In this Feather AS-D2 review we’ll take a closer look at the popular but expensive Feather All Stainless Steel safety razor that is often the top choice among stainless steel safety razors.
Feather AS-D2 Review
The Feather AS-D2 razor is a beautifully-made safety razor in surgical grade stainless steel that will last a lifetime. Unlike most safety razors it is sure to survive every time you drop it in the bathroom.
The most common complaint of the Feather AS-D2 is that it is too mild. While that’s great as a safety razor for beginners, more advanced shavers are often disappointed.
This can be quickly improved by either using Feather’s own superior safety razor blades which have a fiersome reputation. Or you can upgrade the Feather AS-D2 with an iKon B1 baseplate. More about that advanced step later in this Feather AS-D2 review.
Overall the Feather AS-D2 is an expensive choice but represents excellent quality and makes our list of the best safety razors to buy today.
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Feather AS-D2 Review – Material
What always stands out about the AS-D2 is it is the first stainless steel safety razor that comes to mind among wet shavers. The reason for that is most safety razors – even those by top safety razor brand Merkur – are made from an alloy called Zamak.
Often known as “pot metal” because as a widely-used material historically it was made by throwing scraps of various metals into a single crucible, Zamak is an alloy based on nickel, aluminium and copper. In fact the name is an acronym of those materials in German – Zink (zinc), Aluminium, Magnesium and Kupfer (copper).
Safety razors made from Zamak are then electroplated, usually in Chrome. This presents two issues, although both are relatively minor.
One is that Zamak is quite a soft metal. Historically there wasn’t much quality control that went into it and so it is often associated with poor quality goods. While this is not the case with most safety razors – especially from names like Merkur and Edwin Jagger – it remains that it does create a weakness.
For instance, the central screw on a safety razor is crucial but safety razors are prone to being dropped. Plenty of safety razors meet their ends this way.
The next issue is of Chrome plating. Although relatively rare, over time lots of plated finishes do chip and wear away. That can create an uneven surface and tarnish the finish of the razor. Most Zamak razors can avoid this if they are cared for properly.
Nevertheless both these issues are resolved with a stainless steel razor like the Feather AS-D2. The downside is that machined stainless steel is a lot more expensive to manufacture and therefore purchase as the end consumer.
But Feather didn’t stop with just stainless steel. The Feather AS-D2 is made of “marine grade” 316 stainless steel also known as “surgical stainless steel” which also explains the price.
The question is just how necessary this is. But beyond what’s “necessary” some people like waking up in the morning knowing they have the best quality tool waiting for them.
Considering a good safety razor should last a lifetime, there’s a certain satisfaction in buying the best upfront. Many wet shavers fall into a pattern of collecting safety razors, which is of course fine, but indulging in the premium option means more satisfaction and less experimentation.
That said, how does the Feather AS-D2 actually perform?
Many excited recipients of the Feather AS-D2 are full of joy at their new investment arriving and feeling the weight and balance in their hands – only to be disappointed by the shave.
The Feather AS-D2 is a very mild razor. That’s because it has a relatively low blade gap and exposure – the amount of blade that protrudes above the comb. This is afterall a closed comb razor meaning it has a safety bar to limit exposure to the blade, unlike open comb razors like the Muhle R41. Read about open comb vs closed comb razors here.
However, Feather are renowned for manufacturing the most aggressive safety razor blades. Normally these are a great way to upgrade the performance of any safety razor for more advanced users who want a more efficient shave.
A Feather razor blade is a perfect companion for the Feather AS-D2 and turns its mild shave into a more common level of aggression.
In reality aggressiveness is often a matter of personal preference. A more mild razor probably will take more passes and a different technique. But a more aggressive razor probably means you are more careful and don’t overdo things so easily.
No one knows your beard better than you do and the good news is that most of the difference is made by the blade. A lot of opportunities to buy a Feather AS-D2 come with Feather blades so you can try out this optimum pairing.
The iKon B1 Base Plate Hack
The joy of safety razors is that they are so simple they are relatively open-source in their nature. Many Chinese safety razor makers seem to reproduce designs from expired patents from the 1950s.
Another high-end stainless steel safety razor brand iKon makes safety razors that are actually interchangeable with the Feather AS-D2.
This has resulted in an innovative hack that’s popular in wet shaving communities.
You can buy an iKon B1 Open Comb Deluxe Razor and use the more aggressive open comb base plate on the Feather AS-D2.
That means you can have the open comb aggression of a Muhle R41 with the stainless steel quality of the Feather AS-D2. Better yet you can interchange these base plates depending on what sort of shave you need, like an adjustable safety razor.
This is a concept used by modern Kickstarter sensation Rockwell razors who offer a safety razor with three different base plates, each side having a different level of aggression.
Feather AS-D2 vs Merkur 34c
No Feather AS-D2 review would be complete without comparing this iconic razor to another very similar and popular razor by Merkur – the leading brand of safety razors.
The Merkur 34c Heavy Duty is a reliable razor of a small size and a mild shave. Like the Feather AS-D2 it offers a mild shave that suits beginners and experts alike.
Weight: 3.1 oz / 87 g
Length: 3.9″ / 9.8 cm
Material: Stainless Steel
Origin: Seki, Japan
Weight: 2.7 oz / 77 g
Length: 3.3″ / 8.3 cm
Origin: Solingen, Germany
Merkur is based in Solingen, a steel making area of Germany that forms one of the global epicentres of high quality blade manufacture alongside Seki in Japan – Feather’s home – and Sheffield in the UK – home to Edwin Jagger.
In terms of the Feather AS-D2 vs Merkur 34c there are more similarities than differences. Those key differences are price and material.
The Merkur 34C is made of the aforementioned Zamak alloy. It is up to you how much this matters to you. A Feather AS-D2 should outlive a Merkur 34C, but there’s a good chance both could outlive you anyway.
The Zamak and chrome coating of the 34c should last perfectly well if cared for and not dropped. However, the AS-D2 will stand more punishment. That said, you could buy several Merkur 34c’s for the price of a single Feather AS-D2.
In terms of length the AS-D2 is slightly longer and heavier. Plus the knurling on the handle is more extensive for better grip. While it seems a little superficial, there is something sleeker and more elegant about the AS-D2 than the stubbiness of the Merkur 34c.
Whether that’s worth the premium price only you can decide.