Cobra Revisited

Let's talk about single and double edged razors and the blades that they use.
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drmoss_ca
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Cobra Revisited

Post by drmoss_ca » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:53 pm

I don't think I posted about it here, but a year or two ago Classic Shaving sent me a Cobra razor along with the straight razor I was actually wanting, gratis, with the comment that it was a factory second and if I wanted it I could have it for a low price. I happen to have quite a few packs of Feather AC blades around, mostly Pros rather than Pro Supers. I tried it and found it a bit aggressive and then mailed it back to CS. I couldn't review it here as it was provided at no cost and mods and admins are forbidden to review freebies (think about it and you'll see why).
This last few weeks I have been feeling like there's no question about which soap or cream to use, as I am quite happy with my homemade soap, so I have turned to finding some variety in razors. My general purpose razor is a Friodur 7/8 stainless steel straight, and my usual shave these days after a few years of tuning up technique is a simple single pass with the grain. Looks good all day, feels stubbly by evening (satisfyingly so the next morning), and nary a red irritated spot. So, I thought, if a single-pass straight shave is good enough, what could a DE shave do? In the past I have used DE's and have a drawerful, ranging from my father's WW2 razor up to a Vision and a Futur. My favourite has been a straightforward Merkur HD with a fat handle from E. Jagger. I find that I can get a very close shave from a DE, but if I go against the grain there will be an ingrown to deal with within a week. But the HD does a nice job in a single pass, even with the humble and little-loved Merkur blade. In the past I have used injectors, and still have a few NOS blades. I did do the Feather-jector thing and found it good, so I was a bit disappointed when the early Cobra sample seemed a bit harsh. Curiosity got the better of me and this week I have used a new (paid for!) Cobra with a Feather Professional blade, just for a single pass each day. It's very smooth and not at all harsh or over-close this time.A bit less stubble in the evenings so it's cutting closer, and so far the stubble hasn't been the horrid sharp kind I get from the Artists Club - perhaps multiple short strokes are helping this?
The razor itself is still a bit of an ugly thing. It's dorsum is smooth, shiny and unmarked - it looks awfully like the back of a PAL adjustable - it just lacks the dial. The ventral surface is where the design issues live. The flat back is faced with a rounded undersurface, and the handle is cast steel with poor quality cast ridges in it. There might be some plating on the steel and I think this was more lumpy on the last example I was sent - this one is a bit neater, but it's hardly beautiful. The handle also has some longitudinal thicker and thinner sections, presumably to make it somewhat ergonometric (and quite a bit uglier too!) The swivelling lever that closes the gate on the blade works surprisingly well and it doesn't bother me at all to extract a blade from the Feather clip and place it manually in the razor. It's just the shape of the whole underside and the ridges that make me cringe a bit. I'd rather like to make an impression of it, then get a two-piece wooden handle hollowed to that shape and glue it around it. This is purely aesthetic and doesn't affect the razor's shave in any way. But we do like to love our tools, don't we? I understand it sells well and each batch sells out fairly promptly - which should entice the owners of the design to work on a more elegant model to fully exploit the market - no doubt owners like me would likely buy another one if it was more lovable.
Despite these aesthetic quibbles, the razor shaves remarkably well, and will let me use at least some of the stocks of AC blades that languish in the basement. I can recommend it if you don't mind the price and the looks of it. I'd really like to see a re-designed version that shaves as well but looks less gawky.

(Remember, you can click on the images below to reveal them full size.)

Sorry for the reflection, but the back of the razor is shiny and beyond criticism:
P7180001.jpg
P7180001.jpg (140.27 KiB) Viewed 2362 times
The ridges:
P7180002.jpg
P7180002.jpg (176.12 KiB) Viewed 2362 times
The profile:
P7180003.jpg
P7180003.jpg (104.79 KiB) Viewed 2362 times
Chris
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by kingfisher » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:06 pm

I agree with you that the razor is unnecessarily ugly. I tried one for about a week and found it quite efficient. I got good shaves with it, but I didn't particularly enjoy shaving with it. I know a lot of guys love it, though.

Thanks for the thorough review.
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by Squire » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:08 pm

Well, if I had any questions that post answered them.
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by Sam » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:10 pm

Chris, thanks for this review. I had tried injectors after my return to DE's and found them less than satisfactory. I remember using an injector after a DE when my dad taught me to shave, but after a year, then came out with what was it, the Atra?, and then I was into disposable razors. I never got a close shave with the injectors, and only when I was taught blade-buffing here did I get a super smooth shave. I tried the Feather straight razor and that thing shaved me the smoothest and kept the stubble at bay longer, but at a price - weepers and/or nicks just about every other shave, and the neck could be problematical. I would have thought the Feather Japanese straight would allow for what I need, a 45 degree cut from say mid jaw down to lowest part of the neck under each ear. Never experimented with that.

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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by vtmax » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:30 pm

Apparently they may be working on another model. Might be a year. Great razor indeed but it is a little awkward in presentation. Btw...great review from PEI.

Max

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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by drmoss_ca » Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:23 am

NS, not PEI. Though I can see the loom of Charlottetown at night. Interested to hear there may be another version on the way. I would love to know if it will look better.

Chris
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by vtmax » Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:33 am

I heard that Classic is aware their suppliers molds are aging for the Cobra so down the road we will see another one. A stainless model would be wonderful and expensive! The Cobra is so very efficient and the wide thin head, although intimidating at first sight, shaves wonderfully. Ah, NS...I remember now.

