About a week ago, I received my R41 Grande in the mail. First things I noticed were build quality, blade exposure, and how nice the larger handle felt in the hand. It's a beautiful razor, even more-so in the matching razor stand Muhle sells.
I've used this razor 5 times now, and I can say with certainty that it's the best DE razor I've ever used. I am extremely happy with the purchase.
First couple of shaves were with a Dorco ST301. Not one nick, not one weeper, no irritation. Very smooth, nearly BBS shave. I thought to myself: "nice!" Great balance, feels natural to guide around your face.
After the Dorco, I threw caution to the wind and loaded up a Feather. I loved Feathers in my Merkur HD, but in my Futur and R41, I'm not so fond of them. My neck has some coarse swirling hair and the skin there is a bit concave near my windpipe. Since that skin is very sensitive, I need aggressive razors to wipe out that stubble in fewer passes. Unfortunately, the Feathers in these razors are NOT forgiving of the topography of my neck, no matter how good the technique. It's nearly impossible to j-hook or buff my neck with a Feather without getting some bad burn. In this case, I wound up with one nick, but a lot of that burn. Not a terrible shave (it was basically BBS), but not a terribly comfortable shave, either.
At this point, I decided to try a Gillette yellow. In my Futur, this blade produced one of the best shaves of my life. In the R41, it produced a great shave on my face and most of my neck, but I ended up with some pretty bad burn and redness on one stubborn section of my neck. Again, the shave results were excellent, but the comfort level wasn't. In fairness, I may have gotten overly aggressive trying to mow down a patch of stubble. I could probably get great results from the yellow with a couple more tries. I might never try though, because today, I hit paydirt!
This morning, I loaded up an Astra SP and proceeded to have *the* best shave of my life with the R41. My face and neck literally felt like a baby's backside, and I was not irritated in the least. This is no small feat, given my sensitive neck skin and coarse stubble. I was amazed- there was no irritation to be found, period--not even a HINT of it on my neck. There was also, literally, no stubble to be found. Anywhere. At all.
At this point, I'm positive that I've found my "go-to" DE razor/blade combo. The experience was so noteworthy and awesome that I'm actually pondering the future of my Futur (hah), my HD, and my Shavette. Given my extreme love affair with the Futur, that's a bold statement! I may end up keeping it for nostalgia's sake, but the R41 will be getting a lot of face-time.
When this was all said and done, it was a reminder that each razor has it's own "ideal" blade for each individual face. Astra SP's in my Futur were damn good, but not this good- and the yellows performed a bit better in that razor. Here, it was exactly the opposite; the Astra's were an even better match for my skin and the R41's blade angle. Given the lower cost of the Astra blades, this was a pleasant development.
(By the way, all of these tests were with identical prep and MWF lather, so no variables there)
Long story short, if you're thinking about buying this razor, go for it. You'll either despise it, or you'll fall completely in love with the best shaves of your life. IMO, it's worth the risk to give it a try (but give it a fair try--mild blades, sharp blades, smooth blades; try them all before you judge).