with a long curved tang, smiling spine and eye-catching Spanish notch.

Not only does this make it quite an attractive razor but it’s also comfortable to hold and against the skin. Speaking of pricing, you can find this particular Gold Dollar on Amazon for only $30. The sale is directly via Ningbo Gold Dollar and fulfilled by Amazon itself.

2. Best Mid-Range: Dovo Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor DOV100581

  • Country Of Origin: Germany
  • Blade Material: Carbon Steel
  • Scale Material: Celluloid
  • Point Type: Round Point
  • Blade Grind: Full-Hollow
  • Blade Size (Fraction): 5/8
  • Shave Ready: No
  • Price: $80 [Buy Now On Amazon]

Dovo Full Hollow Carbon Steel Straight Razor DOV100581If you know a little about straight razors then you’re probably aware of Dovo. Based in Solingen, Germany, Dovo is one of the leading historical and current manufacturers of quality razors. However, unlike some of its equivalents in other countries, it caters more to moderate budgets.

For instance, the DOV100581 is a classic full hollow grind straight razor made from carbon steel. It features a round point, smooth shank and conventional tang. Additionally, the steel is sourced from Solingen, the German heart of high-quality graded steel. There’s even a detail on the razor’s face stating its origins.

However, there is a minor drawback in that the razor doesn’t necessarily arrive shave ready. In fact, some feedback indicates that it comes in varying degrees of sharpness. Whilst some will be ready after a few strokes on a strop, others may require honing.

The latter can be achieved by a professional but we also a feature an extensive guide on straight razor sharpening for doing it at home.

At only $80 on Amazon, this razor is yours. It’s rare to find a new straight razor from such a reputable company for such a reasonable price. Even if it may require honing, this is excellent value.

3. Best From France: Thiers Issard 889 Red Stamina Bison Straight Razor

  • Country Of Origin: France
  • Blade Material: C135 Carbon Steel
  • Scale Material: Red Stamina Wood
  • Point Type: Round Point
  • Blade Grind: Full-Hollow
  • Blade Size (Fraction): 5/8
  • Shave Ready: Yes
  • Price: $225 [Buy Now On Amazon]

Thiers Issard 889 Red Stamina Bison Straight Razor

Some of the most refined razors made today come from Thiers, a small mountainside village in central France. With the dawn of cheap manufacturing elsewhere in the world, Thiers’ industry may have suffered. However, they now dedicate themselves to the highest quality luxury blades in the world.

Along with Dovo, Thiers Issard is perceived as one of the leading manufacturers of straight razors in the world since 1884.

Pierre Thiers himself came from a long line of master razor makers. Nevertheless, the firm is also known for its renowned cutlery including the celebrated Sabatier kitchen knives. Both new and vintage Thiers Issard razors are highly sought after by shaving enthusiasts and this model is no exception.

This particular model is known as the “Bison” after the gold leaf plaque on the razor’s face. The blade is made from C135 carbon steel and features a round nose. The hanks features jimps for a secure hold and the razor is perfectly balanced and lightweight.

Thiers Issard 889 Red Stamina Bison Straight Razor
Reviewed by Charles-Philippe Bowles, on .
"One of the most refined straight razors money can buy. With a perfectly balanced blade made from the most premium Thiers steel, the Bison is an attractive and high-en razor that offers a truly superior shave."
Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★

Being a luxury razor, the scales are made from red stamina wood, a premium veneer buffed to a high lustre.

Due to their high quality using only steel prepared in Thiers, they are usually very pricey. However, this particular Bison model is available for only $225 on Amazon.

4. Best From Germany: Dovo Solingen Bismarck Straight Razor

  • Country Of Origin: Germany
  • Blade Material: Carbon Steel
  • Scale Material: Black Ebony Wood
  • Point Type: Round Point
  • Blade Grind: Full-Hollow
  • Blade Size (Fraction): 6/8
  • Shave Ready: Yes
  • Price: $148 [Buy Now On Amazon]

Dovo Solingen Bismarck Straight RazorOf all the Dovo models available, the Bismarck is considered the most iconic. Named after the first chancellor who unified Germany, the Bismarck is an embellished work of art.

Featuring a 24 carat gold etch and ebony scales, this razor includes details that will make any enthusiast gush. Made from high-quality steel, it also features a sculpted tang for the thumb to avoid adding jimps in the shank.

