Merkur 38C Review and Buying Guide
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In today’s article, we do a Merkur 38c review and buying guide.
Thanks to YouTube and dedicated, popular shaving gurus on this platform that shares their experience, the likes of Geofatboy and Nick Shaves, there is a lot of content and material to guide a beginner in classic shaving.
We all started somewhere.
But as a newbie, the journey and work to understanding the art of wet shaving can prove to be a tedious one when there aren’t enough resources to guide you along the way. The numerous so-called best razors for men available on the market do not help the situation.
A quick search on sites like Amazon for the “best double edge safety razor” will leave you even more confused.
That said, in a bid to purchase the best safety razor, and after numerous reviews, one particular safety razor stood out–the Merkur barber pole style razor.
This classic 2-piece razor is without a doubt the bigger male sibling to the bestselling Merkur 34C double edged safety razor.
This German shaving razor features a longer, hefty handle, and it is slightly heavier in comparison. It weighs about 4 ounces (approximately 110 grams). This is undoubtedly one of the heaviest double edge razors available, giving Parker 99R Long Handle a run for the money in that regard. Its heavy nature means that it provides better control as well as an aggressive, yet comfortable shave.
Comparing the heads of this razor and the popular sibling 34C, you will not find any differences–they are identical. The only difference between the two razors is the added length and design of the handle.
Speaking of design, the 34C features a knurling pattern on the handle and is approximately 3” long. The long handled razor, on the other hand, has a barber pole knurling and longer handle that is slightly longer (a little less than an inch longer).
Most shaving gurus tend to recommend the excellent 34C de razor for beginners.
Why you might question?
Well, its design and weight make it slightly less aggressive–a feature that a beginner will benefit from greatly. If you are a novice but would like to get that close shave like the shaving guru you look up to, you can simply use a very sharp blade on the 34C.
However, if you are one of the guy’s with a big hand, you are better off going with the Merkur 38HD razor courtesy of the comfort it will provide courtesy of the long handle it features. Yes, this long handle makes a world of a difference when it comes to comfort in shaving.
The razor has a great heavy, hefty and solid feel to it. The added weight contributes to its slightly aggressive nature.
Related reading: Best Head Shaver for Men
As a novice using this safety razor as you learn the best-wet shaving techniques, you should ensure that you do not exert a lot of weight. If you do, you run the risk of nicking or cutting yourself.
Merkur 38C (Summary)
Features of Merkur 38C HD 2-Piece Razor
- Features an attractive and functional barber pole grip
- The handle measures just under four inches
- It weights close to 4 ounces
- Comes with a chrome-plated finish
- It is a 2 piece safety razor
- The aggressiveness of the razor is about in the middle of the scale compared to other razors available in the market
- Includes a free single blade
Overall Length: 4″ / 10cm
Handle Length: 3.75″/ 95 mm
Handle Diameter: 0.59″/ 15 mm
Weight: 3.88oz / 110g
Type: 2 Piece Closed Comb
Knurled handle: Yes
Blade included: 1
Please note that the star ratings below are our ratings – it has nothing to do with how the product is rated on sites like Amazon.
What you Can Expect From it
As pointed out several times before in this piece, the Merkur 38C can be considered the bigger brother to the MK34C. This is with regards to the weight and length.
It is also the handle of the two Merkur units that are different. Instead of the barber pole grip, the 34C features stubbed knurling along the length of its handle. While the knurling on the Merkur 38C handle is beautiful, it is not secure when held with the right hand as it is when held with the left.
Like the Merkur 34C, the Merkur 38C features a 2-piece design as well.
This is to mean that the unit features only 2 parts – the top plate and the handle.
- You attach your sharp blade to the top piece
- The blade goes between the built-in poles and is then screwed onto the handle
- As you fasten and tighten the two pieces together, the blade will automatically line up
The 2-piece solution is effective as it does not cause the blade to bend. If anything, the alignment is smooth and equal on both ends.
Upon replacing your razor blade, you will be left with a unit that provides a consistent shave from both edges.
The razor features a chrome finish while the frame is made of brass and overall gives a “hefty” feeling. Most Merkur DE razors feature this kind of finish and construction.
Additionally, I should point out that this Merkur razor also comes with a free sharp stainless steel blade.
How Easy is it to Load Your Blade?
We already pointed out that the Merkur 38C features a 2-piece design.
But is this the only design all safety razors feature?
Some safety razors have a 3-piece design. Some even have a 1-piece, like the before-mentioned Parker 99R. Each of these features has its unique pros and cons.
We shall not get into the details of that here. But with regards to the ease of loading the blade, 2-piece razors are easier to load compared to 3-piece safety razors.
We have gone over the basics of a 2-piece and how it works.
The blade alignment on the Merkur 38C is excellent. All you need to pay attention & care to when loading the blade is holding the blade on both ends as you fasten the top plate onto the handle.
Speaking of alignment, it is imperative to ensure that the blade is aligned and even on all ends – this will ensure you get a consistent and close shave.
Balance and Weight
It weighs close to 4 ounces.
As pointed out numerous times above, this makes it significantly heavier than the MK 34C.
You should note that at 4 ounces, it is considerably heavier than most other safety razors as well. Heavy safety razors have their fair share of pros and cons. Most shaving gurus prefer using heavy safety razors as they require little application of force while shaving. The razor’s weight is enough to achieve a great and close shave.
On the flip side of the coin, heavier safety razors prove to be slightly more difficult to use, especially when changing hand positions during shaving. If you are stepping up from a lighter unit using a heavier safety razor may prove to be more aggressive than you care for.
