The Merkur 41C “1904” Open Comb Safety Razor Reviewed
Among Merkur’s broad range of razors, there is one that pays homage to the early Gillette safety razor – the Merkur 1904 or 41C.
This is styled like the early Gillette model, and has the early style open comb head. From reading a post on a shaving forum, it appears that, back in 1904, Gillette’s literature claimed this head style was intended to be adjustable, with the double edge razor blades of the day acting as sort of a spring, you could change the angle of attack a bit by slightly loosening the handle (up to maybe 1/4 of a turn). With today’s ultra thin blades, you can try this, but you’re likely to discover as I did that all you end up with is a head that tends to twist (it also changes the bend of the blade, which can certainly impact the shaving experience – different cutting angle – but I couldn’t keep the head from twisting long enough to experiment). The later model Gillette heads added a shoulder that added a blade gap and made these new heads more similar to the closed comb heads. It appears that Merkur chose to go with the older head style, which places the blade flush up against the comb. While the Merkur open comb head is said to be more aggressive, I’ve not personally found that to be the case. From another forum, I see that some people have followed through with a thought I had after reading the first post and have created shims to open up the blade gap. I’ll plan to experiment with this a bit and update this review with my findings. Back to the ‘aggressiveness’ topic, many shavers report that it is much easier to shave a beard off (or a multi-day stubble) with the open comb head, so that may be a reason to keep one around.
Shaving with the Merkur 41C “1904” Open Comb Razor
I’ve tried this razor with a few different blades now, and have come to the opinion that, the razor has a different feel when shaving, but I don’t really see any difference in the results. It’s slightly better and trimming right up under the nose than the Merkur 23C with the closed comb head, but it’s also a bit easier to nick yourself with the open comb. When reviewing the Merkur 23C, I commented that I didn’t think there was so much to the handle length, as I choked up on the 23C’s handle…but…the 1904’s very short handle just seems a bit on the short side some times…so maybe I just haven’t fully decided yet?
You can see that the finish on the 1904 model has a bit of a gold cast to it…a throwback to the Gillette model? Not sure, but it gives it a bit of a ‘vintage’ look.
The Merkur 41C, or ‘1904’ model razor is does a good job, and gives you a different feel. It’s also very attractively priced (I got mine for under $25). You may find the handle a bit short, but you probably won’t go wrong if you give it a try.