In this Merkur 23c review we’ll take a deep dive into the Merkur long handled safety razor – often called the Merkur 180 – that the company claims is its best-selling razor.
That’s quite surprising when you consider the short Merkur 34c is normally hailed as the go-to safety razor. They also have flashier designs like the Merkur Futur that’s got a great aesthetic and is adjustable.
How is it then that what seems a more specialized razor is actualy their most popular? It can’t be just because the 23c is about $10 cheaper than the 34c.
Whether you’re a seasoned wet shaving pro or you’re considering your first safety razor purchase (an excellent move), the question of handle length and weight never quite goes away.
Short Handle vs Long Handle
With a short handle like that of the Merkur 34c you are guaranteed two things: manouverability and feedback.
That means you can do a pass of the face quickly and easily, including difficult rounded areas like the chin and Adam’s apple. You feel the cutting edge against the bristles through your fingertips, meaning an efficient, nick-free shave.
On the other hand, short razor handles may not offer you much in the way of grip. You may have to daintilly hold the razor in your fingertips like a teacup, which is perfectly acceptable but not everyone’s cup of tea.
If you are more comfortable with a firmer grasp then a Merkur 23c long handled safety razor might be for you.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a long handled safety razor?
An obvious perk is reach. If you are shaving somewhere other than your face – like shaving your head or shaving your legs – just an extra inch of handle can make a big difference. Besides the physical reach, the extra handle also provides more grip.
In particular this is one of the best safety razors for women because not only do you have to reach far down to shave your legs but you then need to find the right cutting angle, which involves levering the razor so it is roughly 30 – 45 degree to the skin. A longer handle can definitely help with this.
Could it be that the Merkur 23c’s popularity has been driven by women ditching overpriced pink plastic razors for this more traditional alternative? Amazon reviews certainly suggest so!
Merkur 23c Review
Now you hopefully have a better idea of whether a long handled safety razor is something that’s right for you, let’s take a deep dive into the Merkur 23c review.
Unlike it’s cousin the other Merkur long-handelled razor the Merkur 38c with a hefty barberpole handle (pictured), the Merkur 180 features a slim long handle with a total weight for the razor of just 2.3 oz.
That’s even less than the much smaller Merkur 34c at 2.72 oz – although they do call it the Merkur 34c Heavy Duty for a reason.
In terms of weight with the Merkur 38c vs 23c the 23c packs a much heavier punch at 4oz, nearly double that of the 38c.
Merkur 23c Grip
The Merkur 23c features knurling texture throughout its long length. While knurling on any razor is advisable, there is a clear benefit here for anyone who deems themselves more likely to drop the razor thanks to the the longer handle.
The handle is also much slimmer with a diameter of 0.46 in for the Merkur 34c vs 23c with a mere 0.38in. You don’t need to know Pi to understand that a quarter smaller diameter is a significant reduction in the size of the handle. Again that means a firmer and more reassuring grip that doesn’t feel cumbersome.
Merkur 180 Aggression
The Merkur 23c is quite a mild razor, although you could certainly upgrade it with a Feather razor blade. One thing to watch is that reduction in feedback.
With a short angle it is quite easy to tell if you are shaving efficiently or causing razor burn but this vibration in the handle is softened with more length. Nevetherless the light weight means less cushioning of this feedback than you would normally expect.
As you have a longer handle, finding the correct cutting angle is slightly different to than with a shorter handle. As you have more leverage you are basically given more degrees of freedom.
In theory that should make it more forgiving as once you find your angle it should be easier to keep it with a longer handle and simply moving your whole arm rather than your wrist to maintain that angle.
A longer handle would also normally mean a more aggressive shave because of the weight, especially for shaving legs if they are flat. However, as the Merkur 180 is so light this is not an issue.
The Merkur 23c is a closed comb razor, meaning it has a safety bar running along the underside of the blade. If you fancy a closer and more aggressive shave then the 23c has another sibling, the Merkur 25c open comb safety razor.
An open comb does not have the safety bar and instead as teeth that funnel the bristles towards the cutting edge.
If the Merkur 180 is too mild for you then a 25c with a Feather blade will be the most aggressive shave from a long-handelled razor.
Merkur 23c Review Conclusion
Overall what defines the Merkur 23c is fine elegance. It is lightweight, long and slim. Those certainly aren’t qualities everyone appreciates in a safety razor but it is one of the few and best offers on the market for anyone who does.
The Merkur 23c uses standard double edge razor blades – often abbreviated to DE razor blades. Merkur supply their own but there are also plenty of other compatible brands you can try for different prices and performance.
The Merkur 23c is a very popular razor and so is widely available. You probably won’t find it at your local drugstore but a more traditional shaving shop should have it. Otherwise there are plenty of popular online shops for safety razors including Amazon, Maggard, West Coast Shaving, Executive Shaving and more.