Availability of Older Cartridge Razors in the US

Let's talk about single and double edged razors and the blades that they use.
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Pauldog
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Availability of Older Cartridge Razors in the US

Post by Pauldog » Sun May 27, 2018 5:44 pm

The last razor I noticed getting discontinued in the USA was the Gillette Sensor. That was 2-3 years ago, and they started disappearing from store shelves. Before that, it was the Atra and Trac II. Gillette will still sell you the cartridges, if you're really sure you don't want more than two blades in your razor.

For the Sensor and Atra, and even Trac II, new American Gillette handles are expensive. The best source for affordable new good quality replacement Sensor razors is probably Personna, the main brand name of what we often called ASR here - American Safety Razor. Their Sensor handle is called a silly name - Tri-Flexxx, but it's a decent handle to use. (Their discontinued Tri-Flexx razor - two x's - slightly less silly - worked with Atra blades.)

Overseas, Gillette offers a cheaply made Sensor compatible - the Vector 3, but it's mostly plastic. It's also sold as a Sensor there.

The Personna Bump Fighter razor is compatible with Trac II blades. There are all kinds of fancy or all-metal Trac II type razors under $20 (e.g., Col. Conk), so it's not a problem, anyway. Gillette makes something called a 7 O'Clock PII in India, and it's cheap online ($5 to $10), even if they ship it to you from India. I've used it, and the build quality of the razor seems only very slightly worse than an early Trac II.

For Gillette, that leaves the Atra. Personna doesn't list a replacement on its website any more, and neither does Schick. Gillette makes the Vector, which is the same thing as the last Atra razors, the ones that replaced the metal handle with a plastic one. In Japan, and maybe elsewhere in Asia, there's the Schick Ultra X. The Schick Ultrex is also compatible and decent quality, but I don't know if it's still made.

The worst situation might be for Schick Tracer / FX Diamond lovers. Not only was the razor discontinued, but also the blades. The razor wasn't popular enough for anyone else to clone it, as far as I know. The blade prices on eBay were so high that I decided to sell what I had left rather than "waste" them by shaving. It was a very good razor, but I'm happy with what I think was Schick's mark on shaving history - the injector razor. (And I hope I'll be even happier when the Schick Proline blades I just ordered arrive.)

The Schick Quattro, Xtreme 3, and Protector seem to be available for moderate prices online. I'm not sure which of these Schick still makes.


Did I leave out anything?

CMur12
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Re: Availability of Older Cartridge Razors in the US

Post by CMur12 » Sun May 27, 2018 8:20 pm

Paul, I have an Atra that I bought as a Gillette "Contour," in Portugal, around 1980. I liked it pretty well at the time.

The cartridge razor that I really liked was the Schick Tracer, especially with FX Diamond blades. I have a few cartridges left for mine, but I can't get any more. I prefer shaving with a DE anyway, so not a big loss, I guess.

Cartridge razors with more than twin blades never worked for me, so I limited my use to these.

- Murray
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Pauldog
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Re: Availability of Older Cartridge Razors in the US

Post by Pauldog » Mon May 28, 2018 3:33 am

I forgot to mention the Gillette Contour, but that was also discontinued.

If you don't care about having a metal handle or buying something domestic, you can get the Vector, but remember that the Vector is a plastic handle Atra, but the Vector 3 is a plastic handle Sensor.

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Re: Availability of Older Cartridge Razors in the US

Post by CMur12 » Mon May 28, 2018 11:28 am

Paul, I thought the Contour and the Atra were the same product, with different names for different markets.

- Murray
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Pauldog
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Re: Availability of Older Cartridge Razors in the US

Post by Pauldog » Mon May 28, 2018 12:43 pm

Yes, the Contour and Atra are the same. I didn't mean to imply otherwise.

It's the name "Vector" that's confusing, because the Vector and Vector 3 are not compatible with each other.

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Re: Availability of Older Cartridge Razors in the US

Post by Tucker » Mon May 28, 2018 1:09 pm

I used the Schick Tracer FX for many years, but I found that they downgraded the quality in the early 2000's. They technology was later used in the Schick Exteme 3 disposables which I found excellent. They had a cartridge version of the Extreme 3, but I found it to not shave as well as the disposables. I think the same is true of the Gillette Sensor XL carts which were downgraded when they moved the production to Brazil when Gillette moved on to other razor platforms. The Sensor carts looked the same, but the shave was not as good as it used to be.

Gillette Branded Atras and Trac II have been rising in price when I do see them in stores. I believe they are like $18 for ten which I think is high.

Recently, I tried the Gillette PII from India and the Schick Super II from Japan. I ordered both from Amazon. I agree with your assessment of the handle on the PII. It is good, but not quite as nice as the vintage Gillette Trac II handles that I have. The PII carts do not have the goo strip, but I didn't care for them. I found that the PII carts were a bit tuggy through my chin stubble. I found the twin blades to chatter a bit, and the shave lacked some efficiency for me. The handle only came with one cart, and I won't be getting any more.

OTOH, The Schick Super II came with two carts, and was quite a nice shave. However, it does have the goo strip which reacted to the Haslinger Aloe Shaving Soap that I was using, and would get a bit stringy. I only used the cart once, and I am hoping the goo strip is less of an issue for the next shave.

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Re: Availability of Older Cartridge Razors in the US

Post by Pauldog » Mon May 28, 2018 1:22 pm

I thought the Tracer and Xtreme 3 method of having a flexible cartridge was a more elegant way to fit your face than the springy Sensor blades. So much engineering when a single fixed blade can work fine! Now, if you could cross a Gillette Guard with a Tracer, you'd have a cartridge razor I'd consider using.

There's so much engineering in just a blade edge, too, of course.

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