The Merkur 34c was my first safety razor; I bought one soon after buying Executive Shaving almost 10 years ago. I chose it as all the online research I did point towards the 34c being the most suitable safety razor for a beginner.
Before then I had used the Gillette Excel which had two blades then I graduated to the Mach3 which has three blades before falling for the hype of the five-bladed Fusion. I was never happy with any of these cartridge blades although looking back the Excel was the best of the three. At one time the 34c was the top selling safety razor in the world, my understanding is the Muhle R89 is now the top seller, this is likely down to Muhle being more commercially switched on than Merkur and the Merkur factory being based in a residential neighbourhood which restricts the hours they can work and therefore the volumes they can manufacture.
After mastering and enjoying the safety razor experience I was keen to see what else was out there and since then I have regularly used the Merkur 30c, Muhle R106, Muhle Rocca and numerous vintage razors including the highly regarded Gillette trio of Fatboy, Slim and Aristocrat. A few months back I came across my old 34c in a wash bag I thought I had thrown out and decided to give the razor a run-out. Sometimes referred to as the 34HD, HD stands for Heavy Duty, the only thing heavy duty about the 34c is its rugged looks. This is a highly efficient, small size razor that is fabulous for a quick two-pass weekday shave when the time at the sink may be at a premium. I’ve used it on a four-day stubble and daily Monday to Friday and it has never failed to impress me.
The 34c is a two-piece razor, the baseplate is attached to the handle, this makes changing blades nice and easy, loosen of the top cap by turning the knob on the bottom of the handle, the top cap comes off, you put a blade in, replace the cap and tighten the knob, job done in a few seconds. The standard of engineering on the 34c is excellent, the chrome plating is even, no lumpy bits while the deeply knurled handle delivers a firm grip even when wet.
No matter how tough or mild your beard bristles are. The 34c will leave you cleanly shaved with no post-shave irritation, it’s not an aggressive, overly close shaving razor but it will be suitable for the vast majority of men.
I shave with grain on my neck and across the grain on my face, I then shave against the grain on my neck and face and I get great results with my 34c every time.
I spoke with the UK agent about the history of the 34c; she spoke with Merkur on my behalf (it’s easier to get an audience with the pope than it is to speak directly to Merkur). Merkur told her that the present owners bought the company in 1966 and there were no records confirming when the 34c was launched but they did find some documentation that indicates the 34c was designed in 1918. If this is true it was way ahead of Gillette in innovation and design.
The 34c is priced at £34.95 in the same bracket as Timor, Merkur and Jagger. (Price correct at 23 March 2018).
Rating: 9/10, it would have been 10/10 had the aggressiveness been a tiny bit higher.