I like razors that are a bit outside the mainstream and bought one of the Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements (PAA) nickel satin finish double open come razors – a homage the Grand Shave King. The cast razor is well made and quite a bargain at 34.95 + S&H. The DOC homage is a very mid razor – a bit too mild for my tastes. When PAA launched a stainless steel version with a more aggressive design I decided to try it out. Here is a brief review.
The razor is priced at $175 + S&H – quite a chunk of change for a razor. It is only offered with one of two handles included and only the shorter one (3.5”) was available at the time of order. The razor arrived in a simple but effective cardboard box. A plus IMO – don’t spend a lot of money on packaging but put it into the instrument. The head is a masterpiece of fine machining – it looks like an “all billet” job with a lot of precision cutting of a difficult material. The top cap in particular would have needed a lot of milling operations and finishing. The double “pins” that register the cap and baseplate are very precise and locate the blade with near zero slop. The baseplate is very solid and nicely manufactured with a logo on the underside. Blade loading takes some care to align the pins but overall it is a very well designed system. The overall finish of the head is good – a light polish and some finishing. I found the ends of the teeth to be a little sharp – not burrs but the clean square edges of the mill cuts. I chose to use a very fine grain diamond hone break the edges of the teeth but not to affect the profile of the head. The supplied handle was decent but not stellar. The overall finish was good but there were spiral lathe tool marks on the flat end so I ended up buffing this to a polished finish.
The razor was tested on three handles as described below. Blades used were a Super Iridium and a Feather – my go to blades. I loaded a couple of other blades including a Light Brigade to make sure that the pins accepted them – all fit with almost no play. Lather was a selection of soaps and creams made with various badger brushes.
The razor head alone weighs 37 grams. Mounted on the included 3.5” PAA, a custom titanium and a UFO Kaiser handle the total weight of the razor was 98, 104, 130 grams respectively. Although the weight difference between the PAA and Ti handles is not all that large the feel of the razor changes significantly from “top heavy” to well balanced when the Ti handle is used. Clearly the weight distribution is making a big difference to the handling of the razor. On the Kaiser the razor feels like a hammer, very heavy. Although well balanced I found this was too heavy on the UFO handle although that handle is fine on some other heads.
On the PAA handle the razor was top heavy. It shaved OK and gave a close fairly aggressive cut. On the Kaiser the balance was much better but the overall package was very heavy and a bit labored. The custom titanium handle seemed to be about right – good balance and weight. The razor is aggressive – at least as aggressive as a Gillette Fatboy turned up all the way. The head traps water and makes for an easy shave and quite insensitive to angle. I got consistently smooth shaves without any issues. Although aggressive I would rate it as quite forgiving and easy to use. The combination of stainless steel and the open head make it a very noisy razor – lots of sound from the cutting action of the blade. The only other razor that is close in terms of sound output is the Darwin. The sound makes no difference to the shave but changes the experience in a good way.
Overall I would recommend this razor to anyone who likes a fairly aggressive shave and likes a precise custom razor. The standard handle is only passable and I wouldn’t enjoy using this razor nearly as mush on that handle. An aftermarket handle or even a rotation of handles is needed. It would be good if PAA offered the head only for a $30-40 lower price. In view of the amount of precision machining in the head compared to a “normal” top cap, this razor is fairly priced IMO. If I had to grade this against my rather arbitrary collection of razors it would come out well: Shave quality: 8.5, Aggressiveness: 7, Ease of use: 8, Price: 7, Quality of manufacture: 8.
Let's talk about single and double edged razors and the blades that they use.
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I bought the nickel plated version of this razor recently. The price for it is only $34.95. It's become my favorite razor now.