It may not be as high quality as the Thiers Issard above. However, it offers great attention to detail with its design. Furthermore, the steel comes from Solingen, which is effectively Germany’s equivalent to Thiers.

The Bismarck generally arrives in a shave-ready condition. However, some users have noted that it may require a little touching up. One even had to send his to be honed properly before being able to use it.

Finally, at only $148 on Amazon, the Bismarck offers excellent value as an entry-level premium straight razor. If your budget can’t reach a Thiers Issard, the Dovo Bismarck is an excellent alternative.

5. Best Japanese Kamisori: Osami Mizuike Bamboo-Wrapped Japanese Straight Razor

  • Country Of Origin: Japan
  • Blade Material: Hitachi Blue-Labelled Steel (Ao Hagene)
  • Scale Material: Bamboo Over Metal
  • Point Type: Spike Point
  • Blade Grind: Wedge
  • Blade Size (Fraction): 6/8
  • Shave Ready: Yes
  • Price: $220 [Buy Now On Amazon]

Ozami Mizuike Bamboo Wrapped Japanese Straight RazorKamisori razors are growing in popularity among straight razor enthusiasts. Although they’re rarer, they’re being slowly recognised as tools that offer an equal and even superior shave.

Unlike western straight razors, Kamisoris traditionally don’t feature scales but are made entirely out of one piece of metal. Usually, the handle is simply wrapped in a raw material such as bamboo or leather to provide grip.

Generally, Kamisori razors are far more expensive as they’re handmade by masters from the Banshu region. However, this particular model is an interesting piece. The craftsman, Osami Mizuike, was renowned for making scissors for most of his life under the name Kanenaga. It wasn’t until the mid-2000s that he transitioned into razors at the age of 62 years.

Being handmade, each model is slightly different. However, like most Kamisori, they often have only one side of the steel that is honed to a point.

Therefore, if you’re used to western straight razors, there’s a slight learning curve in mastering one. Nevertheless, they’re extremely sharp and arguably more so than regular straights.

Being an emerging craftsman, this particular Kamirosi is much cheaper than most alternatives. It’s easily available on Amazon for a mere $220.

Can I Use A Vintage Straight Razor?

vintage-straight-razors-in-a-pileMany straight shaving enthusiasts love using vintage razors rather than newer models. In fact, there is a far greater variety of razors available secondhand.

Many of the best manufacturers didn’t survive the industrial revolution. Today, the industry is dominated by only a few companies from Germany, France and China. However, there are many prestigious historical brands from these countries as well as Britain, Sweden and the USA.

There are a few caveats to consider before scouring eBay for famous razors. Firstly, you need to know a bit about vintage straight razors. It’s important to recognise the defects due to age and mistreatment. This way you will be able to identify what you can fix and what is essentially dead.

For instance, frustrating rust spots known as devil’s spit are difficult to remove but they’re largely cosmetic. However, frowns or smiles on a razor’s edge can take a lot of honing, which will reduce the razor width.

Restoring Vintage Razors

Many people selling away vintage razors usually don’t know anything about them either. These old razors are sometimes found in a garage sale or an attic clearance. Often they’re not properly stored and have been exposed to humidity for decades.

If you pick up an old razor, you could always get it professionally restored. However, this is a costly job so check whether the razor is worth the investment. Razors can greatly vary in value and it’s better to reserve this for renowned brands or sentimental pieces. Of course, you can learn to restore razors yourself but it’s a long and arduous process.

Finally, you don’t necessarily know where a razor has been before buying it. However, there are reputed artisans that sell off professionally restored razors and even customise them.

For instance, we’re very fond of Whipped Dog who offers excellent restored and new razors for almost every possible budget. A simple search through forums such as Badger & Blade and The Shave Den will help you find them.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve read about the best straight razors, consider taking a look at strops to keep it sharp. Our straight razor sharpening guide features a list of the best strops and hones on the market to make sure that yours is in perfect order. Alternatively, head back to the main shaving page to take a look at all our other content.

2 Comments

  1. Laurence P June 25, 2018 at 4:45 am - Reply

    This guide is amazing! I came here for vintage razor advice but I think I’m going to take the plunge on the Thiers Stamina!

    • Charles-Philippe June 25, 2018 at 5:59 am - Reply

      Great choice, Laurence! It’s my favourite!

      Best,

      CP

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