I just got myself a Rooney Stubby 2XL after hearing a bunch of guys whose opinions I trust praise it (thanks Michael and Mike).
Two uses in, I can say that this is among the best brushes I've ever tried.
I had a Rooney Finest 3/2. I liked the brush, but I thought it was too scritchy and not really firm enough for my tastes. I had a Rooney Heritage Stubby (regular), and didn't like it.
I have an 80's Plisson HMW 14, and I love it. It is firm, but the hairs feel so nice on the face.
I have a Chubby 3 2-band, and that' an amazing brush. Stiff, and firm without being uncomfortable.
I've had other Rooney brushes which I liked, but found to be too floppy. I've had Somerset and Vulfix Simpsons brushes that were too floppy. Some that were nice, but the knots weren't the right size (Colonel, PJ2 2-band).
I don't keep brushes I don't use, but I wanted to indicate that I have used a bunch of badger brushes - some premium ones, some collectibles, some nice users. Shavemac, Savile Row, EJ etc. Many brushes later, I'm down to a few reknotted brushes, and the Plisson, Chubby 3 and now the 2XL.
So here's my opinion of the Rooney 2XL:
In form, it's like any other Stubby. Short, but not too small. It doesn't stand up when soaking in my lather bowl. :(
The knot is amazingly dense. Only the Simpsons brushes come close. When soaked, I noticed the first major difference between this hair grade and the others I've used ---- there's much more clumping of the tips of the hair. The hair holds an amazing amount of water at the tips. When shaken vigorously, most badger knots give up most of the water, this one still retains water at the tips. This is not a function of knot oiliness, as this knot was shampooed, and test lathered several times.
On the face, this has the firmness of my Chubby 3, but the tips are so much softer there's no real comparison. It really feels like I'd imagine lathering with a cloud would feel.
No brush I've used before (Rooney finest, other Rooney's, Simpsons, Plisson, Shavemac DO1, Savile Row, etc.) has combined this sort of firmness with this level of softness. It really feels amazing!!
Now, to step back to reality: I actually like to feel some scrubbiness when I'm lathering up. I have very thick facial hair, and I like the feeling of the badger hairs moving over my face. If the Rooney Finest had more backbone, I'd have kept it (the one I had bloomed too large for my tastes). So far, out of all the brushes I've used, the Plisson HMW has come closest to matching all my requirements (though I wish I'd got the #12). It's soft, without being too soft, and it is firm. The Chubby 3 2-band is a close second (3-band Super, and Best did not work for me).
The Rooney 2XL is a bit too soft for my liking, though it certainly has the backbone that I look for. It will be a nice brush for when I want to pamper myself. It fits in nicely with the brushes I already have, without overlapping too much with the others.
It is far and away the best Rooney brush I've ever tried --- and that includes the (now exorbitantly expensive) Rooney Finest.
If you're looking for a firm, but super-soft brush, don't waste your time and money trying to track down a Finest - get one of these - they're still available in retail and they're reasonably priced.