Max

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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by slantman » Fri Jul 19, 2013 1:37 pm

Thanks Chris for your concise review of a very well made and certainly different type of safety razor. My shaves are outstanding but I agree some changes on future models are in order. If they changed to a straight knurled handle that would be perfect. Of course they would have to change the name of the razor from Cobra to something else.

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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by drmoss_ca » Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:29 pm

Being a single edged razor, the handle need not have rotational symmetry (What? You hadn't figured out why DE handles are round and all injectors and cartridge razors aren't?) I would be happy for the Cobra to keep the present profile and replace the cast ridges with knurling, but I know that means some machining and on a handle that isn't round this is very hard. Much as we love our steel, having a steel head and a moulded plastic handle was the route taken by Schick and I think it might do here (even better would be a cast steel handle with soft rubber grips inserted into grooves, but that might move production into a much higher unit cost bracket for this size of production run). BTW, has anyone ever explored what is under the goopy chromey plating on the current models? Brass or steel? I'm betting on steel.

I think there might be a niche market for add-on handles for the current model. I'd be very happy to glue a pair of epoxy-soaked wooden sides to the current handle. Even a soft visco-elastic grippy tube to slide over it would be an idea. Perhaps I should ask an occupational therapist about the kind of foam handles for eating utensils provided to people with arthritic fingers. I only go this far because I like the razor, like the shaves and would like to be able to gaze at a favourite tool the way one does when you bond with it.

Chris
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by Squire » Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:37 pm

If it's steel I suspect there's a nickel plating underneath the chrome to help bind it to the steel.
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by drmoss_ca » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:41 am

I just experimented a bit, and realised the Cobra is for the Professional blades only (assuming no one here would use Pro Guards) and not the Professional Super blades which are 0.25mm wider. I wonder if I found it so harsh when I first tried it because I didn't know that and managed to cram a Professional Super in there? I just tried the fit and it is impossible to get the Pro Super blade in so that the edge sits behind the two stops, and if it had sat on top of them it would have not only extended the blade by 0.25mm, but would also have opened the blade-safety bar gap considerably. That's probably what I did in my stupidity.

I just checked the stores: about 800 Professional blades in stock, and, sadly, about 700 Pro Supers. I'll have to find some use for the latter (unless Classic Shaving ever make a Cobra to take them!) BTW, I see Fendrihan has 20 Pro blades for $16CAN, whereas they are $23.99US at Classic Shaving.

Chris
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by brothers » Sat Jul 20, 2013 8:18 pm

I don't know how I could have missed this thread a couple of days ago when it was first posted.

Sam, I've used a wide variety of injector razors and didn't find any that I really liked. The later model Schick adjustable is about the best I could do, and it didn't give me the quality of shave that I prefered. The Cobra isn't an injector. I consider it an SE. I use the Cobra in a regular rotation with straights, an old SE lather catcher, and 3 DE razors. It always gives me a close and comfortable shave. I'll leave the handle design, etc., up to those who a concerned about such things. I'm quite satisfied with mine just as it is, and who knows, if they change something later, maybe I'll like it just as much.

Chris, thanks for an informative and insightful review. If you should ever decide you want to try a Kai blade, I can send you a couple to try next to the Feathers. I'm glad you discovered your blade blunder. One time I had a poor shave with my Cobra and found out half way through the shave that I had foolishly put the blade in crooked, with half of it out in front of the stops and the other end behind the stops. I was lucky I didn't cut myself.
Gary

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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by JRTASTER » Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:28 am

I too really like my Cobra, warts and all. But apparently like some of you, the design mechanics of the razor puzzled me.
I'm not sure, for instance (and maybe the explanation is somewhere in this thread, but I missed it) why this wasn't
designed from the get-go as an injector or why the balance couldn't have been better...I find I have to grip the razor
very close to the head to get comfortable control.
Chris' suggestion that rubber be incorporated in the handle sounds like a good one.
Perhaps the good people at Classic Shaving will pay heed to such reviews/criticisms should they decide to offer a new/
improved version.
On a practical level, Gary's suggestion of using the Kai blades is a good one; he turned me on to them and the switch
really made a significant improvement in what were already great shaves.
Excellent thread...thanks!

jr/John
Enjoying wet shaving, again.
jr/John

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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by slantman » Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:14 am

Here are the blades that will fit perfectly in a Cobra

Feather Pro
Kai Titan Mild
Dorco Barber blades

all of the above come in an injector cartridge with 20 blades.

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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by brothers » Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:17 am

Jerry, have you tried any of the Dorco barber blades?
Gary

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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by drmoss_ca » Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:25 am

I think the Kais come as 20+2. Even allowing for that, and finding a barber supply company in the US that had them at a low price - and then wanted to charge me $138 for shipping! - I think for me the Feather Pros at $16 and free shipping from Fendrihan make the best deal. Based on rather extensive experience with these blades in an Artists' Club, I expect I will have enough blades to allow me to shave daily (forgetting the fact I will use my straights and my embarrassingly large collection of DE and injector blades) for the next 96 years! One does like to leave these little puzzles for the next generation...

Chris
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by Squire » Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:11 pm

That and the secret shave soap making process, hand written with a fountain pen of course.
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by drmoss_ca » Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:31 pm

No secret - the recipe is in another thread. Were I sufficiently evil, I would keep you supplied with the odd cake now and then before quietly expiring and leaving you with an unquenchable addiction. :twisted:

Chris
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by Squire » Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:05 pm

Perish the thought.
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Re: Cobra Revisited

Post by slantman » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:54 am

brothers wrote:Jerry, have you tried any of the Dorco barber blades?
Yes I am using them now alternating them with the Feather Pro. Not bad but not as sharp as the Feather. They fit the Cobra and Artist Club perfectly.

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