So far, I've been content with my small den of brushes. However, I've been getting tickled by SBAD and have my eyes on some Simpsons, Shavemacs, and Rooney's. Before I jump the boat on some fancy brushes I want to make a few recommendations on some good brushes that are under $20.
Here's the lineup:
Omega 11047 Mixed Boar/Badger. A/K/A "Mighty Midget"
This is my favorite of the batch. A bit bigger than the Wee Scot but still small. Great scrubby and light scritchy feel. Good backbone and versatile with creams.
Cons: Getting the boar/badger funk out isn't pretty, small
Omega Boar 10777
A little smaller than it's brothers (48,49). It's what you expect from an Omega boar. Breaks-in nicely and gives way to a nice scrubby comfortable brush.
Pros: Great backbone, steady break-in, great with soaps.
Cons: This particular model has a very light plastic handle.
Turkish #6 Horse
The famous (or infamous?) brush is great in any stable. Quality has gotten a little better over the years and it's the best brush for under $5.
Pros: Good backbone, big bulb shape for spreading the meanest of lathers. Great for shave sticks.
Cons: Construction can be shoddy, not consistent enough. If you want to sample horse, this feels more like boar.
Van Der Hagen Badger
These are popping up in a lot of Targets. Good size, not too scritchy, whips up a big lather with whatever cream you throw at it.
Pros: If you have to choose between a Tweezerman or this, choose the VDH. Nice handle.
Cons: Can be too floppy and suffers from "hair loss" from time to time. Badger funk took a while to remove.
Vie-Long Cachurro (04312)
Nice, big soft brush. When I'm in the mood for huge messy lather, this is my choice. If you're curious about a quality horse brush, this is a good way to sample one.
Pros: Soft. Creates tons of lather, great for soft creams and soap sticks.
Cons: A bit floppy for some's taste. The metal on the handle can break mugs/scuttles if you don't cautiously hold it.