Issue 13 Straight and Narrow Patrick Vuong Join the Conversation A Buyer's Guide for Sweeny Todd Fans Whether you need to keep your spec-ops beard under control or finally have the huevos to ditch your comb-over and rock the Mike Seeklander look, it's time to invest in some real shaving kit. If you've read the how-to article in the preceding pages and are looking to buy a straight razor, be quick because they're flying off the shelves like .22 LR ammo. “Demand is so high that there are six-month-plus backorders for most straight razors these days,” says John Koontz of WestCoastShaving.com. “When we get some in, they are sold out in a few hours.” He adds that straight razors have made a comeback something fierce because customers have realized the benefits: Economical: Over the long run, investing in a straight razor is cheaper than buying Gillette cartridges. Go Green: “It's the most environmentally friendly of all shaving,” Koontz says, because you're not tossing disposables or using electricity with an electric razor. Efficient: “If you know how to use one,” he says, “the shave is second to none.” With that in mind, we've put a spotlight on some straight razors that come highly recommended by Koontz and other shaving experts. They range from reasonably priced production models to ornate custom one-offs that cost as much as a Kimber 1911. *Note: Blade width refers to length between edge and spine. Make: Boker Model: Edelweiss Blade Width: 0.625 inch Blade Material: carbon steel MSRP: $130 URL: www.westcoastshaving.com Notes: Boker is known internationally for all sorts of pocket knives and fixed blades. In the shaving world, it's a top brand for straight razors. The Edelweiss is one of its most popular models, thanks to a sharp blade and a classic bone handle. Make: Boker Model: Silver Steel Tortoise Blade Width: 0.75 inch Blade Material: carbon steel MSRP: $150 URL: www.westcoastshaving.com Notes: As a throwback to straight razors of the 1900s, its name comes from an era when blades contained silver. The handle harkens back to the traditional tortoise shell look, while the blade has a full-hollow ground for a thin, sharp (though delicate) edge. Make: Dovo Model: Best Quality (Full-Hollow) Blade Width: 0.625 inch Blade Material: carbon steel MSRP: $115 URL: www.royalshave.com Notes: The Dovo brand is repeatedly mentioned by shaving experts because of its craftsmanship and durability. No surprise, then, that this full-hollowed blade is top rated for its no-nonsense performance. Handles available in black, blond, or white. Make: Dovo Model: Best Quality (Half-Hollow) Blade Width: 0.625 inch Blade Material: carbon steel MSRP: $115 URL: www.royalshave.com Notes: This half-hollow blade is not as thin (re: sharp) as the full-hollow version, providing easier control and a more forgiving shave. It's well suited for both newbies and veterans. Handles also come in black, blond, or white. Make: Dylan Farnham Custom Model: The Stone-Age Straight Razor Blade Width: 1 to 1¼ inch Blade Material: O-1 tool steel MSRP: Sold for $680 URL: www.classicshaving.com Notes: Dylan Farnham is a knifemaker who creates amazingly imaginative custom straight razors in very limited runs for ClassicShaving.com. Though the sold-out Stone Age isn't available anymore, we had to share it with you. It's as much art as it is a tool, and you can expect more crazy-intricate designs to come in the future. Make: Dylan Farnham Custom Model: The 45 Blade Width: 1 to 1¼ inch Blade Material: O-1 tool steel MSRP: Sold for $1,250 URL: www.classicshaving.com Notes: Old-school aesthetics meets modern technology. This features a marbled patina on its laser-like O-1 blade, a fractured stone pattern on the top of the tang and tail, and a handle made of G-10 and copper. The steel spacer pin features a .45 Colt rim, to boot. It's staggeringly expensive and equally awesome — pass this one down to your son, if you can find one for sale. Make: Thiers Issard Model: Singing Straight Razor Blade Width: 0.75 inch Blade Material: C135 steel MSRP: $180 URL: www.fendrihan.com Notes: Razors by Thiers Issard are wildly popular and often sell out because of their smooth shaves, elegant designs, and durable construction. This particular model comes pre-sharpened and in a protective black leather case. 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