If you are one of those people who feel the need to apply additional pressure regardless of the razor’s weight, doing so with this razor, you just might end up nicking yourself.
Moving on to balance, the balance is slightly lower on its handle. This is lower than one would expect just from looking at it.
That said, overall, it features a great balance and you would have no problems maneuvering the razor.
The grip on the handle of the Merkur 38C is pretty decent and is the barber pole style. These spirals wind in a counterclockwise direction from the top to the bottom of the length of the handle. This design is similar to that of the before mentioned Parker 99R only that in the Parker razor, the spirals move in a clockwise direction.
The fact that the spirals run down in an anticlockwise direction improves the grip for the left-handed individuals. This is because the thumb is positioned perpendicularly to the handle grooves rather than being parallel to the thumb as is the case with right-handed persons.
Related reading: What’s the Best Razor for Shaving Head?
However, some pros have on gone on record to state that they wish the grooves were slightly deeper than they are. This would improve their grip all the more.
On the Merkur 34C, the handle features a gritty metallic grip. This, for some wet shaving gurus, proves better than the barber pole grip.
Moving on, at the bottom of the safety razor is a barber pole knob. While this model does not feature the best grip in the industry, the protrusion at the bottom substantially increases the maneuvering ability of the safety razor.
Overall, the aggressiveness of this safety razor is mild.
The head, gap between the safety bar, and the blade angle of the Merkur 38C are the same as that of the 34C. However, the aggressiveness of the Merkur 38C is slightly higher courtesy of its heavier construction. This aggressiveness is great for those who are learning the art of light touch in the wet shaving technique. They should, however, exercise care, and caution so as not to nick themselves. To increase the aggressiveness of this unit, you can choose a sharp razor blade from the many available in the market.
For your blade, you could choose ultra-sharp Feather blades – this will help you achieve a close shave in a simple two-pass motion. Try with a variety pack to find your perfect fit. Other options are blades from Merkur, Timor Solingen, or Derby.
The first pass should be with the grain and the other against the grain.
A razor is an important part of the puzzle for an excellent result, but don’t forget the significant role of your choice of a good brush, shaving soaps -or cream.
Merkur 38c vs. Merkur 34c – Merkur 47c and Merkur Futur
|Feature||Merkur 38c||Merkur 34c||Merkur 47c||Merkur Futur|
|Weight||3.88oz / 110g||2.68oz / 76g||2.80oz/ 80g||4.44oz/ 126g|
|Length||4″ / 10cm||3.25″ / 8.25cm||3.7″ / 9.5cm||4.25″ / 11cm|
|Handle||Ribbed Barber Pole||Diamond Knurled||Textured Lined||Smooth|
|Composition (Handle)||Brass||Brass||Brass||Die-casted Zinc|
|Composition (Head)||Die-casted Zinc||Die-casted Zinc||Die-casted Zinc||Die-casted Zinc|
|Plate||Chrome Plating||Chrome Plating||Chrome Plating||Chrome Plating|
|Made in||Solingen, Germany||Solingen, Germany||Solingen, Germany||Solingen, Germany|
It measures about 4” (10 cm) in length.
This is a great length as it allows individuals with big hands to use different grips when they are shaving. This cannot be done with safety razors featuring short handles. It is this long handle that contributes significantly to the extra weight.
If you have a small hand, the 34C will serve you well as it is shorter by 0.75”. If you care for the longer handle but prefer a lighter version, the Merkur 23c that has a thinner handle might be an option.
What Other Consumers & Reviews say
Most consumers who have purchased it love this product for 3 reasons and share positive reviews:
- It’s not too aggressive
Newbies who had purchased and used this safety razor also love and complement this product as it allows them to achieve a smooth, comfortable, and close beard shave with minimal work and difficulty. Some user says that it is like a razor with guard.
In comparison to other safety razors like the Merkur 39C (AKA Merkur Sledgehammer) and the Merkur 37c Slant razor, the Merkur 38C razor provides its user with more room to err. This is to mean that even with a lapse in concentration for a second, you will not cut yourself (unless of course, you press too hard on the already heavy razor).
If you contemplate purchasing this unit, always bear in mind that it features a similar head as the popular 34C.
The main difference between the Merkur 38C vs Merkur 34c is the weight and the handle length. Given these differences, it is safe to say that there is only a slight learning curve to using it effectively.
As for the grip on the handle, the feedback is mixed from its users. Some feel it is too slippery when you have wet fingers, slick with soap, lathering up with a shaving brush, etc., and some find it solid and just right.
All in all, about any safety razor grip, it boils down to one’s personal preference – slip grip or not. A pro tip: Rub some Alum Block on the handle to prevent this. Check out our guide about Alum Block and Styptic Pencils.
As for the finish and fit, some love the high quality and smooth finish while others are left complaining about the craftsmanship of the safety razor. The keyword is maintenance and care for your razor.
Nonetheless, the razor still performs the main duty which is to provide a close shave for beard and hair; and does it very well.
The internet today is full of online shops where you can purchase any item and the product you desire, sometimes throwing in extras for free. The issue is never finding a product you need but the question is finding it from a reliable source.
But while many shops are selling these razors, you are almost certain to get a fair deal here.
A few points to remember about this razor:
- It features a similar head to the Merkur 34C and is the recommended razor for persons making their transition from cartridge razors
- The handle is longer and the overall unit heavier
- The handle features a barber pole grip
All in all, as our review has shown – the bigger brother to the 34C razor is a versatile razor.
It is perfect for both professionals and newbies looking to attain a close and enjoyable shave with sharp blades like Feather. For thick hair and/ or a coarse beard it works, but some options are better for this.