I recently acquired a Weber stainless steel razor off of the BST forum. When I posted about it, some mentioned it might be interesting to compare it against the infamous Merkur slant razors. I agreed it would be an interesting comparison to make, and so here we are!
First of all, let's begin with a visual comparison. I took a couple of photos showing the two razors side-by-side. I have the Weber SS with a standard bulldog handle, and the Merkur is a 37G gold-plated model.
The Weber is a 3-piece razor, whereas the Merkur is a 2-piece razor. (Though you can pull the knob out of the end of the handle, if you want to do so for cleaning.)
As you can see, the Weber is just a bit taller than the Merkur. The Weber is also noticeably heavier, weighing in at (according to Weber) 3.4oz or 96.4g. The Merkur 37C is approximately 2.7oz or 76.5g, according to the B&B wiki. This puts the Weber 0.7oz (20g) heavier than the Merkur. Most of this weight difference is in the handle, but a small portion of it is also in the head of the razor, as well. The Weber handle is also slightly larger in diameter, and has larger knurling than the Merkur.
I wanted to put these two to the test, so I performed three shaves to compare them. Each time, I shaved one half of my face with each razor. Two of these were two-pass shaves, and the last one was a single-pass shave. Each time I used a different soap or cream to see how they might react. Both razors started with a brand-new palm-stropped Feather blade. At least two of these shaves also began with two days of beard growth. I tried to make sure I would alternate which side of my face was shaved with which razor, so as not to favor one side or the other.
After trying both of them side-by-side within the same shave, here are my conclusions:
Quality of shave:
Both razors performed very well. The Weber, with its extra weight, powered right through the initial passes without any problems. However, the Merkur slant uses its shape to slice right on through, as well. I would say that they were very similar in the quality of shave obtained each of the three times. Both took the hair down close during the first pass, and the second passes were smooth and easy. I finished up feeling silky smooth after two passes on each side of my face. The slant actually felt a little smoother to me, but they both gave me about the same quality of shave.
I was anticipating that the Merkur 37G would be the more aggressive of the two razors. However, I have noticed that they really are pretty equal, in terms of their aggressiveness. Both are very efficient razors, and they provide a very smooth, high-quality shave. They also both have the ability to bite the user, if one is not careful. With that awesome efficiency comes the possibility of more nicks or weepers than one may be accustomed to. So, go slow, be smooth, and don't try to rush the shave.
Quality of construction:
Here, I have to give the quality to the Weber. While I really love the look of the gold slant, there are a few things that could be improved about it. I like the larger knurling on the Weber. It provides a rock-solid grip, even with a wet and lathery handle. The Merkur has very fine knurling, which is fine when it's wet. But lather can make it a little slippery. The Weber's head is also a little thicker, making it seem a bit more heavy-duty. The handle is also solid, so there's no chance to crush, dent, or otherwise harm the functionality of the razor. It also isn't plated. It's polished stainless steel, so the finish cannot wear off, as it can with a chrome or gold-plated razor.
I really love the weight of the heavy Weber handle. The head feels a little light, though, because of it. But because the weight is all in your hand, you can use the weight to cut through the hairs. But the light head of the razor makes it fairly nimble. The Merkur is much more balanced, in terms of weight. The handle is still heavier than the head, but because the handle is hollow, there isn't a huge difference in weight distribution. It feels very comfortable. But I like the heftiness of the Weber better. This will be a "user-preference" thing.
The Weber SS razors go for $70 brand-new, plus shipping. The Merkur 37G is no longer made. The 37C, however, is still in production and available for anywhere between $40-$50. If cost is really an issue, one might choose the 37C. From my point of view, they are both worth their asking prices.
Merkur also makes the 39C "Sledgehammer", which is basically the 37C with a longer, heavier handle. I would love to try the Sledgehammer handle against the Weber. The Sledgehammer weighs in closer to 4oz (113g), making it even heavier than the Weber. Perhaps I will keep my eye out for one on BST to provide another update to this comparison.
I have to say that I love both razors! They both provide an excellent shave, in the right hands. They are smooth, and can slice right through hair. But they definitely have their own personalities and characteristics. It just comes down to personal preference. All I can say is that I don't see myself parting with either of these beauties anytime soon.
Just to make it interesting, let's take a poll... for those of you who have used both of these razors, which do you prefer?